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      October 22, 2020

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Concept2 vs NordicTrack

To help you find the Best Rowing Machines, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Concept2 and NordicTrack.

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Buy Your Rowing Machine with Xterra Today! Where can you find the best rowing machines? Maybe you got a taste at a HIIT class like Eat the Frog or Orangetheory, you're a CrossFit devotee, or you just get in a rowing session when you hit Planet Fitness or another gym. Many people have a love-hate relationship with this particular piece of fitness equipment, so we applaud you if you're looking for a quality machine to add to your home gym!

You probably know all of the reasons to love rowing machines: few cardio workouts give you the total body focus that's achieved while rowing. Generally speaking, a rowing routine uses 65-75% legs and 25-35% of the upper body - strengthening legs, arms, and abs all at the same time. That's efficient!

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Best Reviews

2020

Rowing Machine Reviews

4.5 stars
Concept2

CONCEPT 2

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Cost:

From $900 to $1,250

Concept2 may very well be the gold standard when it comes to rowing machines. In business for more than 40 years - and with an "A+" rating and accreditation by the BBB to match - this company manufactures the rowers that are used for submitting scores for recruiting purposes and even most indoor rowing competitions.

They're everywhere

If you really want to know just how popular Concept2 rowers are, use their Indoor Rower Finder to see where they are near you. Our results list showed Concept2 machines at our local CrossFit, YMCA, Gold's Gym, F45, and even some schools! If you're looking to equip your home gym and are already comfortable on the Concept2, this is a great choice to reduce the learning curve and get right to your workouts.

Rowing challenges

The Concept2 series is also a good fit if you're the competitive type. The company offers rowing challenges, distance awards, and the ability to compare yourself with indoor rowing fanatics around the world. Your Online Logbook gives you the chance to connect with training partners, join a team ("affiliation"), and even use the open-platform Performance Monitor to connect with a wide variety of smartphone apps.

Best Rowing Machines

Equipment overview:

  • Rower Type: Air
  • Price Range: $900 - $1,250
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: No
  • Return Policy: 30 days, customer pays return shipping
  • Warranty: Frame - 5 years, Parts - 2 years
  • Shipping: $45-$85 (higher outside of the lower 48 United States)

3 primary models

For home use, Concept2 comes in three primary models: D, E, and Dynamic. The Model D is their best-seller and is the most comparable to the feel of an on-water row; it's also the one used as the standard for rowing competitions like we mentioned. The Model E offers a higher frame/seat, making it easier to get on and off; this is a good option for people with limited mobility or knee/hip flexibility, or for users who will be transferring to the rower from a wheelchair. Both the D and E separate in the middle with a quick-release framelock, making it easier to store when not in use.

Compact

The Dynamic takes a very different approach, with a seat that is mostly stationary while the feet slide back and forth. Because more of the stroke length and coordination winds up under the control of the athlete, this model is particularly well-suited for those who want to more closely mimic the feel of a rowing shell. The Dynamic is also more compact than the D and E (76" vs. 96"), but it doesn't let you separate it for storage purposes.

Air-based resistance

Concept2 rowing machines provide air-based resistance through a flywheel and damper system. As you adjust the airflow to the flywheel, you control the feel of the stroke and add or decrease resistance. Plus, the Performance Monitor lets you decide between the automatic "Just Row" mode or to set up a range of workouts. You'll always be able to see your pace, watts, stroke rate and calories burned; data is stored in internal memory and can also be kept on an optional USB flash drive. All you'll need are two D batteries - just used as power backup when the monitor isn't being powered by the flywheel itself.

Easy to assemble

Another really positive thing about these rowing machines is how easy they are to assemble. With easy-to-follow instructions and just a few screws to put in place, you won't need to spend money on professional assembly. Plus, Concept2 has helpful reps at the ready via phone if you have any questions during the process.

5 year frame warranty

With all of Concept2's indoor rowers, you'll have 5 years of warranty coverage on most of the frame and its parts (flywheel axle, rails, seat and seat frame). The rest of the rower's parts are covered for 2 years. To keep the warranty in effect, you must lubricate the chain after every 50 hours of use, and daily cleaning of the monorail is recommended for reduced wear on the seat rollers.

Shipping costs vary

Your shipping costs will depend on the rowing machine you select and where you live. For example, the Model D costs $45 via UPS Ground within the lower 48 United States, or $130 if you live in Alaska or Hawaii (and kudos to Concept2 for being one of just a few rower retailers that actually ships there!). The Dynamic costs the most to ship, because it comes in two boxes; you'll pay anywhere from $85 to $355 for delivery.

Good return policy

Concept2 offers a good return policy. If you don't love your rowing machine for any reason, you can return it within 30 days of shipment. You'll be responsible for the return shipping costs, but the company won't deduct any restocking fees from your refund.

You might fall in love

Whether you choose the D, E, or Dynamic rowing machine, you might just fall in love. There's something really attractive about a rower that can stand up to day in, day out use by world-class athletes - but that is simple enough for a brand-new user to figure out too. Although they're not the least expensive in the industry, these rowing machines offer the features people want and are backed by decades of expertise. Especially for exercisers who are already used to this brand from use in fitness centers and rowing studios, Concept2 rowers are a perfect fit.

