Concept 2 Model D with PM5 Review: Pros and Cons


concept 2 rowing machine review

Indoor rowers are amazing fitness machines that help you exercise your entire body and therefore burn a significant number of calories. But not all of them are created equal, and the Concept 2 Model D indoor rower stands out in the world of rowing machines.

With amazing features that speak volumes about its sturdiness, performance, and user-friendliness, the Model D with PM5 Monitor is a great choice.

In this article, we’ll review the Concept 2 rowing machine.  We’ll discuss its main features, analysing them from various viewpoints, and explain how these work to your advantage. We’ll sum up with a list of pros and cons, which will hopefully help you make an informed final decision.

Concept 2 Model D with PM5 Monitor Review – Everything you need to know about it

The Model D is one of the best selling rowing machines worldwide, so here are the main things you need to know about it:


We liked the Concept 2 Model D right from opening the package, seeing as it comes complete with everything you need. Inside, you’ll find the user manual, a start guide for the included PM5 Performance Monitor, setup instructions and tools for the job.

The user manual is filled with all the information you need to know about this rower and how to use it, written in various languages. With easy to grasp terms, clear and concise diagrams, this user manual is definitely a keeper in case you need to refer back to it.

The same can be said both about the assembly instructions, as well as the start guide for the PM5. It’s quite a feat to have good manuals because it saves you a lot of hassle with the setup. Some other similar products on the market have very laconic instructions, so Model D appears very user-friendly right off the bat with these booklets.

We also like that all the needed tools are included in the package, so you can start assembling the rower right after the courier drops it off. So you won’t have to go knocking on your neighbour’s doors after another wrench that fits, the one inside the pack can be used for all the screws and washers.

Besides, it doesn’t take a lot of time to assemble it, either. Just about 15 minutes, and your rowing machine will be up and ready. It may take a few minutes longer if you’ve never done something like this before, but it shouldn’t take you take more than 30 minutes.

Design and Longevity

Concept 2 Model D isn’t the smallest or lightest rower available, but its dimensions are still quite easy to accommodate even moderate-sized spaces. So with 243.8 x 61 x 113 cm product dimensions, you’ll need a footprint of 274 cm x 122 cm to set it up comfortably. And the 25.9 kg weight isn’t very light, but it still allows you to move it with ease.

The seat height of 35.5 cm is enough to provide a comfortable fit for people of different heights. We also like the nickel-plated chain that’s very durable in the long term, it helps you use this rower to its maximum.

The footrests are adjustable, which shows user-friendliness again, and the handle design is ergonomic. But more of that below. Now we want to focus on its stability, that’s really enviable even though, as we said, it’s not a particularly heavy item. So you can count on this rower to last you a long time, even if you have a heavier build, of up to 227kg.

model d with pm5 monitor review


Besides, Model D wins some storage points too, considering you can separate it in two to save some space, thanks to it’s quick-release mechanism (no tools required). The caster wheels on the heavier side are really smooth, helping with its mobility, so you can easily put it in and take it out of its storage place. 

Concept2 RowErg Standard Legs with PM5 - Black
  • Indoor rowing is an effective full-body, low-impact workout....
  • Includes the Performance Monitor 5, giving you accurate,...
  • 35.5cm seat height, nickel-plated chain, adjustable...

Comfort of Use

Now that we’ve established you’re getting a durable and sturdy rower, let’s evaluate how comfortable it is to actually use it. 

Starting with the seat, we’ve already agreed that its height can fit most people out there unless you’re freakishly tall. Besides, this is a padded seat, meaning you won’t have any backaches if you’re keeping a good posture during your workouts. And that will be a piece of cake as the seat is a bit inclined, which helps you with your posture more than a vertical seat would.

However, the padding might wear out in time, making the seat feel harder. That depends on how heavy you are and how often you use this rower, though. Still, that’s nothing that can’t be easily fixed with a folded beach towel or an extra seat pad.

The ergonomic handle provides a really great grip because it’s covered in molded rubber, so you won’t have any wrist aches, though blisters might be common at the start. That’s because of the rubber construction, so you’d better wear some gloves. However, you’ll find that this handle design is particularly effective when it comes to rowing movements.

Moving on to the footrests, you’ll find that these can accommodate a ton of foot sizes, which is great. They’re also very flexible and specially designed for people with stiff ankles because they help you keep your shins perpendicular to the ground. They’re also great in terms of grip and offer very comfy heel rests, even if you’re not wearing any shoes.

Last but not least, the rowing strokes actually mimic the ones you would do in a boat, so they’re really flowy. It also helps that the nickel chain provides a smooth motion for the flywheel and that the seat doesn’t stumble on the monorail. Still, read the user manual to find out how to keep both the chain and the monorail in tip-top shape, cleaning and lubricating them properly.

Performance Monitor

concept 2 model d with pm5 monitor review

Not many rowers include a performance monitor, but the Model D does. The PM5 is very accurate and offers data for each row, so you can evaluate your progress as you go. Besides, the monitor arm is adjustable, which is another plus for user-friendliness.

