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Hydrow vs. Concept2 Model D: Which is the Best Rowing Machine?

Hydrow vs. Concept2 D Rower

If you’re looking for an indoor rower, it’s worth thinking about which features would help you to stay motivated to exercise. Rowers such as the Hydrow were built for interactive training. With team racing, leaderboards, and more on top of the immersive on-the-water rowing videos, it’s easy to hop back on your rower each day to try something new. There are also plenty of instructional materials for new rowers as well as an inclusive workout library which features videos for every ability.


Although rowers such as the Concept2 Model D don’t look as tech-savvy as the Hydrow, they are still connected. The Model D doesn’t have a flashy screen, but its easy-to-use console can connect to a variety of compatible apps and devices for workout data tracking, racing, leaderboards and virtual rows. So you still have ample workout variety at your fingertips, it’s just not as premium or tech-savvy an experience. It’s also less than half the price of the Hydrow. If you’re completely new to rowing, it may be easier to stay motivated on the Hydrow than the Model D because of the immersive experience and variety of workout guidance the Hydrow provides. Although it’s pricey, if the Hydrow has the ability to train you and keep you motivated to hop back on your rower each day, then it’s a top-value buy. It may just come down to the price. Let’s see how the Hydrow stacks up to the Concept2 Model D rower, all things considered.

Hydrow vs. Concept2 Model D Comparison Table



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Concept2 Model D Rower

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  • Hydrow = $2,199
  • Hydrow + monthly Hydrow membership + free standard shipping = $2,237
  • Hydrow + yearly Hydrow membership + free standard shipping = $2,655
  • Concept2 Model D = $900

+ $45 shipping within 48 contiguous U.S.

Total = $945

  • 6 years on structural frame and upright storage kit
  • 2 years on the screen, other electronics
  • 2 years on wear items (handle, strap, seat assembly, and hinge on screen carriage)
  • 18 months on labor
  • 5 years limited warranty on frame parts
  • 2 years limited warranty on all parts




86″ L x 25″ W x 47″ H (from

floor to the top of screen)

Seat Height: 14″


96″ L x 24″ W x 30″ H (height is approx.

from floor to the top of PM5)

Seat Height: 14″




145 lbs.


57 lbs.




Aluminum & Steel


Aluminum front legs, steel rear legs


Weight capacity


375 lbs.


500 lbs.





300 levels of electromagnetic resistance

(set to 104)



Air rower, so resistance is determined by user effort. A damper (with levels 1-10) alters the airflow in/out of the tank.

StorageCan be stored vertically with the upright storage kit (sold separately)

Vertical Dimensions: 25″ x 33″ x 86″

The Concept2 Model D separates into 2 pieces for storage.

Stored Dimensions: 25″ x 33″ x 54″




22” HD touchscreen


Performance Monitor 5 (PM5), a Backlit LCD


Interactive Training


Via Hydrow Membership


The PM5 has Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity. You can connect it to heart-rate belts, fitness devices and apps.


Heart-Rate Monitor



Wireless heart-rate monitoring via Bluetooth


Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity for wireless heart-rate monitoring


Transport Wheels







Hydrow Rowing Machine

The Hydrow is an elite rowing machine built for interactive training. It’s the only rower on the market which offers a Live Outdoor Reality™ experience. Its unique interactive training consisting of live and on-demand rowing workouts delivered by world-class athletes on the water. Yet at $2,199 (without considering ongoing subscription costs), the Hydrow isn’t cheap. You will, however, get what you pay for. Expect commercial-quality components and high-end software all packaged into an uber-sleek design that will complement any home gym space.


Highlights include:

  • Interactive Training: Huge variety of live and on-demand workouts as well as scenic rows, an impressive daily live rowing schedule and team rowing.
  • Screen: 22” HD touchscreen immerses you in Hydrow workouts.
  • Resistance: 300 levels of electromagnetic resistance allow you to find exactly the right challenge and rowing feel for you.
  • Quiet: The electromagnetic resistance and belt drive allow for a smooth and quiet row.
  • High Quality: The Hydrow features commercial-grade components.
  • Chic Design: Its futuristic design will complement any home gym space.
  • Philanthropy: Hydrow is committed to giving back. When you row for 60 days they will donate to for you.

