The Concept2 is the first choice for many serious rowers and rowing clubs for indoor and out of season training. It's been around for years now setting the benchmark for other manufacturers to follow.
The Model E is around $200 more than the model D, but what extra do you get, and is it worth it. Well yes and no. The E is definitely sturdier with its welded steel frame so will suit the bigger rower. The seat sits a good six inches higher so will be easier to get on and off for the taller person - but once on it there's little difference. The nickel coated chain on the Model E means it's more resistant to corrosion and therefore will need less maintenance - but this takes very little time anyway so won't make much difference.
So if you're on the large side, tall or will be giving your rowing machine some serious stick then perhaps the Model E is for you, otherwise the D will give you almost as much - for less.
If you're unsure which model is for you, check our quick guide to the Model D vs Model E
The Console/ Monitor
The monitor that comes as standard with the Concept2 E is the PM5. The LCD screen is functional if not fancy and shows everything you need to know about your workout, including strokes per minute, distance rowed, calories and session time etc. You can select the format of the display to suit the type of workout you're doing.
The PM5 contains with three games that help to bring some competition to your training - these aren't to everyone's taste so you can take them or leave them. A popular program is the 'race boat'. With this option you can compete against another rower (shown on screen) and either set the pace or race against one of your previous sessions - nothing like losing against your past self to get you motivated!
The PM5 is compatible with the wireless Garmin heart rate monitor and comes with a chest strap. This means you can train in your optimum heart rate zone for maximum benefits. It can also be used with Polar heart monitors but you need to purchase an additional receiver first.
Also well worth considering is the Slide accessory to give you the sensation of rowing on water. You place the machine on the slides and as you pull you slide back as if you were on water - neat!
The Concept2 E is sturdy model that will last for years with very little maintenance. It's a great machine to use, comfortable, and particularly good if you're tall or well-built. Ask any serious rower and they'll tell you that a Concept2 most closely resembles to feel of rowing on water. This isn't necessarily vital if you just want to get fit, but if you're considering taking up rowing as a sport, this might be a deciding factor.
UPDATE: Now available with the new all-singing and dance PM5 performance monitor. The PM5 has even easier to use features, including a USB socket to download data to your PC. And now you can compete online against other Concept2 rowers using the software.
Also worth a look:
For a few hundred dollars less, you might consider the Concept2 Model D, or you may want to take a look at the LifeCore R100 or the top of the class First Degree E-520 Professional. Or you may want to check out the BodyCraft VR500 if you love pre-set programs and gadgets!
Concept2 (E) owner's reviews
"I tried both the Concept2 models and chose the model (E) as I'm tall and like the higher seat position. I owned a cheaper machine for nearly 18 months and decided I wanted to row more and my old rower couldn't handle it. This is a tough mother of a machine and easily handles my weight." Giuseppe (had Model E for nearly a year)
"Brilliant! Brilliant! And did I mention it is brilliant!" Kellie (one satisfied user - 1 year)
"As a rower I've used a Model E at my club for years and decided to get one for my home. I don't care what anyone says about the other top-rated machines, this one feels like the real thing and I wouldn't consider buying anything else." Tim J. (users f many years)
"Why would you buy anything else? My fitness club has used Concept2 for ever since I can remember so when I decided to get one for the home the choice was a no-brainer. Had it now for seven months and even with daily usage it's still as good as now." Viv P.
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