Concept 2 Model D Review

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If you’re looking to buy a high-end rowing machine, then it’s very likely you’ve already come across the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine.

At just under $1000 it is expensive compared to other rowers, but with the Model D, you get what you pay for.

It is unparalleled in a number of categories such as its smoothness, quality and reliability, and its cardio training.

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine will suit anyone who wants to purchase a top-quality rowing machine that they will never outgrow.

If this is you, then you’ll want to read on.

If you are looking for a review of the Model D’s bigger brother the Model E, you can read our Concept2 Model E indoor rowing machine review.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower

YouTube video

Key Features

  • Nickel-plated chain
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Controllable air resistance
  • Quick-release frame lock to unlock pieces
  • Maximum user weight 500lb

The Concept2 Model D and E Rowing Machines Compared

Concept2 have added an additional model to the D, which is the Model E. They are almost identical and many are confused about what the differences between the two actually are.

Here is a quick summary of the differences.

  • Seat Height – The Model D has a lower seat at 14 inches, whereas the Model E is 6 inches taller at 20 inches.
  • Monitor Arm – The Model D has an adjustable arm on which the monitor sits. The Model E has a fixed arm. They also differ in lengths with the Model D having a shorter arm that the Model D.
  • Chain Housing – The Model E has the chain housed helping it to stay clean. The Model D’s chain is not closed.
  • Colour and Finish – Both the Model D and E come in two colour options, which are black or light grey. The difference is in the finish. The Model D has a matte finish, whilst the Model E is a high gloss finish.
  • Price – The Model D is the lower priced out of the two. The Model E is often priced a little higher.

The video below shows an illustration of these differences.

YouTube video

If none of these differences are important to you, then it may be worth saving yourself money and going for the Concept2 Model D over the Model E.

Concept2 Model D Rower Review

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In this section, we will review the Concept2 Model D according to what we feel to be the most important characteristics when choosing an indoor rower.

Price: 4.5/5

The Concept2 Model D is one of the more expensive rowers on the market coming in at a price just shy of $1000 (out of the popular home rowers, only the WaterRower series are priced higher).

Some may consider $1000 a lot to pay for a rower, and indeed it is, especially considering you can get a decent rower for half the price.

However, the beauty of the Concept2 Model D is that it is THE complete rowing machine and it will last you a lifetime.

Simply put, once you purchase the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower, you will never have to buy another rowing machine again.

In addition, these machines are used frequently in gyms and by rowing professionals, so for less than $1000 you have access to a world-renowned product that you can use in your home.

Reliability & Warranty: 5/5

The Concept2 Model D is an extremely reliable machine due to its simple design and air resistance flywheel.

There’s no power necessary to adjust the resistance and this reduces the number of things that could go wrong or break.

YouTube video

The only maintenance you may want to consider doing is oiling the chain after 50 hrs of use as is recommended by Concept2, although I imagine that the Concept2 Model D will go on working for years even if you didn’t do this.

The Concept2 Model D is covered by a 5-year warranty on its frame.

Features: 4.5/5

The Concept2 Model D comes with the Performance Monitor 5 (PM5), which is the backlit console that tracks your data such as calories burned, watts, distance, speed and time.

It also has wireless capabilities to allow you to pair with compatible heart rate monitors for wireless heart rate monitoring.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine PM5
The Model D’s Backlit Performance Monitor 5

Another nice feature is you can use a USB Flash drive to transfer or store your performance data to a computer or Mac to track your progress.

Stability and Quality: 5/5

The quality of the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is very good.

The fact that it has such a simple design helps in its stability.

It’s essentially two pieces of steel that you connect in the middle creating a machine that is remarkably stable.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine review
The Model D has 500lb max user capacity

Also factor in that it has a 500-pound max user capacity which is huge and almost double what most other rowers on the market can handle.

Comfortability: 4/5

The Concept2 Model D is a comfortable machine to use and with almost all rowers, most of the comfort or discomfort you experience is largely down to your form when you are rowing.

