Concept2 Model D Rower with PM5 Monitor Review 2020

If you want a practical rower that is commercial grade quality and has all the bells and whistles that lead to performance, you should consider the Concept 2 Rower Model D. It is considered the best rower in the world. In fact, Olympic rowers use the Concept2 Model D to train off water. It is really the gold standard when it comes to rowing and used in gyms and other fitness programs that require serious training.

Build Quality 

Not only does the Concept2 rower have a sleek design, it also has impeccable build quality. Aluminum front legs, steel rear legs, aluminum I-beam monorail and stainless steel track make it a killer machine that will last not years, but decades. It can accommodate up to 500 lbs. of weight and the 96.5 cm or 38 inch long inseam can accommodate people up to 6.6 ft. tall. Since most rowers can accommodate 250-300 pounds, its weight capacity shows that the rower has a superior build quality.

The rower comes in two variants – matte or black finish. The long warranty that Concept2 provides also reflects its build quality. It comes with a five-year warranty on frame and a two-year warranty on parts.

Another thing that shows its build quality is the fact that Concept2 rowers have a high resale value. 

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Comfort

What makes the Concept2 rower stand out is how smooth each stroke feels on it and how the seat glides over the rail without a hint of struggle or noise. The rower is as comfortable as it gets with a seat that has enough padding and contours. However, some users mentioned that the seat gets hard over time. This means you may need to add an extra seat pad or cushion after a couple years of using the Concept2 rower.

The anti-slip handle grips to ensure the grip doesn’t break due to sweat. For some people, it may take some time getting used to the handle as it might be uncomfortable. In that case, it is better to wear gloves if you feel the grip is a bit rough for you. However, most users found the handle comfortable enough.

Foot Pedals

The foot pedals are made with care and come with heel rests to enhance comfort levels. Unlike most rowers, this rower allows you to row barefooted too. The foot pedals are comfortable and can be adjusted with the straps to accommodate different foot sizes.

Concept2 also has great customer service. So even though its build quality is impeccable, you don’t have to worry about quality control or technical problems when you buy this beast.

Resistance

The Concept2 rower operates on air resistance, which means as you pull the handle, a fan flywheel rotates spins and pushes through the air around it. The harder you row, the more air it has to displace and hence, the more resistance it creates.

Even though the Concept2 rower operates on variable resistance, it has a damper that lets you adjust the ‘feel’ of the stroke. Damper levels 1 through 10 let you control the air flow. The higher the damper setting, the more intense your workout becomes.

With such a range of resistance, the Concept2 rower is suited for both beginners as well as seasoned rowers and professional athletes. This is one of the biggest advantages of getting the Concept2 since most rowers aren’t suited for athletes or stronger rowers.

Since it runs on air resistance, the Concept2 rower is more noisy than magnetic or water rowers. However, there are no annoying squeaking noises. The noise is like the noise of a fan. It won’t annoy any people around you, but it isn’t like the dead silent magnetic rowers either. 

The PM5 Monitor

The PM5 is a high-tech display monitor that tracks all the workout data you will need. It tells you distance, strokes per minute, calories burnt, watts, 500m split and a lot more.

The monitor also lets you customize each workout in the following ways:

  • Instantly start rowing
  • Do one of the preset workout routines
  • Create your own customized workout
  • Learn proper rowing technique using a game

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Connects to Heart Rate Monitors

The PM5 monitor is nothing like the ones you see on most rowing machines. It can wirelessly connect to heart rate monitors to give you an accurate measure of the intensity of your workouts. The Concept2 Model D has ANT+ and bluetooth technology that allows it to wirelessly connect to compatible heart rate monitors. In addition, you can download third-party apps (more in it below) to get a visual representation of your heart rate and other statistics in the form of bar graphs.

The bottom section allows you to have different options for the display. You can choose from all data data, force curve, paceboat, bar chart and large print. Check the full details on official Concept2 website

Data Storage

What we really like is that the Concept2 Model D Rower can help you track your performance over a period of months. You can store your workout data on a USB drive which can be plugged into the Concept2. You can also maintain your data in the Concept2’s online logbook known as Concept2 Utility.

