Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine PM3 vs PM4. Best Rowing Machine Reviews 2014…

Not sure which indoor rowing machine is right for your fitness goals and particular height/weight?


Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM3

Skip countless of sleepless nights and days of frustration. I did the ground word for you, and what you have here is a full blown rowing machine product review, buy guide and comparison chart.

If you consider buying Concept2 Model D you may also want to learn about Concept2 Model E. Or, learn about Bodycraft VR500, which can be a good rowing machine alternative. They give you the luxury to work out in your home, whenever you choose.

Concept2’s Model S Indoor Rower has become the best selling indoor rower in the world because of its dependability. Competitive rowers regard it as the standard product for indoor training. It increases the fitness levels and tones up the physique by delivering an effective cardiovascular workout. And what more, it comes at a cost which is just a fraction of the cost at which you can get other home fitness equipment or even a yearly gym membership.

Concept2-Model-D-Indoor-Rowing-Machine-PM3Concept2 knows the importance of practical design, and therefore, it has designed and engineered its Model D to last for a lifetime. It is ready to take the heavy training day after another.

  • Sliding seat for complete body workout
  • Flywheel design to reduce noise while optimizing a smooth feel
  • 14-Inch (35.6 cm) seat height, PM3 monitor and a nickel-plated chain
  • Adjustable footrests to accommodate a large range of sizes
  • Separable into two pieces for the purpose of storage
  • Mobile due to its castor wheels
  • Ergonomic handle for a natural position
  • Requires footprint of 9 x 4 feet
  • 5-year frame warranty
  • 500-pound capacity

Concept2 Model D Product Specifications

Space Requirements
What's in the Box
Monitor: PM3 (You can purchase PM4 as an upgrade)Overall Length: 96 inAssembled: 8 ft x 2 ft1 LogCard
Monitor Arm: Made of ABS plastic.
Comes with pivots for storage & for
adjusting the height and angle of monitor.
Machine weight: 57 lbStorage: 25 in x 33 in x 54 inChain Oil
Support Legs: Front legs made
of aluminum and rear legs made of steel.
Width: 24 inWith Clearance for Use: 9 ft x 4 ftUSB cable
Power Generation for PM3:
It provides an operating
power when the indoor rower is used
Seat Height: 14 inUser manual
Chain: Partially enclosed chain with nickel platingMonorail Length: 54 in.Tools & illustrated assembly instructions
Maximum User Weight: 500 lbCan fit inseam up to
36 in and an extra-long
monorail can be availed
at an extra cost.

Top 9 Features of Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM3 (Black)

Performance Monitor

Its performance monitor gives an accurate and comparable data for each row. The adjustable monitor arm enables to position the monitor wherever comfortable.

Flywheel and Damper

Concept2’s indoor rowers react to the effort made on every stroke, which helps the user to stay in full control of the resistance and exertion. The spiral damper and the flywheel design allow an adjustable airflow and minimize the noise.

Low Profile

Model D is a low profile model with 14” seat height.

Storage and Mobility

It features a quick-release frame-lock mechanism which lets you separate the machine into two parts for ease of storage, that too without requiring any extra tools. It also allows you to easily and swiftly roll the fully-assembled machine to the desired position, thanks to the caster wheels on its front foot.

Adjustable Footrests and Ergonomic Handle

Its adjustable footrests enable quick & easy sizing. The footrests can accommodate a broad range of shoe sizes.

Its ergonomic handle has a 10-degree bend which makes it comfortable to row at a natural arm & hand position.

Nickel-Plated Chain

Its nickel-plated chain looks nice and works hard. The PM3 doesn’t ask for regular maintenance because of this nickel plating, as it allows for longer time durations between oiling.

Stainless Steel Track

A stainless-steel track caps the aluminum monorail to give a smooth and gliding seat movement.

Durable Construction that is simple to maintain

A durable built which is tough and long lasting. These machines withstand painstaking use in training houses, boat houses, hotels, health clubs, living rooms and military bases all over the world.

On-Water Simulation or Team Training

The Concept2 Slide can be bought separately to add an on-water feel to the Model D. For the purpose of team training, it also allows connecting multiple Model Cs, Ds and/or Es.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine video (YouTube review)

Be aware…

The seat is tough, and not shaped for light to medium weighted people. It can be quite uncomfortable for them.

Seat is very low

No measures of providing resistance fluctuations to enhance the performance.

It can be difficult to adjust the resistance while rowing.

There is an inconsistency in resistance during strokes.


