Concept2 Model D vs. Model E 2020: In-Depth Comparison

This guide compares the Concept2 Model D vs Concept2 Model E.

While both Model D and Model E are functionally equal, there are some features that set them apart.

Concept2 rowers are known for their superior quality. Because of their reliability, they are used in commercial settings like gyms and fitness clubs. Olympic athletes, army veterans such as Jocko Willink, got nothing but praise of this engineering masterpiece.

To help you select the right Concept2 model, here is the in-depth comparison:

Concept2 Model D vs Concept2 Model E Comparison

To compare the two models, let us look at each feature one at a time.

Concept2 model d vs e

Model D


Seat Height

The seat on the Model E is higher off the ground. This makes it as tall as a regular chair. The seat height is 6 inches more than model D. So people with physical disabilities, back problems and the elderly will find it easier to get on or off the Concept2 Model D rower.

Monitor Arm

The arm attached to the PM5 performance monitor on Model D is made of ABS plastic. It has the following features:

  • Lets you adjust the height and angle of the PM5 display.
  • Is foldable for storage
  • Is shorter than that in Model E

The aluminum arm attached to the Model E is fixed and bigger in length. Apart from changing the viewing angle of the monitor, you can’t make other adjustments as in Model D. This makes model D a slightly better choice.

concept2 model d vs e

Model E


The Model D has aluminum front legs and steel rear legs. On the other hand, the Model E has welded steel construction throughout. It is common knowledge that steel has more structural strength than aluminum. Steel is strong and less likely to warp, deform or bend underweight, force or heat. However, steel has a 2.5 times higher density than aluminum, so it is heavier than aluminum.


The Model E has a better finish as compared to the Concept2 Model E. While the Model D has a single powder coat, the Model E has a double powder coat with a glossy finish.

This makes it more durable. But don’t get me wrong, the Model D is capable of lasting as long as a decade. But the Model E is slightly better. This is the reason Model E is better suited for commercial use in gyms and fitness clubs.

Chain Housing

Both models have a nickel-plated steel chain. However, the Model E has a fully enclosed chain housing while the Model D has a partially enclosed chain housing.


The Model E is harder to store since it is bigger and doesn’t have a foldable monitor arm. Model D can also be transported rather easily unlike the Model E. Model E has steel construction throughout, which makes it heavier than the Model D, which has aluminum front legs.


The Concept2 Model E is a couple of hundred bucks more expensive.

concept2 model d vs e

Monitor Updated

A few years ago, the Model D used to come with the PM3 monitor and the Model E with the PM4. Now both models have the superior PM5 monitor, which is considered the best performance monitor.

Questions to Ask Yourself

The features mentioned above are the only differences between the two Concept2 models. If you want to make a decision, ask yourself the following key questions:

  • Do I need the taller seat of the Model E to compensate for a physical limitation?
  • Can I deal with the extra weight of the Model E?
  • Can I deal with Model E being harder to store?
  • Am I willing to pay more for the Model E?
  • Do I care about the minor features knowing both models perform equally?

If you answered yes to all the above questions, you should go for the Model E. Otherwise, model D is the one for you.

Concept2 Model D and E: Not So Different

Apart from the things mentioned above, everything else in the Concept2 Model D and the Concept2 Model E is the same. If you don’t have any problems sitting on a lower-height seat, it’s best to go with the Concept2 Model D.

Build Quality

Both rowers have remarkable build quality. As mentioned earlier, the Model E is made from welded steel. In Model D, the front legs are aluminum and the rear legs are steel. They both are used in commercial settings, so you don’t have to worry about durability once you buy either the Model D or the Model E. Many customers have reported that this rower holds its value even after ten years of use.


Both machines use air resistance to create tension. The metal flywheel spins, it has to push through the air which creates resistance. When it comes to resistance, there is no difference in the rowers Concept2 Model D vs E. Although the harder you row, the more resistance you can have; the Concept2 rowers also have adjustable resistance. You can change the damper setting to tweak the resistance higher or lower.

Resistance concept2

Since the resistance is variable, the Concept2 rowers are great for high-intensity interval training workouts (HIIT), in which you engage in short intense bursts of workout followed by shorter rest periods. HIIT focuses on the anaerobic zone, where you workout despite being out of breath. Such workouts burn more calories, strengthen your heart and improve your metabolism.

