Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

9.5 score
[Editors rating (9.5)] = (Garage Gym Ideas - Ultimate Home Gym Design) score (9.5)/10

Editor rating: 9.5 / 10
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Concept 2 Model D Rowing MachineReview Facts

When it comes to functional fitness, there isn’t much to compare to the rowing machine. It will max out weight loss, while also maxing out the shoulder, back, and high strength. The most popular ergometers on the market are undoubtedly the Concept 2 range. But how good really is the commercial gym equipment rower? Does it deserve its exalted reputation? Or is there a better, more cost-effective alternative? This article digs deep to bring you the answers.

Editor's Pros & Cons

2 independent hydraulic cylinders for resistance

3 adjustable rowing positions

Textured, anti-slip pedals

Solidly built for commercial use

Fluid, natural rowing motion

Fantastic workout monitor

Most respected brand in the industry


Sits low to the ground

Takes a lot of space (8 feet long)

Fan is noisy

Can cause blisters at the beginning


There are three models in the Concept 2 rower range; the Models D, E and the Dynamic. The Concept 2 model A, B, and C are no longer in production. The most popular is the Model D. In fact, it is the best selling rowing machine in the world. It uses an air resistance that has the flywheel attached to fan blades. This creates a smooth, even resistance without any lag time. The Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is a variable resistance rower, yet it still provides you with ‘dampers’ which allow for adjustment to the feel of each stroke. You can adjust the damper setting from 1 to 10. This changes the amount of air going into the flywheel. That means that, at higher levels, you’ll get the feel of a heavy boat, while lower levels are like a sleek schooner. You will need to experiment with the settings until you find what fits you the best.

The intensity of the ride is determined by how fast you row. In other words, the faster you go, the harder it will be! This allows users to create their own pace suited best for their fitness levels. This is called variable resistance, and it's one of the best out there. Also, this type of resistance is ideal for HIIT training, because you don't need to stop to adjust the resistance to your needs. You just go until you reach the desired heart rate! The rower needs almost zero maintenance, and if a problem ever does occur it's very easy to fix. One negative with this kind of resistance is the amount of sound it creates. You will hear the air coursing through the fan all the time while you row, and some users can find this annoying. The noise isn't that loud to actually disturb other people, but you will need to turn the Tv or music volume up if you enjoy doing this while working out.


​The Concept 2 pace calculator is the world’s most advanced onboard calculator. The PM3 monitor is very user-friendly while being packed with features, although some version of the Model D comes with a PM5 monitor. There's a reason why most advertisers call this console the perfect training partner! The display is large and backlit, so the data is easy to read. The Concept 2 display tracks your distance, time, speed, pace, calories and watts. It provides 5 pre-set workouts and allows you to customize your own workout. There are even animations demonstrating perfect technique and you can play games! The console is very easy to use and master.

If you own a chest strap heart rate monitor, you can get even more accurate results. The data will be displayed on the console alongside everything else, so you'll know when you reach your desired heart rate without a problem. The consoles support ANT+, Bluetooth, or Bluetooth Smart, depending on what kind of console your model comes with. If your console is the one with Bluetooth Smart, just make sure that your devices are compatible with this. The monitor also has a slot for a USB drive. This way you can save your workout data and review it whenever you feel like it. Concept2 has an online logbook, called Concpet2 utility, where you can upload said data and see the numbers in great detail. A lot of third-party apps are compatible with the data from this rower, and you can even see detailed graphs of what you look like when rowing! It's worth saying that the monitor is quite durable. The buttons are rubber, made to withstand wear and tear damage, while the lettering doesn't fade away, even after a long while.


The Concept2 is not too pricey, but it is on the higher end of the price scale, so it's logical that you expect outstanding build quality. And that you will get! The Model D comes in either matte black or slate gray, and it's made to withstand commercial use. This means that it can easily withstand multiple people using it constantly. This makes it ideal for both home and Crossfit gym settings. This means that you don't have to worry about it breaking while you're using it! The unit has zero plastic parts, and it feels rather sturdy. The base is equipped with steel legs, while the front and monorail are aluminum, and the steel track is made out of stainless steel. Many users report that the machine works the same way even after 10 years of constant use! This is an important aspect, since you will gradually become stronger as you use the machine, and it must be able to withstand more abuse.


The stroke on this rower is quite smooth, similar to what would actual rowing feel like. This is the reason why many professional rowers choose this machine to work out when they cannot go on the water. The seat glides along the monorail smoothly, while the chain that works the flywheel doesn't snag. This means that every phase of rowing will feel effortless and trouble-free. You must remember to lubricate the chain every once in a while, and the monorail must be cleaned, if you want to conserve this smoothness.

The seat of the Concept2 is wide, accommodating users of all shapes and sizes, and it's padded thicky to prevent saddle sores. But some users report that the seat tends to get harder and harder to sit on as time goes by. So you will probably have to replace the padding on the seat as the years go by. A removable seat pad, or even a folded towel, are good options.

The handles are easy to grip, thanks to the ergonomic design and molded rubber grips. There were zero complaints about the handles hurting wrists! But new users can expect to get blisters and sores on the palms of their hands, which is even mentioned by the manufacturers. This is because the grips have molded rubber on them, and it needs to soften before it fits your hands. You can always try wearing grips or gloves to make the transition easier.

The footrests have a very cool design that allows people to position their shins vertically, even if their ankles do not allow them to do that normally. The footrests have good traction, preventing your feet from sliding off when you get into rowing. Some people even report that rowing barefoot feels great, even better than with shoes!


The Concept2 is a big machine, as many users report. It's not too wide, but it is seriously long. This accommodates users of all heights, but it becomes problematic when you want to find enough room in your home to house the rower. However, the rower can be easily taken apart for storage. The monorail and the flywheel have to be separated from the rest of the rower if you want to fold it in half though, but it's an easy task that anyone can master. People say that it takes them anywhere from 10-20 seconds to put the machine away, which is super fast! The stored dimensions of this rower are 25.0″ x 33.0″ x 54.0″, which can be compared to the size of some kitchen appliances, so you will more than likely have enough room to house the rower when it's folded away. If you don't feel like folding the rower, you can just turn it upright, if your ceilings are tall enough. The rower weighs about 60 pounds, and it has two wheels that make moving it around super simple. When in use, the rower measures 96.0″ x 24.0″ x 14.0″, so you really have to make sure that you have enough room to use it.

Weight And Height Capacity

As we said, the Concpet2 is commercial grade, which means that it can support a lot of weight. In fact, the manual suggests that the machine can easily support up to 500 pounds! This has been meticulously tested, so do not worry about the machine breaking down when you begin using it. When it comes to height, the monorail can easily support people up to 6'9" tall, and if you're taller than that, you can buy an extension that makes the monorail longer by 5", so there's no such thing as too tall for this rower! And there's no such thing as too short either, as some users report that their children used the machine without any issues.


The Concept 2 Model D is very reasonably priced, sometimes you can find one for sale if you’re lucky enough, especially considering its status as the best on the market. It is in the mid-range for an air rower. This machine is extremely durable, meaning that you are purchasing a lifelong investment. Customer service is outstanding.​

The Final Word

The Concept 2 range of rowing machines remain the top sellers in the market-place for good reason. Their Model D rower provides the ideal balance between user functionality, smooth, realistic motion, top of the line data feedback and realistic pricing. The machine is a bit loud though, and the handles can cause blisters while they are new, but that's nothing compared to the amazing quality this rower brings to the table. We recommend this machine, which has recently been released as a black Concept 2 Model D Rower, as the go-to home gym rower.