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Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine Review

Concept2 Model E ReviewThe Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine is considered the upgrade to the very popular “Model D” Rower.

Like its predecessor – it’s commercial-grade, has amazing resistance, and a state-of-the-art monitor!

The smooth, strong resistance makes it a popular model used by Olympic Rowers and gyms around the world.


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

With the additional features, comes 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’s considered one of the best commercial rowing machines on the market!

Check out the full Concept2 Model E review below for the complete list of pros & cons.

Due to the current situation – some retailers are experiencing delayed shipping times/stock outages. Please check Rogue Fitness as well for pricing/shipping times. I hope you and your family are staying safe during these times.

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 rowing machine.

Air resistance is one of the strongest resistance types and closely mimics rowing on water.

Resistance is created when a user pulls the handle and spins the flywheel. As the flywheel spins, it must displace the air in front of it, which causes the resistance.

The harder the handle is pulled, the more air the spinning flywheel has to displace. The more air that has to be displaced, the harder it is to row, and the more resistance is created.

This direct relationship between rowing intensity and resistance makes the resistance-type ‘variable’. Basically, there are an infinite amount of resistance levels that can be created!

Just row faster to feel more resistance or row slower to feel less resistance.

You can read more about how air resistance operates and other ‘variable’ resistance rowers in my Air vs. Water Rowing Resistance Comparison article.

Resistance Benefits

Air resistance provides some of the strongest, smoothest, and most realistic rowing strokes out of any resistance type.

Plus, the Concept2 Model E is considered one of the best air resistance rowers on the market – so you know the resistance is excellent!

Due to air resistance closely mimicking the resistance felt while rowing on water and the Concept2 Model E being such a great rowing machine, it is one of the top models chosen by Olympic Rowers and fitness gyms around the world!

Concept2 Model E with PM5 Performance Monitor Indoor Rower Rowing Machine Black

Due to the resistance being ‘variable’ (as described above), it makes the Concept2 Model E great for HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training). Basically, it is very easy to switch from slow paced workouts to sprints, while still providing amazing resistance.

This is why Concept2 is the chosen brand of rowers by Crossfit gyms and the Crossfit Games.

The Concept2 Model E Rower also has the ability to change the “feel” of the rowing stroke using a damper, which I describe below.

Damper Setting

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

To adjust the “feel”, all you have to do is select the desired ‘damper level’ located on the flywheel.

Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine Damper

There are 10 damper settings to choose between (as shown above). The higher settings (6-10) give you the feeling of a slower, heavier boat and the lower settings (1-5) give you the feeling of a lighter, 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 really depends on your preference. I recommend starting at level 5 and adjusting the damper to different levels as you become more experienced.

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

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.

I created an article about the Concept2 Noise Level While Rowing to give people an idea of the noise created. It shows me rowing in front of a TV with it on and off (I’m on a Model D but the noise level is the same).

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

Resistance Overall

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.

I have never heard anyone complain about the resistance of the Concept2 Model E. How could you when it’s used by Olympic Rowers for training!?

Monitor/Control Panel

The Concept2 Model E Rower comes equipped with the “PM5” Monitor. It is considered the best rowing machine monitor on the market!

The manufacturer claims the monitor is a training partner but they forgot to mention 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

Ok, maybe I am exaggerating but the PM5 is an excellent monitor! It’s super easy to use and has tons of features!

Concept2 Model E Rower PM5 Monitor

The PM5 tracks a ton of different workout data including:

  • Distance
  • Time
  • Strokes per Minute
  • Pace
  • Calories
  • Watts
  • Heart Rate

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 choose between 4 different games:

  • Fish game– The object is to have your fish eat edible fish and to avoid the yucky fish.
    • This will teach you to control you intensity by rowing faster or slower to move the fish
  • Darts– The object 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!

Games are a great way to stay motivated and keep things interesting after you have owned the rower for a while.

Concept2 Model E PM5 Display:

The Model E has a fixed monitor arm but does allow the angle of the display to be adjusted.

Overall, the monitor is easy to read while rowing and has a backlight for reading the monitor in low light settings.

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 read)
  • Here is a complete breakdown on the Concept2 website.
PM5 Monitor Features:

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

The most popular HRM is the Polar H7 or the new Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor. If you have another heart rate monitor just make sure it’s Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ compatible.

