Concept2 Model E ReviewThe Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine is the Model D on steroids!

Just like its predecessor, it’s commercial grade and literally bulletproof!

It’s supreme build quality allows it to be used by professional rowers and health clubs all over the world.

The Model E comes with a few upgrades compared to the Model D such as higher seat, nickel-plated chain,  and longer monitor arm.

While there are many additional features, it also comes with a heftier price tag.

Concept2 set the industry standard in the world of air-resistance rowers and this model does not disappoint.

With a staggering amount of 5 star reviews, it can be considered the best commercial rowing machine on the market.

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Table of Contents
(click a title to jump ahead!)

1. Resistance Type
2. Monitor/Control Panel
3. Build Quality
4. Comfort
5. Storage
6. Capacity
7. Dimensions
8. Assembly
9. Pros and Cons
10. Consumer Reviews
11. Warranty
12. Pric

Resistance Type

The Concept2 Model E is an air-resistance rower.  Air resistance is one of the strongest resistance types and closely mimics rowing on water.

That’s why many Olympic rowers prefer this resistance type, specifically from a Concept2 machine!

Resistance is created when a user pulls the handle and spins the flywheel.

The harder the handle is pulled, the more wind is created by the spinning flywheel. The more wind created, the harder it is to row.

This direct relationship between rowing intensity and resistance makes the resistance-type ‘adjustable’.

So in a nutshell, just row faster or slower to ‘adjust’ your resistance to the desired level.

Damper Setting

In addition to adjusting your resistance level based on your workout intensity, the Model E lets you adjust the “feel” of the rower.  It’s very similar to changing gears on a bicycle and doesn’t directly affect the level of resistance.

To adjust the “feel setting” all you have to do is select the desired ‘damper level’ located on the flywheel housing.  There are 10 damper settings to choose from. The higher settings (6-10) give you the feel of a slower, heavier boat and the lower settings (1-5) give you the feel of a sleeker, faster boat.

Think of settings 6-10 as rowing with passengers and settings 1-5 as rowing alone.

Concept2 recommends a setting between 3-5 for a great cardiovascular workout.

The right setting for you really depends on your preference.  You’ll be able to figure it out once you play around with the different settings.

There are a ton of great YouTube videos that go over damper settings, what they mean, and how to find the right setting.

Concept2 Model E Review Black

Noise Level

Being an air rower means the Concept2 Model E produces a bit of noise. The flywheel creates a ‘wooshing’ noise every time a stroke is completed.

Most people don’t find the noise disturbing or just wear headphones while rowing. Other users found it hard to watch TV at a normal volume.

Overall the resistance on the Model E is excellent and one of the best on the market. It is smooth, strong, and closely mimics the resistance found when rowing on water.

This video will give you a good idea of how the rowing stroke feels and sounds while also explaining the variable resistance.

Monitor/Control Panel

The rower comes with the Concept2 Model E “PM5” Monitor– the latest and greatest rowing machine monitor.

The manufacturer touts this fitness monitor as a training partner but they forgot to mention that it is also a:

  • Coach – because it can teach you how to row with proper form.
  • Statistician – because it tracks vital workout statistics.
  • Physician – because it has wireless heart rate monitoring.
  • Entertainer – because you can play 4 pre-loaded workout games.
  • Competitor – because you have the option to race a pace boat or yourself via a previous workout.

It’s a powerful mini-computer that has a friendly user-interface. Don’t let the simplicity fool you – it can do a lot more than just look pretty.

The PM5 tracks distance, speed, pace, calories, and watts.  It comes with onboard flash memory to save over 1000 workouts.

There are plenty of workout options.  You can just start rowing, choose 1 of 5 preset workouts, or you can customize your own workout routine.


You can play 4 different games:

  • Fish game– The object of the game is to have your fish eat edible fish and to avoid the yucky fish.
    • You will learn how to modulate your intensity as varying intensity levels will move your fish to the right spots.
  • Darts– The object of the game is to score as many points as possible by throwing “darts”.  Darts are thrown when you complete a certain number of rows.
    • You earn points by remaining consistent with power output and stroke rate from your most recent strokes.
  • Target training – Similar to darts, but you can also predetermine the length of time you want to maintain your power output and stroke rate.
  • Biathlon – The newest game on the monitor combines two sports: Nordic Skiing and Target Shooting. The biathlon consists of racing laps with a shooting stage between each lap!

The display is large and easy to see whether you’re at the start or finish of your rowing motion. Sometimes a problem on cheaper rowing machines.

The fixed monitor arm allows the angle of the display to be adjusted.


When working out, the top-section of the display always shows:  total time, number of strokes per minute, distance achieved and 500m split time.

