It's no secret that rowers are taking off like wildfire in recent times. Whether it's the pandemic forcing people to innovate and work out at home, or the fact that just about everyone who rows regularly is totally ripped - their popularity makes a good case for itself.
Aside from the amazing blast of cardio and full-body exercise they provide, rowing is also one of the least impactful forms of exercise, which also makes rowing machines relatively risk-free for most folks not just great cardio exercise machines or full body workout machines.
But, great as they may be - picking out the right rower among the horde of brands and models vying for your attention isn't quite a walk in the park.
So, to help you pick the right rowing machine for yourself, today' I'll be spilling the beans on two of the most popular models - the Model D and the RW200.
Keep reading to get up close and personal with both machines, learn all about their ins and outs, and get a nice sense of how they stack up against one another - all in order to pick a clear-cut winner that fits you best.
Let's dive right in!
A Quick Overview Of Each Rowing Machine
Before we get into the bulk of this article and compare the Model D against the RW 200 to find a clear-cut definitive winner, let's take a moment to familiarize ourselves with both machines.
Below, I'll be giving you a quick overview of each rower, including what they've got to offer, what improvements they could use, and what their biggest differences are between one another.
Coming in first, we've got one of the most popular rowing machines to have ever hit the market. The Concept 2 Model D combines reliable build quality with practically unlimited resistance, a feature-rich package, and seriously engaging programs - all at some serious bang for your buck.
One of the biggest selling points of the Model D is the refined air resistance setups that it ships with. This system grows with you, offering nearly limitless levels of resistance, all according to your needs and ability - making this rower a great fit for just about anyone, at any level of fitness.
But what about the tech?
Thankfully, the Model D doesn't disappoint in this department either - from the elegant console it ships with to the 10 programs built-into the machine and seamless BlueTooth connectivity backing this rower's wide array of interactive features - you've got lots to enjoy with this machine.
What I Like
While there's a tonne that we could cover when it comes to every little bell and whistle the Concept 2 Model D rower offers, let's hone in on the most important details.
Here are the Model D's biggest selling points:
- Practically infinite resistance thanks to Concept 2's clever air resistance setup that is whisper quiet and provides a nice little breeze to keep you at your best during each and every workout.
- Amazing durability thanks to the fact that the entire frame is made with American industrial steel, which also factors into the insane maximum weight capacity of 500-lbs that the Model D boasts.
- Backlit performance monitor console with BlueTooth connectivity built-in, allowing you to track your progress, measure your fitness, and take part in great challenges that will help take your rowing to the next level.
- Low profile seating design with ergonomic handles that offer a natural rowing position and adjustable foot-rests that fit most standard shoe sizes well.
- Easy to store and stow away thanks to the 2-part frame and transport wheels that the unit ships with.
- Can be fitted with optional Concept2 slides to simulate on-water rowing and even team training if you've got two machines you can link up together.
What Can Use Some Improvement
Of course, just as with most great things, there are a few shortcomings that we should cover.
Here's a quick list of things that I wasn't a fan of with the Model D:
- Plastic Console Arm - this is probably the only flimsy part of the entire rower, though, it hasn't been much of an issue for me personally.
- It's On The Bigger Side - clocking in with a footprint of 96" in length and 24" wide, the Model D is definitely one of the bigger rowers on the market, making it a possibly challenging fit for some spaces.
- Some Maintenance Is Needed - since the rower's chain is actually partly exposed, you will need to occasionally re-lube the chain to keep the ride smooth and stable.
If you're looking for an affordable and reliable rower that comes with some sort of interactive training options built-in, the RW200 is definitely worth a good gander on your part.
For this machine, Nordictrack made clever use of a dual air-magnetic resistance system to provide 24 levels of variable resistance, a handful of built-in workout programs, and even a seamless integration with the iFit training suite.
Combine that with great aesthetics, a decent amount of creature comforts, and easy-peasy storage and setup - and you've got quite the rower on your hands, at a very affordable price too.
So while it may not offer the latest cutting-edge tech, or every bell and whistle the market's ever pined for - the RW200 offers a great balance between the features you get and the value you're getting out of the money you spend on them.