Concept2 started back in 1976 by two Olympic trainers, Dick and Pete Dreissigacker, dabbling with composite racing oars.

5 years later, they created the Concept2 Indoor Rower, which quickly became a worldwide rowing machine best seller. Nowadays they are used by Olympic athletes, individuals at home, cardiac rehab patients and indoor rowing lovers.

“Rowing is our reason for being, and every machine and oar we produce comes from a background of over thirty-five years of excellence. Our primary goal is to promote and encourage the growth of rowing, both indoors and outdoors. We believe that rowing is a lifelong activity, accessible to all.”

Advantages of the Concept2 Dynamic Indoor Rower

Concept2 Model D vs Model E vs Model C vs Bodycraft VR500 Comparison Review

The Concept Model C was replaced by D in 2003 and is continued even today with some enhancements over time. The C model too worked well, but two of its major complaints were:

•Loosening of the foot straps during rowing, resulting in a loss of effectiveness over time.

•Difficulty in operating the Frame Lock mechanism.

Monorail artwork and the PM3 monitor were redesigned in the Model D, which is a great rower and comes at a price of approximately 900$


Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine
Click image below, buy from Amazon!

The Concept 2 Model E, introduced in 2006, is still in production stages (as of early 2013). It is very much like the D but has some design adjustments. Its monitor arm is fixed and the rowing position is higher. The artwork on the rower is different and steadier.

Concept2 Model D vs Model E comparison chart

Model D
Model E
Standard MonitorPM3*
* at an additional cost, Model D can be bought with a PM4
Seat Height14"20"
Monorail Length54"
Fits inseams up-to 36".You can have an extra-long monorail for an additional cost. For more information, Contact Concept2 CTS.
Fits inseams up-to 36".You can have an extra-long monorail for an additional cost. For more information, Contact Concept2 CTS.
ChainNickel plated steel chain to improve corrosion resistanceNickel plated steel chain to improve corrosion resistance
Chain HousingEnclosed partiallyEnclosed fully
Power GenerationWhile rowing, it gives PM3 operating powerRecharges the PM4 battery pack while rowing
User Weight Limit500 lbs500 lbs
Support LegsAluminum front legs and steel rear legsWelded steel front & rear legs to give a strong structure for a higher frame
Monitor ArmMade with injection molded plastic, has pivots for storage & monitor height adjustmentAluminum extrusion, adjustable angle of monitor and rigid fixed position for easy access to features
FinishPowder coatedDouble powder coated with a clear over coat for extra durability
Color SchemeBlue gray, light gray* or blackLight gray with dark blue and gray accents
Space Required For Usage8' x 2' when assembled, 9' x 4' required for use8' x 2' when assembled, 9' x 4' required for use
Space Required For Storage25" x 33" x 54.5"27" x 47" x 54.5"
Machine Weight57 pounds65 pounds
Shipping DimensionsOne box:
15" x 21.5" x 56"
Two boxes:
15" x 21.5" x 56"
13" x 26" x 28"
Shipping Weight70 poundsBox 1: 70 pounds
Box 2: 30 pounds

*As of July 16, 2012, orders taken for Model D PM3 Indoor Rowers will be rendered in the new light gray color. Orders for Model D PM4 Indoor Rowers shipped in July will be in current blue gray color. Call Concept2 at 800.245.5676 for more information.

Both the models, Model D and E rely on same moving parts to design, load and create a wonderful rowing experience for you.

Bodycraft VR500: The good, the bad and the ugly


Bodycraft VR500 Indoor Rowing Machine
Click image below, buy from Amazon!

Sometimes you may find difficulty in adjusting the resistance on the Concept2. It would be simply amazing if you could substitute the complete process – ‘stop rowing, step out of footrest, and adjust resistance on flywheel’, by simply pressing the up/down arrows, like in the BodyCraft handlebar. With this feature, Bodycraft VR500 surely comes up as a deal breaker!

Warranty: Concept2 is warranted for 5 years for certain frame parts only, and for 2 years on the complete machine. The BodyCraft comes with a lifetime warranty for frame, and 5 years for parts.

Concept2 rowers are far more popular as compared to the BodyCraft models

The heel cup of the footrest is wider in the Concept2 models. They can fit biggest of the shoes.

With Concept2, you have options of colors to choose from.

While there are 32 levels of resistance in BodyCraft, there are infinite on the Concept2

Both of these provide soft, comfortable and durable handlebars, and both are sturdy.

