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Concept 2 Rower Review (2019): Expensive But Is It The Best?

woman exercising If you’re looking to invest in a rowing machine, I’m sure the Concept 2 needs no introduction. As the industry-standard rower for people of all ages and fitness levels, you’re sure to have come across this in your search for an exercise machine. It’s actually the best selling rowing machine in the world, and in our Concept 2 rower review we’ll give you a little insight into why! Because the Concept2 is the training machine of choice for professional rowers (including those training for the Olympics) you’d be forgiven for thinking this is just a machine for elite athletes. That’s where you’d be wrong!

These indoor rowing machines are for everyone – whether you’re an athlete, a beginner looking for a top-quality machine for an excellent workout at home, a physical rehab patient, or a rower of any caliber. Your Concept2 training experience can be customized to suit any fitness level or needs. You might not be a “real” rower yet, but with a rowing machine like this, you have the opportunity to become one!

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Let’s take a closer look at this popular exercise machine:

Concept 2 Rower PM5 Monitor

pm5 monitor The Concept 2 Rower comes fitted with a PM5 monitor (performance monitor). The monitor is designed to perform all aspects of useful functions on the machine for you while you row indoors.

The PM5 monitor delivers very reliable, comparable and accurate data for each workout. It has bluetooth and ANT wireless connectivity (compatible with iOS and Android). The wireless technology allows you to connect to heart rate belts, fitness programs and expertly devised fitness APPS (supplied by Regatta, highly trained fitness instructors). This also includes Concept 2’s very own ErgData app and free online logbook.

Other Options on PM5 display monitor:

  • Just Row – Simply start rowing with no preset target. After a minute your session will be recorded for review. This might be the quickest way to break yourself in if you are new to rowing.
  • Select Workout – pick your time, distance or interval or any preset program, standard or custom workout plan. You can preset your workout with this option.
  • Play Fitness GamesFish game is to teach you how to modulate intensity. Your target is to eat as many nutritious fish as possible and avoid the big toothy beasts. This is a point gathering exercise so the more nutritious fish, the higher the score. The more toothy beasts the lower the score and the chances of plummeting to the sea bed increase.
    • Darts game rewards you for consistency in tempo and power output. If steady pace and stroke rate is your goal then this is a great tool to help you.
    • Biathlon is a coming together of two sports – Nordic skiing and target shooting. Here you’re aiming to complete 3-5 laps with a shooting range between each lap. If you fail to shoot on target then a penalty is incurred. This usually means an extra 150 meters of rowing.
  • Memory – View workouts results, store all your workout sessions so you can check to see if your fitness targets are on course, this keeps you highly motivated and stops boredom creeping in.
  • Power Generation Mode – Takes 2 Cell D batteries. During the rowing workout the monitor draws power  from the flywheel.
  • The C2 comes with a trial period to connect to RowPro, it gives you the chance to row against a competitor, virtual, live, or yourself. This is akin to being in a rowing community, pushing for better fitness and results.

bluetooth connectivity and ant+

Who Is The Concept 2 Suitable For?

The rower of choice for professional athletes

The C2 is used by almost all top competitive rowing athletes including Olympic rowers. It’s also used in most indoor rowing championship competitions and regattas. The machine gives the same benefits as rowing outdoors on actual water while training indoors in a commercial fitness setting or even at home. When weather does not allow outdoor rowing this is the best alternative to continue high level training.

See it being used in this footage of the the 2019 World Rowing Indoor Championships:

Rowers of all calibre (even beginners) for general fitness and/or weight loss

The Concept is not just for the professionals – anyone can order this rower online and own this top of the range exercise machine for their home. If you’re a beginner who wants the best quality and an excellent workout you can get your require level of fitness with the C2. The machine is designed to provide a full body workout while minimizing injury.

Excellent for rehabilitation

Will also suit anyone coming back from physical injury or needing cardio rehab and who is looking to get back into fitness at his or her own pace. As mentioned earlier rowing is a low impact exercise – it generally covers around 85% of our body muscle groups when done with the correct technique.

Concept 2 Model D or Model E – Which Is Best?

model d vs model 3 comparison In this Concept2 rower review its important to look at some of the variations, between Model D and the model E ( both are almost really almost identical bar a few minor upgrades to the E)

The Model E has a higher seat, approximately 6 inches of a difference. This is very helpful for those who may have difficulty getting off and on the rower. Then due to the higher seat, the legs are designed slightly different to support the seat height.

The monitor arm on the Model D can be folded whereas on Model E it is fixed. You can get both machines in black or grey, although Model E has a slightly better finish. Model D is just as durable and long-lasting. The price also varies, the Model E costs more than Model D.

In case you’re wondering, the Model D actually tends to be the more popular of the two – at least for home usage. It’s a little bit cheaper, and provides the exact same workout as the newer Model E (the minor upgrades were mostly only designed to increase durability for commercial use).

For a more detailed comparison of the two rowers click here


  • A top brand – Concept 2 is known worldwide and is the industry standard for professional rowers
  • Solid fitness machine – Built to endure, will last years
  • Low maintenance – just a few cleans and checks required from time to time
  • PM5 Monitor – performance monitor gives you great accurate fitness data
  • In Built fitness programs – keeps you motivated and on target for getting preset fitness goals
  • Easy assembly – hardly any work required
  • Super warranty with excellent customer care and service


  • The seat wears out – this does depend on the mileage your putting on the machine and will happen with any rower eventually. Of course it can easily be replaced though.
  • It’s not cheap – this machine is one of the most costly rowers, but it really is the best on the market – there aren’t any rowing machines that rival it at the top of the range except for maybe the Water Rower (however it’s a different type of rower so you can’t really compare the two).


