Hydrow vs. Concept2 RowERG: Which machine is better?

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Hydrow vs Concept2

This is our Hydrow vs Concept2 RowErg comparison.

Having personally tested both of these machines, I’ve been able to bring my 40 years of fitness industry experience to bear on the question of which represents the best overall buying option. 

I’ve also spent hours going over online reviews by verified users of both the Hydrow and the Concept2 to identify any potential issues with these rowers. 

I’ve brought all of that experience, analysis, and investigation together to provide you with this, definitive comparison between two of the most popular home rowing machines on the market.

Hydrow
Hydrow
  • Immersive fitness experience
  • 3,000+ workouts
  • World-class instructors
Concept2 RowERG
Concept2 RowERG
  • Reliable workout data
  • Industry gold standard 
  • Many training options
Here at Start Rowing we include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission.

Rowers At a Glance

If you are after an extremely quiet rowing machine that provides you with adjustable resistance levels and is packed with interactive workout options, the Hydrow rower is the better option for you. 

However, if you don’t mind a noisier workout and are after a more natural rowing experience with variable resistance, Concept2 is the way to go. The Concept2 RowERG is also less expensive, more durable, and easier to store when not in use. 

In the paragraphs to follow, I’ll put these two premium rowing machines head to head in terms of resistance type, monitor features, functionality, design, price, and the warranty conditions offered by the manufacturers. 

Keep reading to get the definitive Hydrow vs Concept2 comparison.

1
Hydrow
  • Reactive electromagnetic resistance
  • Intensity levels from 1-300
  • Max weight capacity = 375 lbs
  • 22-inch screen

The Hydrow rowing machine is an electromagnetic resistance device that sits at the upper end of the home market, with a retail price of $2245.00. The resistance is provided by way of a pair of magnets on either side of a flywheel. When you adjust the resistance control, the magnets move either closer or further away from the flywheel to adjust the intensity level required to row the handle. 

Because of the name of this machine, some people may think that it is a water rower. It is not. This is purely an electromagnetic rower with no water aspects to it.

A key selling point with Hydrow Rower is its interactive features. It features a high definition 22-inch touchscreen monitor and, provided you subscribe to their subscription service, access to live classes led by top-level competitive rowers. You’ll be exercising along with instructors who row on some of the most scenic lakes from around the globe.

A Hydrow subscription will cost you $38 per month. If you do not choose to subscribe to the app, your monitor will remain in ‘Just Row’ mode, so you will not have access to the interactive workouts.

Your purchase of the Hydrow Rower comes with a 30-day no-obligation trial period during which you get full access to the Hydrow app. This will allow you to assess whether it is worth it for you to take up the app subscription going forward. 

In addition to the live rowing sessions, there are also on-demand workouts, along with free form rowing journeys and video demonstrations of off the machine exercises, including strength training and calisthenics moves.

2
Concept2 Model D
  • Very durable
  • Low profile
  • Air damper
  • PM5 technology-enhanced monitor
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The Concept2 RowErg is the world’s most popular rowing machine. It is also the official rowing machine of the CrossFit Games. No product can remain at the top of its market class for more than a decade without having some outstanding features, and that is certainly the case with the Concept2 RowErg.

The Concept2 RowErg, previously the Model D, has been on the market since 2003. Its reputation as the market leader has been largely built on its durability and reliability. It provides an impressively smooth, easy glide rowing experience with no jerkiness or lag. People of all sizes can get a full range of motion on this machine and the max user weight of 500 lbs speaks volumes about the structural durability of the frame.

Another strength of the Concept2 is its PM5 monitor, which provides accurate analysis of your key training diagnostics, including your calories burned, pulse rate, distance traveled, pace, and watts. There are also programmable workouts and games built into the monitor. 

While all air resistance rowing machines are noisier than electronic versions, the Concept2 is amongst the quietest air rowers on the market. You will still get a whoosh sound with every pull of the handle, but it will be a lot quieter than lesser competitors. As a gauge on this, you’ll still be able to watch TV without blowing out your speakers while you’re using the Concept2.

Other highlights of the Concept 2 RowErg are its adjustable footrests, ergonomic seat and handle design, and the quick-release frame lock mechanism that allows you to set up and store the machine.

Head-to-Head Comparison

Now let’s look at these machines head-to-head. 

