Nordictrack rw900 rower vs Concept 2 Honest Buying Guide 2020
Nordictrack rw900 rower vs Concept 2

Nordictrack rw900 rower vs Concept 2 Honest Buying Guide 2020

Nordictrack rw900 rower vs Concept 2? Which one you have to buy? Confused??

Well! NordicTrack is a top-rated brand I noticed lately. According to customers’ feedback, it produces fitness simulators of high quality as well. Personally, I consider them more suitable for me as they’re very convenient for usage. You can do lots of things at the same time while training on this simulator.

And Concept 2 rowing machine brand is a top-rated and highly reviewed one on Amazon. Many people put trust in rowers of this popular brand. Lots of positive reviews prove the effectiveness of rowing simulators. It is said to provide fat burning and muscle building full-body workout.

If you’re not a big fan of using the treadmill, then the good news is that there are other workout equipment alternatives that you can use, such as the rowing machine. Great for strengthening your muscles, increasing your stamina, and burning fat, this machine is truly a game-changer.

Now, if you’ve decided to give the rowing machine a try, then it’s time to pick the model that will work for you. Choosing one from the wide array of options in the market can be challenging, so we’ve narrowed it down to two models. In this article, we’ll be looking at two rowers: the NordicTrack RW900 Rower and the Concept2 Model E Rower.

Quick Answer:

If you’re looking to get serious about your health and fitness and you want to buy a sturdy, commercial-grade quality rower, the NordicTrack RW900 is the better option for you.

Aside from giving you access to trainers and interactive workout programs, the RW900 is loaded with other benefits, such as having two types of resistance—silent magnetic and manual air resistance — as well as membership perks, among others.

But if you’re looking for a rower that will give you more value for your money while offering almost the exact same features as the more expensive models, then you can’t go wrong with the Model E.

Runner-up Nordictrack rw900 rower

Winner Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

Workout Apps: iFIT 1 year membership

Display:22" Smart HD

Workout Programs: 30 onboard workouts

Resistance Levels:26 levels

Dimensions: 86.5” L x 22” W x 50.4” H

Foldable: yes

Seating: oversized steel seat rail with an ergonomic molded seat

Footrests: quick-adjust pedals with pivoting footrests

Handle:ergonomic handles

Maximum user weight:250 lbs

Warranty: 10-year frame warranty, a 2-year parts warranty, and a 1-year labor warranty

Workout Apps:Free Concept2 ErgData app

Display:PM5 monitor

Workout Programs:Preset workouts and games

Resistance Levels:adjustable with flywheel and damper

Dimensions: 96” L x 24” W x 20” H; 54“ monorail length

Foldable:yes

Seating: 20” seat height with aluminum monorail and a stainless-steel track

Footrests:adjustable footrests

Handle: 10-degree bend designed handle

Maximum user weight: 300-500 lbs

Warranty: limited 2-year warranty for Monitor and moving parts and a 5-year frame warranty

Nordictrack rw900 rower vs Concept 2 Honest Buying Guide 2020

Runner-up NordicTrack RW900 Rower

The RW900 rowing machine includes a 1-year iFit membership that gives you access to an interactive trainer and over 12,000 instructor-led workout videos. These on-demand workouts also feature an iFit Coach program wherein your rower and resistance will change depending on the instructor’s workout. You can likewise transition to different degrees of resistance, thanks to the rower’s SMR (silent magnetic resistance) feature. And because of its portability, you can store it easily under your bed or inside the closet.

NordicTrack RW900 Rower Pros

  • Very affordable due to no-frills design
  • Easy to assemble as many parts are preassembled already
  • Very sturdy with a commercial-grade quality
  • Easy to choose the data you want to track
  • 20 preset programs to work with
  • Storage isn’t a problem because it folds

Fans thoughts about NORDICTRACK rw 900:

*Updated review after a few months*
I finally got issues worked out with iFit subscription. Bottom line is that Nordictrak did not include my subscription in the box, and there was a lot of miscommunication and people tripping over each other on the customer service side to get it straightened out. I was quite unhappy with my first two weeks having the rower. Now that the subscription issue us solved and I’ve had a few dozen workouts on the machine, I’m adding a star (moved from 3 to 4 stars) and giving more detail.
What’s been good: The workouts with iFit are outstanding. I have loved rowing the rivers of the world with olympians and champions. The coach has a helmet camera on, and they talk you through the entire routine as they row through beautiful settings. I absolutely love these challenging but scenic rowing experiences. The coaches give good instruction, and I’m always clear on what I’m supposed to be doing at any given time.

