In this article, I’m going to compare 2 of the most popular Rowing Machines available on the market: the NordicTrack RW900 and the Concept 2 Model D.
For those that are curios and prefer to know what I did - after quite a lot of research I decided to go with the NordicTrack RW900.
I went with this one in particular.
Reason being is not because it is better than the Model D, because in all honesty, it's actually not. The model D is actually built better, and is a better overall rowing machine in pretty much every area but one.
The tech, the model d is a basic bones rower, where as the RW900 is rowing machine that comes with a screen that allows you to dive deep into interactive training with live instructors and in real live classes.. with live students. lol.
You can row into a virtual world and explore different cities - I mean if this does not keep you excited about working out I do not know what will.
Here's my recommendation
- If you want a rower that provides and excellent bang for your buck, is highly rated and reviewed (actually the highest rated), will last you forever, and is extremely easy to use then the Model D rowing machine is your best bet. I mean just take a look at these reviews - the speak for themselves.
- But... if you want a rower that will keep you interested in your workouts, provide you a surreal experience that is almost hard to believe, cost a bit more (although worth it), and is also highly rated and reviewed then the RW900 rowing machine is the one for you.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into my research and findings.
NordicTrack has certainly made a name for itself in the fitness machines domain. So I was really curious about how their high-end Rowing Machine would turn out to be.
The NordicTrack RW900 provides a whole interactive rowing experience, with an interactive touch screen, speakers, and personal trainers.
It also gives significant room for customization of its resistance levels to allow you tap into all the benefits of indoor rowing.
This machine incorporates a fair amount of technology in it, which makes for some interesting features:
- A 22 inch Smart HD Touchscreen
- Dual Speakers
- 26 Resistance Levels that can be customized digitally
- Ample space in Footrests
- Adjustable Nylon Straps
- Supplementary Music Port
- Network to connect with Fitness Trainers LIVE
- Locations around the world for rowing via Google Maps
- 1 year iFit Family Membership with the purchase of the machine
What I Liked About It
After being the proud owner of the NordicTrack RW900 for almost a year, it’s safe to say that there are a significant amount of things I like about it.
First and foremost, I admire the high quality tech incorporated within the machine. The HD screen and the loud and clear speakers do make for an immersive workout experience.
The 1 year iFit membership was also a welcome addition to the product. I’m a big fan of delegating my workout structures to the experts (trainers), and I must say I have been satisfied by their output.
Moreover, I really liked the wide scale of customization options the NordicTrack RW900 provides.
There are many options for workout difficulty levels, structure, and locations. Plus, the machine is fairly adjustable, speaking from a mechanical perspective as well.
The Concept 2 Model D is another prominent Rowing Machine available on the market.
It is a very robust heavy duty home rowing machine, with a significant amount of features integrated in its compact design.
The fact that this particular machine is popular amongst athletes and sportsmen, prompted me to check it out as well.
In a nutshell, the Concept 2 Model D is quite a versatile Rowing Machine for full body workouts. It also includes a PM5 performance monitor which is always a useful thing to have when it comes to fitness equipment.
The Concept 2 Model D is full of noteworthy features and details, some of which are as follows:
- A full-fledged PM5 Performance Monitor
- A mobile structure that can be broken down and adjusted for easy storage
- Castor wheels for ease of mobility
- Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity
- Ergonomic handles for comfort
- Adjustable Spiral Damper
- 2 Year Limited Warranty
- Smartphone Cradle
NordicTrack RW900 vs Concept 2 Model D
Now, the big question! Which Rowing Machine is better? There are a lot of different factors to consider so let’s get right into it.
Which One Is Built Better?
Both the RW900 and the Model D have robust yet ergonomic designs. Both are built up for strength and efficiency, and for those of you who are fond of doing full body workouts often, these machines can take a great deal of abuse.
But there are some subtle differences in the build.
Overall, the Model D has a more durable construction than the RW900.
The model D will handle quite a lot more rough housing and is better suited for commercial use or for those that are over weight or just simply heavier than most. It's also better for taller users than the Nordictrack is.
Which One Offers More Features?
You can’t really have a worthwhile piece of home gym equipment without some sort of tech incorporated into its operations.
Features are the cornerstone of any product; more worthwhile features tend to indicate more value for money. In this department, I have to say that the RW900 is the winner!
