Tech Specs


Build Quality


Rowing Machine Review

Updated: December 18, 2023

The Concept2 RowERG is a gym and home garage gym staple. It is more affordable than rowers with equal quality builds with a low-tech console that is more notorious than the spiffy large touchscreen displays on high-tech rowing machines. The RowERG is available in two sizes: standard and tall. These are the new names for the old Model D and Model E Concept2 rowers, respectively. The RowERG is a great rower as is, but Concept2 also offers a few accessories to upgrade your machine.

The PM5 console is a low-tech LCD backlit screen with how-tos and great workout settings. The flywheel and damper use air resistance to intensify your workout. The Concept2 RowERG provides a full-body workout that can train your power output or endurance. Newbies and experienced athletes alike can benefit from using the RowERG.

Concept2 RowERG Rowing Machine Review 2024
The Concept2 RowERG is the gold standard for rowing machines.

Who The Concept2 RowERG Is Best For:

  • Budget Shoppers Wanting the Best of the Best: The RowERG delivers top-notch construction. For rowers willing to sacrifice high-tech features, the Concept2 matches its pricier competitors in every other category.
  • Experienced Rowers: The RowERG is great for athletes who already know what they are doing and need little guidance. The RowERG was designed by rowers for rowers. Since it doesn’t have an HD display, it doesn’t provide an abundance of instructional content.
  • Beginners: This rowing machine is excellent for beginners, because it is sure to last you many, many meters to support you through years of future training.
  • Cross trainers: Crossfit athletes, users of other Concept2 equipment, runners, and more can benefit from the RowERG. It is a great break from your normal activities, targeting almost every muscle!

Pros And Cons Of The Concept2 RowERG


  • The Concept2 RowERG has a trustworthy construction that many rowers have put millions of meters on without issue.
  • The flywheel and damper have 10 levels of airflow for a variety of training suitable for all types of training.
  • The PM5 monitor has an impressive amount of features for an LCD console.
  • The monorail length should suit athletes with an inseam of up to 38”.
  • The RowERG has a high user weight capacity.
  • The RowERG is only 57 lbs (standard) or 68 lbs (tall), which is easy to lift and transport on its caster wheels.


  • The air resistance and chain are loud, making the RowERG better suited to houses than apartments.
  • The PM5 monitor is great, but it is not a smart touchscreen that will appeal to athletes looking for premium and interactive content.

Rowing Machine Review Of The Concept2 RowERG

Build Quality

Concept 2 legs
The Concept2 RowERG has a basic but durable build unmatched by more complex designs.


The Concept2 RowERG uses a mixture of steel and aluminum components for a robust and long-lasting build. The steel components are the rear legs and chain on the standard RowERG, while the tall version has front and rear steel legs. The mostly aluminum build keeps the rowing machine very lightweight. It only weighs 57 lbs or 68 lbs for the tall leg option. The height of the rower will vary with the positioning of the PM5. It is a very short piece of equipment, so more than likely you will need to account for your seated height plus the 14” or 20” of the seat height. Thus, rowing is a great option for users with ceilings too short to accommodate other cardio equipment, as the height of the rower is not something most users should find to be a problem.

The Concept2 RowERG has a high weight capacity. The maximum user weight capacity, as determined by Concept2, is 500 lbs, though European Stationary Fitness sets it at 300 lbs. Rowers should use their own discretion in exceeding the lower limit.

Flywheel and Damper

The RowERG has a fan flywheel, using air resistance to generate resistance. The flywheel’s intake vent is covered with an adjustable damper to allow more or less airflow. An open damper, set to level 10, will provide the highest resistance setting. Most athletes will be comfortable rowing around a 3-5 damper level for a feel similar to a speedy racing rowboat (shell). Because it uses air resistance, the Concept2 RowERG is louder than rowing machines using magnetic or water resistance.

Concept 2 fan and damper
The fan has a 10-level damper for varying the air flow and changing the difficulty of the stroke.


The handle is comfortable. I get very sweaty very quickly when exercising, so it is important to me that I can get a good grip. I had no trouble on the RowERG holding onto the handle. Rowing is not my main workout of choice, but I also had no issues with friction or blisters from the handle, though user experience may vary in this realm.


