Concept 2 Model In-Depth Review (Is It Worth The $$$)

Steve Hoyles September 23, 2021

It’s rare that a product dominates its market so heavily, but in the case of the Concept 2 Model D rower, that’s what has happened.

PriceMax User WeightLengthWidthFootprintHR Compatible?Free shipping?Computer
Check here500LB96”24”8’ x 2’YesYesPM5

It’s the undisputed GOAT of the rowing machine world, holding the position for over two decades. In that time there have been plenty of would-be challengers, but none of them can come close to the quality, consistency, accuracy and features of the Concept 2.

The biggest compliment I can give them? When I opened my gym I bought three of them…

Model D Rowing machine

I’ve done my research and concluded there was nothing even near them. As a combination of price, quality and ease of use, they’re in a different league altogether. In fact, I think it’s pretty strange when people buy anything but a Concept 2 Model D rower.

In this article, we’re going to go over the Model D in depth, what I love (and don’t love about it), and why I think it’s the undisputed king when it comes to rowing machines (and why you should too).

So let’s dive in.


A quick point to avoid any confusion before we get started…

The Concept 2 Model D was rebranded in April 2021 and is now called the ‘RowErg’ in line with the ‘SkiErg’ and ‘BikeErg’ products. For the avoidance of any confusion, the ‘RowErg’ is just the Model D rower with a different name – they’re pretty much exactly the same product.


What I love about the Concept 2 Model D rower…

As a gym owner and personal trainer, I have to make sure the equipment I use ticks a lot of boxes. The reasons I bought the Concept 2 Model D will be relevant to you too, so here’s what I looked for in my rower…

Workout creativity

The Concept 2 rowers have lots of different options for workout set up. As a personal trainer, this is really important because it means I can mix workout styles for my clients and my gym members. Monotony is a motivation killer, so it’s important to have options to avoid it.

On the PM5 computer (standard installation on Model D rowers) you can easily set up intervals across different times, distances and intensities. You can switch the rest periods too. You can set workouts for particular distances or times.

There are all kinds of possible workouts that can be set up within a few touches of a button. It’s a basic yet detailed interface, which is streets ahead of its rivals. 

There are also games built into the PM5 computer. There’s a race setting, a darts game and a fish game that can provide you with a little workout variety on the days when you just want to take your brain out and enjoy a mixed challenge! (I tried the darts game recently and I’m TERRIBLE, so any tips welcome!)

should you get a concept 2 model rower for your gym

Lots of data points

If you’re a coach or athlete who loves data, the Concept 2 is the best of them all. As a snapshot, you can collect data across the following categories…

  • Time
  • Watts
  • Calories 
  • Distance
  • Strokes per minute (SPM)

This is a big benefit because you have a multitude of comparables across a training cycle. Whether you’re interested in outright endurance, sprint endurance, anaerobic training or pure power output, you’ve got the tools to measure whatever you need to.

I can track workout intensity by pairing a heart rate monitor with the PM5 computer. I love heart rate monitors (think they’re a really underrated training tool), so the ability to get a live ‘feed’ of intensity is invaluable for both coaches and athletes. There’s no hiding place with a heart rate monitor! 

Beyond this I can track and save workout data for clients, so we’ve got an accurate record of their training history. They can take this information with them, so even if they’re on the road they can save workout progress.

Simple set up

The LCD screen on the concept 2 rower means that adjusting the screen to pick up the information you need is really simple. There’s a handful of buttons to access a whole bunch of menus, but each one is intuitive. From a user experience point of view, it’s excellent. It also lights up immediately during a workout, which is a neat feature.

Concept 2 PM5 computer

Once you’re into the menu you can quickly and easily switch between modes using the various buttons. Any workout you’d like to do can be put together within a few seconds thanks to the simple interface and limited buttons.

The resistance is determined by the flywheel. Workout intensity is increased or decreased by airflow through the flywheel, and effort put in by the user. Nothing could be simpler!

Easy storage

With 8000 square feet to play with, this isn’t really an issue to me but it’s a definite consideration for a home gym user. 