That being said a very small number of users on Amazon have stated that they found the seat of the Concept2 Model D a little too hard for them.

Should you buy this rower and find it too hard, you can always purchase a gelled seat cover which you can put over the seat to make it softer.

Furthermore, tall and short users will feel at home on this rower as the rail is fairly long and can accommodate a large range of different heights.

You can order longer rails directly off Concept2 should you want a longer rail, but I’d imagine that you’d only be doing this if you are over 6’8ft.

Like most all other rowers the Concept2 Model D rower is very low to the ground, meaning that people with mobility issues may experience difficulty getting down low to mount the machine.

If you experience such issues you may want to look at the Concept2 Model E indoor rowing machine which is 20 inches off the ground (comparable to getting on a chair) and easier to get on than the Model D’s 14-inch seat height.

Size & Assembly: 5/5

I doubt very much that assembling the Concept2 Model D is going to phase anyone even if you do have a strong aversion to assembling things.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine folded
The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine can be detached in the middle

To get the Concept2 Model D assembled you’ll have to put in 8 screws at most and you’ll be done within 5-10 minutes, so you can save some money and confidently choose not to have professional assembly included with this.

You’ll need an area of around 9 x 4 feet to use this machine comfortably without hitting objects around you, so it doesn’t have a particularly small footprint.

The one benefit the Concept2 Model D does have in relation to size is that it can easily be detached in the middle and separated into two parts.

It’s worth noting, however, that it is still rather large in it’s separated from, so it’s not a rower you’ll store away in a closet after every workout session.

Noise: 4/5

Compared to rowing machines that have other types of resistances, some may consider the Concept2 Model D slightly noisy since it uses air as resistance.

However, it’s still a quiet machine.

There aren’t any squeaking or clicking noises. The noise of the Concept2 Model D emits is more ‘air’ like, almost comparable to a fan. In fact, some people may even like the sound of it.

If you’re rowing at high intensities you may find that you’ll have to turn up the volume a little on your TV or headphones, but compared to most other rowers its noise isn’t intrusive.

In addition, the air noise the Concept2 Model D emits is unlikely to be a nuisance to others around you.

Resistance: 4.5/5

The level of resistance on the Concept2 Model D is largely determined by how fast and hard you row, and you can further tweak this through the spiral damper which will adjust the airflow to the wheel.

Given that the Concept2 Model D uses air for resistance, it is extremely smooth and is suitable for however easy or intense you want your workout to be.

People of all fitness levels can use this machine whether you’re a beginner, or an individual at peak fitness condition, the Concept2 Model D can match your needs.

If you have used a different type of resistance (such as electromagnetic/friction) over the years then you may find the new type of resistance may take time to get used to.

In addition, some may not like the fact that the resistance is proportional to the speed you move at, whereas on a different type of resistance you can go slow but still have a high resistance setting.

This is something you need to bear in mind before purchasing, particularly if you have previously rowed on resistance controlled machines.

Should You Buy the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine?

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If you’re looking to buy an indoor rowing machine, the Concept2 Model D should be your end goal, especially if you are serious about getting fit through rowing.

It’s suitable for all types of users no matter how low or lofty your fitness goals are, and it’s a machine that will last you a lifetime.

If you’re already looking at a machine in the $500 range you should seriously consider stretching your budget further to buy the Concept2 Model D.

Not only will you be getting a better machine than what you are currently looking at, but you’ll have the peace of mind that you got a machine that will not disappoint you.

The Concept2 Model D really is the yardstick that all other rowing machines should be measured against since it is the best indoor rowing machine there is.

If you decide to go with the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine you won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rower Rating: 5/5

  • The industry standard used by professionals
  • Suitable for all fitness levels
  • Extremely reliable
  • LCD console is accurate and has a lot of features
  • Quick and easy to assemble
  • Separates into 2 pieces for storage
  • Heavy 500-pound max user weight
  • Great customer service
  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as the WaterRower models
  • Some may consider the flywheel noisy considered to other types of resistance rowers
  • The seat could be considered too hard for some

Related: The Best Home Rowing Machines in 2022

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