Concept2 Model E Review: How It Works And More

Review Concept 2 Model E

Review: Concept2 Model E

Concept2 is a brand which is well-known for producing some of the best rowers in the business.  You can find them at many gyms and Crossfit boxes across the country, and see them at professional level sports events like the Crossfit Games.

Their best selling machine is the Model D rower, but they have recently set out to improve upon perfection, and they created the upgraded Concept2 Model E.

In this review, we’ll take a close look at this option and help you weigh out the pros and cons.  We’ll examine the upgrades, talk about the new technology, and discuss whether or not it’s worth the higher price point.  


What Is the Concept2 Model E and How Does It Work?

The Concept2 Model E is a high-end indoor erg that was designed for commercial use.  It includes several modifications to make it more durable and able to stand up to multiple users per day and also has made some ergonomic considerations to accommodate a wider range of athletes.

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This rower is a static design, which means once you sit down and strap your feet into the footboards, the seat will move forward and backward through the rowing movement.  Concept2 also has a dynamic model where your seat stays stationary, and your feet do the moving, but that feature is not available on the Model E.

The Model E features air resistance construction and utilizes a fan blade that rotates and moves through the air to create tension when you row.  There is also an adjustable damper that can increase the resistance to deliver a more challenging workout making this model suitable for trainees of all levels from beginner to advanced.

To make this option more durable, Concept2 has used steel leg construction, added an extra gloss coat to the point, and installed a mental arm to hold up the monitor that can withstand constant adjustments.

They have also raised the seat height to 20 inches to make this option adaptable to a wider range of athletes.  People with mobility issues won’t need to bend as far to mount the rower, and if you’re recovering from an injury, elderly, or transferring from a wheelchair, the higher seat makes it easier to access.

The most notable feature, which we will explore in-depth below, is the upgraded PM5 display screen.  Not only does it show the traditional workout stats you expect in a high-end erg, but it also incorporates advanced technologies like wireless transfers that take it’s usability and data capabilities to the next level.





What Makes the Concept2 Model E Unique?

Although we touched on the main differences between both the Model D and rowers by other manufacturers above, the feature that really stands out on the Concept2 Model E is the PM5 Performance Monitor.  

Like the PM4 monitor that comes on the Model D, the upgraded PM5 turns on automatically when you sit down and begin your workout.  It accurately tracks all of the important data points, like your distance traveled, your speed, your pace per 100 or 500 meters, the total amount of calories you’ve burned, and the watts you produce per stroke.

It also comes with a variety of preset features like workouts including time trials at specified distances like 500, 1000, or 5000 meters, as well as games you can play during your training.  The screen displays in multiple languages, making it adaptable to a variety of users.

On the PM5 you can toggle between five different display screens to see the data that is most important to you during your workout.  You can see all the data, a large print version with programmable fields, a pace boat graphic, a force curve, or a bar chart.

The differences and upgrades on the PM5 are what excites a lot of users.  One small change that can make a big difference is that the display screen on the PM5 is backlit, making it easy to see in a variety of lighting conditions.  Home users especially love this feature, as it allows them to clearly see data even during early morning or late night workouts.

If a little illumination isn’t enough to get your heart pumping, the technology upgrade should do the trick.  The PM5 is compatible with USB flash drives, so you can easily save and export your workout data.

It also has both AND+ and Bluetooth connectivity options, and will automatically sync with your heart rate monitor during your workout to provide you with more accurate data and monitoring.

Finally, thanks to the Bluetooth technology, the Model E can sync to your computer, tablet, or smartphone as well as other nearby ergs.  This means seamless data transfer to your favorite workout app or tracking device, and if you want to race or compete with other nearby athletes, you can see the live action on your screen at any time.

Why Users Love the Concept2 Model E

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference, and Concept2 has taken a lot of small things into consideration when they created this upgraded model.  Here are a few things that users love about the Model E, and details on how they can deliver a big impact to your workout and fitness.

Made in the USA

Concept2 is an American-owned company who does all of their production in the states.  They don’t source cheaper parts or materials from places like China, which allows them to maintain excellent quality control.  This translates into their superior customer service model, which people report as being one of the best in the business.

If you want to see where the magic happens, you can tour their assembly facility in Morrisville, Vermont. Contact Concept2 to schedule a time to stop by.

User-Friendly Assembly

Whether you’re searching for a rower for a fitness facility, Crossfit box, or home use, finding one that’s easy to put together is an important consideration.  Assembling the Model E is a less than five-step process, and even people who aren’t handy can do it in about a half hour.

Preferred Resistance Type

Air resistance ergs are recognized as being the most stable, effective, and realistic indoor rowers.  Concept2 takes this technology a step further by incorporating noise-reducing components and an adjustable damper that can make your workout as challenging or as easy as required.  This makes this model a choice that’s highly adaptable to every user, ranging from beginners to those at the highest level of competitive performance.

