Concept2 Model D Air Resistance Rower

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Concept2 Model D
concept2 model d rowing machine
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500 lbs57 lbsAirPM5

Although the Concept2 Model D rowing machine has been around for at least 6 years, it is still available at the moment, and still remains one of the best (if not the best) air resistance rowers. It’s a commercial-grade machine, great for users of all levels, combining efficiency, design, and durability close to perfection. Also, the Concept2 company provides excellent support for their products.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Assembled dimensions: 96L x 24W x 14H inches (244L x 61W x 36H cm)
  • Assembled weight: 57 lbs (26 kg)
  • Supported weight: 500 lbs (227 kg)
  • Frame: Steel/aluminum, foldable
  • Footrests: Adjustable, with straps
  • Resistance: Air, 10 levels
  • Performance monitor: PM5
  • Warranty: Frame 5 years / Parts 2 years / Monitor 2 years

Frame construction

The Concept2 Model D air rower features a heavy-duty frame designed for commercial use. It combines steel, aluminum, and durable thermoplastic parts in its construction. For example, the front section of the frame and the rear stabilizer are made of steel, the monorail is made of extruded aluminum with a stainless steel plate on top for extra durability, while some of the fan covers and other small parts are made of thermoplastic material. Also, most of the metallic parts are coated with a corrosion-resistant paint finish. The main color used is black, with a light-blue wave impression on the rear section of the rail, and the “Concept2″ logo painted in white on the front section of the frame. However, this rower model is also available in white as the main color.

The fully assembled machine is fairly large, especially lengthwise. It is approx. 96″ (244 cm) long, and 24″ (61 cm) wide, so it may not fit too well in a small room. It is also recommended to leave at least two feet of clearance on each side and at the rear of the machine for ease of access and correct usage. Also, in case you’re wondering, the front section of the machine reaches approx. 31″ (80 cm) above floor level.

Unlike other rowers, the Concept2 Model D doesn’t have a standard folding frame. However, the monorail with the seat can easily disconnect from the front section of the machine and both parts can be stored upright to save space. In storage position, the rower’s dimensions are reduced to 33″L x 25″W x 54″H (84 x 64 x 137 cm).

The machine’s monorail is solid enough to support users up to 500 lbs (227 kg). It is 54″ (137 cm) long and the rower should accommodate with no problem users with an inseam up to 38″ (96.5 cm). In other words, the machine should provide a correct leg extension and a correct form for users up to 6’6” (198 cm). However, Concept2 also sells an extra long rail (separately) for taller users.

This rower is not extremely heavy. Its net weight is approx. 57 lbs (26 kg). This being said, it can easily be assembled and carried by only one person. Plus, its front stabilizer integrates a set of transport wheels for easy relocation.

Seat and other parts

The Concept2 Model D rowing machine is equipped with a pretty standard seat. Its top is approx. 12.5″ (31.75 cm) wide, and 9.5″ (24 cm) deep, so it provides plenty of contact surface. It is made of a thick layer of high-density foam featuring a contoured surface in order to provide superior breathability and a better positioning for the user. It is not super comfortable, though, but this can easily be remedied with an extra gel seat cover.

The seat frame is made of steel. It integrates three sets of wheels. The two larger ones slide on top of the stainless steel of the rail. The third set of wheels slides under the metal plate for extra stability. The wheels integrate ball bearings to provide a smooth motion for the seat. They also have a rubberized cover to reduce noise.

The height of the seat is approx. 14″ (35.5 cm) above floor level. This being said, it is not too low and should provide an easy entry and exit for any user. However, users with certain disabilities may still have trouble positioning themselves on the seat. So, in this case, it’s best to opt for the Concept2 Model E rower, which offers a seat height of 20″ (51 cm).

The rower is equipped with two durable footrests. They combine steel and thermoplastic material in their construction. They are fairly large and adjustable, so they can accommodate athletic footwear of all sizes. They also have straps and heel guards for improved foot stability.

The angle of the footrests is non-adjustable. They do not pivot on their axis as is the case for other rowers. Their angle is approx. 40° so they provide an optimal position for your feet during rowing.

The pulling handle is approx. 19″ (48.2 cm) long and features an ergonomic 10° bend in order to provide a comfortable hand positioning. Its side grips are made of high-density rubber so they don’t absorb moisture or dirt, being easy to maintain. The handle itself is molded of fiberglass-reinforced nylon providing additional strength without additional weight.

Resistance system

The Concept2 Model D rowing machine is equipped with an air resistance system with manual action. This means that you don’t have to connect it to a power source and you don’t need an adapter or power cord for it. But on the other hand, it cannot adjust the resistance automatically.

