hydrow rower vs concept 2

Hydrow Rower vs Concept 2 – The Shocking Winner Revealed!

This post contains links that we may earn a small commission for at no cost to you read more

Hello everyone! When it comes down to the Hydrow rower vs Concept 2 debate, there’s no other place to discuss that but in this blog, with your favorite cardio queen Kathleen! (Cardio Queen, wow! I’m going to get a shirt with that slogan!)

Have you decided to get a rowing machine for your home gym? Well, super congrats! I think a rowing machine is one of the best forms of cardio and all-over body conditioning that you can do at home.

Concept 2 vs Hydrow – A Quick Comparison

Model & Features Product Price
Hydrow Hydrow Rowing Machine Check Price
Concept 2 Model D Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Performance Monitor, Black Check Price
Hydrow Rower
Check Price

Concept 2 Model D
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Check Price

However, it isn’t easy picking out an indoor rowing machine. There are so many, with so many different styles and price ranges, how can you get the right one for you?

This is where your friend Kathleen can be helpful (at least, I will try to be). In this article, I’m going to look at the two top-selling rowing machines and explain the differences between them so that you can make a more informed buying decision.

Let’s talk about some really important differences between Hydrow vs Concept2, and I’m going to spill the beans and tell all here!

Hydrow vs Concept2: The Main Differences

By the way, Concept2 does make a couple of different models, and for this article, I will be talking about the Concept2 Model D rower, which is their biggest seller.

To save you time, let me tell you the biggest differences between these two rowing machines.

hydrow vs concept2 reddit

Resistance Mechanism of the Two Rowing Machines

  • The Hydrow uses a computer-controlled, electromagnetic resistance system. You can always change the setting with the touch of your finger on the touchscreen monitor. Magnetic resistance is incredibly quiet and makes almost zero noise.
  • Concept 2 uses air resistance. While you can control the amount of air that enters the fan using a knob, this means you will have unlimited levels of resistance. Unfortunately, fans can be very loud, especially if you are working out very intensely.

Rowing Workouts and Membership Fees

  • The Hydrow is a connected rower offering thousands of live and on-demand on-the-water workouts that are out of this world. You get to enjoy the immersive experience it offers with a monthly subscription fee of $38. The good news here is that the fee goes with the machine, not the user, so you can create as many user profiles as you need, and everyone in the family can pitch in to share the price. FYI to see more check out my aviron rower vs hydrow article.
  • Concept2 Model D has no monthly fee, but there is no touchscreen monitor either. Instead, Concept2 rowers feature the PM5, a performance monitor that tracks the basics and has a few preprogrammed workouts. The Concept2 monitor is capable, but the technology it uses is not a match to what Hydrow offers.


  • Hydrow can be stored upright by using their upright storage kit.
  • Concept2 can be easily taken apart and stored in two pieces

These are some of the basic differences right off the bat.

There is also a difference in sizes and weight capacity. I’ve put all those numbers into this chart:

  Hydrow Concept 2
Type of Resistance and Noise  Computer-controlled electromagnetic resistance – virtually silent Air resistance – can be very noisy
Weight of the Machine 145 pounds 57 pounds
User Weight Capacity 375 pounds 500 pounds
Storage Options and Dimensions Can be stored upright with a kit. Stored dimensions are 25” x 33” x 86” for upright storage Main rail comes apart. The two sections measure 25” x 33” x 53” for upright storage
Overall Dimensions when Assembled 86” L x 25” W x 47” H 96” L x 24” W x 20” H
Membership Fees $38 per month  None

Some of the common concerns we’ve heard are:

  • Noise levels – If you are concerned about noise levels of Concept2, then you will definitely want to take a closer look at the Hydrow.
  • Monthly membership cost – If you’re worried about paying the monthly fees for using Hydrow, you may want to consider Concept2.

Hopefully, some of these pieces of info have already helped you narrow down your choices. If it hasn’t, however, let’s talk more about what each machine has to offer.

Related Post:  Yes Rowers have Weight Limits – See My Top Rowing Machines for Heavy People!

Does Concept 2 Have an App Like Hydrow Does?

The answer here is yes and no.

Yes, Concept 2 does offer an app for your cell phone or tablet, and it’s called ErgData, which provides additional performance statistics, stores and displays your workout results, and uploads your results to the Concept2 Online Logbook.

This is great for times when you go to the gym or someone else’s house and use their rowing machine, as well as for keeping better track of your workout data.

No, it’s NOT like Hydrow’s app, which offers live and on-demand workouts in full color. The Concept2 app supports machine-to-machine competitions but not in the same league as what the Hydrow app offers.

The Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

Check Price

Concept2 rowers were first introduced in the 1980s, and the Model D has been a best seller for many years. Why? Because it is simple, lightweight, easy to use, and it’s effective at what it’s suppose to do! It also has an infinitely available resistance – you just need to row harder. In other words, if you want more resistance, generate it by rowing harder.

The overall rower itself hasn’t changed much over the years, only the performance monitor has experienced some significant changes, but even the new PM5 monitor is very basic and not for the tech-savvy.


This is good for anyone who doesn’t care for gadgets or interesting workouts. If you just want to get on and go, then Concept2 might be your perfect option.

However, don’t forget that Concept2 is an air rower, which means it can be pretty noisy. This air rower uses a chain drive, which can also make noise. If noise levels aren’t an issue for you, then this is a moot point.

I also want to note that you can control the amount of air that enters the fan with the turn of a knob. Unfortunately, you usually need to stop rowing to reach that knob if you want to change it while you are working out or if you forget to change it before you sit down.

Features & Pros of the Concept2 Model D Rower

Concept2 Model D rower has many features that people love, including:

  • The performance monitor is a backlit, LCD type of monitor that allows you to read it easily, even in low-light areas.
  • The rowing machine uses air resistance, which is infinite and limited only by your fitness level.
  • The PM5 has Bluetooth capabilities and ANT+ wireless connectivity. This means that you can connect it to your third-party heart-rate belts, heart rate monitors, fitness devices, and other third-party apps.
  • The footrests are completely adjustable for comfort.
  • Concept2 is known for being very sturdy, with a steel and aluminum frame .
  • There is a large community of Concept2 users that you can connect with.
  • This rowing machine has a user weight capacity of 500 pounds, so you know it’s sturdy.
  • The chain is nickel plated for incredible durability.
  • The PM5 has some preset workout programs and a few simple games.

The warranty on the Concept 2 Model includes:

  • 5 years on the frame itself
  • 2 years on all other parts

Concept 2 is a popular choice because it combines a lower price, a basic yet sturdy machine with very few moving or electrical parts to wear out or break.

This air rower is made from high-quality steel and aluminum, which makes it light enough to move and store easily but heavy enough that it can withstand 500 lbs!

While this rowing machine comes apart for easier storage and is lightweight, it actually needs more space to use the rowing machine than the Hydrow does.

Like all things in life, it’s a give and take. It all depends on what matters to you and what your personal preferences are.

Concept2 Model D costs about $1,000 currently, with a $50 dollar shipping fee, which makes it one of the more affordable rowers. If price is your major concern, then you will want to consider the Concept2 Model D.

Tight on Space?  Check Out All Our Portable & Folding Compact Rowers

Cons of the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

My mother once told me that for everything you get in life, you have to give something in return. The older I get the more true I find this to be.

This saying certainly applies even to a rowing machine! You certainly get a lot of features with Concept 2, but it does have some drawbacks you should know about, including:

  • The performance monitor is very lackluster (in my opinion). Even though you can connect your own headphones or fitness tracker, it lacks the interactive training and live or on-demand workout programs that Hydrow offers.
  • While this indoor rower does come apart, it is still much longer than Hydrow and needs more space to use it
  • The chain drive makes noise and needs maintenance. In comparison, Hydrow uses a belt drive that is super quiet and needs no maintenance.
  • The chain drive is also not as smooth as Hydrow’s belt drive.
  • The rower itself is noisy since it uses air resistance.
  • While air resistance is technically unlimited, it’s hard to find the right resistance level.
  • The Model D does have a plastic monitor arm to hold your cell phone or tablet, but it’s not very durable and there are many complaints about how quickly it breaks.

You will need to weigh these cons against the pros and see which stands out for you.

Everyone has their own preferences but the following are important:

  1. How much room do you have? (both for using and storing the rowing machine)
  2. What can you afford?
  3. How much noise can you deal with?
  4. Will the lack of electronic features bore you?

Let’s talk about the Hydrow so you can compare these two rowing machines.

The Hydrow Indoor Rowing Machine

The Hydrow Indoor Rowing Machine

Check Price

Take a good look at the Hydrow, and you will instantly see that it looks more like a high-tech game center than a piece of gym equipment.

Hydrow was made by professional rowers for those who want the ultimate rowing experience.

This smart rowing machine is a premium rower that features world-class athletes and Olympic rowing champions in their workout videos.

All workouts take place on bodies of water from around the world. There are no classroom settings, no games, and nothing to bore you.


As I mentioned earlier, Hydrow uses computer-controlled electromagnetic resistance and a drive belt, which makes this indoor rower extremely quiet.

While it does have Bluetooth so you can connect headphones and some fitness monitors or watches, I love the front-facing speakers! Hearing the water and the instructors, rather than the sound of the flywheel or chain, makes me feel like I am really on the water in a boat!

