Concept2 Model D Rowing machine Review

The Concept2 Model D rower has been around for a long time now. 19 years as I sit here writing. In that time a lot has changed. Is the Model D still relevant? Has the old-timer been overtaken by newer competition? Let us find out!

The Concept2 is one of the biggest and most well-known brands in the fitness arena. Manufacturing not just the rowing machine, but also the bike and ski-erg. It’s rowing machine has provided a reliable, solid workout for millions of people around the world.


The first part of the rower that needs to be assembled is the front legs, this can done using a the 8 screws provided. Concept2 kindly provide the required tools and give you concise, clear instructions. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes to put the entire rower together. Once the lower parts of the machine are connected you will need to connect the monorail end of the machine with the flywheel end. To give you a proper run down of how to assemble the rower you can view the video below.

The Hardware

The Concept2 Model D fundamentally is an air resistance machine, each stroke you pull, you are battling against the air as the fan blades move. The action is smooth, without jerking, and always seems to mimic accurately rowing on the water. When you pull harder and faster the resistance rises, just like it would on the water.

When you visit local gyms, you will usually find Concept2 rowing machines in their cardio areas. This is because of the solid construction that historically has been a selling point. These machines last for a low time and take one hell of beating. You will also find these rowers in the majority of rowing clubs around the world. That is all you really need to know! The most elite rowers in the world choose to work out on the Concept2 machines. Frankly, these machines are so tough, i’m sure it would survive a beasting from the guys you see on the Worlds Strongest Man competition.



Personally, as a guy who walks around at around 120kg most of the time, how comfortable a machine is to use is a big issue for me. I have always found the Concept2 to be a comfortable machine to use. It has a smooth motion with a solid foundation. The strong feet keep the rower from wobbling around with forceful use and allow you to maintain momentum. The foot holds are large and have a range of different notches that you can adjust to fit any size show. It can be fiddly getting your feet in if you have feet over size 12, but it still does the job.

The only comfort issue I have ever had is with the seat. Now this is an issue across the rowing machine industry. For me personally the seats never quite match the quality and comfort of the rest of the machine. This may just be for me as larger male. Saying that, I have heard this complaint from other rowers.

Some rowers who are taller or who have had issues with their knees over the years may benefit from buying the next model up in their range, the Model E. It is more expensive, roughly £160 more, but it has a seat that is set higher which makes it much more comfortable to get on and off.

Another thing to consider when purchasing the Concept2 Model D is whether you can afford to play for the Slide add-on. The Slide accessory helps to give you the feeling of being on the water when you pull back your strokes. As you pull back on the handles the rowing machine slides forwards. For those rowers who love the authentic feeling, this is for you!

Concept2 PM5 Console

Back when I had the opportunity to try out the Model D it came with the PM4 (Performance Monitor). This has since been updated and now comes with the PM5 as standard on the Model D. As with previous models the performance interface will switch on as soon as you start to row, or if you click some of the buttons. It will also switch off after a number of minutes if nothing happens.

The cool bit comes after your rowing session. You can use a USB, which is not supplied, to store any of your workout data. This information can be transferred to a computer of Mac ready to analysed using the software that Concept2 provides.

The PM5 has a good sized LCD screen which describes the usual data that you want to know from any cardio workout. The main things we normally look out for being; calories, distance rowed, strokes per minute, time etc. There are a number of screens you can choose from to be displayed during your workout.

The PM5 has more functionality than its younger brother the PM4. My favourite parts of the PM5 are its range of different workouts you can choose from and its ‘race boat’ feature. In this feature you can go up against a boat that is setting the pace for you. This other boat which appears on the screen can be set to a certain pace.

The PM5 monitor will store your old race data on the system so you can compare numbers you need to beat before starting a workout. You can now also go up against other Concept2 users online, comparing your data against theirs.

However, compared to the monitors you’ll find on some of the new boys on the block (see alternatives below), the PM5 looks outdated, and to be honest quite dull. But you’ll find many serious rowers argue this makes no odds to them as it function not the frills that determine their choice.


Even though the Concept2 Model has been around for nearing 20 years it still is the top dog. Reliable, solid, smart. The price is not bad either. Concept2 have been the premier brand for well over 25 years. This surprises no one. The longevity of their products give the customers a value for money that other brands simply do not give. It is common in this industry to have to replace your rower within the first 5 years because of the abuse it has taken. With Concept2, this does not happen.

Should you buy the Concept2 Model D?


If you are looking for a rowing machine that will last for at least 10 years if looked after correctly. Or want a new piece of cardio equipment that will give you a full body workout in as little as 15 minutes. Then this rower is for you.


If your priority is the visual aesthetics of the rower, colourful screens, interactive training sessions, or funky games, then you will want to look elsewhere. Have a look at our article below which highlights the top 5 rowing machines you can buy.