Hydrow vs Concept 2 Comparison – Which Rower Should You Buy?

hydrow vs concept 2 rowers

If you've been thinking of buying a home rower you're probably no stranger to the Concept 2 brand. Concept2's indoor rowers have consistently been the top selling rowing machines in the world since their inception in 1981. Suitable for home gym or commercial use, their rowing machines the Model D and E are used by people the worldwide for fitness, weight loss, rehabilitation and even training for world championships like the Olympics. The Hydrow, is the new kid on the block and is shaping up to be the "Peloton of rowing machines". Similar to the Peloton, this state of the art rowing machine offers a wide range of live and on demand workouts using computer controlled resistance. Live Outdoor Reality™ technology can now bring the river into your home! In this article we're going to compare the Hydrow vs Concept 2 rowers to see what's different and to help you choose.

Let's start with a quick table summary so that you can see the main features of the two side by side:

Hydrow vs Concept 2 quick comparison


Hydrow

Concept2

Cell

Resistance Type

Computer-controlled electromagnetic resistance

Air rower (flywheel generates air resistance)

Suitable for competitive rower training/indoor racing

No

Yes - Participate in indoor races & online challenges, train for outdoor or indoor competitions, connect with training partners etc

Live workouts & classes

Live outdoor virtual rows w/ instructors, live leaderboards during classes, full on-demand library

No

Membership required

Yes - $38 per month

No

Monitor

22" HD touchscreen monitor

PM5 LCD monitor with backlit display

Space requirements (with clearance for use)

9 ft x 4 ft

9 ft x 4 ft 

Rowing machine weight

145lbs

57lbs

Height Limit

Up to 36" inseam

Up to 36" inseam as standard (contact the company to enquire about getting a longer monorail)

Max user weight

375 lbs

500 lbs

Warranty

Frame & upright storage kit - 6 years. Screen & other electronics - 2 years

All parts - 2 year limited warranty. Frame parts -5 year limited warranty

Storage

Can't be folded but can be stored vertically

Can be separated into 2 parts

Price

$2199

$900

Shipping

Free

Free

Where to buy

(Official website)

Check price on Amazon

Goes out of stock quickly (slow down in production due to Covid 19) so check regularly!

Main differences between Hydrow and Concept 2

Basically they're two different types of rowing machine. Hydrow is a smart rower that offers live and on-demand outdoor reality workouts with world class instructors. You get to experience stunning visuals and real life sounds as you bring the river to your home. It requires a $38 per month membership and could be compared to the Peloton (but for rowers).

On the other hand, the Concept 2 is the top selling air rower in the world. A favorite with home users, and in gyms and health clubs, this is under half the price of the Hydrow. Although it's suitable for everyone, this is the rowing machine of choice for athletes, sports people and competitive rowers for training.

Other features compared:

Design and build

Concept 2 

Black Model D

Recognised by athletes as the standard for indoor rowing, the Concept 2 is made with strong and durable aluminum and steel and is built to last. The monitor arm is made from ABS plastic and can pivot for storage and to adjust height. The angle can also be adjusted. It comes in a light grey or black powder coat finish. This sturdy rowing machine weighs in at 57 lbs but has a high max user weight of 500 lbs. 

Hydrow

The Hydrow has a more sleek, sophisticated and modern look. Like the Concept it has a steel and aluminum frame (with an anthracite polymer body). At 145lbs though, it's twice as heavy, so it's not something you'll want to move around regularly! It is designed to withstand even the most gruelling of workouts.

Rower type and resistance

The Concept 2 is a traditional air rower. This produce resistance using air flowing over a flywheel situated in the flywheel housing (or fan cage). There is a lever called a damper on the side of the flywheel housing which can be set at a resistance level of 1-10. A higher damper setting allows more air into the flywheel housing, making it harder to spin and thereby (making it harder to row. A lower setting allows in less air making it easier to spin the flywheel. This works similar to bicycle gearing and does NOT affect the resistance. The resistance is controlled by how hard you pull - the harder you row, the more resistance you feel (just like rowing on the water).

The Hydrow is actually a new type of rower that we haven't seen before. Unlike the traditional air, magnetic or hydraulic rowers that we're used to. This uses a computer controlled, electromagnetic drag mechanism that automatically adjusts up to 240 times per second. This emulates the feeling of real rowing on the water better than any other rower on the market right now, helping you to achieve smooth, efficient strokes. The resistance can easily be changed mid workout with a swipe of your finger. Unlike the Concept 2 (which as an air rower can be quite loud) the Hydrow is virtually silent, allowing you to enjoy the real life sound of rowing on the water provided by their outdoor reality technology.

Monitor

The Hydrow's  22-inch LCD touchscreen display comes with Wi-Fi, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The large screen helps to create an “on the water” experience with stunning visuals from locations like the Charles river or Miami. Users can select from hundreds of on-demand outdoor rows, or join one of the regularly scheduled live rows with top athletes and instructors. The monitor is sweat proof and also features hi fi speakers, a built in 2mp camera, and microphone. The following is a quick 1 minute video demonstrating the stats on the screen:


On the Concept 2, the Performance monitor (PM5) is what monitors and displays your stats and workout details. There is a “Just Row” mode or you can set up a variety of different workouts. The monitor shows (and stores) a range of data, including stroke rate, calories, watts, pace and more. The PM5 monitor comes with Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity, so it can be connected to heart rate monitors and other fitness devices and apps. The ErgData app is a great way to track workouts and can be synced with your Concept2 Online Logbook. Here's a short video demonstrating the Concept 2 Performance monitor:

User limitations

The Hydrow can hold a max weight of 375lbs and has a leg length limit of 36" inseam. With rowing machines it's important to take leg length into consideration rather than actual height because leg length can vary. 

