Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine Review

Concept2 Model D rowing machine
Our Rating
5/5
Concept 2 makes the most popular rowing machines in the world and have been doing so for 40 years. Their rowers are the choice of CrossFit, most indoor rowing competitions including the world championships, and are also the machine that most competitive rowers use for their indoor training. Simple to use, hardwearing, and supplied with a two-year warranty, the Concept 2 Model D is a good purchase for anyone from an Olympian to a keen at-home exerciser.

PROS

  • High quality, long-lasting build.  
  • Performance monitor is excellent.
  • Rower is easy to assemble
  • Fairly high price but good value for your money
  • Realistic smooth rowing motion
  • Considered the industry standard

CONS

  • Is quite loud for some users
  • Is long but can be folded away nicely

Things To Consider Before Buying

There’s not much to consider before purchasing the Concept2 Model D, to be honest. It’s one of the best rowers I’ve ever used. There’s a reason that you find it in most commercial gyms, home gyms, and Cross\Fit Boxes across the world. 

That being said, it is not a cheap bit of kit and there are certainly other great rowers you can buy for a lot less. So although I think the Model D would be a great investment, if you don’t have the money definitely look at alternative rowers. You can see our list of the best rowers here. 

Something else that’s worth pointing out is that this rower is quite low to the ground. So if you have an injury or find it difficult to lower yourself and getting back up, you may be better suited for a rower with a high seat. 

Resistance Type and Model

Available in matt black or grey, the Model D indoor rower is Concept 2’s bestselling rowing machine and can be found in commercial gyms, rowing clubs, high schools, spare bedrooms, and garages all over the globe.

Using a large semi-open fan for air resistance, a simple but effective variable damper allows you to quickly and easily adjust the drag to customize your workout to suit your fitness levels and workout needs.

In addition to using the damper to adjust the airflow of the flywheel, you can also vary the resistance level depending on the intensity at which you row. The harder you row, the higher the resistance and vise versa. This is feature makes the rower suitable for both novice and advanced rowers and is one of the reasons the Concept2 is such a popular rower. 

Be aware that the higher the settings of the damper the slower your rowing motion will be. Think of the high settings a rowing on a big heavy boat, whilst the lower settings will feel more like a small, much lighter boat. 

How to set the perfect Concept 2 Damper setting 

Technical Specifications

  • Dimensions: 96″ x 24″x 28″
  • Resistance Type:  Air/Flywheel
  • Length: 96 inches / 244 cm
  • Width: 24 inches / 61 cm
  • Max Supported Weight: 500 lb / 277 kg
  • Color: Choice of grey or black
  • Storage Space: 25″ x 33″ x 53″ (h)
  • Storage: Separates into two parts
  • Machine Weight: 57 lb / 26 kg

Display/ Monitor

The Model D rower is fitted with Concept2’s PM5 adjustable performance monitor that comes with many advanced features built-in. This easy to use monitor will spring into life as soon as you start rowing and measures distance, speed, stroke rate, pace, calories, and watts for each workout you do and you can choose between five different display options:

  • All data
  • Force curve
  • Bar chart
  • Large print
  • Pace boat/pacer
Concept2 Model D screen

The PM5 is compatible with most heart rate monitors and also has Bluetooth and USB flash drive options drive so you can record your workout performance and download for analysis later. The drive allows up to 5 users to store their data which is great if there will be multiple users wanting to track their progress, though most likely this feature won’t be needed by most users. 

The PM5 monitor comes pre-loaded with several workouts and games, and can also be linked to other PM5 monitors for head-to-head racing. This is awesome when you’re looking for that extra motivation, to get those competitive juices flowing, or just to switch up your regular routine. 

You can continue to recharge the batteries whilst you continue to row so that you can extend the life, which I think is a nice touch. 

Concept2 Model D Monitor basics

Build Quality

A strong (actually, pretty much unbreakable!) nickel-plated chain connects the rowing handle to the fan and provides a smooth rowing action. The contoured seat, which is on duel rollers, glides forward and back with very little resistance while flexible footplates and straps make sure your feet are optimally positioned for comfort and rowing efficiency.

Constructed from hardwearing materials like aluminum and ABS plastic, the Model D rower is built to last and requires minimal servicing to keep it running smoothly year after year.

Some maintenance may be required from time to time. The nickel-plated chain is partly exposed and may require some oiling to allow for continuously smooth rows. 

Note that the monitor arm is made of plastic, whereas metal arms are used on the Model E and the Concept2 Dynamic rowers. It’s not a huge issue, but obviously plastic is not as durable as metal. 

To take your rowing experience up a level, Concept2 offers optional slides that are compatible with your rower. These slides are designed to simulate the feeling of rowing on the water by moving the rower back and forth whilst you row. Not only are they great fun but can also improve your workout, allowing for a quicker catch and higher stroke rate. 

They simply attach to the rower with the use of bungee cords and can be used for single rowers or connect to multiple Concept2 rowing machines to create a team boat slide. 

Comfort and Capacity

The seat on the Model D holds up. It’s quite comfortable and remains so even during longer rowing sessions. The seat is pretty low to the ground. Some users may see this as a positive and others as a negative (especially if you’ve got some knee trouble). If the Model D interests you but you want a higher seat then you should consider the next model in their range, the Model E as it has a higher seat which is easier to get on and off of. 

