Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine Review

The C2 Model D is one of the top selling rowers in the world. Youll see it in health clubs, boat houses, and being used in indoor rowing competitions. So what makes this particular rower a good fit for both anyone who wants to get in shape and the competitive athlete?

Features Overview

The Concept 2 Rower Model D has all the features you need to get a great cardiovascular workout regardless of your current level of conditioning or experience with indoor rowers. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build up your endurance, or improve your overall fitness, youll find that the C2 Model D is built with all of these goals in mind.

Flywheel and Damper

The Concept 2 rower Model D uses a flywheel mounted on the front of the machine that draws in air as you pull back on the handle. The harder you pull, the higher the amount of resistance is created.

The damper is a lever located on the side of the flywheel enclosure that controls the flow of air to the flywheel. The fan cage is clearly marked with numbers so you can easily set the damper lever to a value anywhere between 1 and 10.

A lower damper setting allow less air into the flywheel housing, which makes it easier to spin the flywheel. A higher damper setting allows more air into the flywheel housing. So it takes more work to spin the flywheel at higher settings.

Its important to understand that the damper does not control the intensity of the workout. Intensity is created by you. The harder you row, the more wind resistance is created. If you feel that the resistance is too easy, just pull harder.

The different damper settings do affect how the stroke feels, however. For example, rowing with the damper set on 10 feels like you’re trying to row a big, heavy rowboat. Your workout then becomes more about strength than cardiovascular fitness. Your muscles may become fatigued before you can gain any of the benefits of cardio exercise if you set the damper too high.

Performance Monitor

The menu driven PM3 performance monitor that comes standard with the Model D is battery powered with an LCD display. The batteries are included and pre-installed. You can use an AC adapter for power as well, but if you use batteries the monitor actually draws power from your rowing to extend battery life. The monitor turns on automatically as soon as you start rowing.

The monitor tracks speed, distance rowed, pace, watts, and the number of calories you burn. There are multiple ways to display that data while you row including large print, bar chart, and others. You can transfer your data to a PC or Mac via a USB cable which is also included.

To make your rowing sessions more interesting, the PM3 monitor also comes loaded with a couple of games. In addition to helping fight off boredom, the games serve another purpose. To score well, youll have to learn to maintain your pace and stroke rate, which is valuable if you’re new to rowing or need to work on making your stroke more consistent.

The monitor arm pivots so you can adjust the viewing angle and height while rowing. This also allows you to tuck the monitor away when you store the machine.

There is a monitor upgrade option as well. You can upgrade to the more powerful PM4 monitor, which comes standard with the C2 Model E. The PM4 has more storage capacity, additional games, and heart rate monitor integration out of the box.


The included LogCard is a 32K removable card that can store rowing performance data for up to 5 users. To use it, you just insert the card into the performance monitor before you start working out. Your data will be stored on the card when you finish your workout.

Once you have data on your card, you can connect your computer to the monitor via USB cable and transfer the data to a file on your computer.

You can store up to 5 workouts on the monitor. You can store another 5 on the card as well. This is perfect if you like to alternate among a variety of different workout programs or want to set up your workouts quickly on another C2 machine say at a gym or hotel fitness center.

Whats in the Box?

The Model D ships in one box weighing approximately 70 pounds. Besides the machine and the performance monitor, you get a user manual, assembly instructions, and everything you need to put the machine together. You also get the LogCard for storing your rowing stats and a USB cable to connect the performance monitor to your computer so you can access your LogCard data. A small bottle of chain oil is also included. A teaspoon of oil should be applied to the chain for maintenance after every 50 hours of use.

Space Requirements

When fully assembled the Model D is 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. You will need an extra foot for both length and on each side to account for your body position at the finish of each stroke. So plan on needing at least a 9 foot by 4 foot space for rowing.

Assembly and Storage

Putting the machine together is simple and straightforward. Assembly can be accomplished by one person without any difficulty or safety issues.

The included assembly instructions are fully illustrated and easy to follow. All you need to do to assemble it is attach the front legs with the 8 screws and tool which are provided then snap the two pieces together. You should have the machine put together and ready for your first row in 15 to 30 minutes at most.

The performance monitor is assembled and attached. The batteries are included and installed.

To store the machine when not in use, you can separate the machine into 2 pieces and stand them up to save space. The frame locking and unlocking mechanism requires no tools so storing the machine and re-assembling it for use is quick. The wheels on the front allow you to easily roll the fully assembled machine into place.

When separated, the machine stands at just over 54 inches high. It should easily fit in a closet or it can be tucked into an unused room corner.

Build Quality

The C2 Model D is rugged and constructed from high quality materials. This is the exact same model you can find in gyms and indoor rowing clubs so you know its built to withstand frequent use and last a long time.

The front support legs are made of aluminum and the rear legs are made of stainless steel. The beam for the monorail section is constructed from aluminum. The track the seat slides on is stainless steel. The steel flywheel and squirrel cage fan are enclosed in high impact ABS plastic. The chain that drives the flywheel is nickel plated and partially enclosed.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Your hands, feet, and your rear end are all in contact with the machine when you row. For it to be comfortable, all three points of contact need to be addressed.

The handle on the Model D is ergonomically designed with a 10 degree bend. This allows you to row with a wrist and arm position that feels relaxed and natural. The handle is sturdy and covered with molded rubber grips. You may still want to invest in a pair of gloves if youre new to rowing to prevent blisters.