In BodyCraft, the nylon web strap attaches the handlebar to the fly wheel, instead of the metal chain in Concept2.

BodyCraft provides easier to adjust foot straps, as its nylon webbing is very smooth.

Both of these have almost similar I-beam designs & rollers under the seat.

Both have a giant footprint

The seat is higher in BodyCraft; 19″ according to the brochure.

The Concept2 might seem to cut into the backs of the ankles if you keep hyper-flexing your legs. And also, it has a shorter beam, which can pose a problem if you have long legs. A replacement beam can be bought from Concept2 for coping up with it.

Concept2 Model D PM3 vs PM4 comparison review

buy-concept2-model-d-PM4The PM4 is the superior most performance monitor which includes the features given below:

*Tracking of performance data with accuracy: Distance, pace, calories, speed, and watts

*Five display options: All data, force curve, bar chart, rowing with a speed boat, and large print display

*Automatic Operation: When you start to row, the monitor will automatically turn on and give feedback. Not a single button is required to be pushed.

*LogCard: Includes 1 LogCard, which stores workout data as well as personal choices.

*USB Interface: Enables easy transfer of data to computer

*Easy menu-driven operation: Provides an influential list of features:

  • Preset your workouts
  • Save preferred workouts
  • Review the results of past workouts
  • To learn the technique, row with animated rower
  • Row against any previous performance or pace boat
  • Multiple languages to choose from
  • Play Darts, the Fish Game or Target Training

Heart Rate Monitoring: It provides better transmission and removes interference from any nearby rowers due its built-in wireless compatibility with the Garmin heart rate technology. The chest belt is provided as well. It is compatible with the Polar heart rate technology also if the optional Polar receiver is installed which is available from Concept2 CTS.

Note: Polar WIND products won’t work with the Concept2 Performance Monitors.

Rechargeable Battery Pack: The battery gets recharged as you row. It can be recharged by connecting the PM4 through a USB port to the computer as well.

Increased Memory Capacity: Supports future expansion

Machine to Machine Racing power: Both wired as well as wireless racings are supported by its computing power without any need of computers.

* Features marked with an asterisk sign are found on the PM3 performance monitor as well.

"No touch" on\off (Automatically turns on monitor on rowing. And also gets turned off after few minutes of inactivity.) Yes Yes
Self-calibrating for tracking performance with consistenceYes Yes
Display Bitmapped Monochrome with a 3"x3" active area and 160x160 resolutionBitmapped Monochrome with a 3"x3" active area and 160x160 resolution
Onboard memory 1Mb Flash 2Mb Flash
Removable memory card (32k)IncludedIncluded
Display Options
* All Data
Assess all performance data on 1 screenYesYes
* Force Curve
Real time analysis of your strokeYesYes
* Pace Boat
Race against any previous workout or speed upYesYes
* Bar Chart
With each row, plot your heart rate or outputYesYes
* Large Print
Simplified, easy to read display with a large printYesYes
* Games
The Fish GameYesYes
Target TrainingNoYes
Heart-Rate Monitoring Options
Compatibility with Polar Heart-Rate beltYes, but requires the optional Polar receiver which is available from Concept2Yes , but again requires the optional Polar receiver which you can get from Concept2)
Note: Both of these are incompatible with the Polar WIND products.
Not compatible Wireless communication with the Garmin HR belt (every PM4 includes one Garmin HR belt)
Machine Race Options for rowing machine-to-machine
Direct wireless racing from machine-to-machine, without any cables or PC( maximum 8 machines) NoYes
Direct machine to machine racing without any additional PC (maximum 8 machines) NoYes, but the optional connection cables will be required
PC-based machine to machine racing (up to 80 machines)PC, connection cables, and supplementary software and hardware required.PC, Connection cables as well as additional software required.
Power Supply
Compatibility with a rechargeable battery pack No Yes, it works with the battery pack when bought with new indoor rower, and not as a retrofit
Rowing recharges PM4 battery pack NoYes, included on Model E & Model D machines which are manufactured since Dec. 1, 2006.
Power saving featuresYes, Model-D or Model-E Yes, Model-D or Model-E
Compatibility with the standard D-cell batteries which are non-rechargeable Yes Yes, included when bought with new indoor rower, and not as a retrofit
Better memory capacity which allows for a future expansions.NoYes
USB port Yes, a 15' USB cable is included with the purchase of new indoor rower or even on purchase as a retrofit.Yes, a 15' USB cable is included with the purchase of new indoor rower or even on purchase as a retrofit.
Supports the ANT™ wired or wireless connections for a PC-less racingNo Yes

How to Choose Your Indoor Rowing Machine
(What to look for in a rowing machine)

These machines provide their users with a unique workout and the following rowing machine buying guide will give you the nitty-gritty.

