Buying Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine? | Read This Review First | 2017

The Concept 2 Model D is a world-class rowing machine. It is used in the biggest fitness centers of the world by the fittest of athletes because of its high intensity. Additionally, it is also used by fitness enthusiasts who are recovering from physical injuries (like physical rehab centers) due to its low impact on the joints.  With its dynamic performance display, great build quality and closeness to actual rowing, you have very few reasons to not buy the model D (its cost being one) if you are looking for a great rowing machine that can tone your entire body.

Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

Manufacturer Concept 2
Price Click here to check the lowest prices for the Concept 2 Model D
Pros Great build quality, Damper settings for resistance, PM5 Monitor, Great design, Low impact.
Cons Noise, Steen chain link.
Final Verdict The Concept 2 Model D rowing machine is packed with features like the robust display, great design, resistance with damper settings, and ease of storage. The drawbacks are surely traded off with more stability and durability.
Rating 4.7/5

Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

Product Specifications:

  • Performance Display: PM5
  • Machine Weight: 57 lbs (26 kg)
  • Space Required When Folded25” x 33” x 54” (63.5 cm x 83.8 cm x 137.2 cms)
  • Space Required When Assembled: 8’ x 2’ (244 cm x 61 cm)
  • Finish: Powder coated
  • Maximum User Weight: 500 lbs (227 kg) by Concept2 standards
  • Monorail Length: 54” (137.16 cms)

Included with your Purchase:

  • Model D User manual
  • Performance Monitor Quick Start Guide
  • Tools and illustrated assembly instructions

Why we love the Concept 2 Model D Machine?

#1 Build Quality

The Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine is one of the strongest rowing machines in the market. It has a strong skeleton that can handle the hardest of workouts. The legs, as well as the rails, give a rich and premium feel. The machine stood strong under heavy amounts of loads and intensities in our labs. You can be sure that the machine will never leave you stranded in the middle of a workout. The concept 2 machine is trusted by international rowers, used in commercial gyms, and time tested by thousands of individual users under extreme stress. If the amazing build of this machine wasn’t enough, it also comes with an extremely comprehensible and transferrable warranty. (2-years warranty for the frame parts and 5-years warranty for all other parts). With such a great build, you can be carefree and row as hard as you want. The machine will withstand it.

#2 Resistance

If your aim is to do high intensity and long duration workouts, the resistance system of this machine will be your best friend because it adjusts itself according to the effort you put into it. The Concept 2 Model D uses an Air-resistance system. This system operates in such a way that the resistance offered by the rower increases as you row with more and more intensity. When the rower handle is pulled, the flywheel inside the casing rotates and air flowing over it creates resistance. When the speed and intensity of the workout increases, the amount of air flowing over the flywheel also increases, thus increasing the resistance provided by the machine to the user. This happens because when more air flows, it slows down the flywheel during the recovery cycle and thus it takes more effort in the next stroke to accelerate the flywheel. This system is highly useful for longer uninterrupted sets for building great cardio strength.

#3 Feels Like Rowing In Water

Because of its closeness to real rowing, its even distribution of resistance, and smoothness of motion, this machine is preferred by the majority of world-class Olympic athletes as it gives them a real feel of the physical environment. The case with typical air-resistance system machines, such as Stamina ATS rower, is that the user has absolutely no control over how much air flows above the flywheel. The only control a user has lies in his ability to row faster. In the case of Concept 2 Model D, although you cannot control the resistance directly, but you can control the amount of air entering into the flywheel casing. This doesn’t directly affect the resistance but it changes the way rowing feels. There’s a damper setting to control this which can be set between 1-10. A damper setting between 1-4 damper feels like rowing in a small and sleek boat. You will have to make faster and easier strokes to make the boat move faster. The higher damper settings, however, will make the machine feel like rowing a big slow boat. You will need to make slower but longer strokes that need more force. Keeping the boat analogy in mind, the water in both cases will offer resistance during recovery cycle, but what will truly make your workout great is the speed at which you row which can be easily measured using the performance monitor.

#4 Performance Monitor/Control Panel:Concept 2 Model D PM5

The Performance Monitor (PM5) of the Concept 2 Model D is one of the best performance monitors available in the market. Monitors from other brands offer simple data such as time, distance, speed, calories, etc. but the PM5 from Concept 2 has much more to offer. These are some of the most useful functions of the PM5:

  1. Instantly start your workout without any settings.
  2. Choose a routine from a pre-programmed set of workouts.
  3. Create custom workouts for your needs and/or analysis results.
  4. Play built-in games to make your workouts interesting.
  5. Analyze the data of your workouts and compare it against the ideal data.
  6. Export data via USB and do in-depth analysis.

