Not too long ago it would have been nuts to ask the above question. Concept2 were the top rowing machines - no contest! Nothing came close to matching the build quality, durability and rowing experience. That's why gyms, health clubs and rowing clubs bought them in their thousands and rarely considered any other make.
But things change. As the demand for home fitness equipment grew, more brands came along looking for a slice of this lucrative market. While many were looking to capitalize on the budget end, others set their sights on the commercial market and spend thousands of dollars on research and development.
Now brands such as First Degree, WaterRower and, more recently, BodyCract and LifeCore have a number of models appearing in gyms, and to our view, can match Concept2 for all of the qualities mentioned above - .
- click here for more information on these brands. In fact, models such as the Vortex-3 fluid rower from First Degree, actually make the Concept2 look... well... dull. Surely not! I hear you cry, but check them out on this site and see for yourself.
So has Concept2 rested on its past glory and gotten a little complacent? Before we get too carried away, let's look at what Concept2 is about. Founded back in 1976, they've always designed their machines to deliver an action as close to the real thing - this is why they're the choice of rowing clubs for off-water training. The latest machine from Concept2, the Dynamic, takes this a stage further by limiting the movement of the seat and letting the feet and legs perform the action. This model suits the action of the competitive rower and works the exact muscles required for rowing a boat. So while other brands target the home market where many buyers like the 'whistles and bells' of the pre-set programs and fancy graphics, perhaps Concept2 are happy for them to do this while they keep their eyes on the 'real' rowers.
However, Concept2 still appear to have the edge with PC-compatible performance monitors and online support and racing. Others have entered into this new innovation, but as yet do not match the functionality of Concept2.
Concept2 will always have it devotees. These people would never consider buying (or even using) anything else. It's also a brave rowing club that would consider buying another brand, but for the home user with the money to spend, I believe a Concept2 is no longer.an automatic choice. Check out the comparison chart on this site and you'll see a dozen or so models that will offer the Concept2 a run for the money.
Concept2 do have an excellent reputation for the machines, customer service and after sales support and advice, but their competitors haven't been idle and are looking to match anything Concept2 can do. And, of course, this is great news for anyone who uses an indoor rower or considering buying one :0)
Roy Palmer is an athletics coach, teacher of The Alexander Technique and a rowing fanatic.