POLAR H10 Heart Rate Monitor, Bluetooth HRM Chest Strap - iPhone & Android Compatible, Black


The Model E is USB Flash Drive compatible. This allows you to save all your workout data, favorite workout setups, and transfer the data to different Concept2 rowing machines or computers.

The workout data 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 workout data.

Additional Information

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 fade.

To turn on the unit just start rowing or press a button. The monitor automatically shuts off after 4 minutes of inactivity.

The Model E with a PM5 monitor uses 2D batteries. The monitor is powered by the flywheel when the machine is in use, so batteries will last a long time.

Check out the video below for a quick tutorial of the PM5 monitor on the  Concept2 Model E:


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. The PM5 is one of the main reasons a lot of people choose to buy a Concept2 Rowing Machine.

If you’ve read my other reviews, the cheaper rowing machines have very simple workout monitors with very few features. That’s not the case with the Model E PM5!

There are really no negatives about the Concept2 Model E PM5 Monitor, which is why it’s considered the best monitor on the market!

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Build Quality

Concept2 has a sterling reputation for making high quality rowing machines and the Model E holds up to the reputation!

It’s built tough enough to withstand heavy-use in rowing training facilitate, crossfire gyms, and fitness centers around the world – so don’t expect it to break on you anytime soon!

Concept2 Model E with PM5 Performance Monitor Indoor Rower Rowing Machine Black


Being commercial-grade means no parts on the Model E are low quality. 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 are one-piece of welded steel to provide great stability and strength for the user.

The flywheel is connected to the handle by a durable nickel-plated steel chain, which requires less maintenance than the steel chain on the Model D.

To further reduce unnecessary maintenance and increase durability, the chain is stored in a fully enclosed housing.

The handle, seat, bearings, footrest, and foot-straps are all made from high quality materials.

One user proudly claimed he’s used the Concept2 Model E for 3-4 times a week for over 5 years, averaging 1.3 million meters each year, and hasn’t run into a problem yet!

The Concept2 Model E is one of the highest quality rowing machines on the market, backed by the #1 rowing machine company in the world, and an amazing warranty.

If quality is a concern, you have no worries with the Model E Rower! Check out this guy rowing fairly hard and the rower does not even move!


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

The rowing motion is unmatched when you’re looking for a rowing machine that mimics on the water rowing. This is one of the main reasons it’s chosen by Olympic athletes.

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


One of the major benefits of the Model E is the seat height. The seat height is 20.0” off the ground, which is 6.0” higher than the Model D.

The seat height is equivalent to a standard chair and can be a major benefit for many people.

Taller seats are great for people with bad knees, people using a wheelchair, or people who prefer to row higher off the ground. A few users even liked the higher seat because they didn’t have to worry about pets running into them while working out.

Concept2 Model E Seat Height


Aside from the height, the contoured seat is padded and comfortable for most users. However, some users find the seat to be uncomfortable.

Users are usually able to fix the problem by sitting on a folded towel or by buying a rowing machine 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. If you’re concerned with seat comfort, just keep in mind there are very simple and cheap fixes.


The handle is ergonomic with a 10-degree bend to alleviate any stress on 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.

However, some beginner rowers will start to develop blisters when they first start rowing. Usually after 1 or 2 weeks your hands will become accustom to gripping the handle and form callouses.

If you’re not used to daily exercise, you may want to wear gloves to help your hands adjust. 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 sizes in a matter of seconds. They accommodate a wide range of shoes sizes, so I will be extremely surprised if your feet don’t fit comfortably.

Children and users up to 7.0’ tall have used the Concept2 Model E without ever mentioning the footrests being 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!

Below is a video of the Concept2 Model D (Concept2 does not have a Model E video). It shows the seat, handle, footrests, and rowing stroke in action! All of these features are identical on the Model E and Model D:


The Concept2 Model E provides an extremely comfortable rowing stroke. It’s provides one of the smoothest rowing strokes and realistic rowing motions.

To mimic on-the-water rowing, they do have to keep the seat and handles fairly robust but these can easily be upgraded with a cushion and gloves!

With such a comfortable rowing stroke, no wonder it’s used in rehabilitation facilities and recommended for senior citizens.

Due to the current situation – some retailers are experiencing delayed shipping times or stock outages. Please check Rogue Fitness as well for pricing/shipping times.

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The Concept2 Model E has a large footprint when in use but it can be folded up in seconds for storage.

The entire storage process can be done in as little as 30 seconds! Just separate the flywheel from seat rail and stand them upright like the photo below.