The studio sessions are also very good. I like the coaches and the fun atmosphere when I want a change of pace from the river-based scenic routes.

Overall the iFit courses and library are really good, I like the variety of workouts and trainers, and I’m excited to see them continue adding more content for self-guided workout schedules. I would like to see iFit add more structure to their programs…as in create automatic playlists and calendars based on goals (for example, 90 day programs for weight loss, competititon training, cardio, etc. based on goals). Right now you have to choose your own workout and schedule, so I’m not sure if I’m doing the right types of workouts at the right intervals to accomplish my goals.

The cons: Unit does occasionally freeze and needs a hard reset (unplug, plug back in). Startup time is pretty slow, so I usually plug in the machine and go fill up my water bottle, do some stretches, then come back to the machine to get started. Everything else is listed in my original review.

Original Review:
Got my RW900 over the weekend, and first impressions are mixed. Let’s start with the positives:
+Rower has a very solid build quality
+Setup was very easy (I bought from Amazon so I could skip the mandatory $250 “White Glove setup” scam from Nodictrack’s website. If you are able-bodied enough to use a rower, you should have not trouble putting this together DIY.
+Rowing was very enjoyable, I like the fan control handle and the overall feel of the machine.
+As a rowing machine on it’s own, this is a great piece of equipment. It’s everything else (you know, attention to details) that is making me strongly consider sending this thing back.

-First frustration, the Amazon description says “1 year free iFit”. There is no promo code or instructions on how to redeem the free year. On one of their brochures in the box, it tells you to visit ifit.com/activate, which I did. It said everything was set up activated, but I’m still locked out. If you don’t plan to have iFit, DO NOT buy this machine. Nearly everything on the rower’s interactive screen is locked out if you use the free subscription. I really wanted to use this rower in a guided training session, but since nothing is working I will probably end up spending an hour on the phone with customer service. There should be VERY clear instructions in the packaging that tell me what website to visit to activate my iFit account, what activation code to use (the machine asks you for an activation code during initial setup…which of course I didn’t have!), and how long it will take before my free 1-year subscription becomes active.
-Next complaint, customer service is only M-F during regular working hours. Very unhelpful when I also work those hours and don’t have extra time to spend on the phone getting things fixed.
-There is no on/off switch or auto-shutoff feature. I waited for the machine to turn off, and after several hours and it was still running, I went back to my owner’s manual that says to turn off the machine, you have to unplug it. WHAT!?! It’s irritating enough that the boot up time on this machine is 3-5 minutes (if you don’t count the two times it’s frozen up on me already), but to have to go through the boot up procedure by plugging in the machine every time I want to use it is very poor design thinking.
-The touch screen is huge, which I love, but the bezels on it are also huge (see photos, the black outer border is about 1.5″ thick all the way around). It looks like they stuck a small TV from 2009 on the end of this thing. The image quality is acceptable, but the touchscreen is frustratingly slow compared to my other smart devices at home.
-The “row your boat through cool locations” feature is really lame. I was thinking I would be able to casually row through an iconic canal or lake while the video slowly rolled forward to match my speed and the sound of waves rolling and birds chirping overhead played through the speakers. Instead, NordicTrack has ripped off still images from Google Maps that just reload every few seconds (think about Google street view when you click to move to the next still image). With all the money I’m spending on a rower, you would think they could afford to send someone to these locations with a GoPro to get some real footage.
-The beeps and tones the machine makes while interacting sound more like error noises. They need to improve the sounds the machine makes when acknowledging things like startup, volume up, volume down, etc.
-The overall firmware of the system feels clunky and underwhelming. The design/ UI isn’t bad, but the experience/ UX is bad. It’s based on Android software (way to save money, NordicTrack!), and the menus are very thin and unhelpful. The look and feel is attractive, but nothing makes much sense where it is placed in the menu screens. For example, when you complete a workout, there is one giant button that says “Save Workout” and a tiny button on the other side of the screen that says “delete workout”. It took me a while to figure out that “Save” meant “Log” my workout, as in “yes, please keep track of my progress”. Also, since my iFit membership is in limbo, virtually everything I try to do on the screen is a deadend to “subscribe now!”