Key Features Of The RW200
To give you a better feel for what the Nordictrack RW200 brings to the table, let's take a second to cover some of this rower's key features.
Here are the key features of the RW200:
- Dual air-magnetic resistance setup that provides minimal noise output while offering a serious challenge at just about any speed and intensity.
- Well-designed performance monitor that offers the most vital fitness data, and lets you keep track of your workout in real-time.
- Connects with the iFit interactive training platform via a smart device of your choice to offer a near-unlimited treasure trove of workouts, guided classes, and exercise programs designed to help you knock your fitness goals out of the park.
- Plenty of creature comforts like built-in speakers with an AUX port as well as ergonomic handles, adjustable seating, and even strapped pivoting pedals that fit practically any shoe size, offering a natural and comfortable motion range.
- Easy storage and transportation thanks to Nordictracks clever "SpaceSaver" frame design that folds vertically as well as the nifty transport wheels the unit ships with for quick and easy storage between workout sessions.
What Are The Biggest Differences Compared To The Model D?
While on paper, both rowers might seem like they'd be a decent competition to one another, the RW200 and the Model D actually have some key differences between them that set them apart pretty well.
1. The Resistance System
Both of these rowers are built around slightly different resistance setups. The RW200 focuses on a combination of magnetic and air resistance to create a setup where you get more resistance the faster you row but still get a serious challenge on the lower speeds too.
On the other hand, the Concept 2 Model D goes for a full air approach, bringing near-infinite resistance and whisper-quiet performance to the table. This setup requires much less maintenance, and the noise output is far quieter as well.
2. Connectivity Features
What the RW200 offers in terms of its integration with iFit, the Model D makes up for in the usability of its console. And with that said, the Concept 2 Model D can actually be used with most Bluetooth-compatible fitness platforms anyway.
So you get lots more data, far more accuracy, and even wireless telemetry overtop of the RW200's baseline of connectivity features.
3. Build Quality
At the end of the day, you're investing a serious amount of money into your health and fitness. And with that, it's paramount to make sure your investment actually lasts.
The Concept 2 Model D rower is built with industrial-grade materials for some seriously impeccable build quality, which goes leagues beyond the sort of durability you'd expect out of the RW200.
Nordictrack RW200 Vs. The Model D - Which Rowing Machine Is The Better Buy?
Now that we're a bit more up close and personal with both machines - let's talk about which one might just be the best fit for you and your fitness needs.
Keep reading to see how the Model D and the RW200 stack up against each other across some of the most common areas people have questions about when trying to choose the best rower for themselves.
Which Rower Is Built Better?
At the end of the day, I've got to give the win to the Model D here due to the fact that it's made out of tried and true American steel. The all-industrial design ensures rugged reliability and keeps your machine running smoothly for years on end. I also like it because I like to do a full body workout every other day and wanted a heavy duty rower that I can rely on.
By comparison, the RW200 is a bit more flimsy. This actually shows in the simple fact that the intended maximum user capacity of this rower is only 250-lbs, versus the Model D's 500.
Which One Is Quieter?
Due to the fact that the Model D uses a fully air-based resistance system, the noise output is actually marginally quieter than what you'd see with the RW200. Though, it's worthwhile noting that both rowing machines are super quiet, to begin with.
Comparing The Feature Offerings
The Model D offers lots more when it comes to its roster of features. From the ergonomic handles to the optional slides, adjustability features, and the wealth of tech that enables this amazing rower - there's lots to explore and enjoy.
With that being said, the RW200 doesn't lag all too far behind. However, the lack of wireless telemetry and basic fitness data tracking absolutely irks me. Given that it's only $100 or so cheaper than the Model D at the time of writing, the upgrades you'd get with the latter are well worth your money.
Which One Features The Best Workout Programs?
The RW200 comes integrated into the iFit platform. This gives you access to a whole myriad of exercise programs, guided classes, workouts, and more - both on and off the rower.
However, just as with most other Nordictrack machines featuring interactive training options, you're more or less locked into the platform. And over top of this, you don't get any sort of wireless telemetry, or many other basic connectivity features.