Concept2 Model E Monitor

You can select from 5 different display options for the bottom section:

  • All data (additional performance data shown on one screen)
  • Force Curve (graphically shows if your rowing motion is smooth or not and how much power you’re producing)
  • Pace Boat (keep pace with a pace boat or workout against yourself from a previous workout)
  • Bar chart (graphically shows your heart rate or workout output on each stroke)
  • Large print (shows what’s normally only shown on the top-portion of the display on the whole screen making the data bigger and much easier to see)
  • Here is a complete breakdown on the Concept2 website.

The monitor is equipped with ANT+ technology (think of Bluetooth for sports and fitness markets). This allows the PM5 to monitor your heart rate wirelessly with a compatible heart rate device.

For about $50.00 you can purchase a Garmin Heart Rate Transmitter with Strap that will display data on your monitor. Just make sure devices are Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ compatible.

ANT+ also allows you to race against up to 8 Concept2 machines wirelessly or you can use optional cables. (but who wants to race with cables, right?)

The Model E is USB Flash Drive compatible. This allows you to save workout data, log every meter you row in a lifetime, saves your favorite workout setups, and can be used to record your workouts on different Concept2 machines.

The workout data that’s stored on the flash drive can be uploaded to Concept2’s online logbook from the PM5 to your PC or MAC.   You can also use third-party software programs while your PM5 is connected to your computer to further analyze your workout data.

Not to mention they also make rowing more fun. One program shows what you’d look like graphically rowing in a real boat by using your real-time rowing data while working out.

The monitor feels very durable. It is encased in hard plastic and the buttons feel like hard rubber that’s easy to press but won’t break.  Even the lettering looks like it won’t ever fade.

To turn on the unit just start rowing (workout data starts getting recorded after 1 minute of continuous activity) and it automatically shuts off after 4 minutes of inactivity.

The Model E with a PM5 monitor uses two D cell batteries. The monitor is powered by the flywheel when the machine is in use so batteries will last a very long time.

I know I went on and on about the PM5, but it’s loaded with features and I wanted to make sure to cover all of them.  If you’ve read my other reviews, the cheaper rowing machines have very simple workout monitors and it’s hard for me to even write more than one paragraph about them.

No users mentioned anything negative about the Concept2 Model E PM5 Monitor which comes to no surprise to me.

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Build Quality

The Model E is commercial grade so it’s no surprise that it can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.

Concept2 has a sterling reputation for making high quality rowing machines and the Model D and E both exemplify this.

It’s built tough enough to withstand heavy use in a health club or boathouse so don’t expect the machine to break down on you anytime soon.

Simply put – it looks pretty and it’s built tough.

Concept2 Model E Nothing on the rower feels cheap from the footrests to the flywheel housing.

The frame features an extruded aluminum I-beam monorail with stainless steel seat track and is powder-coated with a clear topcoat for extra durability.

Both legs of the machine are one piece and made of welded steel to provide great stability for the user.

The flywheel is pulled by a nickel-plated steel chain that is durable and requires less maintenance than the steel chain on the Model D.

To further reduce necessary maintenance and increase the life of the chain, it’s stored in fully enclosed housing.

Most users have raved about the durability of this rower. One user proudly claimed he’s used it 3-4 times a week for over 5 years, averaging 1.3 million meters each year, and hasn’t run into a problem yet.

If you have any concerns of this machine breaking down on you – get those false thoughts out of your head right now!

As with any other air-resistance rowing machine it makes noise and gets progressively louder the harder you row.  The noise is very subtle and can even be motivating. The louder the rower, the harder you’re working out!

I personally like how the noise level is directly related to your rowing intensity for the aforementioned reason.  I also like how you feel a slight gust of air from the flywheel housing while rowing and it blows harder when your row harder.

The noise level doesn’t appear to bother users either, as no one mentioned anything negative about it.

In fact, many users commented on how they loved rowing in front of the television for entertainment.

One final note regarding noise, don’t expect to hear any creaking noises and other miscellaneous noises found on cheaper machines.

You’re buying a very high quality rowing machine from a company with a solid reputation.

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The Concept2 Model E is an extremely comfortable rower with virtually no complaints.

Its seat height is 20.0” off the ground which is 6.0” higher than the Model D.  A seat height of 20.0″ is higher than normal for rowing machines.  The seat height is equivalent to a standard chair and this can be a major benefit for many people.

It’s great for people with bad knees, people using a wheelchair, and people who prefer to workout from higher off the ground.

A few users liked the higher seat because they didn’t have to worry about kids and pets running into them while working out.

Concept2 Model E Comfort

The contoured seat is padded and comfortable for most users.  However, a few users found the seat to be uncomfortable but were able to fix the problem by sitting on a folded towel or by buying a seat pad.

I personally think the seat is fine. It’s no la-z-boy chair but it’s much better than sitting in a plastic seat at a fast food restaurant.

If you’re concerned this will be an issue, just keep in mind there are very simple and cheap fixes.

The handle is ergonomic with a 10-degree bend to alleviate any stress from your wrist and forearms.  The handle allows you to row with a natural arm and hand motion.

No users mentioned anything negative about the handle and it fits very comfortably in your hands.

