Review of Concept 2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

Rhian Hunt's picture

A spare, space-age design, in white, black, and basic metal, the Concept 2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine makes the most of its lean dimensions to deliver a good rowing workout on a sturdy platform. The Model E consists of a two-section central rail with the seat running atop it, a round frontal housing that contains the chain and flywheel, a pair of side mounted footrests, a monitor, and legs front and back.

The design is sturdy and lasting, and somewhat quieter than its predecessor, the Model D. All in all, the Concept 2 Model E is a very solid entry into the rowing machine market.

What is the size and weight of the Model E?

The Model E Indoor Rowing Machine is large but light, thanks to its use of aluminum for many of the main parts. It is around eight feet long and two feet wide, although a space of nine by four feet is recommended as the workout area it should occupy. The rowing machine has a seat height of 20 inches, which is comfortable for most people to get on and off easily. The device weighs only 69 pounds, and can be disassembled easily at the bend in the rail for easier storage -- although the connector is plastic and constant assembly and disassembly could eventually result in wear or breakage. The monitor is mounted on a long arm, putting it in easy reach of the user and allowing easy viewing, without blocking the rowing action.

Assembly and tools

Assembly of the Model E is quick and relatively easy, although some users find the instruction manual that is included to be rather vague. The rowing machine package includes not only instructions and the screws necessary for assembly, but also the tools needed to put the machine together. This is a pleasant detail for those users who do not have large kits of esoteric tools on hand -- which is probably most people who will be buying this machine.

Assembly time: It will take you about 30 minutes to put the machine together.

How sturdy and secure is the Model E's seat?

The seat of the Concept 2 Model E is solidly made and mounted, unlike cheaper rowing machines where the seat often has too much play and feels wobbly as a result. The Model E's seat has a firm, secure feel and moves on a stainless steel track. The seat is comfortable and can support users weighing up to 500 pounds, meaning that all shapes and sizes of exercise-seekers can make use of the rower without worrying about breaking it. The seat moves on plastic wheels which might eventually wear out, but Concept 2 offers an extensive range of parts and continues to sell spares for all of their models, including those out of production.

The flywheel -- quietness, noise, and resistance

The flywheel design of the Model E Rowing Machine is solid as well. It is designed, like all flywheels, to produce a smooth, flowing imitation of rowing, free from joint stress and impacts. It is a very quiet (though not absolutely silent) design, so it can be used in the early morning or late evening without worrying about causing an uproar when others are relaxing or sleeping. The resistance increases the harder you row, but some customers have noted that the upper end of resistance probably isn't robust enough for advanced users to feel truly challenged -- one customer, J. Pope, stated that the resistance is "not as much as I would like, but still a great workout, and I am happy overall."

Concept 2 Model E Demo

Standout rowing action -- smooth and pleasant

All customers, even those who would have preferred a higher end of resistance, speak of being highly satisfied with the feel and smoothness of the rowing action. The Model E truly shines here -- it has been engineered to precisely match the combination of resistance, angle, and ergonomics that gives a satisfying and pleasant workout. A user notes “it is easy on the knees”. It has been noted that the main workout is delivered to the arms, back, and shoulders, and the exercise given to the legs is much less. This, however, is probably truly of most rowing machines, and is not a specific foible of the Model E.

Excellent monitor quality in the Model E

The Model E's monitor is another top-quality feature of this rowing machine, and deserves special mention here. For one thing, the monitor switches itself on automatically when you begin rowing. This does not simply spare the user from having to push a button to start the monitor, which would be a fairly minor convenience. It also means that the user can't forget to turn on the monitor because they are distracted by other concerns, talking to someone else, or simply tired. If you are using the Model E, your rowing is being monitored and reported to you -- which can be a big boon to the weary or the absent-minded.

Heart rate monitoring with a wireless belt

Several other features of the monitor make it stand out. One is that the monitor is itself a battery recharger, and the very act of rowing will recharge the batteries contained in the machine. You can also plug in the batteries to recharge them. Among the other information that the monitor provides is distance, speed, pace, calories and watts, allowing you to track your progress and efforts in a variety of ways. The Model E Rowing Machine's monitor also supports wireless heart rate belts, which is an excellent feature allowing you to use accurate monitors for your workout, rather than handlebar monitors, which are notoriously inaccurate. The machine also includes a heart rate belt, but supports Suunto and Polar models as well.

Other good features of the Model E's monitor

Among the other features packed into the monitor are a USB connection allowing the machine's data to be uploaded to your computer; several games, which users report are good motivators for exercise and are fun besides; and, interestingly, the ability to stage machine vs. machine racing, with either wired or wireless connections between the monitors. The idea of being able to race against another user is an intriguing one, and will provide a powerful, memorable, and fun incentive to work out thoroughly on the rower.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • The quality is very good. Expect it to last for a long time.
  • Rowing performance is excellent. The seat moves very smoothly.
  • Easy to store. Folds and unfolds in a few seconds
  • Monitor is Self-chargeable. You will never worry about replacing the batteries of the monitor.
  • The monitor games can be very motivational
  • You can have a fantastic upper body workout.


The problems of the machine are:

  • Some of its parts are plastic, such as the wheels.
  • The resistance at the upper end of the scale is slightly lower than expected, and
  • The assembly manual is a little vague

Conclusion: the Model E is one of the best rowing machines

The Concept 2 Model E Rowing Machine is a high-quality, solid, feature-rich rowing machine which will provide years of exercise and weight (fat) loss. The construction is both ergonomically comfortable and very sturdy; the seat is comfortable and securely mounted; the rowing action is excellent; and the monitor offers so many extra features that it almost deserves a review on its own as a model for other rowing machine designers to emulate. The machine has a few problems. However, these are relatively minor concerns.

The Model E is likely to prove to be "the" rowing machine for anyone who has the opportunity to buy it.

Where can the Model E be bought for the best price?

The best price for the Model E Rowing Machine is to be found on Amazon.

You may also enjoy reading:

Concept 2 Model D Review
Comparison of Concept 2 Model D and Model E

best rowing machines

I never considered myself very athletic; however, this has been my favorite machine for years. I first discovered it at my college wellness center back in 1987 and have used it on and off since. I feel like I get the most “bang for my buck” rowing.

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