On theme with C2’s interchangeability, models D or E are essentially the same machine. When we talk about one we’re talking about both. The Concept 2 E is just 8 pounds heavier but is made out of stronger stuff all around — what’s plastic on the model D is aluminium on the model E, and what’s aluminum on the model D is welded steel on the model E. The only noticeable variations are seat height and display position.
We picked the brains of rowing coaches, fitness experts, and physical therapists to learn what features make for an exceptional rower. Based on their input, we searched the market for air and water resistance rowing machines, then tested the best for ride feel and design. We found one model of each type — air resistance and water resistance — that felt truly superior to the others.

Instead of air or hydraulic resistance, the Elite Wave Water Rowing Machine emulates actual rowing with lifelike water resistance. The paddles glide through the water housed in the reservoir, making the rowing stroke smooth from start to finish, and like rowing on a body of water, the resistance increases infinitely the faster you row. Not only does this feel like rowing on water, it sounds like water. Different stroke speeds and intensities vary water motion, resulting in realistic water resonance.
The Concept2 Model D is the ultra-popular air rower that you’ll see at most gyms. It is one of the best home indoor rowers you can buy period. Expertly constructed and ergonomically unequaled, this rowing machine looks great and rows smoothly without so much as a jarring catch. As an air rower, the Concept2 employs air baffles to create the resistance. A nickel-plated chain pulls the flywheel and you get your workout by pulling against the increasingly higher air pressure that the fan is creating.
Not a lot to complain about on the Classic rower, but when searching for drawbacks of this rowing machine, the S4 Monitor is the one thing that occasionally comes up.  It’s rather basic and it isn’t backlit. Regardless, the monitor has all necessary tracking and features for getting an excellent workout, and in normal lighting there is no problem reading the display.
On a rowing machine, you don’t want to be wearing clothes that are too baggy as the fabric can get caught between the seat and the beam it slides on.  It’s not a disaster if that happens, but it can get annoying if your shorts keep getting caught there while you’re trying to get a serious workout.   It’s better to wear shorter, tighter-fitting shorts (nothing ridiculous), but just enough to ensure it doesn’t the material doesn’t hang down.
Although some rowing machines are made of space-age, super-sweat-resistant metals, you still want to wipe off the equipment after a sweaty workout.  These machines are usually constructed with a lot of various materials and salty sweat can be very corrosive.  Keeping your rowing machine clean can go a long way toward extending its life, and its appearance.

Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.
The Water Rower comes partly preassembled in two large boxes. The assembly instructions are reasonably good, and as long as you take your time and follow them carefully (read all the text) it takes about 45 minutes from opening the first box to trying it out. I bought bottles of distilled water to fill it, which made it easy to fill using the included funnel & hose.
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