Rowing machines, or rowers, combine strength and cardiovascular workouts while exercising most of the body. When you think of the excellent physique of the rowers of Cambridge and Oxford, consider the fact that although they do a lot of training in the gym, their focus exercise is rowing. Using a rower regularly can help you reach your fitness goals of gaining strength, losing weight, and improving your overall physical fitness.

Some of the upper body muscles that are exercised on a rowing machine are biceps and triceps, abs, lats, and other back and core muscles. Some of the lower body muscles that are exercised on a rowing machine are glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Very few machines are able to cover so many muscles in just one exercise. When you add into consideration the cardio workout that you also get, your rowing machine may very well become your most important piece of fitness equipment.

Both men and women can use a rowing machine because you can set most of them at different intensity levels. For people whose goals are weight loss and overall improved fitness, just 20 minutes on a rower even at lower intensity levels will help you reach their goals. For others who want to push themselves to reach their peak fitness level, you can up the intensity level and train in longer sessions.

What Are Your Fitness Goals?

Before you decide on which rowing machine you want, you should identify your fitness goals.

  • Weight loss. If you’re just looking to shed a few extra pounds, all you need is a low-cost and low-resistance rowing machine to begin.
  • Strength building. To focus on building strength and working your muscles, you’ll want to find a machine that has a variety of tension levels so you can get the most out of your workouts.
  • Training for an event. If you’re training for a specific competitive event, you want to find a rower with a big resistance range that also has workout programs that you can complete.

Types of Indoor Rowing Machines

In no specific order, here they are…

Hydraulic Resistance Rowers

The hydraulic resistance rowing machines are easily the cheapest and also are the lowest quality. They have a jumpy movement that doesn’t come close to a realistic feel and may not have as many resistance adjustment options. However, they do have the ability to be folded, and often cost under $400. This may be the best option for you if you are on a tight budget, but if you really want to get the most out of your rowing machine, you should look into a different type.

Magnetic Resistance Rowers

If the amount of noise your rower makes is an issue, the magnetic rower is for you. Magnetic rowers are usually the smoothest and quietest type. Some of the other great features of these rowers are that you can manually adjust the resistance and many of them can be folded up when you’re finished, making them great space-savers. For a quality magnetic resistance rowing machine you can expect to pay somewhere between $600 and $900.

Air Resistance Rowers

Air resistance rowing machines are easily the most popular model for serious rowers. They offer more control over the resistance through a damper and through the stroke intensity. The flywheel is attached by either a chain or a rope that drives the system, and the only difference between choosing a chain or rope is that the chain will need to be oiled once and a while. These are also great for anyone over 6 feet (180 centimeters) because they are a full-length rower which allows even the tallest user to make a full stroke.

Despite all the advantages to an air resistance rower, there are three main disadvantages. First of all, they are noisy which means if noise is a concern for you, these ones are not a good option. Secondly, they do not have the ability to fold, which makes them more difficult to store. And thirdly, they are a bit more expensive because of their high quality. You can expect to pay anywhere from $700 to over $1500 depending on the machine.

Water Resistance Rowers

Water resistance rowing machines are becoming more popular because of the extremely life-like rowing experience you can have even though you are inside and stationary. With these machines, resistance is created when you pull against water in a container, and you can create more resistance by adding more water. Many of the models come with online training programs to help you get the most out of your workout.

These machines have the same disadvantages as the air resistance rowers. They make a lot of noise when you move against the water, although some people actually like the sound of the water. They are also full-length and once you add water, they’re too heavy to move, so they won’t work for someone who will need to move their machine frequently. They are also rather expensive, starting just below $1000 and going up past $2500.

Some Other Things to Consider:


A full length rowing machine requires over 6 feet (2 meters) of space. If you have a large workout area and do not intend to move your rower, then you don’t have to worry about space, but if you are limited on space, you may need to find a model that is foldable.

Weight limit

Always check into the user weight limit of the rower before you buy it. Make sure that you get one that is rated at at least 10% more than your current weight, as this helps to account for the force created while you’re rowing and ensures that you won’t put too much strain on the machine.

Your height

For people who are over 6 feet (180 centimeters), you will need a full-length model to make a full stroke.