The PM5 is top-notch in the world of performance monitors, and the best thing about it is that it can be used with the online logbook. You simply have to install the Concept 2 software and upload your workout data on the included USB flash drive. That way, you can transfer all these data to your log book.

Besides, you don’t even have to use the Concept 2 logbook if you don’t want to, you also have the option to upload this data to another program. The ability to use third-party programs and features is great, offering you an increased chance to customise your workout and understand your progress.

You just need two D batteries to use the PM5 which automatically recharge when you’re using the rower. The computerised monitor keeps track of your performance as well as various rowing games, and you can also pair it with a tablet. Plus, you can even share your results with the Model D community once you upload your workout stats on your PC.

The PM5 is relatively small, easy to use and offers plenty of features. You can keep score of your distance and speed with 500 m splits, along with the time needed and the frequency of your strokes, but you can also find out how many calories you’re burning. All that is displayed on a big screen that’s easy to read, even in dim light thanks to its available backlight. 

Still, the thing we love most about this is the ability to customise your workout, once you’ve selected one of the five pre-programmed workouts. You can even play games or get rowing lessons to master the right techniques.

Besides, you can monitor your heart rate if you have the necessary equipment, like a chest strap and a heart rate attachment that can be fitted to this monitor. And because the PM5 can be used both with ANT and Bluetooth Smart, you can keep wireless track of your heart rate. However, you should check that the heart rate monitor you get is compatible with Bluetooth Smart, which isn’t the same as the basic Bluetooth.

Once you’ve done that, you can read your heart rate at 10-second intervals and compare the different values from before and after your workout. That will help you understand how hard you’re working out, and maintain the right target zone for your purposes.

Concept2 RowErg Standard Legs with PM5 - Black
  • Indoor rowing is an effective full-body, low-impact workout....
  • Includes the Performance Monitor 5, giving you accurate,...
  • 35.5cm seat height, nickel-plated chain, adjustable...


The flywheel is another amazing feature of the Model D design, contributing to very smooth rowing motions. So the resistance adjusts itself depending on how hard you’re working out, meaning you’ll always work against your own strength. Other rowers on the UK market offer different resistance levels which you can select, but this one is more intuitive, adjusting to your effort as you go. 

That means you’ll exercise at your full capacity each time you’re using this rower, even when you’re having a bad day. The disadvantage with pre-set resistances is that you can push yourself too much or be too indulgent with yourself, which never happens with Model D.

This sort of variable resistance is amazing for High-Intensity Interval Training workouts when you alternate intervals of high activity with low activity. The reason is that you won’t have to stop and re-adjust the resistance all the time. Still, if you don’t like the feel of this variable resistance, you can also use the spiral damper to set your own.

We also appreciate that the spiral damper plays an important part in reducing the noise. Granted, there will be some amount of noise because this rower uses air resistance. So when you spin the flywheel fast, you displace a bigger air volume, creating more resistance as well as an audible whirr. But this won’t bother your downstairs neighbours and you can always listen to music when you’re working out.

That said, this air-resistance is very smooth, so it’s no wonder it’s the favourite one of professional rowers and athletes since it feels exactly like you would on water. There’s also no lag to speak of, adding to the fluidity of the rowing motions you make.

Value for Money

model d rowing machine review

The Model D rower is definitely among the high-end products on the market, but that’s reflected in the quality of engineering. The Concept 2 company takes pride in saying this rower is built to last you a lifetime. Many happy users can confirm that, especially those with more than a decade of use under their belts.

Since this is a stable, durable machine that’s so much liked by athletes, you can use it on a daily basis for very hard workouts. The 30-day money back guarantee and the 5-year warranty for the frame can attest to that, but it’s also obvious from the grade A-build.

So in terms of materials used, the rear legs are made of steel, while the seat track is made of stainless steel. The front part of the base and the monorail are made of aluminum, which are both very resistant materials, unlike plastic parts that can easily break. 

Pros and Cons

That said, let’s see what the main perks and downsides of this rower are. 

  • Reputable brand
  • Solid
  • Low-maintenance
  • Smooth rowing motions
  • Accurate Performance Monitor
  • Lots of functions and options
  • Easy to customise
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great warranty and service
  • Detailed instructions
  • Complete package
  • Pricey
  • Big
  • Seat padding wears out in time
  • Rough rubber handle
  • Noisy-ish fan


Final Thoughts

I hope you found this Concept 2 Model D review useful. This rower proves to be a reliable rowing machine, although it’s not perfect – there’s no such thing. Still, the disadvantages are pretty minor from our point of view. There’s nothing you can’t fix and nothing that affects the stellar performance of this durable and user-friendly rower.

Concept2 RowErg Standard Legs with PM5 - Black
  • Indoor rowing is an effective full-body, low-impact workout....
  • Includes the Performance Monitor 5, giving you accurate,...
  • 35.5cm seat height, nickel-plated chain, adjustable...

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