The beauty of the Concept 2 Model D is the ease of storage in a number of different ways. First of all is its size – the machine is 8’ long and 2’ wide, so it doesn’t take up a huge amount of space. 

Secondly, a couple of unique design features make it a really easy machine to store. It can be stood on its end, taking up an area less than 2’ x 2’.When it is pushed against a wall you’re left with a lot of additional room in your gym!

It can also be broken into two parts because of a latch system on the machine. The two sections take literally seconds to put together, so it’s easy to break down and push against a side wall.

Concept 2 Model D SkiErg
Concept 2 Model D review
what it's like to own Concept 2 Model D

Unlike most of the other cardio options on the market (and the other rowers on the market for that matter), the Concept 2 Model D weighs only 26kg and takes up barely any room. It means it can be easily transported and stored in almost any sized space. The in-built wheels make moving the machine around really easy. 

If you’re struggling for space and it’s making your cardio machine decisions difficult, the Concept 2 Model D is arguably the most suitable option you’ve got. It’ll fit into most home gym set ups.

It turns out I’m not on my own with my love for the Concept 2 Model D rower – check out these reviews! An amazing 5* across nearly 1100…

Black Concept 2 ROWERG ROWER - PM5 reviews


Why buy a model D rower?

When you buy a Concept 2 rower, you’re not just buying a rower – you’re buying decades of innovation, in-the-trenches testing and billions of hours of user feedback. 

You’re buying into excellence of build quality and after sales. You’re also buying a unique proposition… a market-leading product at a really affordable price point. You’re buying into a product that has been steadily improved over the years. They last for years and are suitable for anyone at any fitness level. 

Whilst a rowing machine isn’t cheap, it’s far more affordable than a treadmill for example.

I’ve trained in gyms all over the world and almost only ever see Concept 2 model D’s – in fact it’s odd to see anything other than a Concept 2 when you head into a gym! 
They’re the go-to rowing machine for the indoor rowing world championships. It’s the only rowing machine used at the CrossFit games. Olympic Rowing teams around the world only use Concept 2 rowers to do their land based training. If they aren’t strong enough endorsements, I don’t know what is!

Build quality is excellent

Anyone who has read my articles knows I’m hot on build quality. It drives me insane when care and attention to quality isn’t there. Home gym equipment isn’t cheap, so you want to make sure you’re buying well-made stuff.

The Concept 2 Model D is truly excellent in this regard.

I can’t honestly recall having to call out an engineer to repair any of my rowers. They have hundreds of hours of use per week, but they still look great and work very well. Of course I have to change the batteries every now and then, but that’s a standard bit of maintenance.

A light coating of oil on the chain every 6 months or so, plus a regular vacuuming of the flywheel and it’s good to go. The chain is robust, the seat is excellent, handles are strong and the components are all high quality. On the rare occasion there’s a problem, the Concept 2 after sales are helpful.


What can be improved?

I’ve struggled with this, because there’s no ‘perfect’ machine, but there’s nothing I think that’s wrong with the Concept 2 Model D. 

If I was being really picky, I’d perhaps suggest a firmer grip under the machine – on very smooth floors the machines have a tendency to move forwards or backwards depending on the power and intensity with which someone is rowing. If a big guy is going full gas on the machine it can edge backwards, but for 95% of the users it doesn’t happen.


Are there better options?

This is an easy question to answer. No. The Concept 2 Model D is the best rowing machine on the market. There’s nothing that comes close. 

The Concept 2 Model D rower is the best rowing machine on the market. It’s perfect for your home gym and at $900, is one of the more affordable cardio options there are. It’s definitely worth the money!

If you are looking for a more affordable option, while it won’t be near to the value of the Concept 2 Model Rower, I wrote about decent rowing machines under $500 here.


Steve Hoyles

Steve is a Personal Trainer, Weightlifting Coach, and Gym Owner. He has written about fitness for over a decade. He lives with his girlfriend Rachel and their two sons.

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