I wanted to mention one thing about the handle. Many beginner rowers will start to develop blisters when they first start. Usually after 1 or 2 weeks your hands will become accustom to gripping the handle and form callouses.

If you’re not used to gripping things I highly advise you wear gloves to help your hands get adjusted.  Concept2 also recommends wearing gloves for the first few weeks. This is not necessary to use the rower, just a recommendation.

Check out my recommendation for rowing gloves here.

The footrests are comfortable and it’s really easy to change shoe sizes in a matter of seconds.  It accommodates a wide range of shoes sizes so I will be extremely surprised if your feet don’t fit comfortably.

Children and people close to 7.0’ tall have used the Concept2 Model E and no one ever mentioned the footrests were too small or too big.

Users have also mentioned the footrests are perfect for not wearing shoes which is a huge plus for barefoot rowers.  When rowing, the comfort of my feet is the last thing I think about so that says the footrests are doing their job.

The rowing motion is unmatched when you’re looking for one that mimics the experience of rowing on the water (this is the main reason professionals prefer this rower for training).

The entire rowing motion is fluid from start to finish. When you first push-off with your legs the seat glides effortlessly on the seat rail, the chain goes in and out of the chain housing without snagging, and the flywheel spins smoothly.

To ensure the rower continues to perform at the highest-level it’s important to stay on top of the simple periodic maintenance that’s required such as oiling the chain and wiping down the seat rail.

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Concept2 Model E StorageThe Concept2 Model E has a large footprint when in use but can be folded up in seconds to save space.

The entire storage process can be done in as little as 15 seconds!

Just separate the flywheel from seat rail and stand them upright like the photo.

Many users couldn’t believe how fast it could be taken apart and put back together.

It’s perfect to store away in the corner of a room or a large closet.

Being light weight makes the rower easy to carry around. It also has caster wheels to roll the unit.

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The maximum weight capacity per the manufacturer is 500 pounds so pretty much anyone can use this machine.

Users over 300 pounds commented that they were able to use the rower with no issues for years. So unless you exceed the specified weight limit I wouldn’t worry.

When trying to figure out if a rower will be suitable for you, keep in mind that the leg length is the important metric and not height specifically.

According to Concept2 the monorail length is 54.0″ (137cm) and can fit an inseam length up to 38.0″.

Elementary-level children and users as tall as 6’9” are able to row on the Model E without any issues.

If worse comes to worse and you’re concerned that you might be too tall, Concept2 offers an add-on that extends the monorail an additional 5.0″.

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  • Fully Assembled:
    • 96.0″ x 24.0″ (L x W)
  • Seat Height:
    • 20.0″
  • Machine Weight:
    • 65 pounds
  • Space Recommended for Use:
    • 9.0′ x 4.0′ (L x W)
  • Stored Dimensions:
    • 27.0″ x 33.0″ x 54.0″ (L x W x H)

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Several users varying in age commented that the rower is extremely easy to put together.

You’re only going to find 8 screws, 8 washers, and 2 bolts in the box along with the other major components. It also includes the necessary allen wrenches needed for assembly.

Expect to spend about 30 minutes to completely assemble the unit.

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Pros and Cons


  • Built by one of the best rowing brands in the world: Concept2
  • Commercial grade so it’s built like a tank and will last forever
  • High resale value
  • Solid warranty
  • 500 pound weight capacity
  • No height limitations
  • Relatively quiet for an air rower
  • Has adjustable damper settings
  • Easy to assemble
  • Caster wheels make it easy to move
  • Footprint is almost cut in half for storage
  • PM5 Monitor with endless features
  • Amazing online community of Concept2 owners. You can read about it in my Concept2 Model D review


  • Requires a large space to operate
  • The seat can be uncomfortable for some users
  • The handle can be rough for beginner rowers
  • The fan might be a bit noisy for some people

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Consumer Reviews

Users praised the solid construction and fluid rowing motion of the Concept2 Model E.  A majority of users rated this rower with 5 stars and for good reason.

A few users weren’t too fond of the seat, but found very simple and cheap ways to find more comfort.

Read more consumer reviews here: Concept2 Model E Reviews

Average Rating: 4.8

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  • Frame: 5-year limited warranty
  • All Parts: 2-year limited warranty
    • Warranty is transferrable if you choose to sell or gift
    • Effective start date is date of purchase
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
    • Unsatisfied customers can simply pay to ship it back and their money will be refunded.
    • Double check with the retailer that this option is available.
    • Concept2 states, “this offer applies to factory direct sales to our customers in US and Canada only.”

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Concept2 Model E Price

The price on the Concept2 Model E is higher than most rowers. However, I believe the price is fair for the amount of quality received.

It is offered through various large retailers with Amazon tending to have the lowest price. Amazon also offers great customer service and consumer protection.

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I hope you enjoyed my Concept2 Model E review! If you are confused about the difference between the Model D and Model E – check out my comparison.

Leave me a comment in the section below!

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