We Can’t Say Enough About the Monitor

The backlit PM5 that features Bluetooth and flash drive technology is truly the stand-out feature of the Model E.  If you already own a Model D and want to upgrade your display, you can do so for around $180. That said, if you’re considering purchasing a new rower regardless, the Model E is only approximately $200 more expensive, and includes the advanced technology.

Better Ergonomics for a Wider Range of Users

Concept2 put a lot of thought into how to make their Model E more comfortable and accessible, and the upgraded features reflect those efforts.  The higher profile seat that sits 20 inches above the ground is closer to the height of a traditional chair, making it easier to sit down and get started with your workout.

Their handlebar features an ergonomic design that includes a 10-degree bend which gives you a more natural hand position when you’re rowing.  The adjustable foot pads have several settings that accommodate nearly every shoe size, and the strap fits around even the widest foot comfortably.

The rail on the Concept2 Model E is longer than in previous versions and people with up to a 38-inch inseam can use it comfortably.  Also, extremely tall users could purchase a rail extension which would give you even more room on the pull each time you row.

Finally, the Model E has the highest capacity of any rower in the market.  People up to 500 pounds can safely use the equipment without fear of any malfunctions, warping, or damage.

Easy to Move and Store

The Model E features two transport wheels that are tucked away on the front of the machine that makes it easy to tip the rower up and roll it wherever you need it to go.  This is especially helpful for people who purchase one for home use, or those who have limited space in their fitness facility and want to pull the rowers out for classes or during specific workout times.

It also breaks down into two smaller sections, which is helpful if you need to store the erg when it’s not in use.

Protected by a Warranty

The Concept2 Model E is built to last, and the company proves it with their warranty.  The frame is protected by a five-year limited warranty, and all of the moving parts and PM5 computer are covered for two years.  

The manufacturer also offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with the product for any reason.


The Concept2 Model E costs $$ and includes all of the features listed above as well as a user manual, quick start guide, and assembly instructions.

There aren’t many upgrades you can do to this machine that would cost you more money unless you want to add the Concept2 Slide.  This modification creates an even more realistic on the water feel to your stroke and runs $290. It’s most often used by competitive rowers who want to stimulate team training indoors.

Public Perception of Concept2

If you’re investing a significant amount of money in a piece of fitness equipment, it’s important that it’s backed by a reputable company.  Concept2 is just that.

They were founded in 1976 and got their start making composite racing oars that were used by Olympic and other competitive rowers and teams.  In 1981 the founders developed their first indoor rower, and in the years since have upgraded their models to become one of the most well-known and widely used around the world today.

Top level Crossfit athletes who compete in the Crossfit Games regularly train with Concept2 rowers, as do competitors across an array of sports.  Notably, MMA fighter Conor McGregor uses an erg to get in top shape for his fights, and celebrity Hugh Jackman posted on social media about his amazing rowing workouts when he was building his physique for his role in Wolverine.  

Even Olympic level athletes who specialize in rowing use Concept2 rowers when they aren’t able to train on the water.  Not only does the equipment deliver an excellent workout, but it mimics the movement so closely that it offers conditioning that translates directly to big wins in their sport.  

How It Compares

The biggest competitor to the Concept2 Model E is the Model D rower made by the same company.  The Model E costs $1,100 and comes with more durable construction and the upgraded PM5 display screen, where the Model D runs $900.

Taller athletes, commercial facilities, or anyone who likes advanced technology that syncs to your computer or favorite fitness tracking app will likely find the extra $200 investment worthwhile for the additional features.

Outside of the Concept2 brand, the LifeCore R100 is an option that has some comparable features to the Model E.  The R100 is also heavy duty and can accommodate users up to 600 pounds. It uses a combination of air and magnetic resistance and has a large-screen display monitor that some users prefer over the Model E.  

The R100 has a variety of present programs and data points, and it will sync up with your heart rate monitor.  However, it doesn’t have any Bluetooth or data export capabilities. This option retails for around $1,260 making it a more expensive choice than the Model E.

If you like the enhanced technology features and the ergonomics of the Model E, you may also like the BodyCraft VR500.  It has similar construction, a seat height of 19 inches, but can only accommodate users up to 350 pounds.

Its display screen is one of the best on the market and includes a backlit display with one-touch buttons where you can toggle between your data sets.  It measures heart rate and also includes 12 pre-set workouts. The machine can store data for up to four users but isn’t Bluetooth compatible.

The most significant difference between the VR500 and the Model E is the price.  The VR500 runs around $1,600 and doesn’t include a heart rate strap.

What We Think

If you’re in the market for a high-end indoor rower, the Concept2 Model E is hard to beat.  Not only does it have rock-solid construction, thoughtful and adaptable features and an excellent warranty, but it’s backed by arguably the most reputable indoor erg company in the business.  For what you get not only is the price point affordable, it’s very competitive with similar models from other manufacturers.

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