This technology includes a wide range of things including touch screens, network connections, sensors and monitors, to name a few.
First of all, the tech integrated within the NordicTrack RW900 is superior to the Model D. The 22 inch Smart HD Screen of the RW900 makes for a higher quality immersive experience than the PM5 monitor of the Model D.
You get the chance to conduct live interactive training with professional trainers, in the RW900. Furthermore, you get to select rowing locations around the world, on the screen, which makes for a truly captivating experience.
On the other hand, the PM5 monitor display of the Model D is quite dull in comparison. You really miss out on the enhanced experience that the technology of the RW900 provides.
Not to forget, the NordicTrack machine also has a built-in music port. In short, the RW900 is bound to keep you more engaged!
Adjustability and Customization
These aspects are core to any decent fitness machine. Being able to adjust a Rowing Machine properly has a huge impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of your workouts.
While both machines do have significant room for customization, there are some differences in their mechanics. These differences boil down to the differences in the designs of both machines.
The Model D allows for resistance customization with the help of its unique spiral damper. This spiral damper can easily be adjusted from a setting of 1 to 10.
On the other hand, the NordicTrack RW900 allows for more customization in resistance levels; up to 26 different resistance levels, to be precise!
Moreover, the machine automatically adjusts the resistance level to match the water and wind conditions for the virtual immersive workouts.
Furthermore, both rowers have paid great attention to an ergonomic design, when it comes to the seat and the handle. This is definitely a positive point!
In conclusion, the NordicTrack RW900 wins in this department as well, but the competition was surely tough!
Which One Has Better Workout Programs?
The NordicTrack RW900 is the clear winner in this case! The machine offers great quality and quantity workout programs.
Due to its incredible technology (as mentioned before), the RW900 provides you a vast range of workouts, and workout locations. You have the option to train with Olympic athletes, and also row through the Geneva Lake in Switzerland. The possibilities are endless.
It’s like you have your own Personal Rowing Coach at home!
You have the opportunity to interact and row live with your trainers.
How cool is that!
These trainers are very skilled, and will guide you well on your workout techniques, structure, and intensity. They can even adjust your machine’s resistance level digitally, as per required!
Whether you feel like rowing in the River Thames or the River Nore, RW900 has got you covered. The embedded Google Maps technology integrates locations from all around the world.
On the other hand, the Model D also had an equivalent PD5 Monitor for workout programs. However, it falls flat in comparison to the high tech digital system of the RW900.
The Model D has a limited range of workout programs available. Plus, there are no live trainers or virtual locations available, like the RW900. The display screen of the Model D is also less appealing than the RW900. Due to this, it misses out on the ‘Virtual Reality’ aspect of things.
Although, the Model D P5 Performance Monitor is good for workout analytics. It provides real-time updates for speed, pace, distance covered, and calories burned.
Related Reading; Concept 2 Rower Vs Skierg
What Are the Customers Saying?
At the end of the day, what the customers say matters the most!
Let’s look at what the users are saying about both of these rowing machines
When it comes to the Concept 2 Model D, the customers are really praising its ease of transportation and setup. Its adjustable size made it easy for use, especially for those who had limited apartment gym space!
The strong quality of the Model D is also being lauded by customers. This is very characteristic of Concept 2 machines, as they are well reputed for their high quality. There are some people who have been using Concept 2 machines for over a decade, without any breakdown!
Some negative reviews of the Model D talk about its limitations, when it comes to range of workouts.
Some users have noted that this machine is only for weight loss and full body cardio, and not isolated muscle exercises, but I mean this honestly applies to budget rowing machines and high-end ones alike, not just the Model D.
The screen display of the Model D has also received some criticism. Its display design looks quite old-fashioned, considering its 2021.
Now let’s move on to the NordicTrack RW900.
The inclusion of the iFit workout program has been commended by many users. The structure of the program and the top notch coaches have made the iFit membership a sought after one, in the fitness world.
In fact, the embedded iFit membership is one of the core reasons why many users bought this particular machine. They advised not to buy this rower without the membership.
The operation of the machine is also quite smooth. The RW900 makes minimal noise when in use.
The virtual reality workouts have been described by users as very fun and scenic.
