Despite being one of the more expensive flywheel rowers out there, the Concept2 Model 2 Indoor rowing machine is unique in its design, functionality, and is also rich in features that will make it far more practical than competitor models. In this review, we will go over all of its features, see where it shines and what are some of its biggest drawbacks. In the end, we will also compare it to another premium rower to see how it fares when put side by side with other expensive models.
If you want to learn more about rowers and see which the best models for this year are, head over to my buyer’s guide on the best rowing machines. Now, let’s start with a brief overview of the Model D…
Overview & Features
Design and Build Quality
As I already mentioned, the Model D is a flywheel rower, meaning it will have a flywheel in its body instead of magnetic mechanisms or a water tank. This makes it slightly smaller and much lighter when it comes to its overall dimensions. The rower is actually quite narrow and very long, making it a bit awkward to position. It measures 8 ft long and 2 ft wide when fully assembled but you will need at least 9 by 4 feet in order to use it freely. The Model D is also foldable making it fairly easy to store, even though it still is quite bulky when folded. When folded it is 25 x 33 x 54 inches in dimensions.
I cannot fault the build quality here, though, as it is on par with all the other premium rowing machines on the market currently. Everything is solid, there is no squeaking when using it and all the parts work flawlessly together. The handle and saddle are well-padded and the monorail and other metallic parts are durable and sturdy. Everything is powder painted so it won’t chip or rust over time, no matter where you use it.
In terms of its resistance settings, there are none here since the Model D uses its flywheel to generate resistance. That means that the harder you row, the more air drag the flywheel will create, ultimately making it harder and harder to row.
This is an aspect where this rowing machine truly shines. The Model D can hold up to 500 lbs of user weight which is just a testament of its build quality and sturdiness. It also fits people with an inseam of less than around 40 inches. Anyone with an inseam longer than that will require an extra-long monorail. The seat height is also decent at 14-inches. If you want to have a higher seat height (at around 30 inches), I suggest checking out the Model E. As a whole, the overall length of the rower allows for people of all sizes to train on it with quite a lot of freedom in their movements.
The computer of the Model D is an actual focus point that adds a ton of value to the rower as a whole. At first glance, it is a fairly simple computer that shows you the basic information. However, the deeper you go in its menus and options, the more you realize that it is actually quite helpful and sophisticated. For instance, it includes workout presets that you can follow by trying to match your output to the cone that the computer is suggesting for a certain part of the workout. The metrics the performance monitor 5 (PM5) can track are pace, meters traveled, watts, and calories burned (based on your metrics). The computer itself comes with a smartphone cradle that does an excellent job of holding various smartphone sizes in place. The cradle clicks at the top of the computer and allows you to use your phone as you work out. The computer also wirelessly connects to different devices through its ANT+ and Bluetooth connections. This can be very useful if you want to connect it with your chest-strapped heart rate sensor.
You can find out where chest straps are more accurate than wrist HR trackers by clicking here.
Comfort and Noise
In terms of comfort, everything here is padded and extremely comfortable to adjust to your needs. The handle and seat are beginner-friendly and the actual flywheel is very smooth in its operation. One thing that flywheels are notoriously bad at, though, is the sound. Once you get up to speed, the sound from that same flywheel might become too noisy for some people looking for a stealthy way to work out from their apartments. It is great for ventilating the room you are training in, but it does create a flat noisy background that can be tiring to listen to unless you’re listening to music when working out.
Additional features and accessories
There aren’t a lot of things that I haven’t already mentioned. Apart from the smartphone cradle that you get for your computer, there aren’t many other accessories you’re getting. The ANT+ and Bluetooth connections are worth mentioning again since they allow you to connect to external sensors and devices that will help you track your workout metrics.
Inside your package, you will be getting the Model D rower, the performance monitor 5 with a quick start guide for it, a user manual, and tools and instructions for the assembly process. The actual assembly doesn’t take more than 5 minutes if you’re alone since it essentially has only 8 screws to be inserted and screwed in. After you’re done setting it up, the rower takes less than a minute every time you want to fold it for storing purposes. It can also be easily separated for more convenient storage.
The last thing I want to discuss here is the price of the Model D. At first it might seem expensive but it is important to remember that flywheel rowers are typically on the more expensive part of the spectrum. Additionally, the good build quality and high functionality add up to a price that puts it against some pretty premium competition.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Good build quality
- 500lbs weight capacity
- Detailed on-board computer and controls
- Compact (when stored)
- Excellent for beginners
- If you have an inseam longer than 38 inches you will likely need a longer monorail to be able to use this rower
- When pushed too hard it is noisy
- Requires a long empty space in your home
- It is very expensive for people that are on a tight budget for a cheaper rowing machine
If you want to learn how to use a rowing machine and find out more about the different types of workouts you can perform on your rower, make sure you check my detailed article on the topic! Now, let’s see how the Model D stacks up against a slightly more premium and quite a different competitor…
Concept2 Model D Vs WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine
Despite having a few hundred dollars of difference in their prices, these two rowers fall more or less in the same price bracket. Their differences are vast, however. For starters, the WaterRower is a… well, a water rower. It brings a much smoother and realistic experience to the table. This specific water rower can’t actually adjust its flywheel inside the water tank, meaning it provides the same levels of passive resistance as the Concept2 rower. It is, however, much quieter than the exposed flywheel of the Model D.
The most striking difference, however, is in the design language and materials used. The Classic Water Rower is made out of a beautiful Black Walnut and if you didn’t know it was a rower, you’d say it was a piece of fancy furniture sitting in the living room. Due to its shorter and more robust design, the WaterRower isn’t foldable but can actually hold up to 1000lbs of weight which is the highest of almost all rowers on the market currently.
Another huge advantage of the WaterRower (and also the main reason for the slight price difference) is the S4 Monitor. It is an overall better rowing computer than the PM5 you get on the Model D.
As a whole, if you’re looking for a rower inside this budget, the WaterRower will provide a much more realistic experience and will be quieter and better-looking. If you are set on having an exposed flywheel rower, however, the Model D is as good as it gets in this price class. Both rowers have an excellent build quality and will last you quite some time. If you want to occasionally store your rower, then the Concept D takes the edge, as the WaterRower cannot be folded and will be quite hard to move and store once you’ve set it up.
Conclusion & Rating
The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is quite an interesting rower in almost all aspects. It is lengthy but easy to use, expensive but worth your money, noisy but excellent for ventilating your apartment room, relatively difficult to set up but super easy to fold and store once you get the hang of it. As a whole, it takes a bit of getting used to, especially since it is a flywheel model but once you get the hang of it, you will love having this in your apartment. Despite its high price tag, I think this is one of the better-built models out there and it will certainly last you a long while before it starts to have any issues. As a whole, flywheel models are relatively issue-free in the long run and this being a premium flywheel rower should be well worth the money if you plan on keeping it for longer. I gave it four and a half out of five stars mainly for its high initial cost.