Overall I am beyond frustrated at my experience and am contemplating sending the machine back. With the rower, tax, and protection plan is this purchase as almost $1800. I’m happy with the machine, but extremely disappointed with the service, software, and design thinking from everything else. Hopefully, I will get a chance to revise my review to be more positive once NordicTrack makes some software updates and I get a chance to talk to customer service —D. Allen Reviews

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Winner Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine:

Proudly made in the USA, the Concept2 Model E has proved to be one of the best low-maintenance yet high-performing rowing machines on the market. Customers have also praised the company’s reliable customer service. The Model E has an option for team training with the Concept2 Slide, which is sold separately. Placed under the rowing machine, this optional slide is attached with bungee cords that simulate the sensation of floating on water. With the Concept2 Slide, you can connect to different Concept2 rower models for team training.

Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine Pros:

  • Gives a challenge with the higher resistance levels
  • Exciting data showing how well you’re doing with an imaginary racing opponent
  • The monitor is very easy to read so you can pick a larger font
  • Supports a chest strap monitor
  • The monitor works with 3rd-party programs
  • Storage isn’t a problem either as it splits into two parts

Fans thoughts about Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine:

This is the best investment that I’ve ever made in a piece of exercise equipment. It will literally last a lifetime.

I was looking for a high quality indoor rowing machine, as it’s one of the best workouts for your entire body. I’m so glad that I not only purchased a Concept2, but that I opted to pay the extra cost for the Model E. Since the Model E is elevated to the same level as a regular chair, it’s much easier to get in and out of than the Model D. This is of particular importance if you have any issues with mobility or if you’re elderly. In my case, due to having had back surgery, it was essential that I purchased this model. It’s absolutely worth the extra cost.

Since first using this rower on 04/13/2014 I’ve logged over 200,000 meters, which is close to 125 miles. The feel of the rower is exquisite. Since it’s made of such high quality materials, using it is all but effortless. The seat slides along the monorail in near total silence and the fan noise is minimal. I listen to music while rowing and find that the noise of the machine isn’t an issue at all. My routine is to use the rower for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week. It has an adjustable flywheel, however setting it to a higher number(between 1 & 10), does not necessarily mean that you’re getting a better workout. The main factor in getting an effective workout is determined by how rapidly you row. So, you could set the flywheel to 10 and do a very slow workout, or set in to a lower number and actually get a better workout. Personally, I have mine set at 4 which enables me to get a tremendous workout without the risk of sustaining any injuries from overexertion.

I have my rower on top of a rubber mat, although the company says that this is unnecessary. I suppose that if you have wood floors or tile it would be unnecessary, but when used on carpet like I do, I think it’s best to have a mat.

The rower comes with a chest belt hear rate monitor, but I opted to purchase the MIO Link wrist monitor as it works as well as the chest belt and is much easier to use. One thing you should be aware of when purchasing a Concept2 is that it’s immense. I have it set up in my office and it takes up the vast majority of the room, at least in length. Thankfully, it takes only a few seconds to separate into 2 parts for easy storage.

The only area where I think the company could improve upon would be the assembly instructions. Most of the instructions are in the form of pictures without any accompanying text. For those who have problems interpreting pictures(like me), it would be helpful to have some text included as well. If you know what you’re doing, you can easily assemble the rower in less than 30 minutes. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be slightly frustrating. Thankfully, it was during the week when I assembled mine, so help was just a phone call away.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the seat being uncomfortable. I purchased the optional adhesive seat pad with mine, and although it’s extremely thin, I find that I’m comfortable throughout my entire workout. I also purchased a Skwoosh Master Row Gel Pad that I use on top of the adhesive seat pad. This combination makes for a very comfortable rowing experience.

The bottom line is that this rower is worth every cent that I paid. The quality is unquestionably the best that you’ll find on any rower. I consider it to be like a fine tuned sports car. Listening to music while rowing on the Concept2 Model E is a very peaceful feeling.

Addendum: Unless you live in Vermont, you won’t have to pay sales tax when purchasing this item directly from the manufacturer. I saved over $88 by ordering direct, as all Amazon orders sent to NYS are charged sales tax.