The main resistance generator is the flywheel-fan integrated into the front unit of the machine. The fan is connected to the pulling chain and a system of bungee cords to pull back the chain during the recovery motion. This being said, when you pull the handle, the fan spins inside its casing, and the created air current adds resistance to the rowing motion.

Similar to other air resistance rowers, the Concept2 generates a dynamic resistance response. In other words, the resistance generated depends on how fast you pull. For example, if you row at a faster pace, the fan spins faster and generates more resistance. This leads to a sensation that is pretty close to rowing a real boat through the water.

The fan casing is also equipped with a damper element featuring 10 adjustment positions. This element offers the possibility to adjust the amount of air that enters and exits the fan’s casing, and adjust the overall resistance. But as a general idea, even on the first levels of resistance, the rower does provide a fairly consistent workout load. So, the 8-10 levels are pretty much for Olympic level training.

In terms of generated noise, the machine is pretty quiet. Of course, the fan can be heard when the rower is in use. But the level of noise generated by it is pretty low. It can be compared to an electrical fan of the same size.

Performance monitor

The Concept2 Model D rower comes with the PM5 performance monitor. This particular rower computer offers quite an impressive range of functions. To begin with, it has an LCD display with LED backlight for improved readability. It indicates elapsed time, time/500m, current pace, average pace, total meters, split meters, strokes per minute, watts, calories burned, and pulse. The display is divided into multiple sub-sections so the monitor shows quite a few metrics at once. For the pulse reading function, you will need an HR chest strap (Polar or ANT+), an accessory that is not included.

The PM5 performance monitor has several built-in workout programs. You can choose from the pre-programmed workouts, including Ergathlon or Biathlon, as well as set workout targets for time and distance. The list of workout programs also includes a Fish Game, a Darts Game, and a Target Game with a beginner and advanced mode.

One of the best parts about the PM5 rowing monitor is that is records your workout data, lets you track your progress, and compare results. It also has a USB port so you can save your workout data on a USB flash drive and export it to the Concept2 Online Logbook. Access to the Logbook is free. The unit has Bluetooth connectivity as well, so you can sync it with your smartphone via the ErgData app. Plus, it has two Ethernet connectors on the back which offer the possibility to create a cable network between several PM5 units for competing with other users. This feature can be fun to use in a commercial gym environment.

The Concept2 PM5 performance monitor is battery-powered. It requires two D-type batteries which are included. It starts up when you begin rowing or when it detects flywheel movement, and also automatically turns off after a few minutes of inactivity on the rower.

Assembly and Maintenance

The Concept2 Model D rower comes almost completely assembled. You only need to connect the front stabilizer, then connect the rail to the front part of the machine, and that’s pretty much it. The task shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. The manual provides all the necessary assembly instructions, and all the tools required for it are included.

Maintenance doesn’t require much. All you need to do is keep the rower clean, especially the rail, to prevent any damage to the wheels. The chain requires lubrication from time to time. For this, 20-weight oil is recommended. Other than this, you should also periodically inspect the machine to make sure that all the parts still function properly and all the bolts still hold tight in their places.

The Pros

  • Heavy-duty, commercial-grade frame construction;
  • Superior weight capacity – can support users up to 500 lbs (227 kg);
  • Aesthetic design;
  • The rail is easy to disengage from the main frame, and both frame parts can be stored upright to save space;
  • Transport wheels on the front stabilizer;
  • Long monorail – designed to accommodate users with an inseam up to 38″ (96.5 cm);
  • Ergonomic seat with a contoured top;
  • Adjustable footrests with heel guards and straps;
  • Air resistance for a dynamic response;
  • 10-level damper for resistance adjustment;
  • Multi-function performance monitor (PM5);
  • Multiple pre-set workout programs and games built-in the PM5;
  • Progress tracking function on the PM5 monitor;
  • Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility with the free ErgData app;
  • USB port for workout data transfer;
  • Ethernet port for LAN connectivity and indoor racing;
  • Pulse reading function;
  • Angle-adjustable mount for the performance monitor;
  • Smartphone cradle included;
  • Little assembly required;
  • Little maintenance required;
  • Excellent warranty and customer support from Concept2.

The Cons

  • A heart rate chest strap is not included;
  • Due to the many functions, the PM5 monitor may require a bit of learning;
  • Just like any other air resistance rower, the fan generates some noise.


The Concept2 Model D is a heavy-duty commercial-grade rowing machine featuring a 10-level air resistance system, a long rail with a 500 lbs weight limit, and the multi-function PM5 performance monitor. It’s one of the best, if not the best air resistance rowing machines at the moment, great for all users from beginner to Olympic level. It offers the possibility to perform a full-body, high-intensity cardio workout, it’s great for muscle toning, interval training, stamina and strength development, and weight loss. And finally, even though it’s not exactly an affordable machine, it definitely offers excellent value for the price.

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