Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine Review

Concept 2 Model D side viewIf you are here we know that you already did some research about rowing machines and how these ones can help in your training. We had the chance to test the Concept2 Model D rowing machine with Air-resistance flywheel and share with you our impressions about this.

First, we want to speak about financial commitment because with a value of around 1000$ plus taxes you don’t want to have one very expensive closet hanger. It is a very good price for a rowing machine, but still is an investment, so think about this before making a purchase.

But before talking about Concept2 Model D rowing machine let’s do a short review about how a rowing machine influences your muscle. And how is helping you to gain strength and power.

The good thing about rowing is that your entire body is challenged and worked in a full stroke. The bad thing is that you can’t cheat, as you can’t use only your feet and put your arms at rest or vice versa.  Your entire body is working!

There are 4 steps that are taking place when you do a full stroke and we put together some info to help you understand how this is exercise will action your muscle:
The Catch, Start Of The Drive, The Drive, The Finish

As we think you know, there are more types of machine, but the common ones are using magnetic constraints and air resistance. Even if many are recommend for novice users to use a magnetic rowing machine, we want to tell you that the constant resistance that you experience all time. That is why you will feel sore arms and the movement will not be 100% natural.

This is the reason why air-flow resistance rowing is better because the natural movement of your body isn’t forced. And you will feel a plus from the air stream that the machine is generating, it will help you breathe better. There are a lot of reasons why one or another, but we think that the air-flow resistance system is better.

Delivery and Assembly

Now let’s go back to our rowing machine Ok, did the Amazon purchase, in 2 days the delivery guy let the package on our porch and we want to start from here. You will find that the size of the package is pretty big, but not that heavy. It’s around 70 pounds and if you struggle a little bit you can take it by yourself.

This is what surprised us, is that the box has only two major elements: The Flywheel and the seat. Besides these, you will find that there are only 8 screws and a screwdriver. Yes, we are not kidding, you also get the screwdriver (better the Ikea).

The two main sections are joined at the middle with a hook design and the seat is just fitting in the Flywheel section and you only need is to lock it down. It was really easy to assemble, a job that you can do it without any help.

The rowing doesn’t take up much space, but you will need to have about 9 linear feet free space to put is somewhere.
After the Concept2 rowing was completed we liked the solid built of it. All materials used to manufacture it are premium and we think that this why you have a 5-year frame warranty.

To move the rowing machine and store you can use the caster wheels that are attached on the main console. You can store the rower vertically without the need to separate the machine. But for this, you will need to have space and a high ceiling.
Or you can separate the monorail and the main console. You will lift vertically the flywheel, as it can be done when you want to store near to a wall and the gliding section will stand up.

Concept2 Model D foldedThe entire operations take around 20 seconds to put them apart and another 20 seconds to put the pieces back together. By doing this, you will have a half-size rower that can be placed where you want.
In case you want to store the rowing machine for a long time, it is important to not forget the batteries inside the Monitor. In this way, you will prevent any corrosion that can be caused by the batteries that will drain while not in use. And remove a pin that is positioned at the end from the center console.

Next step is to raise the gliding (be careful here that the seat will slide and can pinch your fingers) and reinsert the pin back and tighten the knob. Now can be moved with the help of transportation wheels that are in the front of the rower and put it easily in a storage room until your next training.


The resistance used by Model D is  “variable”. That means that is using air resistance and is variable depending on the stroke’s pace. By pulling the handlebar the airwheel from the main console will start spinning. When is spinning the airwheel is acting like a fan and is creating drag and in this way, the resistance is transmitted to the handlebar.
So, the harder you pull, the airwheel will spin faster and in this way, the felt resistance will be greater. At a higher pace, you need to work more and keeping the high pace you will strengthen yourself. Which is great 🙂

On magnetic resistance, you first select a resistance level and you will get the same intensity no matter what is your pace. This is an “adjustable” resistance and that is what differentiates these two types of resistance.

