Concept2 rower rowing machine review: A mean, lean rowing machine

Buy now £860, Concept2.com

Rating: 9/10

Assembly, footprint and design

There’s nothing to assembling the rowerg, all you need to do is attach the front legs, join the two main parts together, secure with a hook and then plug in the machine. It took us under ten minutes.

It’s 96in long and 24in wide, which is about standard for machines that rely on air resistance and therefore have a flywheel, so you’re going to need a dedicated space to work out. Once your workout’s over you can save space by splitting it in half and storing it on its head.

In comparison to the aesthetic of the rival WaterRower (£1,049, Waterrower.co.uk) or the sleek, futuristic design of the Hydrow (£1,995, Hydrow.co.uk), the rowerg looks a little industrial. But let’s face it, because of the size of the machine it’s probably going to be tucked away in a back bedroom or basement.

And as our tester bluntly pointed out: “What do you want to do? Look at it? Or row on it?” It’s a fair point.

Build quality

The rowerg comes with either standard or tall legs – we were testing the former – which replaces the old model D, which was renowned for its indestructible build. And we can gladly report that the new incarnation is made in exactly the same vein.

Read more: Is the Hydrow the rowing machine’s answer to Peloton?

Let’s not forget, one of the main purposes of this rower is to provide elite athletes with an outlet to train hard on every day, so it’s no wonder it feels like it can take plenty of punishment and will be able to soak up a 6K test with ease.

From the plastic seat pad and footplates to the nickel-plated steel chain, which needs to be kept well-oiled to ensure that the stroke action stays smooth, there are no points on the machine that feel flimsy.

Ergonomics

As you’d expect from a rower that’s designed by rowers, the ergonomics of the machine are dialed in to promote a good rowing position. The machine’s geometry naturally promotes good form, sitting you up, making it easy to arch the back at the catch of the stroke and keeping your chin up and eyes forward.

The whole machine is nicely balanced and stable and the damper and performance monitor are easily adjusted from the seat.

Read more: Echelon rower review, an oar-some connected machine

There’s also a lovely action to the monorail so we didn’t feel we were wasting any energy on inefficiencies from the machine and the footpads made it easy to achieve an optimal position for any height. There’s a subtle 10-degree bend to the handle which also allows for a natural arm position.

Our seat measured 14in in height, but the tall legged option gives more elevation at seat level (20in), which just makes the machine easier to get on and off if you have any back issues.

Simulation

Indoor rowers stand or fall on how well they replicate the on-the-water feeling, minus the soggy wellies and wet bum. This all comes down to how well the machine is engineered to translate the resistance through the chain, handle and monorail to mimic the sweep of an oar through the water.

The only way we think to make the simulation any more life-like on the rowerg, would have been to have someone hitting us with the contents of a water pistol on every other stroke. All this is to say that the action was smooth and dynamic with no jumping from the chain mid-stroke thanks to the rower’s excellent chain tensioning. In fact, simulation on all phases of the stroke was spot-on.

Read more: JTX freedom air rowing machine is a dual resistance rower that offers new ways to train

As for the resistance – which is controlled by the amount of effort you put in – just like on the water, when you row faster, it gets harder. The dampers allow you to adjust the flow of air to the flywheel, so you can change the stroke cycle to be light and faster or bigger and heavier, to replicate different kinds of boats.

All this combined meant that we could really pull hard and concentrate on our stroke without having to worry about anything else.

The display

If you’re looking for a machine with lots of impossibly upbeat coaches waiting for you online and the ability to row down the Ganges looking at a tablet-sized display, then the rowerg might disappoint. However, where it won’t let you down is in providing you with a second-by-second glimpse into your physical output.

The PM5 performance monitor is clear, concise and well-organized and is open platform so you can connect to around 30 apps, including Concept 2’s own excellent ErgData.

It also now has a device holder which will secure anything from a smart phone to an iPad Pro, so if you do crave online content then it’s readily available and easily viewed. Otherwise, you’ll have all the metrics you need in the “just row” mode, showing pace, watts, stroke rate, calories and an optional pace boat or force curve.

Read more: 12 best Apple Watch apps that include fitness-focused favorites and productivity-boosters

There’s also Bluetooth and wireless ANT+ connectivity so you can sync up with a heart rate monitor and add another dimension to your training. Tracking workouts in the Concept 2 logbook also allows you to take part in regular challenges and get rewards, like a 1,000,000m rowed certificate, which is a handy motivational tool for those days when you’re just not feeling inspired.

The verdict: Concept 2 rowerg

Much like one of those women or men you see climbing into the real thing during the summer Olympics, the Concept 2 rowerg is a lean, mean rowing machine that’s competitively priced and will reward the effort you put in on every stroke.

The wonderfully simple PM5 monitor is like having an on-board rowing coach giving you all the feedback you need to improve technique and make you fitter, stronger and a better rower.

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