Concept2 Model D Review

If this isn’t your first time reading my site, you will be very much aware that I believe that the rowing machine is absolutely the best piece of gym equipment available either for use in a gym, or for home workouts – whatever your goals are! With this in mind, I thought I should put together a review of one of the most important machines on the market. Coming from the market leaders, the Concept2 Model D.

Concept2 Model D
Concept2 Model D (in black)



First off, lets talk about about the manufacturer. Simply put, the Concept2 is the gold standard of rowing machine for rowing clubs and competitive rowers. All official scores at club and international level are done using a Concept2, and this is a fact that will keep the Concept2 rowing machine at the heart of the rowing world for decades to come. This is also why it is considered by the professionals as the best rowing machine available on the market, and by quite a margin!

Here is a video of the two fastest rowers in the World breaking big records on their Concept2 machines.

Concept2 is known for its sleek design, albeit somewhat industrial when put alongside its competitors such as the WaterRower. Its durability and reliability are unquestionable given it is built for rowing clubs who will be churning out the miles day after day, year after year. As a home user, you will not be able to wear this out for decades even with daily usage.

The Concept2 is a fan rower, and this will cause a bit of noise at home, so if you plan to use in a room around other people – they might not be too happy if they are watching tv! The good news is that both the newer models are significantly quieter than their predecessors.

One of the greatest things about Concept2 machines is the display and the level of information you can get from it – this is one of the key requirements when assessing the best rowing machine. You can track by speed, watts or calories. I personally only use speed, as my goals dictated so, but it is great at each. Using an approved heart rate strap also means you can get your HR up on the screen. I personally stick to a normal heart rate monitor (see Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor). You can now even download your stats via USB if you are feeling extra keen.

Concept2 Model D Review

Now, with some general background of Concept2 completed, let’s get into the detail of the Model D which is the model that saw Concept2 really step their game up a notch.

First, lets just look at some straight up facts and stats about the Model D:

Height 14” seat height (from the floor)
Monitor Adjustable angle and height
Chain Open chain cage
Legs ‘T’ shape at the front
Footstraps Adjustable height and hold

To be honest, the points above don’t really interest me that much, and I am going to focus my review across 5 areas that I think are critical to really understand:

  • Mechanism
  • Drive Feel
  • Comfort
  • Flexibility
  • Aesthetics


As already stated, the Concept2 Model D is a fan based rowing machine. The fan case comes with an adjustable lever to change the drag factor (see image below for my quick tips on setting the drag factor).

Concept2 Model D Drag Factor

What I really like about fan rowers is the noise that they make. By this I mean you can really get feedback on the power of your pull. If you’re putting down big strokes, you’ll be able to get audio feedback of this from the machine which for me gives a bit of an adrenaline buzz and helps me continue to push on. It is almost addictive!

Fan rowers get dusty over time, so it is important to periodically either do a mini clean (e.g. hold a vacuum nozzle to the grate on the cage) or annually take the cover off and get rid of the dust that will have accumulated.


Drive Feel

Given its rich and illustrious history in the rowing world, it is no wonder that the various iterations of the Concept2 have continued to give a better and better experience to the user. The drive (this is the term for taking the stroke e.g. from the front with your legs compressed and arms straight out, to the finish where your legs are flat and handle is at your chest) is a fantastic feeling, and is so smooth that you can do your long sessions with every stroke feeling exactly the same.

When you want to change the pace and put some more power down, the Concept2 Model D is incredibly responsive. There isn’t anything I would want to change about the feel of using a Concept2.



Whilst the Concept2 has been built for rowers first, and home/gym users second, I do think it proves a reasonable level of comfort. When you compare the seat on a Concept2 Model D to that of an actual rowing boat, it is almost luxury. However, those who are not frequent users of a rowing boat or a rowing machine would probably struggle to adjust. Luckily there is a good market for accessories and seat pads for Concept2 machines give a level of comfort without affecting your performance. Many professional rowers also use seat pads in their boats, so don’t feel like you are cheating by using one.



The Concept2 Model D really caters for all abilities, shapes and sizes. The footplate is adjustable in height meaning anyone from a junior (13 years old +) through to adult and back through to older adult can use this with ease. Not only this, but the screen is adjustable to your preference of height and angle – even allowing you to fold it away if you wish. Finally, as mentioned above – the ability to change the drag factor with ease makes this machine 100% versatile. I would challenge anyone to state they are not able to use it! See below for a bit more information on the screen – to help you navigate what the numbers really mean.

 Concept2 Model D Display


As always, aesthetics are a matter of preference. However, in the context of this review I have to say great things for the Concept2 Model D. Coming from the past moilvdels of Concept2, there really was a step change. First of all – this was the first time an all black model became available. I personally absolutely love the new all black colouring. Overall, the machine carries a look of strength, and for me this is what you want. A lot of rowing machines look lightweight, or flimsy. Some are even largely plastic or wooden. Whilst that can look good on the eye, that is not what I consider to be the ‘look’ of a rowing machine.

The Model D is also available in silver, for the purists.



Firstly, I really hope that this review has been useful. I have used a Concept2 for all of my time as a rower and coach but have had experience trying out others including WaterRowers and the Stamina range. I may be biased being from the rowing community but I don’t think anything can match it for quality and reputation.

This machine is a beauty and once purchased, will last a lifetime if well maintained!

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