The chain is steel with nickel plating. It moves smoothly during each stroke. It is a little higher maintenance than the nylon strap found on the Hydrow rowers.

Concept 2 chain
The Concept2 RowERG uses a chain drive and has a comfortable handle.


The Concept2 RowERG has a monorail, as opposed to a dual rail. The rail is 54 inches long, which is sufficient for users, and appropriate for an inseam measurement of up to 38 inches. The rail is aluminum and easy to glide along. The rail is detachable from the rest of the rower for easy storage.

Concept 2 rail


The seat was comfortable for me. Compared to exercise bikes, the RowERG’s seat is far more comfortable. It was wide enough and soft enough. It measures 10” x 12”. Of course, everyone has different preferences and body types, so Concept2 has nicely created a seat pad designed for improved comfort. It costs less than $5. It has a self-adhesive backing for quick and simple installation.

Concept 2 seat
The Concept2 RowERG’s seat is more comfortable than a bike seat but not as plush as some may like.

Foot Stretcher & Footboards

The foot stretchers have sufficient adjustability. My size 8B shoes fit into the stretches great on one of the shortest settings. The straps provided a secure and snug fit, keeping my feet from pulling off the stretchers as I rowed. Rowers with smaller or much larger feet should not be concerned about fitting the feet stretchers. There is plenty of room and adjustability. The footboards measure 12 inches, sit about 5 inches apart, and are approximately 5 inches in width.

Concept 2 foot holder
The Concept2 RowERG has a traditional strap and pegboard design.


The Concept2 RowERG is lightweight at only 57 lbs for the standard model and 68 lbs for the tall model. The monorail can be detached, allowing the RowERG to be stored in two parts. The rower can be stored upright in a single piece or as two pieces. It can also be kept in its usable position. The Concept2 Rower is one of the most compact rowers.

It can be transported on its two caster wheels. Though it is easy for one person to move on their own, any doors in the RowERG’s path will need to be propped open or held open by someone else. You likely won’t be able to reach the door while pushing the RowERG. That said, you can also carry it in two pieces, so you have plenty of options for transportation.

Concept 2 tear apart
The Concept2 RowERG breaks into two pieces for compact and safe storage.


The Concept2 RowERG requires some regular maintenance. For best results, wipe down the monorail after each use to keep it free of accumulated dirt and dust. This will help the seat glide smoothly for every row session. After every 50 hours of rowing, the chain should be lubricated with a teaspoon of purified mineral oil, 3-IN-ONE oil, or 20W motor oil. The oil should be applied to a paper towel or rag, not directly to the chain. Failure to do so can nullify the warranty.

Features & Accessories

If you want high-tech and flashy features, the RowERG may not be your machine. On the other hand, if you are drawn to its industrial and simplistic build, you will be surprised by how much it offers. The Concept2 Rower is a phenomenal piece of equipment that doesn’t need a lot of glitz and glam to prove its worth.

PM5 Console Overview

The PM5 (aka Performance Monitor 5) might be as well known as the Concept2 RowERG itself. It has accurate real-time metric readouts. It may only be an LCD, but Concept2 packs a lot of training and instructional content into this simple device. The display is backlit for easy reading, though the light will turn off after a few seconds of inactivity. It is small but adjustable, so you can change where it sits in relation to the rower.

Concept 2 console on
The console turns on once you start rowing and does not need to be plugged in.

There are five rubber tactile buttons along the side. These buttons are for selecting screen options. There are three larger buttons along the bottom, labeled ‘Units,’ ‘Display,’ and ‘Menu.’ There is little need to go into an explanation on each button as one of the PM5’s strengths is being intuitive to navigate. However, if you need some help, the PM5 has an instructional section where you can uncover all of the monitor’s screen purposes and functions. To access this instructional information, select ‘More options’ from the start screen and then ‘Information.’

Concept 2 console and buttons
The many rubber buttons make the console intuitive to navigate.

Device Holder

The RowERG has a phone holder, which is detachable from the top of the monitor. Make sure that the phone holder is pushed down onto the monitor all the way, or you may run into an issue (like I did) of the holder flying off when you are trying to put your phone into it. It is not my favorite holder, as I struggled to get my phone placed both securely and in a manner that would not hold down my phone’s power or volume buttons. A larger device holder can also be retrofitted to the rower. I recommend this for users wanting to use a tablet to view training content.