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Concept2 Model D Rower

It’s no wonder that the Concept2 Model D is the best selling indoor rower on the planet. It has a stellar combination of durability, quality, and engaging programming all for a reasonable price. Its air resistance is driven by user effort and is basically unlimited; it will be enough to challenge most trainees. There is a damper (with 1-10 levels) which although doesn’t technically add “resistance”, it alters the airflow in/out of the tank so you can find the right rowing feel for you. Although it doesn’t have a flashy screen, it’s still a connected rower. Its PM5 monitor allows for rower-to-rower racing, connection to an online leaderboard, and more. For the sub-$1,000 price tag, it’s a steal.


Highlights include:

  • Price: All components and programming considered, it’s great value.
  • Storage: Can be separated into two parts for more compact storage.
  • Air Resistance: The more intensely you row, the more resistance is generated. This makes the Model D appropriate for all fitness levels.
  • Connected: Although the PM5 looks basic, it’s sophisticated. As well as displaying your workout data it includes games, workouts, and wireless connectivity for data transfer and use with apps.
  • Slides: You can add on Concept2 slides (sold separately) for a floating, on-the-water simulation.
  • High Capacity: The Concept2 Model D is a sturdy machine that can hold up to 500 pounds.

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So which one is best for you?


 Hydrow ProsConcept2 Model D Pros


  • Warranty slightly better than the Concept2 Model D
  • Smooth and quiet belt drive
  • Sleek, futuristic design
  • Bluetooth heart-rate monitoring
  • Unique interactive training with impressive live rowing schedule and team rowing
  • 22″ touchscreen is very immersive and motivating
  • Fitness data sharing
  • Lots of workout guidance for new rowers
  • 300 electromagnetic resistance levels and belt drive for near-silent row which is quieter than the Model D yet feels much like an air rower’s variable resistance
  • Commercial-grade components
  • Aluminum and steel construction can hold up to 375 pounds
  • Vertical storage
  • Brand’s philanthropy efforts
  • Less than half the price of Hydrow
  • Nickel-plated chain drive is very durable
  • Modern, practical design
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity for heart-rate monitoring
  • Connectivity allows you to sync PM5 to many apps including Concept2’s ErgData app to track data
  • Preset workout programs in PM5
  • The optional slide (sold separately) allows you to connect multiple Concept2 rowers for team training
  • Air resistance will challenge basically any trainee as depends on user effort and damper allows you to change feel of rowing stroke
  • Commercial-grade components
  • Aluminum and steel construction can hold up to 500 pounds
  • Can separate into 2 parts for storage

Hydrow Cons



Concept2 Model D Cons


  • Price point is much higher than Model D
  • Subscription fees cost $38/month, and without this, there isn’t much functionality in the “Just Row” setting. Yet, the fees are on par with other subscriptions on market and the app adds a whole new dimension to your training
  • Costs extra for vertical storage (via the upright storage kit) and you cannot store in 2 parts like Model D
  • No preset workouts
  • Even when you connect your own device to a fitness app and use it with the Model D, the interactive training is not as immersive or interactive as Hydrow
  • You have to bring your own screen if you want to train interactively (but this also brings costs down)
  • At 96” long (10″ longer than the Hydrow) it’s a large rower
  • The chain drive will need some maintenance and will be noisier than the Hydrow’s belt drive
  • The monitor arm feature allows you to bring the monitor closer for viewing, but as it’s plastic, it’s not particularly durable