Hydrow Rower
Concept2 RowERG

Resistance Type

The key difference between the Hydrow and Concept2 rowers is the type of resistance that is used. The Hydrow Rower uses magnetic resistance, which is controlled by a metal flywheel and a pair of magnets that move closer to and further away from the flywheel. These magnets are attached to the resistance control knob. When you increase the resistance level on the knob, the magnets move closer to the flywheel.

The Resistance control on the Hydrow rower runs between 0 and 300. That puts you in control of the exact level of intensity of your rowing machine workout

The resistance on the Concept2 RowErg is provided by air rather than magnetism. As you pull the handle, blades on the rowing machine fan draw in air to provide resistance. The faster you row, the more resistance you generate.

The Concept2 includes a damper control that allows you to adjust the flow of air to the fan. While this will not directly affect the resistance level, it will adjust the amount of drag that you experience. This will, in effect, make it feel as if you are rowing in a boat that is more loaded down as the damper control increases. 

When it comes to providing the most natural simulation of a real-world rowing experience, the air rower resistance of the Concept2 is the winner here. It delivers a freer, more natural row, without the lag and jerkiness that sometimes happens with magnetic resistance. The pay-off is that you are not able to directly control the intensity level in the way that a resistance control, as found on the Hydrow, allows. 

Rowing Experience

Both the Hydrow and the Concept2 will provide you with a high-quality rowing experience, with each one representing the best you will find in a home rowing machine for its type. So, the quality of the rowing experience boils down to the difference between an air rower and a magnetic rower, which we have already touched upon.

The air resistance provided by the Concept2 is variable, which means that the resistance is determined by the speed of your row. So, to get more resistance, you simply row harder. This allows for a seamless transition between intensity levels without the pause that occurs when you have to manually adjust the resistance level. That makes a big difference when you are doing High-Intensity Interval Training style workouts. 

With the Concept2 there is also no limit to the resistance potential of the machine. That is ideal for people who are constantly wanting to challenge themselves and push their performance level. That being said, the Hydrow Rower provides you with 300 resistance levels, which is a huge amount.

Overall the Concept2 RowErg will provide you with a superior rowing experience. 

Touchscreen vs PM5 Monitor

Hydrow monitor display
Concept2 pm5 monitor

The Hydrow features a 22-inch touchscreen with front-facing speakers. So long as you subscribe to the Hydrow app, you will have access to a completely immersive on-the-water rowing experience, including live on-demand workouts, on-demand training programs, and video demonstrations of off-the-machine exercises. 

The Hydrow touchscreen will also display your key training data, including your training time, distance, calories, and watts. The screen is also able to pivot 25-degrees to both the left and right for optimum viewing. 

The Hydrow touchscreen also comes with Bluetooth and Wifi connection capability. As a result, you can access third-party workout apps to provide you with more training options. 

The Concept2 RowErg does not feature a large, impressive screen. Instead, it has a high-performance PM5 monitor which renders all the training data you need to accurately track your workout. As well as measuring your meters, watts, pace, and calories, it includes pre-set workouts and games and provides wireless connectivity. There is also a built phone cradle.

The Concept2 also comes with Bluetooth connectivity, USB port input, and a heart rate monitor. 

The winner here is the Hydrow, but only if you are going to take on the $38 monthly subscription. If not, the functionality of the touchscreen will be dramatically cut back, making the Concept2 PM5 monitor the smarter choice. 

Design

The Hydrow features a stylish, streamlined design with curved angles that add aesthetic appeal. This is truly an elegant-looking machine that can remain a permanent feature in most stylish settings. The aluminum and steel frame has an anthracite polymer body finished in sleek silver and gray.

The seat on the Hydrow features an ergonomically designed cushion with a ten roller rail system for smooth movement up and down the rail. The handle strap is made from high-quality polyester webbing for super smooth and quiet operation. Secure, slip-resistant footbeds are also adjustable for ideal positioning. 

The monitor on the Hydrow can be folded flat for storage. When the monitor is folded in this way, the Hydrow can be stored in an upright position, with storage dimensions of 25” x 33” x 86”. To be able to store the Hydrow in this position, however, you need to purchase an additional kit for $70.

The Hydrow Rower is a lot heavier than the Concept2, at 145lbs compared to 70 lbs. That makes it a little trickier to move around. 

While not as streamlined as the Hydrow, the Concept2 is still a stylish-looking machine. It is also very durable, as attested to by its 500-pound max user weight. With dimensions of 24″ x 30″ x 96″, the Concept2 is longer than the Hydrow by ten inches. This makes it a better option for people who are more than 6-feet tall. 