Most rowers will have a console that shows your distance, time, speed, and sometimes calories.

Number of Users

If you aren’t the only one who’s planning on using your rowing machine, make sure you get one that’s durable, has more resistance options, and that works for everyone.

Comfortable Seat

Although most rower seats aren’t made to be extremely comfortable, you do want to make sure that you find a seat that fits you comfortably.


When there’s a big price difference between two similar rowers, take a closer look at the warrantees and exactly what they’re offering you. This can make the difference in your final decision.

Extra Features

Some machines offer pre-set programs, heart rate monitors, and the ability to upload your training data to a computer program. What your exact fitness goals are will help you determine whether or not you need some of these extra features. What’s important to note here is that you don’t want to spend anything on features that you think are cool but don’t immediately see as useful.

Check Online Reviews

Always check out user reviews on sites like Amazon before you buy a product. These reviews are written by people who have actually used the machines they are reviewing, and they can give you a good idea of whether or not a machine is as good as the company claims.


If I had to select from eBay, Craiglist and Amazon, I’d stick with the latest. Because they offer a great selection of indoor rowing machines and probably at the best pricing you can find online (+ free shipping on some/most occasions).

Top 7 Benefits of Rowing Machine

Anyone looking to buy a rowing machine needs to know these seven rowing machine benefits before making a purchase decision.

Rowing machine effect on body

Rowing is a valuable technique to increase the oxygen uptake and raise the heart rate as it works on so many major muscle groups. On pulling hard, you can manage to burn 800 – 950 calories per hour with a rowing machine. It will help you tone the muscles in your legs, arms, lats, and stomach and it works great as a cardio workout, as well as a muscular workout.

Exercise benefits

You certainly can’t replace weights with it if you want to bulk up massively, but it is a good substitute for cardio and toning. With continuous use it will make you lean and fit. A good rowing machine makes a great option for core strengthening exercise. However, it doesn’t isolate the abs, and it is suggested that you do crunches & abs exercises as well if you want six pack abs.

Rowing machine muscle groups

A great way of burning calories, toning up the major muscles and improving the cardiovascular fitness is working out with a rowing machine. It is ideal for exercisers troubled with knee pain, as it is a low impact exercise.

But make sure to use good techniques in order to optimize the results. You may seek guidance from a rowing coach or a personal trainer if you are not sure about how to use it. The major target areas of working out with a rowing machine are legs, arms, midsection, hip muscles and upper back.

Weight loss

A one hour session of a rowing-machine workout burns a whopping average of 600 calories. To burn equivalent calories on a stationary arm, which doesn’t have arm involvement, you’d need to ride for 1 hour, 18 minutes. A rowing machine is more competent than many other home-gym machines available in market.

Better than a bike

Whole body is exercised including legs, arms and core, not just the bottom half and legs unlike many other gym equipment. It also does more for the user in terms of cardio. It is way better than the air stationary bikes as it doesn’t blow air on you while you row.

Low noise/vibration

A rowing machine is usually not as loud as an elliptical machine or a treadmill. If you put it on a carpet or put remnants under two of its floor contacts it won’t bother your neighbors at all.

Low risk of injury

Its usual and low impact motion of rowing puts the least possible stress on the joints. Compared to a stationary bike, the risk of falling is very less as the user gets seated low, near to the ground. A correct rowing form lets the legs do all the work and takes pressure off the back ensuring a minimum risk of back strain.

10 Benefits of Rowing Machines YouTube video


While I cannot guess your mind, I know (from my previous research) how people are desperately searching on Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and related forums on things such as…

  • concept2 model d indoor rowing machine with pm4 monitor
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  • kettler favorit rowing machine
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  • concept2 model d vs model e
  • c2 rower for sale
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  • Bodycraft VR500

You get the point.

The web is like a jungle though.

It takes days, weeks and even months to find the right information, and glance through a dozen of reviews and consumer ratings. Who has enough hours in a day to be able to do all this, and then separate the good from the bad and the ugly?

Fortunately, I blog full-time, so I had to devote enough quality time to read, research, and write this in depth article, while providing valid and up to date data (at the time of writing). If I made any typos/mistakes, please contact me ASAP.

If you think this post – Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine 2104 Review – was helpful to you, then please refer it to your friends, contacts or other men and women who you think could find this information useful.

A simple gesture on your part and you may help someone in need looking to buy a rowing machine. A brief email or social media share is all it takes to make someone happy today.


Reference links:

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