Since the rowers use air resistance, there is some level of noise in both rowers. You can hear the ‘whooshing’ sound with each stroke. But it isn’t hard on the ears and you won’t need to wear headphones. The sound is better than that of a treadmill and is a bit soothing.

However, if you have someone in the same room, they may be disturbed by the noise and won’t be able to watch tv or focus on anything. If you row at lower intensity levels though, the sound from the TV is audible. But if you row at moderate or harder levels, you won’t be able to hear the audio clearly.

PM5 Monitor -The Best Ever

Concept2 Model D and Concept2 Model E have the same performance monitor, PM5. Although it doesn’t look high-tech, it functions like one. It is regarded as the best performance monitor in the rowing community. It tracks time, strokes per minute, calories burnt, watts, 500m split and more. It has various functions with various benefits: they allow you to instantly start rowing, practice a preset workout, create a personalized workout or learn the proper form with an interactive game.

Wireless Connectivity

The PM5 monitor has ANT+ and Bluetooth technology, using which it can pair with compatible heart rate monitors. Heart rate monitoring is one of the best ways to track and improve your performance. It allows you to become aware of your heart rate zone and train in the right zone. This helps you get more out of each workout.

On top of that, the PM5 monitor connects with various smartphone apps to help you visualize your performance. It is crazy how user-friendly and technologically advanced the PM5 is. You can integrate your performance data with smartphone apps and the website. If you are a beginner, there is a wealth of information you can find on the Concept2’s official website.

USB Connectivity

The Concept2 rowers can also connect with a USB drive and store months of your progress. You can see “before and after” performance graphs to see how far you have come after a few months of consistent workout.

storage concept2 model e rower


Both Concept2 models are long and need an adequate amount of space. However, they can be disassembled for compact storage. You can separate the flywheel from the monorail and have the monorail stand vertically with the flywheel part resting on it. This reduces the size to 25” x 33” x 54”.

Performance of Concept2 Models D and E

The Concept2 rowers are built like a tank and will surprise you with their standard of performance. Every rowing stroke is smooth and the seat glides quietly as you row. You can row harder to make it more challenging or tweak the damper settings. Air resistance simulates the experience of rowing on water, giving you a low-impact, full-body workout.

Its performance is remarkable and supported by the fact that Olympic athletes, Army veterans and fitness experts around the world use this rower. The damper settings let you instantly change the intensity of your workout. There are ten resistance levels, so no matter what your fitness level is, you can get an amazing workout that leaves you refreshed.


Both Concept2 Model E and Model D have sufficient padding on the seat and an anti-slip handle. The comfort level of seats is rather subjective.

Here is what customers had to say about the seat:

“Some complaints I read about the hard seat…it is a little hard but I don’t seam (sic) to have any issues with it.”

“The seat can be improved but I bought an aftermarket cushion that has made the workouts much more comfortable.”

“The seat is very comfortable without a pad even though it is a composite material.”

“Seat may not be comfortable for some people—the main reason for a star loss.”

With the above reviews in mind, there is a good chance that you may need to buy a seat cushion. The Model E, however, is more comfortable for people with back issues or physical disabilities because of its higher seat. If you don’t have these issues, the Model D is equally comfortable.

The Handle

The handle is comfortable and easy to hold for extended periods. However, a few users mentioned how the handle felt a little too firm and their hands started aching after using it for some time. If you do encounter this issue, wearing workout gloves can solve the problem.

Foot Plates

The foot plates are excellent on both rowers. One can easily adjust them according to their shoe size and velcro straps keep feet secured in place. The advantage with Concept2’s foot plates is that you can row barefooted on this rower.


Both Concept2 Model D and Model E are easy to set up. You need just eight screws to install the front legs into the unit. All tools for assembly provided in the package. It is remarkable how such a technologically advanced and sophisticated rower can be assembled and disassembled in a few minutes.

Here is a detailed video showing the assembly of Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine:

Weight Capacity

Both Concept2 Model D and Model E can support a staggering 500 pounds of weight. The Concept2 rowers are made like a tank, so there is nothing they can’t tackle.

Final Word

The Concept2 Model D vs Model E comparison shows that both rowers are more similar than different. The Model E has a couple things better than the Model D, but it is also heavy and hard to stow away.

One of the main reasons people buy the Model E is because of its taller seat.

But no matter which one you buy, it is going to last more than a decade. This is what Concept2 rowers are known for.

So now you know what separates the two!



  • Quoted customer reviews are sourced from

See also