Update: 05/23/2014 ~ After doing significantly more rowing over the past 2 weeks, I’ve found that my seat solution no longer works. Since I’m currently doing very long work outs (over 1 hour), I’m developing extreme pain in my buttocks. I’ve had back surgery in the past, so this may be exasperating the problem. In other words, the seat issue may be a (sore) point for some and not for others. At any rate, since the seat has become so uncomfortable for me, I decided to purchase a EndureRow rowing machine seat to replace the one that came with my Concept2. At $149, this is an expensive and yet to be tested option. I’ll provide an update on this seat in a week or two. The Concept2 rower still receives a solid 5 stars, as it’s without question the best rower on the market. As stated, the seat issue is an individual thing, and not the fault of Concept2.

Update: 05/29/2014 ~ I tried out the EndureRow rowing machine seat for a few days, but didn’t like it. Unfortunately, it provided no relief for my buttocks pain and for $149 is very costly.

Update: 06/06/2014 ~ I finally found a solution that works to eliminate buttocks pain for me. Available from Concept2 is an aftermarket padded tractor seat. The seat is significantly larger than the standard seat and comes with a 6″ slanted back support. The seat itself measures approximately 12″ x 16″. Note: When using proper rowing technique, range of motion is limited when leaning back on the Tractor Seat at the end of the drive. I have not found this to be a problem, as I’m still able to lean back adequately. I suppose if you’re a competitive rower this could be an issue, but for the average person who mainly uses the rower for aerobic exercise, I don’t see it as a problem. I’ve been using the tractor seat for a week and am no longer experiencing any buttocks pain at all. Please note that I already had a Skwoosh rowing seat pad which I place on top of the tractor seat. The only reason why I’m using the Skwoosh is because I already had one. It’s probably unnecessary, as I experienced no pain when using the tractor seat alone. As mentioned, I row an hour a day, 5 days a week, so finding a solution to the buttocks problem is wonderful.

If you purchase the tractor seat, please note that the instructions call for you to remove the standard seat and install the tractor seat from underneath the monorail. I found it much easier to separate the rower into 2 pieces, than flip the monorail over. This enables you to remove the standard seat and install the tractor seat from above, which is significantly easier. Also, the standard seat comes with 4 screws that are all but impossible to remove with a screwdriver. I found it much easier to loosen them with a small wrench, than complete the job with the screwdriver. The tractor seat comes with 4 screws and washers and is extremely easy to install.

Update: 06/23/2014 ~ I’ve been using the tractor seat for several weeks now and it’s the real deal. I can row for over an hour without experiencing the slightest amount of buttocks pain. For competitive rowers, this should be sold without a back support. For average rowers like me, it should be included as standard equipment, not a $79 option. As previously mentioned, my range of motion isn’t limited at all at the end of the drive. Concept2 doesn’t advertise this seat because they feel that it will impede you from leaning back at the end of the drive. Such is not the case, as the only difference between this seat and the one that comes standard with the rower, is that this one is extremely comfortable when used for very long rowing sessions. The standard seat is just the opposite.

Update: 12/05/2014 ~ I’ve now been using my Concept2 Model E rower on a near daily basis for eight months. The tractor seat continues to work perfectly and I experience absolutely no pain whatsoever. I can honestly say that this is the best purchase of ANY product that I’ve EVER made. This machine is absolutely astounding and the Concept2 customer service is second to none. This is the best indoor rowing machine available anywhere, for any price. If you’re like me, you’ll be ecstatic with this rower and overwhelmingly happy that you didn’t settle for anything less.

Update: 12/12/2014 ~ “Please note, this review is for a Model E with PM4 monitor, which included a chest belt for wireless heart rate monitoring. This listing is for the Model E with PM5, which is the current and updated Performance Monitor. It has additional wireless options but does not include the chest belt. The price has been reduced ($1260 for the Model E with PM4 vs. $1100 for the Model E with PM5) to reflect these changes.”

