Concept2 Model D vs Concept2 Model E

P.S. As usual, this is a long article – if you want a sneak peak at my preference of these two, see here.

By coming to this article, I will assume that you have carried out your research in many parts. First of all, on which type of mechanism of rowing machine you are most interested in – see Best Rowing Machine for more detail on the different options including fan, water and magnetic.

From here, you then likely had a look at the two biggest players in the market – Concept2 vs WaterRower which is usually settled based on whether you are looking to set competitive indoor rowing times (Concept2), or whether you want an aesthetically pleasing machine for your home (WaterRower).

Once you have narrowed down your selection to the Concept2, you are then left with new choices – do you want to get the Model D or the Model E. Both models are still made to date, however they differ from each other, whilst also carrying different price tags. Navigating these differences to help you make a choice is difficult, so I am here to provide some of my input.



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 on a Concept2, and this is a fact that will keep the Concept2 rowing machine at the heart of the rowing world for years to come. This is also why it is considered by the professionals as the best rowing machine available on the market, and by a margin!

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

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 here). You can now even download your stats via USB if you are feeling extra keen.


Model D vs Model E

Now this is what you came to this article for! In recent years, Concept2 have adopted the approach of having two different models available, and each has subtle differences. Below is a summary comparison table covering the key differences which are:

  • Height
  • Monitor
  • Chain
  • Legs
Concept2 Model D Concept2 Model E
Height 14” seat height 20” seat height
Monitor Adjustable angle and height Fixed angle and height
Chain Open chain Enclosed chain
Legs ‘T’ shape at the front ‘V’ shape at the front


As you can see, there aren’t actually many differences between the two machine, however they can make quite a big difference based on how much experience you’ve had with previous models.


Height – The Model E is 6” higher, for a seasoned rower who has used the Model D for years, this is very noticeable! What this does mean is that getting on and off the Model E is easier on the joints, for those who need to think about this when making a purchase. Aside from this aspect, the height makes no difference to the rowing experience with the angles on the machine all remaining the same as the Model D.


Monitor – I found this a weird update to the Concept2 Model E – the screen is completely fixed in place meaning the height and angle can’t be changed. Whilst this doesn’t sound like a big deal, I personally found this frustrating as at 6ft 6, I used to have the screen at a height close to eye level, however the Model E’s screen is lower and I found this hard to get used to. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a big deal, but certainly something worth noting.


Chain – this is an update that I imagine has come from feedback from rowing clubs who get high usage of their machines. After a certain amount of miles, the chain can start to wear due to the dust and other particles that attach themselves to it. This is usually after millions of miles, and isn’t a concern to the home user. However, as updates go, it is a good one from Concept2 and one that will add to the longevity of the machine.


Legs – this is probably the most noticeable change, and I’ve seen mixed reviews on this. Some parties are saying the new legs are stronger and mean the machine is less likely to move when you’re putting down power, whilst some are saying that the legs are less sturdy than the Model D. Either way – I think unless you are part of a club and having a number of rowers on the machine each day, this won’t cause an issue.


Model D

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Model E

[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’’ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Buy on amazon[/thrive_link]




So – hopefully my recap above is useful. My general thoughts are that the differences in the machine are only relevant at the top level, or if a machine is getting significant use (e.g. at a rowing club or in a public gym). If this is not the case, then my opinion is that the different in price (around 10% price difference) is not worth the investment, and that actually my preferences on screen and height also push me towards the Model D.

However – it is all preference, and both are top end models from the most prestigious brand of rowing machines on the market.

Once you have made this purchase, I would urge you to have a look at a couple of my other articles:





See below for a summary of the other head to head posts that I have done:

Powerade vs Gatorade

Polar H10 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin Vivosmart HR+

Concept2 Model D vs Concept2 Model E

Polar H7 vs Wahoo Tickr X

Concept2 vs WaterRower

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