Concept 2 Model D vs Concept 2 Model E | Full Comparison

For close to 50 years, Concept2 has been the number one provider of rowing machines in the world. At the time of writing, two models of rowing machine (or “rower”) are available and this article will compare and contrast in order to help you find the one most suited for your goals. The Model D and Model E rowers are the best-selling air rowing machines in the world and are the preferred machine of choice for Olympic, collegiate and high-school rowers. The machines can also be found in many home and commercial gyms.

Whilst the Model D is still the most popular rowing machine on the market for competitive rowers, the Model E offers a number of advantages as well as several notable visual differences. The Model E has a significantly higher seat (which we will discuss in more detail later in the article), a nickel-plated steel chain and longer monitor arm. The Concept 2 Model E sits at 6 inches higher than the Concept 2 Model D, bringing it in line with the height of a basic chair and for those with mobility issues, knee pain or balance problems, this additional height can be a godsend. The additional height and higher durability come at a cost which should be considered before committing to a purchase.

Chain Housing
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Concept 2 Model E Rowing Machine
Concept 2 Model E
Air Resistance Rowing Machine
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20” (50.8cm)
Chain Housing
Fully enclosed (less exposure to dust)
Split in two and stored (Performance Monitor arm does not fold)
Nickel-plated steel
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Concept 2 Model D
Air Resistance Rowing Machine
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14” (35cm)
Chain Housing
Partially enclosed
Split in two and stored (Performance Monitor arm folds)

Resistance Type and Damper Settings

Whilst there are a number of different kinds of resistance available across the rowing machine market, both the Model D and E use the same air resistance. A flywheel is attached to fan blades and puling the handle of the rower harder, forces more air past the fan, therefore creating more resistance. This kind of air resistance creates a smooth stroke profile which is preferred among athletes across the world.

The dampers change from 1-10 on the Model D and E. The damper setting controls how much air going into the flywheel which changes the feel of the exercise. Dampers resemble gears on a bike with the higher settings (6-10) providing you with the feel of a more slow, heavier boat; something akin to rowing with passengers in your boat! The lower settings (1-5) provide you with the feel of a sleeker, quicker boat . You will want to test the various settings once you buy your own Concept2 to find the setting which is most effective.

Body Parts Exercised

Rowing is a low-impact whole body workout and both the Model D and Model E provide an excellent workout which is taxing on both the primary muscle groups and the cardiovascular system.

Comfort of Use

One of the primary differences between the Model D and Model E is the height. The Model D is 14” (35cm) off the ground, with the Model E is 20”(50.8cm) off the ground. For extra tall users, or individuals with mobility, balance or knee issues, this extra 6” can make a significant difference. Aside from the height, the ride comfortability is the same.

Concept2 Foldability & Storage

Both models can be taken apart for easy storage. The Model E folders up to 27” x47”x54.5”. Weighing only 65lbs (30kg) and taking only seconds to take apart, the Concept2 rower (both Model D and Model E) are very simple to store. It should be noted that whilst the monitor arm for the Model D folds away, the arm on the Model E does not.

PM Performance Monitor Metrics

Concept2 rowing machines use a Performance Monitor to show users their scores and metrics for each rowing session. The standard PM5 comes with both the Model D and Model E. The PM5 tracks watts, calories burnt, stroke rate, speed, distance and time. The PM5 arm on the Model D is shorter but more adjustable than the Model E.

Suitable Body Types & Sizes

do full body workout with rower, not just arm

The weight capacity for the Model D Model E is 500 pounds without any stated height limitations. The rail length is 54.0″ (137cm) and can fit an inseam length up to 38.0″. Concept2 also provide the option of purchasing a long rail for extra-tall users.

Concept2 RowErg Assembly

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Both the Model D and the Model E are incredibly easy to put together. All that is required is to put together the front and rear supports with screws, thereby attaching the rail end with the flywheel. Users must also attach the pickup cable to the Performance Monitor (“PM”) screen. The tools required to complete this are included as standard and Concept2 include a number of helpful videos on their website.

Noise Production

Concept 2 Model E Overview

Due to the type of resistance used by both the Model D and E, they can be quite noisy (especially compared with a water-rowers or magnetic-rowers). As you pull harder, the sound of the fan will get louder with some users reporting that they cannot hear the TV over the sound of the machine. Both the Model D and Model E produce the same levels of noise, but users should be mindful when using the machines in a home setting.

Concept2 RowErg Maintenance

Concept 2 model D review

The rowing rail should be wiped after each use with a non-abrasive cloth and cleaner. No acids, coarse abrasives or bleach should be used. Each week, or after 50 hours of use, the chain should be lubricated with a teaspoon of purified mineral oil, 3-IN-ONE® oil, or 20W motor oil. The old is applied to a paper towel and rubbed along the length of the chain with the excess being removed before use. Every month, or 250 hours of use, the chain should be inspected for stiff links.

Model D vs Model E Durability

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Both the Concept 2 Model D and E are commercial grade. They are built to withstand all the use required within a commercial gym, Crossfit box or similar getting. The finish on the Model E provides more durability and the chain will require less maintenance and replacing, due to its nickel-plated steel material and fully-closed chain housing. Replacement parts for the Model D and Model E are available from the Concept2 website.

RowErg Warranty

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The Concept 2 model D and E have 5-year warranty on the frame and two-year warranty on the Performance Monitor and moving parts. Concept2 also offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.

Concept2 E and D Price Comparison


At the time of writing, Model Ds were available for ~£850 ($1,155) with Model Es costing slightly more at £950 ($1,290). The increase height of the Model E, along with the slightly enhanced durability provides value to a lot of users, but the price difference is also not trivial. Users are also encouraged to purchase a mat to put the machine on when using it at home, which should also be factored into budget considerations.


In terms of stroke profile, workout information feedback, online community, build quality and reliability, Concept2 is the company to go to if you are looking to purchase a rowing machine. However, the decision on whether to get a Model D or Model E machine can be a tricky one. Ultimately, the decision is going to be largely based on budget, any mobility issues that users made have and the premium placed on a slightly more robust and durable product. A table has been included below to summaries the differences (and similarities between the machines).