Third-party Apps for the PM5 Monitor

The icing on the cake is the third-party applications you can download for the PM5 monitor. They can help you visualize your data, create personalized workout programs, build structure and find motivation and just make things more interesting. Check the complete list of the third-party apps on Concept2’s official website.

Nickel-Plated Steel Chain

The nickel-plated steel chain is different from generic chains in that they don’t need regular maintenance. They are smooth, sturdy, don’t make any noise and don’t freeze. The nickel-plated is also what they offer on the more expensive Concept2 Model E. 

Assembly

Although the Concept2 Model D rower is anything but light, assembling it is quite easy and should not take more than twenty minutes. In fact, if you are experienced, you can put it together in as little as 5-10 minutes. 

All tools for assembly come with the package. To assemble the rower, one just needs to tighten the eight screws to install the front legs. Once done, the machine is ready to go. If you are a first time rower though, you must learn proper rowing technique using online videos.              

Storage

Storing the Concept2 rower is as easy as assembling it. It just takes ten seconds to disassemble the rower – taking apart the flywheel and monorail, so that the monorail stands vertically while the flywheel part rests on it. For such an advanced rower, quick assembly/disassembly makes it highly user friendly and perfect for houses that don’t have a lot of space.  

Once separated into two parts, the rower reduces to 25” x 33” x 54” (63.5 cm x 83.8 cm x 137.2 cm) for storage.

However, there is another way to store the Concept2 rower. You can make it stand vertically with the flywheel below and the end of the monorail on top. This is a faster way to store it and takes even less space but requires a higher ceiling. 

Good for Taller People

The standard Concept2 Model D rower has a 38” inseam which is good enough for most people. However, if you are extra tall, you can buy the extended rail from Concept2. 

What’s Good

  • Excellent build quality
  • Sleek design
  • Global Bestseller, Renowned Brand, Trusted by Olympians
  • 10 levels of air resistance provide wide range
  • Easy assembly within 10-20 minutes
  • Smooth and fluid rowing motion
  • PM5 monitor is the best performance monitor on any rower
  • Backlit display, easily readable with large numbers
  • Disassembles for storage within ten seconds
  • Secure footrests
  • USB storage for keeping workout data
  • Wireless connectivity to heart rate monitor
  • Easily movable with front caster wheels
  • Extended rail option for taller people

What’s Bad

  • Seat and handle were reportedly uncomfortable for a few people
  • Display looks a bit old school
  • Not whisper quiet like magnetic rowers

Verdict

The Concept2 Model Rowing Machine is built like a tank, but when it comes to performance, it is as smooth as silk. Its resistance is challenging enough whether you’re a beginner or professional athlete. Its state-of-the-art PM5 monitor lets you track various workout metrics, customize workouts and play rowing games. It is as comfortable as they come and separates into two parts for easy storage.

In short, if you want a killer no-nonsense rower that will last for decades, the Concept2 Rower is exactly what you need!

However, if you want to explore other options, here is our guide to the best rowing machines.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Concept2 Model D

Q.1 How hard is the installation? Is it worth paying $95 to have a pro install the rower?

Installation is quite easy. As mentioned above, all you need to do is tighten eight screws to install the front legs. It just takes 10-20 minutes to install the Concept2 rower. So spending any amount of money on professional installation is not recommended.

Q.2 Is this big enough for someone who is 6’5” or taller?

The inseam on the standard model is 38 inches which is often enough for taller people. However, if you need a longer inseam, Concept2 offers an extended rail model as well.

Q.3 Where are the Concept2 Model D rowing machines made?

Concept2 rowing machines are made in Vermont, USA. You can even request to attend a factory tour. 

Q.4. How is this machine for older people?

Rowing machine allows you to have a low-impact workout without putting high levels of stress on your joints and knees. This is not the same with other equipment like treadmills. It can strengthen your heart with cardio workout and improve overall immunity. However, it is necessary to practice proper form before you expect anything out of this rower.

Q.5 Do I need a mat to keep this rower from damaging my floor?

No, you don’t need a mat as it has rubber protectors under its legs. However, if you decide to buy one, you can buy two pieces to cover the two areas where the rower touches the floor, instead of buying a single large mat, which would be unnecessary and expensive.