If you want a smooth operation from your rowing machine, the Hydrow was made for you! You get interactive rowing, team training, live workouts, on-demand workouts, team rowing, and they all feel as smooth as silk!

Features & Pros of the Hydrow

Let’s talk about the other features that the Hydrow offers:

  • The commercial-grade aluminum and steel frame is super sturdy and you will love the self-leveling feet!
  • There are 300 levels of resistance. Depending on which rowing workout you have selected, the computer will control the resistance, so you get a real-life rowing experience. However, if at any time you want to change the resistance level, all it takes is the touch of your finger on the screen.
  • Oh yes, the screen! Hydrow features 22-inch dust and sweat-resistant, HD touchscreen monitor so that you can see all those beautiful locations from around the world in crystal clear, live colors.
  • This rower is Bluetooth-enabled, so you can use your headphones or heart rate monitor (or you can buy a chest strap from Hydrow if you don’t have a heart rate monitor).
  • There is a large Hydrow rowing community that you can connect with.
  • There are lots of guidance and programs designed just for beginners.
  • There are adjustable footrests and transport wheels.
  • This elite rowing machine can handle users weighing up to 375 pounds.
  • You can store this rowing machine upright using the upright storage kit.
  • Workouts also include off-the-rower programs, such as Pilates, foam rolling, and yoga.

Hydrow is as close as you can get to real-life rowing without getting wet. This is the ONLY rower that offers their exclusive Live Outdoor Reality rowing workouts.

I have used the Hydrow rower quite a bit, and I am completely addicted to the workouts (learn more). Even on days when I don’t feel like working out, I can use the scenic rowing feature and just row slowly without an instructor, and take in the beautiful scenery.

The warranty on the Hydrow is pretty impressive as well:

  1. 5 year warranty on the frame and storage kit
  2. 1 year warranty on all other parts

Yes, this is a premium rowing machine and it comes with a premium price, but here’s my little secret- you can pay less than most others if you look for sales, such as Black Friday coupon codes, and subscribe to Hydrow’s newsletter. They often have flash deals and other sales so you can pay less.

One of the things I do love about Hydrow, besides the incredible workouts, is that you can try it at home for 30-days at no charge. If you don’t love Hydrow, all you need to do is keep the original box and contact Hydrow. They’ll arrange the machine’s pickup.

Free shipping and a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy? Wow. Try to get that someplace else!

Cons of the Hydrow Rowing Machine

Even something as perfect as the Hydrow has a few things you should be aware of before you buy, including:

  • It costs more than Concept 2, no doubt, but my oh my, look at what you get!
  • You must pay extra for the upright storage kit.
  • Hydrow has a monthly subscription fee, while Concept2 does not, but again, you get what you pay for!
  • There are no classroom or studio-type programs.

That’s it! Honestly, I can’t think of any other downsides to this rowing machine.

If you are one of those who want the best in life and invest in your health, then you will want to check out the Hydrow rower.

The Winner Is NOT Who You Might Think

Most people believe that if something is a best-seller, it must be the best, right?

I haven’t found that to be true in too many instances, to be honest. To be fair, both rowing machines offer you a full-body workout.

When it comes to Hydrow vs Concept 2, the winner might surprise you. While it’s true that Concept 2 is a best seller, in my opinion, it’s a bare-bones type of rowing machine.

I much prefer an interactive piece of fitness equipment that will keep me motivated and inspired for many, many years to come.

Of course, if your wallet can’t deal with the Hydrow, that is totally understandable. I do suggest that you weigh all your options since you will find that many times, Hydrow goes on sale, and there are occasionally zero-interest financing offers.

If you are a true fitness enthusiast who wants to meet those fitness goals and invest in your health, and if you want a piece of quality home gym equipment that provides rowing workouts that will knock your socks off, then you should go for the Hydrow!


1. Can Hydrow use Concept 2?

No, not really. However, the opposite is true. You can download and use the Hydrow app to access all the workouts. Put your tablet or cell phone on the monitor arm on Concept 2 and use the workouts from Hydrow. Of course, you won’t get the computer-controlled resistance, but you can access the workouts.

2. Is Hydrow better than Concept 2?

Absolutely. Hydrow is smoother, quieter, more engaging, and more fun to use. It’s smaller and has so much more to offer than Concept 2.

3. Is Hydrow a good rowing machine?

Yes, it is! Hydrow is one of the best rowing machines ever made. It offers a true rowing experience that you can’t get from other indoor rowing machines. If you want the best rowing machine that will fit in your home gym and provide live outdoor reality rowing and thousands of rowing workouts to choose from, there is no doubt that you will want the Hydrow rower.