The advantages of air resistance are done by the response given by the machine. By having a greater resistance only at a higher pace that means this kind of resistance mimics rowing on water. You don’t feel any lag, only the natural movement that you That is one of the reasons why many Olympic teams use Concept2 to train indoors.using Concept2 Model D

Due to the construction, but especially because of the resistance, the Concept2 Model D can be found in Crossfit boxes or gyms. If you have used a rower in a gym, for sure it was a Concept 2 rowing machine.
Beside normal rowing workout, where you train based on distance and time, the air rowing machines are used in HIIT (High-Interval Intensity Training) or Tabata. 

The Crossfit gyms excel in integrating these machines in their daily WOD (Workout of Day). For this, you will work in a short burst of a high-intensity workout, where you will pull as hard as you can for 30 seconds and rest for another 30 seconds. This is just an example from many workouts where an air rowing machine is integrated.

Technical Details and Specification


  • Assembled dimensions: 96″ x 24″x 28″ inches
  • Product weight: 57 lbs
  • Supported weight: 500 lbs
  • Frame: Steel, foldable
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance type: Air
  • Console: Performance Monitor version 5
  • Warranty: Frame 5 years / Parts and console 2 years

Using LifeSpan RW 1000 magnetic rower

Found a place to put it and let’s try it, to see what this “toy” can do. First, we left the default level, in middle and started to workout. After a couple minutes, started to feel how the heart began to pump at a high level. Also, most important we haven’t felt any supplementary pressure on our knees. After about 5 minutes of exercise on a constant level, you will start to feel that every muscle in your body is stretched, awesome!

As they are the leading company, the design of the seat is the result of a lot of testings and feedbacks. During training, the butt is taking the most of the user weight and serving as a pivoting point. Moreover, the butt muscles are used at the same time the user is sitting on them. The seat was created to take this pressure and at the same time to allow natural blood circulation in your legs. 

Concept 2 Model D SeatThe seat doesn’t have standard padding, but it was designed with the purpose each user can choose the product that suits him/her. If you don’t want to pay for any extra padding you can just fold a towel and put it over the seat. It will do the job perfectly.
But please be careful, the size of the towel it should no be too big because it can get caught in the seat rollers.

After a time on rowing, it is possible that you can feel the seat it’s kind of hard, but this sensation will disappear in time, meaning that your glutens muscle will get stronger.


This rowing machine can accommodate all people, of different weight or height. 

It has a maximum user capacity of 500lbs, this is telling more about how sturdy and resistance has been built. Also, the height is not an issue, even if you have  6′ 5″ you will not feel any discomfort doing a stroke


You will wonder about the noise that the rowing machine will generate, here we can tell that the machine does not rumble. Yes, by using the air resistance you will still hear the “whooshing” sound did by the airwheel, but that is normal. 

Overall The noise level from Concept2 Model D is exactly what to expect from an air rowing machine. And the loudness is given by how are you are pulling and what intensity you have.  Maybe at the peak of your training you will need to turn up the volume on your TV or headphones.
If you are leaving in an apartment, your neighbors will not be disturbed by the noise of your workout. 

We exercise having a Youtube playlist playing on a normal volume. For us, this means that the Concept2 Model D is built very well.

Resistance Levels

As we said previously, the rowing machine is using a variable resistance. The resistance is given by the intensity and a higher pace. Although it has variable resistance, the feeling of it can be modified by using the damper system.

The damper system is found on the side of the flywheel cage and by using the lever you can control how much air flows into the cage. The levels are numbered, from 1 to 10, where 1 is the lowest.

Concept 2 Model D Damper System

A high damper level will allow more air to go through the flywheel. Having more air, you need to pull harder to spin the airwheel and also it will slow down faster the flywheel on the recovery.
By selecting a lower level, the air quantity that arrives into the cage will be lesser and that ’s why the wheel it will be easier to spin.

In the beginning, you will need to experiment to see what damper setting will work best for you. The recommendation is to start on a setting of 3 to 5, as you want to get the best results from your workout.

Handle and Footrest

The Model D is equipped with a that has an ergonomically design and it is covered with molded rubber grips.  It has a 10-degree bend that allows you to have a natural arm position.

Due to the special rubber that assures a smooth transition of the stroke, but overgripping or tensions in your forearms can lead to blisters and fatigue. Your grip will need to be loose and comfortable.
In the beginning, it will be better to wear gloves to get used with the handle and the proper hand position.