The PM5 console is Bluetooth, allowing users to pair their console with the ERGdata app. The Bluetooth and ANT+ connect the PM5 to compatible heart rate monitors. The RowERG is compatible with Garmin, simply broadcast your heart rate from your Garmin watch settings, and select Connect from the main menu. Choose your device when it appears.


Concept2 offers many different accessories compatible with the RowERG and earlier rower models. The standard RowERG can even be retrofitted to the tall size with Tall Legs Retrofit Kit. Whether the rower is retrofitted to be tall or you order the tall version, it does not impact the rower's performance or who can use it. I know the name is confusing, but the tall legs increase the height of the rower from the ground only. It is not designed for taller users than the standard rower. The Tall legs are great for users who want to avoid sitting so low to the ground or who have issues standing back up.

For athletes looking for a more realistic water rowing experience, the RowERG can be paired with Slides. These allow the entire rower to move along them almost as a boat would in the water. The Team Boat Slide can be used to link multiple Concept2 RowERGs together. Rowers can find several other accessories and affordable replacement parts for their RowERG straight from the manufacturer.


Though rowing can be an intimidating exercise to try for the first time, I hope that it doesn’t deter athletes from trying it. As a novice rower, the Concept2 RowERG was great for me, and I can also see why so many experienced rowing athletes swear by it. The Concept2 forum and the PM5’s information made my rowing experience great. It feels like a rower that you will never grow out of. It is straightforward and affordable enough to suit beginners, but it sets the standard so thoroughly in the indoor rowing community that you won’t need to advance to a higher-end machine.

Concept 2 action
The Concept2 RowERG is great for beginners (like me) and for advanced rowers.

Rowing provides a full-body workout as well as cardio, power, flexibility, and coordination training. The workouts on the Concept2 monitor emphasize improving your performance by beating your past times. I felt that this rower pushed me to go harder than I would on a rower like the Hydrow rowers, which has content that encourages form drills, recovery, and working at a sustainable pace. The Concept2 RowERG feels a bit more competitive. Yet, the RowERG rewards good form and proper technique, so it does not necessarily feel like a tradeoff between the two.

Concept 2 action and console
Even with the noise of the fan, it is easy to get in the zone and row.

The RowERG is noisy, but I did not find it irritating. With noise-canceling headphones on, it was easy to tune out the sound of the air resistance and listen to music. Without headphones, I still was not bothered by it. The whooshing sound is pretty rhythmic and not grating. The only time I would be concerned by it would be when I am likely to disturb others. It is not the best fit for an apartment or multi-user household where someone works from home or needs a quiet space. If you can find a way to negotiate the noise with your neighbors or place the Concept2 RowERG in a more secluded location, it is worth it!

Training Options

The RowERG does not require a premium subscription to train. The PM5 has a few different workouts, categorized as Custom and Standard List programs. These include intervals, distance, and time goals. Once you have completed a workout, you can train against your past performance. There are also games, including a fishing and dart game. Through my research on the Concept2 RowERG, I discovered that the fishing game is quite popular in the rowing community and that I am very bad at it!

Concept 2 console programs
There are free onboard programs to help you get a great workout in the books.

Though there is no touchscreen, the Concept2 RowERG can be used to train alongside Concept2’s online videos or the As the Flywheel Spins. I used my iFIT subscription to train. I simply placed my phone in the holder and followed along with the instructor's commands. The PM5 monitor provided all the information I needed to match the instructor’s cues. If you want to sample content from brands like iFIT, Peloton, or Hydrow, the Concept2 provides a great platform to do it without the commitment!

Bottom Line Review of the Concept2 RowERG

The Concept2 RowERG is a deservedly popular rowing machine. It has a trustworthy build with a low-tech but impressive console. The RowERG will stick with you through the millions of meters of rowing you might do once you pick up the activity. It is comfortable as it comes but has several accessories for aftermarket tuning and customization. It is a staple in gyms and garage gyms, but its easy breakdown and storability make it a great in-home cardio machine. Target your full body for a tough and technical workout on the Concept2 RowERG.

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