The Concept has a much higher max weight of 500 lbs and also has a standard configuration that handles up to a 36" inseam. Anyone with longer measurements should contact the company for more information as it is possible to get an extra long monorail. 

Storage and Portability

The Concept 2 can be separated into 2 pieces and stored in a clean, dry storage space indoors. There are caster wheels on the front to make it easy to wheel around. Unboxed, this rowing machine should also fit in most standard vehicles making it easily transportable. Storage space required for the Model D is 25” x 33” x 53”H and for the Model E 27” x 47 x 54.5”H

The Hydrow is less portable because it cannot be taken apart. Instead it can be stored upright, but can only be done so with the Hydrow Upright Storage Kit which is an extra $69.99. It's worth the investment if you need to conserve space. 

Warranty

Both warranties are quite similar. The Concept 2 offers a 30 day money back guarantee. Frame parts have a 5 year limited warranty (limited to frame parts that fail due to a defect in materials or workmanship). It doesn't cover damage that you may cause yourself, even unintentional damage. They will also replace or repair ANY part (excluding monitor batteries) that fail due to defect or wear for a period of 2 years.   

The Hydrow also offers a 30 day money back guarantee  and a 6 year limited warranty on the structural frame and upright storage kit (defects in materials and workmanship). There is a 2 year limited warranty on the screen and other electronics. 

Price

The Concept 2 is the most expensive air rower on the market, but is also by far the most popular and widely used. Concept have really struggled to keep their rowing machines (both Model D and E) in stock due to the pandemic as production had to stop for a period during lockdown.  Also, demand is extra high due to people choosing to work out at home. The best place to find one is still on Amazon, but when it comes back into stock it  usually goes out of stock very quickly so you might have to check back multiple times. There are 3rd party sellers selling the Model D above the $900 RRP so if you're willing to pay more, you can get one reasonably quickly. 

The Hydrow is priced at $2245 on the official website (it's exactly the same price everywhere else, so it's best to buy on Hydrow.com to make sure you get your full warranty). There is also an option to pay in instalments using Klarna. Although it's far more expensive than the Concept (and also requires a $38 per month membership) it's a pretty standard cost for a smart rower. It's similarly priced to the $2245 Peloton which provides a similar service - live streaming workouts, live leaderboards, on-demand content etc.

Verdict: Hydrow vs Concept2 - Which should you buy?

We've compared the Concept 2 vs Hydrow in detail and established that both are excellent rowing machines in their own right. After reading this article, you'll probably have a clearer idea of which you're most interested in based on your current needs.

Rowing is a sport for all, no matter what your age or fitness level. It provides an effective full body workout that effectively exercises every major muscle group. That makes a rowing machine a better choice than even a treadmill or spin bike! So whether you're looking for a rower to keep fit for a primary sport (or just get fit), to lose weight, for rehabilitation after injury, or to manage a health condition like diabetes, we recommend you choose your favorite out of these two exercise machines and just get started! Either would make an excellent choice for general fitness and weight loss. There are a few reasons though why you might choose one over the other, and we outline them below:

Let's quickly summarise the main points of each and who they might be most suited to:

Why choose the Hydrow?

There's one MAIN reason that you'd choose the Hydrow instead of the Concept, and that's because you want to experience its currently unmatched Live Outdoor Reality™ technology. This rower isn't cheap, but it's got something that no other rower can offer - the Peloton experience, but for a rowing machine. This is a smart rower that brings you a live immersive experience with stunning visuals and real life sounds that make you actually feel like you're out on the water. There are hundreds of live and on-demand rows that you can choose to suit your mood or needs. Row in a team, or row on your own - this exercise machine blows Peloton out of the water! 

Why choose the Concept2?

Any of the following are reasons you might choose the Concept 2 over the Hydrow:

  • You're interested in joining the world of competitive indoor rowing or are already a competition rower or athlete. This rower is recognized as the standard for indoor training.
  • You're an outdoor rower who wants to supplement your training with some indoor rowing on days you can't get out on the water. 
  • You're a Crossfitter (it's the Crossfit rower of choice) 
  • You need a heavy duty rower that holds a max user weight of 375 lbs - 500 lbs (the Hydrow maxes out at 375 lbs)
  • You're tall with an inseam of over 36". If you're over 38" inseam it states on their website that you should contact customer service to discuss your needs. So it's likely they can help you out with a rowing machine suited to your leg length.
  • Your budget is closer to $1000 than $2000 (Hydrow unfortunately is over twice the price)

If you've decided on a Concept rower but you're not sure which one, read our Model D vs E comparison. As you'll see, the Model D tends to be the more popular for home use.

If you have any questions about either product or this Hydrow vs Concept2 comparison please post your comment in the box below. Thanks for reading!

About the author

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith is a husband, dad, fitness enthusiast and personal trainer who has been working out since he was 18 years old. He enjoys the gym as well as exercising at home, and loves testing new fitness equipment and gadgets that aid in fitness and recovery.

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