Concept2 Model D and Model E Indoor Rowing Machines with PM5

Concept2 Models D and E Indoor Rowing Machines are large, sturdy and expensive rowers. And they are worth every (euro)cent. They are suitable for both home and gym use. They can be folded for easier storage, but still, they are large pieces of exercise equipment. If you are serious about indoor rowing and want to increase your fitness level and tone your physique, you should consider these rowers.

concept2 model d

Concept2 Model D

Comparing these two models is difficult, since they are basically the same rowers, but there are few important differences, including some 20% price difference. Model E is considered an improvement over Model D, but there are few features on Model D that I consider better than on Model E.

concept2 model e

Concept2 Model E

The Concept2 Models D and E are commercial grade air rowers, built to last for a long time. They are one of the most popular rowers and are often used in commercial gyms, boathouses and at homes as they set standards of their own regarding indoor rowing. And all those features come at very nice price tag - Model D is usually sold somewhat cheaper than $1000 and Model E costs some 20% more.

When buying such expensive piece of exercise equipment that should last for a long time, one must be very careful.

 Concept2 Model D and Model E Features and Specifications

concept2 model e 2

Main difference between these models is height of the seat - 14 inches (36 cm) in Model D and 20 inches (51 cm) in Model E. Difference is obvious in photos above. This 6 inches (15 cm) difference is very important for people having issues with balance, large bodyweight, flexibility and similar, since higher seat of Model E enable such people to sit on and off the rower more easily.

Also, higher seat provides better visibility around the rower. Higher seat is one of the reasons why Model E is more often found in commercial facilities, while Model D is more often found at homes.

Both models use nickel-plated steel chain for low-maintenance and a clean look. Some sites state that Model D uses common steel chain and Model E nickel-plated steel chain, however, official Concept2 site states that both rowers use nickel-plated steel chain.

However, Model D has partially enclosed chain housing, while Model E has fully enclosed chain housing to protect the chain from any damage and to prevent objects getting around the chain.

Both models use PM5 (Performance Monitor 5) for tracking and recording data, but Model D has flexible monitor arm made from ABS plastic which is somewhat shorter than the Model E, but both the monitor height and the viewing angle can be adjusted. Model E has extended aluminum monitor arm which is fixed and only the monitor viewing angle can be adjusted. However, both systems position the monitor within easy reach.

Flywheel design minimizes noise, and maximizes smooth feel of rowing on the water, although these rowers are not as quiet as rowers with magnetic brake systems. Also, rowers are equipped with the spiral damper which controls the feel of each pull.

Flexfoot footboard system adjusts quickly and holds the feet firmly during rowing sessions.

Maximum user weight is 500 pounds (227kg) and such maximum user weight says everything about durability and strength of this rower. Monorail is 54 inches (137 cm) long and suitable for really tall people. For users with an inseam of 38 inches (96.5 cm) or more, an extra-long monorail exists, which can be ordered from Concept2 official site. 

One of the differences are in support legs: Model D has aluminum front legs and steel rear legs, while Model E has welded steel support legs.

Physical dimensions are very similar: both rowers are 96 inches (244 cm) long, 24 inches (61 cm) wide with different seat height - 14 inches (36 cm) in Model D and 20 inches (51 cm) in Model E.

Model D weighs 57 lb (26 kg) and Model E 65 lb (29 kg).

Recommended workout space for both rowers is around 9 x 4 feet (2.75 x 1.2 m). Although rowers are easy on the floor surface, if you have sensitive floors like carpets or wood, consider PVC or rubber mats for extra floor care and protection. Also, such mats absorb vibrations and somewhat reduce the noise levels.

For easier and more compact storage, rowers can be separated into two parts in matter of seconds. Even separated, they still requires plenty of space, especially when compared with smaller and cheaper rowers with less features and options. Transport wheels make them mobile. Since both model weigh 65 pounds or less, they are actually rather light units - just grab the rear of the rower, lift it and move around.

When purchased, rowers come in boxes - Model D in one box (15 in x 21.5 in x 56 in, 38 cm x 55 cm x 142 cm), Model E in two boxes (15 in x 22 in x 56 in, 38 cm x 56 cm x 142 cm; 13 in x 25 in x 28 in, 33 cm x 64 cm x 71 cm). Tools and illustrated instructions are included, which makes assembly rather easy and straightforward. This means, read the manual before touching anything :o)

 Seat is padded and comfortable, even for novice rowers. If you do have issues with a seat, limit your sessions in the beginning to 10-15 minutes, talking short walks between sessions. Gentle stretching can help, too.

The Models D and E are covered by a limited 5-year warranty on the frame and 2-year warranty on the PM and moving parts.

Included with every purchase are User Manual, PM Quick Start Guide, tools and assembly instructions. Just to be sure, first read the manuals and instruction and then assemble the unit.

PM5 (Performance Monitor 5) Monitor Features

New rower models are delivered with Performance Monitor 5 (PM5), which differ from Performance Monitor 4 (PM4) which can be found on older units. If you happen to find good used rower with PM4 available at great price, remember that you are doing the rowing, not the rower or Performance Monitor!

concept2 pm5PM5 support automatic operation - one just has to start to row and the monitor turns on and provides feedback about rowing session.

Monitor tracks distance, speed, pace, calories and watts during workouts and has five display options: all data, force curve, rowing with a pace boat, bar chart and large print.

The PM5 provides two means of storing performance data: in the internal memory of the monitor itself or on a USB flash drive. The USB flash drive stores workout data and rowing preferences, and makes workout data portable. Rowers come with free Concept2 Utility software, enabling one to upload data to online logbook or transfer data to Mac or PC. Unfortunately, system is compatible only with FAT and FAT32 USB formats - personally, I hope that NTFS USB format will be available in the next version of PM. However, USB flash drives are really cheap these days and if you are going to spend ~$1000 on the rower, spend few more and get one USB flash drive just for your rowing data - if you need this feature at all!

Wireless Heart Rate Monitoring - The PM5 supports ANT+, Suunto ANT and Bluetooth Smart for wireless heart rate monitoring. In order to use this feature, one needs a chest belt that supports one of above mentioned transmission technologies.

Note: Bluetooth Smart is not classic Bluetooth, it is a completely different technology.

The PM5 requires two D cell batteries. During workout, power is generated from the spinning flywheel in order to extend battery life.

PM5 also supports racing against other rowers using Concept2 rowers, regardless of their location.

Also, PM5 comes with several games intended to provide additional motivation, but also to improve rowing itself - Fish Game (teaches how to modulate intensity), Darts Game (improves consistency in tempo and power output), Target Training (similar to Darts - improves maintaining a consistent pace and tempo) and Biathlon (combines two sports - typically Nordic skiing and target shooting).

To see full list of PM5 features, check How to use PM5 article on official Concept2 site (link opens in the new window).


These are great, big, powerful and expensive rowers. If you are serious about rowing and your cardio, consider one of these models. If you need rower for occasional cardio at home, there are cheaper ones, albeit with less features.

For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow Amazon links (both links open in the new window).

- Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

- Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5