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4 stars
NordicTrack

NORDICTRACK

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Cost:

From $899 to $1,599

NordicTrack and home workouts are practically synonymous. For many years, thanks to the power of TV commercials, people have known that this brand gives people the ability to train both cardio and strength from the comfortable environment of their own space - no gym needed.

3 rowing machine options

Within the NordicTrack brand, you'll find 3 options for rowing machines: the RW200, RW500, and RW900.

Equipment overview:

  • Rower Type: Digital, Air, Magnetic
  • Price Range: $899 - $1,599
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: Frame - 10 years, Parts - 2 years, Labor - 1 year
  • Shipping: Free (RW900 excluded)

Basic but feature rich

At the bottom of the price range is the RW200, sold for $699. Although it's the most basic of the three models offered by NordicTrack, it's still got plenty of features to catch your attention: 24 digital resistance levels (magnetic), Bluetooth-enabled, and 20 preset workout apps. The machine folds easily for storage at a height of 44" and a width of just over 37". Even the display is higher-end, allowing for setup of multiple user profiles, and the machine comes with a 1-year iFIT membership (more on that later). Shipping is free on this model.

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New workouts added daily

In the middle, you'll find the RW500 for $999. Upgrade your rowing experience with a 10" tablet, 25 resistance levels - and interactive personal training. That last part comes through the iFIT membership (which is also included free for 12 months). Your on-demand workout actually controls the resistance digitally to match the various portions of the session, no need to fiddle with controls or set them yourself mid-exercise. New workouts are added daily for streaming whenever you want, or you can take a live class. Why haven't you heard of this before? Probably because rowing tends to be more specialized - you don't know you love it until you try it, maybe at a Live2Row studio or Orangetheory Fitness class.

Bigger screen

At the top of the options is the RW900. At $1,599, you're likely wondering what you get for that extra $600 over the RW500 - a valid question. How about a 22" interactive HD touchscreen, 26 resistance levels... and, unfortunately, no free shipping. That will cost you $199. Everything else is essentially the same between the two models, so it's up to you if it's worth the extra cash for the bigger screen and 1 additional level of resistance.

Mixed reputation

How about reputation? Here's where things get a little confusing. NordicTrack and another company in our review are both brands of ICON Fitness. Across all of its brands, the parent company gets a LOT of complaints (we're talking thousands). And yet, the Better Business Bureau still gives them an "A+" rating, so they're clearly doing something right in the way they address those customer issues.

Sister brand

So, with essentially the same track record and high-tech features, why does NordicTrack score higher than their sister brand, ProForm? That's easy: we think customers would rather choose among 3 rowers instead of 2, and they'd rather pay a straightforward price for their machine instead of being told it's "free" and then be committed to 3 years of the iFIT service. Beyond that and the differences among the companies' rowers themselves, the two options are essentially equal.

Enthusiastic supporters

For what it's worth, NordicTrack customers are pretty enthusiastic about the experience when using one of their rowing machines, especially with the trainer-led workouts. Rowing can feel like a bit of a slog, but with instructors pushing you to take it up a notch or encouraging you to keep at it for just a little longer, you'll probably get much more out of your fitness session than when you just row-and-go until you feel like stopping. NordicTrack doesn't offer any bargain-basement options for rowing machines, but they do give you a lot of value for the money spent. We think their iFIT-enabled rowers are definitely worth considering.

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Continued from above

Another huge reason to take advantage of rowing is its low-impact style. There's no pounding on already-sensitive joints while using a rowing machine, just a push and a pull that glides back and forth with whatever amount of effort you choose to use.

What style of rowing machine is best? That largely depends on preference. Resistance comes in four ways: air (flywheel), magnetic, pistons or cylinders, and water. If you've used a machine at a fitness center, you're probably familiar with flywheel and water rowers already. Those styles also do the best job of imitating the feel (and the sound, for tank-base systems) of rowing in open water.

So, how can you tell which rowing machine is the right one for your home gym? Here are several criteria to keep in mind as you shop for a rower:

  • Price. Rowing machines can range from ultra-affordable (less than $300) to top-of-the-line (over $2,500). While spending more usually puts more features and cutting-edge technology in your hands, you don't have to break the bank to get a rower that delivers a terrific workout.
  • Features. Make a list of the must-haves for your rower. Does it need to fold easily for storage? Do you want the capability of following a live class, Peloton-style? Should your rowing machine have a certain look to match your other home gym equipment?
  • Returns and Warranty. What if your rowing machine doesn't fit the space you had planned out? Or you realize that you'd actually prefer the resistance of a water rower instead of a flywheel system? Most retailers of rowers allow returns, but watch out for restocking fees and return shipping fees. What kind of warranty coverage does the company give you for the frame, mechanical components, and any electronics?
  • Reputation. What do other shoppers say about the company? Can you expect good service if something goes wrong during shipping, installation, or day-to-day use? A rowing machine can be a significant investment, so you want to know that your purchase is from a business that has your back.

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best rowing machines available today. We hope this information helps you pick the right rower to meet all your health and fitness goals!

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