Concept 2 Model D footrestThe footrests of Model D are big enough to accommodate all different sizes. It uses straps to fix the foot the pedal and on the base has a heel guard.
To strap your foot is very easy, just fix the heel on the foot stretcher and the strap will come over the foot. To remove the foot, just release the strap, push your feet forward and pull the heel out from the heel-guard. Now you can remove the foot.

The pedals allow pivoting, in this way, the natural movement of a stroke is enhanced.

We tried, we liked, but we want to share some more info that we think you will like.

Control Panel

You can monitor your progress on PM5 (Performance Monitor) that comes with battery included. This one is really a performant tracking monitor for your workouts, being told to be your “training partner”.
There are a lot of functions packed to this monitor and it will provide distance, speed, pace, Calories, watts and much more. You can select the way that the info is showed, there are five options, all data, force curve, bar chart, large print and having a paceboat.
There are a lot of basic functions that are shown on the monitor.

To turn on is quite simple, just pull the handle and the Control panel will start.

Basic Functions

As we said, there are several options to be displayed on the monitor, just press the “Display” button to cycle through the options or select the lateral buttons:

  • All Data – where you can see all the details, time, details workout intensity, etc
  • Force Curve – is a graph showing the power used during a stroke
  • PaceBoat/PaceSkier – allows you to row against a target pace, illustrated on the monitor
  • Bar Chart – shows power in watts for each stroke
  • Large Print  – large fonts are displayed for easier viewing

Control Panel of Concept2 Model DThe PM5 is recording all workouts that you have done and you can connect it to PC via USB cable. In this way, the logs can be downloaded and compared, track your overall progress or see what are the areas where you can improve.

Heart Rate Monitor

The monitor has the option to integrate a heart rate strap and display the data in real time on the Panel. To view the data is not necessary to buy a separate heart rate monitor, you can use the chest belts that are sold by Concept2 and sync them with the Monitor.

To synchronize the belt you will choose “More Options” after you’ll select “Connect Heart Rate” and wait for the monitor to discover the belt.
When is discovered, you will see the name of the heart rate belt displayed and just press the button next to it. That’s all.

Using PaceBoat Option

Using Pace Boat Concept 2 Model DThe PaceBoat option is used, in most cases, as a personal best time or as a target time and if you beat the PaceBoat you have a new personal best.
Monitor will start with a default value of 2000 meters, but it can be changed, with a split of 500m. The split will be basically the pace that will need to be sustained to cover the distance of 500m in the time that you have selected. 

If your goal is to row 2000m in 8 minutes, the split value will be 2 minutes.  

After you set the total distance, the split distance and time, press the OK button and the display info will be changed.
At the bottom, there will be the PaceBoat and at the moment you start rowing the PaceBot will start moving. You will only need to keep up with PaceBoat to achieve your target.

RowPro Software

The RowPro software is specially created for Concept2 rowing machines. Is sold separately at a value of 99$, but it has a lifetime license.
What you can do with RowPro? There are plenty of options where you can choose from. 

There is a “Personal coach” at your disposition. There no need to search on Youtube what is the best way to do a stroke. A 3D simulation in slow motion will explain step by step how you can get a perfect stroke.
You have training plans from where you can choose with different goals, lose weight, fitness or competition. All of them are made to challenge you and motivate to reach the end goal.Concept2 Rowing competition

There are a lot of other options from where you can choose, but by far the best option is Online rowing. By using this feature you will row online, in real time, with other users. You will see your boat and the users boats. 

Your boat will move accordingly with the data that PM5 is recording.  You can compete or you can just be part of the rowing community to spend quality time. This is why this feature is from far the best.

A last word

We know that is not cheap, but the Concept2 Model D is a good investment if you want a rowing machine. This brand is dominating the rowing machine market and this is why Is durable, well build, easy to assemble and move, connectivity to health apps and RowPro.

These make the Concept2 Model D the ideal rowing machine for your home, for indoor training.

As this is an expensive rowing machine and if you are interested for a rower that is more in budget you can check this upgraded model from Stamina. Also, you may want to check the bestseller in a budget range, also a model from Stamina


Using Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine


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