My Experience

  • The Hydrow feels more modern and tech-savvy than the Model D. When it comes to immersive training, Hydrow stands out from the crowd. Its 22” HD display in combination with unique, live on-the-water rowing videos, team training and more make for a motivating and immersive experience. Yet if interactive training is not your top priority, the Hydrow’s screen and software may not justify the price hike.
  • Although the Model D doesn’t have a touchscreen, its PM5 is still sophisticated and feature packed. It has Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity (Hydrow has Bluetooth only), allowing it to connect to heart-rate monitors, fitness devices and apps. You can use the PM5 with the brand’s free ErgData app to track your workouts and sync them with an online logbook. It can also be used with many compatible third-party apps. These include virtual rowing experiences as well as data tracking and leaderboards. It won’t be as immersive an experience as the Hydrow, but it’s more affordable and offers you the chance to try a variety of apps rather than just one.
  • The Model D features preset workouts, which is useful if you don’t want to commit to the ongoing subscription fees for interactive streaming. Although the Hydrow has a “Just Row” setting, this has limited functionality.
  • When it comes to the quality of the components, both rowers are on par. Both feature club-quality components that will stand the test of time. The Hydrow weighs over twice as much as the Model D, making it harder to move around (145 pounds as opposed to the Concept 2 Model D which is 57 lbs.). Yet, the Model D can hold up to 500 lbs. (as opposed to 375 lbs.); this is as tested by Concept2 who note that the European Stationary Fitness Equipment Testing Standard gave the Model D a 300 lbs. weight capacity. Regardless, both rowers feel stable even during high-intensity rows and both have transport wheels to help you move the rowers around after workouts.
  • One component that stands out as a clear difference between the two is the belt vs. chain drive. The Hydrow features a belt drive which is smooth and quiet (as is the magnetic resistance). The Model D features a nickel-plated steel chain. Although this is very durable, it will be noisier than the Hydrow and will require some maintenance.
  • The Model D is 10″ longer than the Hydrow, but it does separate into 2 pieces for storage. However, this won’t matter if you don’t have the space for the Model D’s larger footprint in the first place. You have to pay $70 extra for the Hydrow’s upright storage kit in order to store it vertically. Although we would have liked to see this thrown in, we’re happy that there is this option and that it is easy to store the Hydrow this way after workouts.
  • There’s no denying that the Model D is more affordable. If cost is your main concern then this is probably your best bet.
  • Usually, when comparing an air rower and an electromagnetic rower, there are many differences. This isn’t as simple when comparing the Model D (air) and Hydrow (magnetic). The resistance/drag options on the Hydrow are impressive and unique. It’s not just about the numbers (the Hydrow has 300 levels of electromagnetic resistance): it’s about personalization. There are technically 300 levels on the Hydrow (set to 104 by default). This selection allows you to precisely fine-tune the level of challenge and feel of the rower as you progress. In this way it feels much like a water or air rower such as the Model D which offers basically limitless resistance dependent on user effort. In both cases, the rowers will be able to offer you new challenges as you progress.
  • The Hydrow’s warranty is slightly better than the Model D rower’s.
  • Hydrow is committed to giving back. They donate to in your name when you row for 60 days. This is just one of many examples of how the brand has thought about the holistic experience of being part of the Hydrow community.

In Conclusion…

Although relatively new to the market, the Hydrow is now the premium indoor rower for immersive training. The Concept2 Model D is a dependable and affordable rower which is now one of the best selling rowers in the world, and for good reason. Both rowers feature club-quality components that are built to last. When deciding which of these rowing machines is best for you, I would recommend considering how much you prioritize immersive training (i.e. how much it will keep you motivated to exercise), storage options, and price. It all comes down to your own workout needs, home gym space, and budget.


A rowing machine which inspires you to keep exercising is the best value option. The Hydrow’s immersive on-the-water rows with world class athletes, live daily rowing schedule and rowing community will definitely keep you coming back for more. It mirrors the elite Peloton workout experience. But this comes at a price. It costs more than twice as much as the Concept2 Model D, which is still a connected rower that offers open-access connectivity to a wide selection of compatible fitness apps. The Model D is not as immersive as the Hydrow, namely because of the 22″ HD touchscreen. But for the vast difference in price and the fact that you can connect to a wide variety of apps via your own tablet and the PM5 is pretty enticing. You can also add slides for team rowing, as a physically connected team just as you would on the water in a boat. We also love that it can be separated for storage, even if it is a pretty large rower to begin with. It’s compact in more ways than one; if you have a smaller space and budget, the Model D will cater to both of those needs. Just ask yourself, how much do you prioritize immersive training and will it be the main feature that keeps me motivated? That’s where the difference in price comes in, and will ultimately be what veers you towards one rower or the other.


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