On the other hand, the Model D offers all of those features, and thanks to the fact that it has BlueTooth connectivity built-in, this rower actually hooks up with practically any platform using open BT standards - allowing you to enjoy a broad range of interactive training, without having to sacrifice basic connectivity.
The Public Sentiment
At the time of writing, the Concept 2 Model D is leagues ahead of its Nordictrack counterpart, scoring an average of 5-stars or 90-95 percent across the most publicized reviews.
Current owners highlight the reliability, great, and actually useful console, as well as the generally stellar feel that this rower offers.
On the other side of the ring, the RW200 clocks in at an average of 4 stars or 75-80 percent.
The biggest issues cited by owners had to do with reliability and build quality - namely, defective units or parts being shipped out to the customer, or things breaking very shortly after assembly.
How Do They Compare In Terms Of Price?
At the time of writing, the RW200 comes in roughly $100 cheaper than the Concept 2 Model D.
However, as I mentioned earlier - buying a rowing machine is an investment in your health and wellbeing. And while there are definitely many times where saving $100 is a practical and sound idea - this definitely is not one of them.
Yes, the RW200 is a great budget rowing machine but the value you get out of the money you're paying for the Model D is arguably multifold the value you'd see with the RW200.
As such, while the RW200 may win in terms of affordability, the Concept 2 Model D definitely wins in the "bang for your buck" department.
Comparing The Warranties
When it comes to the finite warranty terms, the RW200 out. This is due to the fact that Nordictrack offers 10 years on the frame, 2 years on parts, and a single year on the labor
In comparison, Concept 2 offers a flat 5 years on the frame, as well as 2 years on the moving parts and electronics, with no labor warranty to speak of.
However, while Nordictrack seems to come out ahead here - their support department and the difficulty in getting them to honor the warranty is actually what knocks them back down. And with all the shipping mishaps that current owners complain of online - it's not all that unlikely that you'll have to climb that hill yourself.
Which One Fits Best In Small Spaces?
RW200 Takes the Cake Here
The Model D, as awesome as it may be, is undeniably big. This rowing machine spans a whopping 96" in length while being 24" wide, and 14" tall.
On the other hand, the RW200 is a little smaller, being 86.5" long and 22" wide.
However, the biggest difference that actually makes the Model D's extra length and width worth it is the fact that the RW200 is 42.8" high. Which's an extra 28.8" taller than the Model D.
While the low profile seating may not be for everyone, especially if you suffer from arthritis or another condition that makes sitting down that low a challenge - it's that much more comfortable and practical for practically everyone else.
That aside, both of the rowers fold away for storage quite effortlessly, so either one of them makes a great fit for smaller spaces, which make them both a great addition to your home gym setup. Though you'd be a little hard-pressed finding the necessary floor space in the middle of a cramped bachelor suite for either machine.
What About The Assembly Process?
In the case of the RW200, the assembly is actually very straightforward and takes about 20 minutes, using the tools that come shipped with the rower.
On the other hand, the Model D takes up a touch longer to set up and get going with - though if you're a hands-on person, you may just fare a bit better than the average time they note in their marketing.
Which Rowing Machine Should You Get - My Recommendation
Now that we've covered every important tidbit of information to do with both rowers, it's time to pick a definitive winner between the two and give you my finite recommendation on which rowing machine you should ultimately go for.
After all of my research and experience with both units, I personally decided to go with the Concept 2 Model D!
Put simply, there's just about no other rower on the market that offers this sort of package. From the impeccable build quality to the extensive feature kit and the amazing over-all experience you'll get with this machine - the Model D has little competition, especially given that it's quite affordable too.
But wait, isn't the RW200 a fair bit cheaper?
Well, you'll definitely be saving close to $100 by going with the RW200 - but keep in mind that the RW200 is honestly pretty barebones and doesn't give an ounce of competition to the Model D.
At the end of the day, you're investing in your fitness and wellbeing, and the Model D is a truly effective and well-built machine that will give you the results you're looking for, while the RW200 seems to often struggle to hold up its end of the bargain.
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