However, some users have reported the digital system of the machine can sometimes freeze up and I can attest to this but it is not all the time and just needs a simple reset.
Moreover, some users have pointed out a notable flaw in the tech design of the RW900. The headphone jack is only for wired headphones, and does not give Bluetooth support!
This is an issue as the whole world is moving towards wireless Bluetooth headphones, and this type is certainly more suitable for workouts. To counter this issue, one user made an additional purchase of a Bluetooth transmitter to plug into the headphone jack.
But overall both machines have received almost entirely positive reviews, but do note that negative points are still there.
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Let’s Talk About Prices!
The most important question! What’s the price of these rowing machines?
Let’s break it down…
If you buy it from Nordictrack themselves the RW900 costs right around the 1600 mark, which can be paid in smaller monthly payments if you so choose.
To add to that, a 1 year free iFit membership is included with the product which amounts to $468 in value.
On the other hand, The Concept 2 Model D costs right around a grand.
The RW900 might seem quite costly compared to the Model D, but remember that it boasts a modern digital system and provides a free iFit membership for one year, as well.
What About Warranty?
If you’re anything like me, you’re picky about expensive products. That is why a warranty is essential when it comes to equipment like these.
The Concept 2 Model D has a 2 year warranty, when it comes to all parts, and a 5 year warranty, when it comes to frame parts. It also has a 30 day money back guarantee.
On the other hand, the NordicTrack RW900 has a 10 year frame warranty, 2 year parts warranty, and a 1 year labor warranty.
In comparison, the RW900 clearly has a greater length warranty but the money back guarantee of the Model D is a praiseworthy feature.
There is no doubt that size is of utmost importance in fitness machines, as space is bound to be a limitation for everyone, one way or the other. Whether you have a tight basement gym, or making do with a small workout room, space is often at a premium for most home gym owners.
The good thing is that both machines have flexible Space Saver designs to enable them to be compact.
Overall, the Concept 2 Model D is a bigger rower.
However, its size is adjustable to a larger extent than the NordicTrack RW900. It can also be broken down into 2 smaller pieces and re-adjusted, as well.
So for small spaces, the Model D would be a slightly better choice.
Related Reading; Combining Rowing and Cycling
Which Is Easier to Set Up?
The Concept 2 Model D is slightly easier to move and set up. This is particularly due to the fact that it can be separated into 2 pieces, for storage and transport.
The machine is also easy to assemble, as it only requires 8 screws to do so. Furthermore, it uses a frame-lock mechanism which allows for quick releases during setup.
On the other hand, the NordicTrack RW900 is a different type of rower, logistically speaking. It is relatively fragile compared to the Model D, and therefore required some extra care when it comes to setting it up.
However, this is not to say that setting up the RW900 is a very big hassle. In fact, it features a foldable design which does help in its transportation.
Which Rowing Machine Should You Get?
It’s now time for the most important verdict!
After my thorough research, I have come to the conclusion that whilst both machines are pretty decent, I would still go with the NordicTrack RW900! There are various factors I have analyzed before coming to this conclusion.
First and foremost, the RW900 is a machine fit for this modern day and age. Its tech boosts it up many notches, in my eyes.
Fitness is undoubtedly a game of consistency, and it can be difficult to maintain your motivation at all times. I found that having live interactions with coaches in the RW900 did wonders for me, in this regard.
It kept me focused and persistent. Ultimately, it added a ‘fun’ aspect to my workout routine, and I believe that this is an important part of any endeavor.
This is not to say that the Concept 2 Model D is not a worthwhile rower. There is a lot to love about it as well.
It’s a reliable, strong and robust rower and its ultimate built better than the RW900 - it just does not provide the tech and fun that I am looking for.
Concept 2 has become a staple brand in the fitness arena, and is used by many athletes as well. It's a company that you can trust and they pride themselves on quality, reliability, and affordability.
Plus, the most important thing for many people is the cost consideration. The Model D is clearly cheaper than the RW900.
So, if your budget is your top priority, you should go for the Concept 2 Model D.
However, if you are not that constrained on your budget, and would love an ‘interactive’ element to your training, then you should definitely go for the NordicTrack RW900.
At the end of the day, the decision comes down to your wants and preferences. But I personally went with the NordicTrack RW900.
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Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at Fitlifefanatics.com. I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 18 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
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