Q1. How to maintain a Concept Two Rower/ how do you clean it?

  • After each use, you can wipe the monorail using a nonabrasive cleaner. Ordinary soap and water should be effective, using a soft sponge or cloth.
  • Every 50 hours of use, lubricate the chain with purified mineral oil (a teaspoon is enough). You can simply apply oil to a paper towel and wipe the entire length of the chain with it. Do not use any solvent on the chain like WD 40.
  • When you have reached 250 hours of use inspect the chain for stiff links. If you find any, and thorough lubrication doesn’t help then replace the entire chain.
  • Check the connection between chain and grip handles, for wear and tear. You might need to replace if the chain hole near handles has become longer than normal.
  • Regularly check all screws for tightness, loosen or tighten screws around the Performance Monitor arm joints as you see fit.
  • Examine the fan wheel for dust, if there is dust present then use a vacuum cleaner to remove it.
  • Ensure the handle is returning fully to the fan enclosure. If this is not happening then tighten the shock cord immediately.

It’s recommended that you don’t use the rower if defects appear. You must replace the defective parts only with parts which are unique and genuine to the Concept 2 (for safety and best performance).

Q2. How much space is required for a Concept II Rower Model D?

The machine usually needs 9 feet by 4 feet operating space, the machine stands at 8 feet by 2 feet but you do need that extra space to use it properly and get the best results from your workout.

Q3. How do you fold Concept Two Rower?

Concept2 separated in two Well, you can’t really fold it. The rower can be easily split into two pieces, it comes with a quick-release frame lock. There are four caster wheels, 2 fitted at the top and bottom end of the machine, but it is still heavy to move, you might need help so it can be advisable to leave it one place.

Once you have the machine in two parts, you simply just wheel each section away to the desired storage area.

Q4. How loud is a Concept2 rowing machine?

There will be noise from the rower’s fan and the seat sliding along the rail. This cannot be prevented. The fan in motion will make a din and the faster you go the louder it will get. If you live alone this won’t be a problem, actually, some users find the noise of the air fan motivating and cooling at the same time.

The seat can make a clattering type of noise after only 50-55k meters, this can be attributed to it just being new, you can clean the rail with Windex this will help reduce the problem.

Q5. What resistance levels can you expect to reach with the Concept Two Rower?

With the Concept 2 Rower, the resistance is set by your ability to get the air fan spinning as fast or slow as you can. The faster the fan the more the resistance as you are competing against the force of air coming through the fan. The slower you row the less the resistance.

This is often referred to as the drag factor, which means your ability to use your arms and legs to row as fast as you can against the air coming through the fan.

You can set the damper settings at the side of the fan cage (1-10), the higher the setting the more air will come through the fan. It is a good idea to start around 5, too high a setting at the start can tire your muscles fast.

Q6. How does it calculate calories used?

You can set the “single calorie program” on the PM5, then row as fast and hard as you can to rack up your calorie burn rate. The reading of calories is never 100% accurate on any exercise machine as many aspects need to be considered, weight, heart rate, age of the user, lean muscle mass, and the intensity of the exercise. It can also depend on the quality of the machine the cheaper the machine the less chance it will be fitted with the most accurate of calorie reading functions and instruments.

Q7. Is there a Concept2 Rower Black Friday deal?

Black Friday is the day that many major sports equipment retailers give customers the unique chance to purchase electrical items for cheaper. Offers normally start on black Friday but can last that entire weekend, even into Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, deals on the Concept 2 are rare because it’s the top rowing machine on the market, the industry standard, so they don’t really need to offer discounts. Check price on Amazon here.

Where to buy Concept Two Rower

You can buy it directly from The Concept 2 shop, Walmart, Amazon or any major sports equipment provider and depending on the retailer, can be shipped worldwide.

There will be delivery fees involved in most cases (Amazon offers free shipping though) and these will vary depending on your geographical location.

Bottom Line – If you want the best, this is it

Concept2 Model D with PM5 Performance Monitor Indoor Rower Rowing Machine Black The Concept2 Rower blows the competition out of the water – the majority of Concept 2 rower reviews are 5 stars.

How did this rowing machine get such high marks? Clearly, the answer is that the Concept2 is an outstanding piece of exercise equipment. That’s why it’s risen to the top of the heap, both with reviewers, and even the professional trainers that put this machine in team training rooms and gyms.

The glowing reviews are written by people like you and I – the middle aged guy who wants to get back in shape, the new mom who needs to get rid of the extra baby weight, and the senior who has been advised by her doctor that she needs to get moving and get her heart into shape – even the Regatta crew member who want to increase their performance.

Reviewers are commenting positively about the ease of use and gentle, but extremely thorough workout they get with this rowing machine. They’re excited about the fact that this machine is expertly manufactured and comes with an impressive warranty. They love that it takes only a half hour to set up! And that it tracks your fitness progress and helps you map out ways to keep improving!

Whether you’re a seasoned rower or a beginner looking to get started exercising, if you want the best then you should definitely check out the Concept 2 rowing machine. Both the Model D and Model E can be found on Amazon.com. c2 rower warranty

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About the author

Ryan Smith

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