Update: 01/02/2015 ~ Since purchasing the Concept2, I’ve now rowed the equivalent of half way across the United States. What I find surprising is that according to what I’ve read on the Internet, rowing machines are the least popular exercise machine in gyms, supposedly because people are intimidated by them and become bored with their use. From my experience, I can tell you that there’s nothing intimidating about the Concept2 rower. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s fun. In the past, I’ve used every conceivable type of exercise machine, such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, etc. I became bored with and lost my motivation to use all of these machines. Such is not the case, nor will it ever be with the Concept2. Using this rower is the highlight of my day. I sit down, row, listen to my music and am transported to a different world. It’s a world of inner peace, a calm feeling that I’ve never experienced prior to owning this gem. When I say that the Concept2 Model E rower has changed my life, I mean it. It’s unquestionably the best investment that I’ve ever made.

Update: 04/30/2015 ~ I’m still going strong after using this for more than a year. The only maintenance I’ve had to do is to oil the chain every 50 hours of use. It simply doesn’t get any better than this; it’s the best purchase I’ve ever made — Expressed Reviews

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Factor 1: Features

Aside from the iFit membership, the Nordictrack RW900 rower has the following features:

  • Adjustable console
  • 2 built-in speakers
  • Auxiliary music port
  • Global Workouts that allow you to explore different waterways without leaving home

The Model E sports the following features:

  • PM5, an advanced performance monitor, which has Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity
  • Free Concept2 ErgData app to help you keep track of your workouts

Factor 2: Display

The RW900 has a 22” Smart HD touchscreen display, while the Model E has an advanced Performance Monitor (PM), which allows you to store data using its internal memory or via a USB flash drive. If you’re looking for practical functionality, the Model E takes the cake for this one.

Factor 3: Workout Programs

The RW900 has 30 onboard workouts while the Model E’s PM gives you access to preset workouts and games.

Factor 4: Resistance Levels

The RW900 has 26 resistance levels that operate under dual resistance controls (manual air resistance and silent magnetic resistance). On the other hand, the Model E has a flywheel and damper, which give you full control of your exertion and resistance.

Factor 5: Dimensions and Foldability

The RW900 has a 86.5” L x 22” W x 50.4” H footprint. It also features a SpaceSaver design with front-mounted transport wheels that enable you to fold and store your rower in small spaces. The Model E sports dimensions of 96” L x 24” W x 20” H with a 54“monorail length. It also features caster wheels and a quick-release frame lock mechanism, which doesn’t require tools and separates the machine into two parts for easy storage.

Factor 6: Seating

The RW900 has an oversized steel seat rail with an ergonomic molded seat, while the Model E has a 20” seat height with aluminum monorail and a stainless-steel track. This allows the Model E to accommodate a wide range of users, even those who have issues with mobility or trainees who need more legroom.

Factor 7: Footrests

Aside from its oversized quick-adjust pedals, the RW900 also features pivoting footrests with adjustable foot straps. The Model E’s adjustable footrests allow for rowing in your natural foot position.

Factor 8: Handle

Both models feature ergonomic handles, but the Model E’s rowing handle features a 10-degree bend designed to support a natural rowing position.

Factor 9: Build Quality

The RW900 can support a maximum user weight of 250 lbs, while the Concept 2 rower can support up to 300-500 lbs. The RW900 has a sturdy, commercial-grade build, while the Model E sports a double powder coat finish for its welded steel construction.

Factor 10: Warranty

The RW900 has a 10-year frame warranty, a 2-year parts warranty, and a 1-year labor warranty. Meanwhile, the Model E has a limited 2-year warranty for its Performance Monitor and moving parts and a 5-year frame warranty.

Reviews

Users praise the RW900’s and the Model E’s ease of assembly and sturdiness. However, the Model E has an added value to users for its maneuverability.

The Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine

1. It gives you a full-body, low-impact workout.

Rowing machines engage both your upper and lower body. A rowing machine workout targets your back, shoulder, and arm muscles. Your glutes and legs get their fair share of exercise too. You also get to engage your core muscles, since they crunch and relax when you glide along with the rowing machine.

2. It helps improve your cardiovascular health.

Aerobic exercises are known to not only help you lose weight but improve your cardiovascular health as well. Since rowing exercises are considered aerobic exercises, they help in boosting cardiovascular health.

According to Harvard Health Publishing

Final Thoughts:

Aerobic exercises done on rowing machines are known to have numerous science-backed benefits such as increasing your stamina, fitness, and strength while increasing your heart and lung fitness. With home exercise equipment such as indoor rowing machines becoming readily available in the market, you can easily work your way towards a healthier you from the comfort of your own home.

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