NordicTrack RW500 vs Concept 2 Model E – How these two rowing machines compare?

NordicTrack RW500 Rower vs Concept 2 rowing machines

The rowing machine is gaining respect among fitness enthusiasts, particularly weight lifters, like never before. Evidence shows that rowing doesn't just increase stamina and endurance but also helps tone muscles and build up muscle mass.

Getting your heart pumped up to high levels through mostly interval training leads to blood flow, more oxygen for the muscles, and higher calorie burn. That’s why there's a growing interest to not just start rowing for fitness but to have access to a rowing machine any time of the day.

Two of the most popular brands in today's rowing machine segment are Concept 2 and NordicTrack. Both have been in the business since the mid-1970s. Concept 2 started operating as a supplier of indoor rowing equipment, with its machines used for testing and training competition rowers. Meanwhile, NordicTrack is a more recent player in terms of rowing machine production. However, its line of rowing equipment is growing in appeal, especially among tech-savvy users or those who simply want more interactive workout experiences at home.

In this article, we look at the two companies' top-selling models, the Concept 2 Model D and NordicTrack RW500 to help you find what suits your needs.

Already a Serious Rower? Go for Concept 2 Model D

Concept 2 rowing machines are found in most gyms across the US. Its Model D can accommodate various users up to 500 pounds. That’s half of the weight the NordicTrack RW500 can support, and at less cost compared to the more expensive RW500.

Concept 2's Model D rower is a better choice if you are training for competition, actual boat racing, CrossFit, or if you're already a serious rower and are more interested in beating your personal records. You can sync your smartphone or another device with suggested third party apps for personalized training, competition with friends, and more when you purchase Concept 2's Model D.


If you love rowing but would appreciate workout diversity, then the NordicTrack RW500 is for you. Its rowing machine comes with a one-year subscription to the iFit app, which accounts for nearly a third of the cost of the machine, and a free tablet. You can stream thousands of workout videos featuring professional trainers at any time.

Here's a more detailed rundown of the products' specifications:

Side by Side Comparison

NordicTrack RW500

Concept 2

NordicTrack RW500
Concept 2

Resistance:

Air-resistance flywheel, adjustable 1-10

Resistance:

Magnetic, digital 1-26, airflow 1-10

Pre-set programs:

30

Pre-set programs:

10

Personalized Training:

iFIT

Personalized Training:

BoatCoach, Float, Erg Dude, LiveRowing

Footrests:

non-slip, adjustable

Footrests:

non-slip, adjustable

Handles:

straight

Handles:

10° flex

Monitor:

back-lit display

Monitor:

back-lit display

Dimensions:

86.5" L x 22" W x 42.8" H

Dimensions:

96" L x 24" W x 14" (seat height)

Maximum weight capacity:

up to 250 lbs

Maximum weight capacity:

up to 500 lbs

Price:

$$$

Price:

$$

Dimensions, Build Quality

The Concept 2 Model D is a larger machine at 96 inches long, 24 inches wide. Its seat height is 14 inches but its total height including the console or monitor isn’t mentioned. It weighs 57 pounds.

Meanwhile, NordicTrack measures 86.5 inches long, 22 wide, and 42.8 inches high (inclusive of the monitor). It weighs 97 pounds.

The Concept 2 Model D can be taken apart into two sections for storage. Meanwhile, the NordicTrack RW500 can be folded in the middle.

Both pieces of equipment have a stainless steel seat track.

Maximum Weight

The Model D can support up to 500 pounds based on Concept 2's internal testing. But as far as the European standard for stationary fitness equipment is concerned, the maximum weight for the machine is 300 pounds.

Meanwhile, the RW500 can support up to 250 pounds.

Resistance

The Concept 2 Model D rower has an air-resistance flywheel that offers varying levels of resistance. You adjust the spiral damper (from levels one to 10) to control the airflow to the flywheel, and in turn, the amount of tension for each stroke.

Meanwhile, the NordicTrack RW500 rower runs on magnetic resistance with 26 resistance levels. You can adjust the level digitally through the console or by adjusting the airflow (also 10 levels).

Monitor

You can record your pacing, stroke rate, and watts on the internal memory of the Model D's backlit performance monitor, also referred to as PM5, or your own USB flash drive.

The RW500 features a back-lit display that shows your strokes (total and per minute), time, distance, speed, resistance, heart rate, and calories burned.

The monitors of both machines can be adjusted for storage.

Pre-set Programs

The Concept 2 Model D rower has 10 programs, including five pre-set workouts consisting of interval rowing (500 meters of exercise followed by a one-minute break), distance rowing (2,000, 5,000, 10,000 meters), and 30-minute rowing. Four basic rowing games can also be accessed using the PM5.

Meanwhile, the NordicTrack RW500 rower comes with 30 pre-set workout programs.

Personalized Training

You can get personalized training and monitored practice on the Model D by using third party apps with partnerships to Concept 2. Some apps aren’t just compatible with the PM5, Model D's built-in monitor, but also with your Android (BoatCoach, Float) and Apple phones (Erg Dude, LiveRowing).

Meanwhile, customized workouts on the RW500 are available through the iFit app, which is downloaded on the 10-inch tablet. What's unique with iFit training is that your trainer remotely controls the resistance of your machine according to your session. You can do cross-training by choosing HIIT, strength training, and others.

Seating

Both pieces of equipment have ergonomically designed seats as well as smooth and quiet monorails.

Footrests

The two machines have oversized but non-slip pedals with foot straps, both of which are adjustable to ensure they won’t slide and unnecessarily exert pressure on joints during your workouts.

Handles

The Concept 2 and NordicTrack rowers both have padded handles. The handlebar of the Concept 2 rower has a 10-degree flex at the center while the NordicTrack rower's handlebar is just straight.

Warranty

Concept 2 offers a limited five-year warranty on frame parts and a limited two-year warranty on all other parts for the Model D.

Meanwhile, NordicTrack provides a 10-year warranty for the RW500's frame, a two-year warranty for parts, and a one-year warranty for labor.

Price

The Concept 2 Model D is below $1,000 while the NordicTrack RW500 is under $2,000.

Buyer Reviews

Owners of the Concept 2 Model D are generally satisfied with their machines. However, they noticed that it can be noisy during highly intense workouts when you row harder.

Meanwhile, buyers of the NordicTrack RW500 say that its numerous and diverse built-in and iFit workouts can’t compensate for the fact that the machine can’t accommodate users above 250 pounds.

Final Thoughts:

If you're just a beginner but are willing to invest a little more money for immersive workout sessions while using your machine, then NordicTrack’s RW500 rower is for you. However, the Concept 2 Model D is a better buy for rowers of any weight. You also acquire bragging rights for owning a machine used for competitive rowing.

    Kevin Lee

    Health and fitness have always been a passion for me; whether its being in the weight room, going for a run before work or even participating in a half iron man triathlon. ShapeJunkie was created to share to knowledge and love of fitness with others.

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