Photo illustrating damper adjusting dragfactor on the Concept2 RowErg® indoor rower.

The Flywheel Damper

A flywheel is spinning inside the housing, and the damper has a setting of 1–10, indicating how much air is let into the housing with each rowing stroke. The high setting 10 slows down the spinning flywheel faster – deceleration, while the low setting 1 makes it easier to spin up the flywheel. Think of the damper setting as similar to a bicycle’s gearing.

Remember that damper settings is not a resistance level. A low setting feels like rowing a fast-sliding racing boat, while a high damper setting feels like rowing a big and slow tour boat.

The actual resistance in a rowing stroke depends on how hard you pull the handle, using your legs, back, and arms. The faster you spin the flywheel by pulling hard, the more air resistance the flywheel will generate. It is recommended to start with a damper setting of 3-5.

The damper setting is referred to as ”Drag Factor”. By rowing and adjusting the damper setting, you can read out precise and calibrated drag factor digits on the PM5 display.

The flywheel noise level is relatively low, depending on the intensity of your exercise. Normally, it has a quiet operation that allows you to listen to music or watch TV.

Closeup of the Concept2 PM5 backlit performance monitor on the RowErg®.

Performance Monitor PM5

The monitor turns on and off automatically, storing all your performance data in its internal memory. It also provides a built-in rowing technique lesson with animation. Furthermore, it has a list of five preset workouts and five custom workouts, as well as five training games.

The PM5 Performance Monitor provides you with lots of accurate data and graphics from your rowing workouts. Your performance is displayed in terms of distance, speed, pace, calories burned, and watts. You can also adjust the monitor’s height and angle.

The PM5 can wirelessly monitor your heart rate during the training if you wear a compatible heart rate monitor belt.

The monitor can display information in 11 languages, and the features of the PM5 can be easily updated by firmware. The monochrome screen is backlit for increased visibility, and on the backside there is an USB flash pen for external storage of workout data (logbook). The monitor comes with two long-lasting D-CELL (LR20) batteries, so no wall socket is necessary; it draws power from the spinning flywheel to extend its battery life.

See how to use the PM5 performance monitor.

Concept2 RowErg® indoor rower disassembled for easy storage with a small footprint.

Easy Storage & Handling

The Concept2 RowErg® rowing machine consists of two detachable parts: the monorail and the front frame with the flywheel housing. It does not fold, but splits into two parts without the use of tools. The monitor arm pivots for storage.

A special frame lock mechanism makes it easy to separate and assemble the rowing machine within 10-20 seconds without tools.

The front foot has caster wheels, allowing you to easily move the rowing machine around by lifting in the monorail. Its storage dimensions are 25 in x 33 in x 54 in (63.5 cm x 83.8 cm x 137.2 cm).

See my unboxing video of the Concept2 RowErg® Model D with PM5 performance monitor.

Closeup of the sliding seat on the Concept2 RowErg® indoor rower.

The Sliding Seat

By using a sliding seat, the rower applies the power of their legs when rowing. The seated position makes rowing a low-impact sport, and the seat height above ground is 14 in (35.6 cm).

The seat is designed, through extensive testing and feedback, to support the rower’s weight and let them move freely; its maximum user weight is 500 lb (227 kg).

The material of the seating surface is made of semi-hard rubber, as a too-soft seat can result in reduced blood circulation and numbness.

Stretching and experimenting with some light padding (a towel, bubble plastic, or a foam seat pad) might help the user to get used to the seat.

The seat slides smoothly and silently on the monorail fitted with a stainless steel track capsule, the seat carriage being fitted with top and bottom rollers. It is important to ensure that loose or long clothing does not get caught in the seat rollers, as moving seat rollers can injure fingers, children, or animals. Never stand on the sliding seat.

The ergonomic handle on the Concept2 RowErg® rowing machine.

The Ergonomic Handle

The handle is not straight, but bends 10° downward to allow a natural arm and hand position. Both sides of the handle are covered with rubber for a solid grip.

Hold onto the handle with straight wrists, but not with too strong a grip. Depending on skin condition and workout duration, some rowers might get blisters in their hands. Over time, the blisters are followed by calluses, which will offer protection. Some people prefer to wear gloves.

The handle is attached to the nickel-plated steel chain and is easier to reach when placed in the handle hook. To prolong the life of the shock cord, let the handle rest against the fan cage when the machine is not in use.

Do not twist the chain; for maintenance, lubricate the chain with a teaspoon of the provided oil on a cloth for every 50 hours of use.

Beware that an oil-soaked cloth can burst into flames.

The Flexfoot footrest on the Concept2 RowErg® indoor rower.

Footrests and Flexfoot Straps

The footrests have seven height-position holes to accommodate a wide range of shoe sizes. They have a heel cup and are adjustable in length. Foot width is adapted by the footstraps, but it is not adjustable with regards to how far apart your feet will be.

Beware that normal running shoes have a thick high-impact cushioning in the heel and that it can change the angle of the feet. A too-high heel position might irritate your Achilles tendon at the finish of the stroke. As a personal choice, you can also row just wearing a thick sock.

Position the footrest setting in a hole no. so that the strap crosses over the ball of your foot. You may want to adjust your feet higher if you row without shoes; adjust your feet lower if you are less flexible or if your gut is in the way.

If your feet position is set too high, you limit your length towards the flywheel. In general, you want your knees to be near your arm pits at the catch position.

The straps are easy to tighten by pulling in the straps; release the straps by flipping the little buckle.