It gives a performance score on every rowing stroke, which is calculated according to the speed of that stroke. It has a backlit display to view the data in low-light settings, USB compatibility for storing data, wireless compatibility to record your heart rate using ANT+ and using Bluetooth Smart technologies. You will need an additional sensing accessory for heart-rate monitoring. You can transfer your workout data to your computer and analyze it for getting better efficiency in future workouts.

#5 Great Design

The model D comes in two different colors – black and light gray. The machine boasts a 8 feet (L) x 2 feet (W) footprint. This enables the machine to accommodate rowers who are up to 6’7” tall. While the aluminium front legs keep the equipment light weight, the steel rear legs provide great stability. The footrests are designed ergonomically and can accommodate all foot sizes. The handles have a 10-degree bend so that you can hold it at a natural angle. The chain connecting the handle and flywheel is nickel plated which ensures durability. That said, you must oil it after every alternate use to keep it silky smooth like it was when you bought it.

#6 Maximum Capacity

A great rowing workout can be performed with Concept 2 Model D by users ranging from children to 80-year-olds. It can handle a user with a maximum weight of up to 500 lbs. The frame is considerably long to be able to accommodate such a wide range of rowers. Ethan, one of the tallest (6’4”) people in our team had tested it out and found it extremely comfortable.

#7 Storage and Handling

In spiteConcept 2 Model D Folding of the fact that this machine is comfortable for such a wide audience, the storage of this machine is fairly simple. It uses a quick-release framelock mechanism which makes folding the Concept 2 Rower a 2-step process that involves unpinning the monorail and flywheel casing and folding it in two halves. Once folded, the dimensions of the machine become 25” W x 33” H x 54” L and storing the machine won’t be a problem. It also has caster wheels which are very useful for moving the machine from one place to another.

#8 Assembly

Out-of-the-box assembly of Concept 2 Model D takes just about 20 to 30 minutes. The package includes a comprehensive guide to assemble everything. There are total 8 screws and every tool that you need to assemble this machine is provided by Concept 2.

#9 Post Purchase Services

After going through the user reviews about the customer service on several vendor websites, and trying to get in touch with the customer service ourselves, we are 100% in favor of the worldwide opinion that concept 2 has a prompt and helpful customer service. They are quick with their replies and try to help you in the best way possible. Concept 2 also has an extensive community of users who regularly keep contributing to the forum with lots of useful concept 2 specific information as well as general fitness tips. So anytime you’re stuck either with something technical and machine related or with something about your workout routines, you can head over to the website and get in touch with the customer service or the forum respectively. Click here to check the lowest prices for the Concept 2 Model D

What Do We Think Can Be Improved?

#1 Noise

Like all air resistance rowing machines, the model D, too, comes with added noise. After a while, users start loving the sound because the harder the workout, the noisier it becomes. Many reviews state that this noise motivates them to push harder. For others who are like us and don’t enjoy the noise of this machine, you can always use earphones and music as your ally. Also, the isn’t too loud. It does not transcend to other rooms, so you don’t need to worry about waking up your sleeping baby.

#2 Less padding on seat

The seat might feel hard if you are using it for longer workouts. The padding is a bit thin than what one would expect and even though there are several simple ways to overcome this issue, all of that should have come from the company itself, given the premium price point.

#3 Chain links instead of nylon straps

The chain used in the model D requires a lot of maintenance effort. The Nylon strap used in Stamina Air Rower ATS requires little to no maintenance. The trade off obviously is the stability. The chain link used in the Concept 2 rower provides high stability. ATS, on the other hand, is not as stable as the model D.

Final Verdict

The Concept 2 Model D rowing machine is a premium piece of equipment. Features like the robust display, great design, resistance with damper settings, and ease of storage are packed into this machine. Although there are some drawbacks like the noise, lesser padding, and higher maintenance requirement for the chain links, they are surely traded off with other advantages like its closeness to actual rowing, its compact size and great stability. Overall, this is a great machine irrespective of whether you’re just beginning to row or you’ve been rowing since a long time and want to raise the bar. It’s great build quality will keep you satisfied for years to come.


If you want to take your rowing to the next level, you can buy the RowPro software ($100) and project your rowing data on your computer or TV. You can compete with your past self or other rowers around the world and turn your rowing into a fun game.

Click here to check the lowest prices for the Concept 2 Model D

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