Concept2 Model E Storage

Many users couldn’t believe how fast it could be taken apart and put back together. Plus, it’s very light compared to some of the other resistance types, like magnetic!

Being lightweight makes the rower easy to carry around and it can also be rolled around on the front caster wheels.

The Model E can easily be stored away in the corner of a room or inside a large closet.

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The maximum weight capacity per the manufacturer is 500 pounds, so most people can use this rowing machine.

Users over 300 pounds commented they were able to use the rower with no issues and they felt the rower was extremely stable.

Concept2 Model E Rower

When trying to figure out if a Concept2 Model E will be suitable for your height, keep in mind inseam length is the most important measurement.

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

Users as tall as 6’9″ are able to row on the Model E without any issues and there are videos of children using the rower, so there are no lower end height restrictions.

If you are concerned you might be too tall, Concept2 offers an add-on that extends the monorail an additional 5.0″!

So basically, the Concept2 Model E can accommodate almost every person!

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

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Most users agreed that the Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine is extremely easy to assemble!

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 and screwdriver needed for assembly.

Expect to spend about 30 minutes to completely assemble the unit or less if you’re in a rush!

When assembling my Concept2 Rower I couldn’t believe how fast and easy the assembly was to complete. I even went back and double checked I didn’t miss anything!

Don’t believe me? Check out the video of this Model E assembly in under 6 minutes!


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Pros and Cons


  • Backed by the #1 rowing machine company –  Concept2
  • Commercial-grade build quality
  • High resale value
  • Solid warranty
  • 500 pound weight capacity
  • No height limitations
  • Relatively quiet for an air rower
  • Adjustable damper settings
  • Easy to assemble
  • Caster wheels make it easy to move
  • Footprint is almost cut in half for storage
  • Advanced PM5 Monitor
  • Amazing online community of Concept2 owners. (More info in my Concept2 Model D review)


  • Requires a large space to operate
  • Seat can be uncomfortable for some users
  • Handle can cause blisters in beginning
  • Air rowers make more noise than other resistance types

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Consumer Reviews

When checking out the consumer reviews of the Concept2 Model E it was hard to find any negatives. Users mostly praised the solid construction, fluid rowing motion, and taller seat height on the Model E Rower.

A majority of users rated this rower with 5-stars and for good reason!

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

Overall, if you have the few extra bucks to spend on the Model E you won’t be dissapointed!

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 transferable 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.

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Concept2 Model E Price

The Concept2 Model E is in the higher-price range of rowing machines, but when buying rowing machines you get what you pay for (sort of like a car).

I believe the higher cost of the Concept2 Model E is warranted by the extremely high build quality, excellent resistance, and commercial-grade features. Plus, you get the taller seat height, nickel-plated chain, fixed monitor arm, and fully enclosed chain housing.

The Concept2 Model E is sold through a few online retailers with most offering the exact same price. When shopping online, make sure to compare the final checkout price due to some retailers offering a lower upfront cost but then charging for shipping.

Amazon tends to be the most popular place for buying rowing machines and offers great customer service, free shipping on qualified orders, easy return policies, and a layer of protection between the consumer and manufacturer.

Check Reviews & Prices

Due to the current situation – some retailers are experiencing delayed shipping times or stock outages. Please check Rogue Fitness as well for pricing/shipping times.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, I feel the Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine is one of the best models on the market. It has great resistance, excellent build quality, and the best performance monitor.

If you want the additional features such as taller seat height, fixed monitor arm, nickel plated chain, etc. then I would buy the Model E.

If you feel you don’t need these additional features, but want the same great resistance, build quality, and PM5 monitor, then I suggest buying the Model D. You can read my complete Concept2 Model D breakdown here.

If you are confused about the difference between the Model D and Model E – check out my comparison.

I hope you enjoyed my Concept2 Model E review! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below.

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  1. You state that the model E is an upgrade from the D. It is not. The Model E is functionally identical to the D for rowing, the only difference is that it is taller – which means that someone with limited mobility can still get on the seat.

    1. Hi Dave – thanks for the comment! You are correct that the Model E has a taller seat (which I would consider an upgrade).

      There are a few other small upgrades/difference such as a nickel-plated chain, longer monitor arm, and the taller seat height.

      I do state that they are the exact same rowing machine with these small difference. I also recommend the Model D unless people need the taller seat height.

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