Even though the Concept2 is ten inches longer than the Hydrow, it can be stored in two parts, so requires less storage height.

The large adjustable footrests on this machine provide a secure lock-in, while the ergonomic handle features a 10-degree angle for a more natural hand and arm position. 

The Concept2 RowErg is available in two versions, according to your preferred seat height. The standard version has a 14-inch seat height, while the elevated version has taller legs that allow for a 20-inch seat to accommodate people with mobility issues, making it easier to get on and off the machine. 

In terms of style and aesthetics, the Hydrow rowing machine is the winner here. It has a more modern look and feel to it. When it comes to functionality, both machines are pretty much on par with one another. 

Price

The Hydrow magnetic resistance rowing machine has a retail price of $2295. However, specials are sometimes run on the official website, bringing the price down by around $300 or so. 

You can also purchase various Hydrow packages that bring the price up. The most expensive option here is the $2665 package which throws in the following …

  • Machine Mat
  • Polar Verity Sense Heart Rate Monitor
  • Jaybird Vista Wireless Headphones
  • Foam Roller

To get access to the interactive touchscreen features of the Hydrow, you need to subscribe to the Hydrow app at a monthly cost of $38.

Hydrow offers free shipping when you buy their rowing machine. Shipping costs for the Concept2 RowErg average between 40-80 dollars depending on where you live. 

The Concept2 RowErrg is generally priced between $1100-$1200. That puts it at close to half the price of the Hydrow. 

Taking into account everything that we have discussed so far, then, it is pretty clear that the Concept2 represents far better value for money than the Hydrow. 

Warranty

The Hydrow warranty cover is as follows:

  • Structural Frame & Upright Storage Kit: Five Years
  • Components, Screen, & Other Electronics: Twelve Months
  • Labor: Twelve Months

Hydrow also offers a 30-day in-home trial. If, after 30 days you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, you can simply return the machine without obligation.

Here is the warranty cover on the Concept2 RowErg:

  • Structural Frame: Five Years
  • Components, Monitor, & Other Electronics: Two Years
  • Labor: Twelve Months

As you can see, the difference comes down to the components, with Concept2 offering twice as long as Hydrow. That makes the Concept2 RowErg the better machine when it comes to warranty coverage.

Customer Experience

Both Hydrow and Concept2 are well-established and reputable companies that provide a high level of customer service. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives Hydrow a rating of A-, with Concept2 getting an A+ rating from the BBB. 

Both companies have several reviews on Trustpilot. Hydrow has a TrustPilot rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, as compared to 4.4 out of 5 stars for Concept 2. The few complaints about both machines centered around issues to do with delivery rather than any fault with the product.

While both companies perform very well in terms of customer service, Hydrow has a slightly higher TrustPilot rating which is based on more previews, making the 4.7 average ratings more impressive. As a result, Hydrow wins out in terms of the customer experience.

Comparison Table

HydrowConcept2 RowERG
Dimensions25” x 8” x 47”24″ x 30″ x 96″
Max User Weight35 lbs500 lbs
Resistance TypeMagneticAir
Warranty5 yrs Frame / 1 yr parts5 yrs frame / 2 yrs parts
Monitor22-inch touch screenPM5 Monitor
Price$$$$$
ShippingFree$40-80
Weight145 lbs70 lbs

Hydrow vs Concept2: The Winner

The best overall in our Hydrow vs Concept2 head-to-head is the Concept 2 RowErg. As well as being around half the price of the Hydrow, the Concept2 provides you with a more natural variable resistance workout, just like you would get when rowing on the water. 

There is less likelihood of lag and jerkiness on the Concept2 RowErg. It is also a more durable machine with a far greater user weight and a longer rail length to suit taller people. All of these features combine to make the Concept2 RowErg the winner over the Hydrow magnetic rower.

However, if you are a person who wants to be able to have total control over the resistance level of your workout, you will be better off with the Hydrow which provides you with 300 levels of resistance. The Hydrow is also the better choice if you are looking for an immersive interactive rowing experience that puts you in the middle of the water. Just be prepared to pay for the privilege.

Hydrow
Hydrow
  • Immersive fitness experience
  • 3,000+ workouts
  • World-class instructors
Concept2 RowERG
Concept2 RowERG
  • Reliable workout data
  • Industry gold standard 
  • Many training options
Here at Start Rowing we include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission.
Steve Theunissen

AUTHOR

Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and school teacher and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.