The foot straps are easily adjustable to fit a wide range of shoe sizes

The ergonomic handle of the Model D has a 10-degree bend which helps supports a more natural rowing position. It’s comfortable to hold which is vital if you want to do longer rowing sessions. 

The Model D is a sturdy rower and has a high user capacity with a maximum weight of around 500 pounds. 

Assembly

Assembly of the Model D is super easy and will most likely take you around 20 minutes (if not less) to have it up and running. 

Here is a video showing you just how easy it is.

Storage

The Model D can be stood on its end when not in use or broken down very easily into two parts using a quick-release mechanism, so no tools are required. It can then be reconnected in a matter of seconds when you next want to use your rower.

Given the frame of this rower, it’s great that it can be folded and stored away so well. So if you have limited room you don’t need to be put off by it taking up floor space. Fold it up when you’re not using it and store it out of sight.

It also comes with caster wheels that make it easy to roll to a different location or just to the position that you want it. 

Concept2 Model D folded

Warranty

You get a good warranty with the Concept2 Model D. The frame is covered by a limited 5-year warranty and 2-year warranty on the electronic computer and moving parts. 

Price and value

The Model D indoor rowing machine with PM5 performance monitor isn´t exactly the cheapest rower available, but Concept 2 rowers can last a lifetime and it’s not uncommon to see ancient Concept 2 rowers still in heavy use in commercial settings.

Most major parts are easily replaceable should they malfunction and the standard two-year manufacturers’ warranty should provide complete peace of mind. Despite the initial cost, the Model D rower represents very good value for money as it’s probably the last rowing machine you’ll ever have to buy.

Concept2 Model E vs. Concept2 Model D

Concept2 Model E

The most comparable rower to the Model D is another offering from Concept2, their Model E rower. The Model E is a slight step up from the Model D and thus is more expensive. If the extra cost is worth it really depends. 

The Model E is a popular choice amongst serious rowers and indoor rowing clubs (during indoor or out of season training). Mainly because not only does it come with high-quality features but also due to its sturdier build compared to the Model D. 

The Model E can take a high tolerance of usage at high intensity which is perfect for professionals and more serious rowers. This also benefits bigger rowers who may find less stable rowers uncomfortable to use. Another benefit for larger and taller rowers is that the seat is 6” higher on the Model E than on the Model D which makes it much easier to get on and off the machine. 

If this is a concern for you, or you’re going to be putting your rower through intense workouts frequently or your rower will have multiple users then the Model E is a fantastic choice and you won’t be disappointed. But to be honest most users will find that the Model D is more than capable of doing the job and save some money in the process.  

Read our full review here.

Lifespan RW7000 vs. Concept2 Model D

Lifespan RW7000

The Lifespan RW700 is a sleek and stylish rower that combines the benefits of both air and magnetic resistance. 

Like the Model D, it has a high build quality and is super durable. It comes with a stainless steel rail and nickel-coated steel chain. The rower has been put to the test commercially and is long-lasting which makes it a great choice for home use especially if you’re only going to use it a few times a week. 

The RW700 is a comfortable machine to use with a padded contoured seat, smooth handle, and adjustable foot straps. The seat is placed around 19” off the ground compared to the 14” of the Concept2 Model D. So if you have any difficulty getting on and off a rower the RW700 may be better suited for you. 

With its hybrid resistance, you get the low noise of a magnetic rower combined with the smooth rowing strokes of an air rower. Although the rowing motion on the Model D is still superior, the noise factor may be enough to sway you. 

Both machines come with built-in workouts but the RW700 is lacking in a few features. For example, it is not PC-compatible so you’re restricted with what you can do with your workout data. 

The RW700 is also a little pricier than the Model D which might put you off. But if noise levels and a higher seat are important to you then this machine is worth a look. 

NordicTrack RW200 vs. Concept2 Model D

NordicTrack RW200

If the previous options were out of your price range then the NordicTrack RW200 may be better suited. It’s a middle-range rower with a good build quality. 

It has a long rail which makes it well suited for taller rowers. Shorter rails are an issue for tall rowers because they are unable to complete the full motion fo the rowing stroke (see rowing technique for details). 

The RW200 comes with a rather small display screen compared to the Model D but it still does everything you’d expect from a standard rower. In fact, it comes with 20 preset workout programs which is a lot more than what you’d get with similarly priced rowers. 

Since it is cheaper you’d expect it to be lacking somewhere and in this case its the resistance level. Like the Model D, the RW200 is an air rower that has a flywheel with a resistance level of 1-10. However, unlike the Model D, the NordicTrack RW200 resistance range is lagging. More experienced rowers will struggle to raise the intensity even at level 10.

The Model D is a superior rowing machine, but if it’s out of your budget and you consider yourself unfit or a beginner, the RW200 could be a good choice for you. Check out our full review for the RW200

Final Thoughts On The Concept2 Model D (should you buy?)

In short, Absolutely! Concept 2’s Model D indoor rowing is a serious piece of exercise equipment that delivers an effective, comfortable workout every time you use it. Once you have tried one, you’ll soon see why these rowing machines are the choice of Olympic athletes and professional rowers but also perfect for home use and more general workouts.