The footrests are made from molded rubber. Theyre easy to adjust and will accommodate any shoe size. The straps and heelrests are comfortable enough for barefoot rowing if thats your preference.

The seat is contoured and very stable, but minimally padded. You might want to invest in a seat pad if youre a marathon rower or plan on doing long sessions. The seat height of 14 inches might feel a bit low to the ground compared to some other rowing machines. While that doesnt really affect comfort or performance in any way once youre seated, getting on and off the machine can feel a bit awkward or take some getting used to depending on your height, mobility, and flexibility.

Ease of Use

Getting started is easy. You can be rowing within half an hour of having the machine delivered.

You may want to take some time to familiarize yourself with the display options and programs included with the monitor. You dont have to, of course. If you want to try it out as soon as possible, you can simply hop on and start rowing or press Just Row on the monitor. Either way, your workout will start with no set time or distance and after a few seconds your stats will be displayed.

You can also try experimenting with different damper settings. I would suggest starting somewhere between 3 and 5 then sticking with the setting that gives you the best feel and workout. Remember that setting the damper to 10 changes the feel of your strokes, but it doesnt mean that youll be getting the best or most efficient workout possible.


The C2 Model D uses air resistance with the flywheel being driven by a chain. As you can probably guess, this is not the quietest on the market. It is louder than a magnetic drive or water resistance equipemnt. The noise, however, should not drown out your television at moderate volume or wake your neighbors.

Most of the sound is wind noise generated by the fan. So theres less cause for concern than if you live in an apartment and were buying a treadmill or an elliptical trainer. The pounding and creaking from those other types of exercise machines could certainly upset your neighbors, but the noise and vibration from the Model D isnt really comparable.

if youre thinking of using it primarily in a common area like your living room, its tough to say whether someone is going to want to be in the room with you while you row. Not likely if theyre doing something that requires focus or concentration.


The Concept2 Model D rower comes with everything you need to start rowing right out of the box. There are some accessories, however, that can make your experience better or more comfortable.

Rowing is particularly rough on the hands. If youre new to rowing, you may develop blisters and eventually calluses from gripping the handle during your workouts. A good pair of padded gloves can really cut down on the discomfort. Cycling gloves or weightlifting gloves both work well for rowing.

Making a one size fits all universally comfortable seat is next to impossible since users come in all shapes and sizes. While the seat on the Model D is functional, contoured, and designed to last, some people will inevitably find it uncomfortable. A seat pad is a good investment if you find that the seat is not to your liking.

The machine does have rubber foot pads, but a floor mat is a good investment as well. In addition to protecting your floors, a quality mat placed underneath your equipemnt helps prevent dust from getting into the machine and dampens the noise a bit as well. The Supermats Solid P.V.C. Mat is perfect for this .

RowPro software is a Windows program designed exclusively for use with Concept2 rower. You just connect your computer to your Performance Monitor and set it up with just a few clicks. RowPro has a 3D graphical display, built in structured workout plans, coaching, and a workout log. RowPro also allows you to connect with other rowers via the Internet for online group rows that anyone can join. RowPro is an outstanding way to track your progress, learn technique, and stay motivated.


  • Length: 96 inches
  • Width: 24 inches
  • With Clearance for Use: 9 ft x 4 ft
  • Stored: 25 in x 33 in x 54 in
  • Seat Height: 14 inches
  • Monorail Length: 54 inches. Fits inseams up to 36 inches.
  • Color: Available in Black or Light Gray
  • Max. Supported Weight: 500 lb
  • Machine Weight: 57 lb
  • Shipping Weight: 1 box weighing approximately 70 lb.

Warranty and Support

The Model D is backed by a 5 year warranty on the frame and frame parts. There is a 2 year warranty on the monitor and moving parts. The warranty is in effect from the date of purchase. It is fully transferable if you decide to sell or give the rower away to another owner during the warranty period.

For support, there is a toll free customer service number you can call Monday through Friday during their regular business hours of 7:30am to 5:00pm Eastern time. Theyll answer any questions you have. You can order spare parts directly from the company as well. Theres also an extremely enthusiastic and helpful community of C2 users online in their forum.

Consumer Ratings

The C2 Model D currently holds the highest possible 5 star rating at Amazon. That is pretty impressive when you consider that more than 550 user reviews have been submitted with new reviews being added frequently.

Reviewers commonly praise the build quality, durability, and overall value for the price. Both the PM3 and the PM4 monitors get high marks from users for their progress tracking ability and ease of use.


You can buy the Model D with the PM3 monitor online in either gray or black at Amazon for around $900. With the upgrade to the PM4 monitor, the price will come in around $1,050. It is not eligible for Amazon Prime due to its size so expect to pay around $45 for shipping.

The Model D holds its value extremely well. Youll often see older models or machines that have been used for years selling for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist and eBay.


  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy to store
  • Performance monitor is feature rich, but easy to use
  • Health club quality and built to last a lifetime
  • Excellent support available by phone
  • Long term value for the money


  • Louder than other types
  • Initial cost higher than most, but most owners feel its worth every penny
  • Seat may be uncomfortable for some users

The Verdict

The Concept2 Model D Indoor is a great choice if youre looking for a high quality, durable rowing machine for exercising at home. Its suitable for competitive athletes and anyone who wants to get in shape or stay in shape. Its built by a great company that stands behind their product and has been in business for more than 30 years. While it is a bit pricey, it will last a lifetime and provide great value over time.

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