The Hydrow is one of the hottest new rowing machines in town, but Concept2’s RowErg is a classic rowing machine that’s been going strong for decades.
And you know what they say – a classic never goes out of style.
If you’re hunting for a new rowing machine, it’s safe to say either rower would make a great choice – but there are huge differences between these 2 machines and finding the best fit really depends on what you’re looking for.
And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, don’t worry, I got your back.
In this head-to-head comparison, I’ll discuss all the key differences between the Hydrow and the Concept2 RowErg.
I’ll also throw in my 2 cents regarding which rower is probably best suited for which type of individual.
After reading, you’ll know everything you need to in order to pick the right rower for your home gym.
|The Hydrow||The Concept2 RowErg|
|Frame||145 lb assembled weight |
375 lb weight limit
|57 lb assembled weight
500 lb/300 lb weight limit
Breaks down into 2 pieces for storage
|Warranty||5 year frame|
1 year parts
1 year labor
|5 year frame
2 year parts
|Features||22" HD touchscreen|
Instructor-led workouts on water
Compatible with apps
$38/month streaming fee
The Hydrow vs The Concept2 RowErg
I feel like Peloton brought in a whole new age of exercising from home.
I mean, as far as I can remember, they were the first ones to bring us streaming workouts that were attached to a machine – in their case, an indoor cycle.
But since that first Peloton Bike came out, the streaming craze has spread to all things home fitness.
So, the Hydrow is definitely a member of the new school of rowers, but the Concept2 RowErg is old school – it’s been around in one form or another since the ’80’s.
The fact that it’s still so popular after so many years says a lot, but also consider that’s it’s the rower of choice for many Olympians and elite rowers around the world when they aren’t on the water.
Both of these rowers are elite, but they’re very different.
Let’s start this comparison off by discussing one of the biggest differences between them – their resistance.
The easiest way to classify rowing machines is by the type of resistance they use.
Generally speaking, rowers can use 4 different types of resistance: hydraulic, magnetic, water, and air (for more info on the differences between ’em, check out my complete rowing machine guide).
Well, some rowers use combinations of air and magnetic too I guess, but most of them primarily use magnetic systems.
Anyway, the Hydrow and the Concept2 differ in the types of resistances they utilize: the Hydrow is a magnetic rower and the Concept2 is an air rower.
As a magnetic rower, the Hydrow uses an electromagnetic system to provide the resistance, making it very smooth and quiet.
But unlike most magnetic rowers, the Hydrow comes with a patented, computer controlled resistance that’s designed to provide the feel of rowing on water.
Most magnetic rowers come with set resistance levels that provide a constant resistance regardless of how fast you row – the Hydrow doesn’t.
Instead, it operates more like an air or water rower, where the resistance you feel is dependent on how fast you row (row faster and get more resistance, slower and less).
This is how if works when rowing a boat on water.
The Hydrow does come with adjustable drag settings though, which allow you to fine-tune the feel of your workout.
The drag can be set anywhere between 0-300 (Hydrow recommends starting at 104 and going from there) and is adjusted via the console.
Adjusting the drag on the Hydrow is like adjusting the dampers on an air rower – it changes “the weight of the boat”, but your overall resistance still depends on how fast you’re rowing.
So, the Hydrow comes with a very advanced, computer guided magnetic resistance system that mimics the feel of rowing on water.
The Concept2 RowErg also mimics the feel of rowing on water, but in a much simpler way.
The RowErg is a classic air rower, meaning it uses spinning fans cutting through the air to provide the resistance.
This is a highly-effective design for rowers because the resistance you feel also depends entirely on the speed of your rowing, just like water.
A possible downside is that the fans create wind and noise during workouts, so if you’re looking for a really quiet piece of equipment, this could be an issue.
But a lot of folks (myself included) actually find the noise soothing.
Since the Concept2 is an air rower, there aren’t any resistance levels or anything to mess with, but there’s an adjustable damper that lets you control how much air gets to the flywheel.
This acts like the drag setting on the Hydrow, allowing you to fine tune the feel of each pull.
Overall, the Hydrow and the Concept2 can both provide effective workouts with resistance systems that are directly related to the speed of your rowing.
They also both do a good job at replicating the feel of rowing on water – they just go about it in 2 different ways.
Ok, let’s compare the frames of these 2 rowers to see how they stack up.
When looking at a rower’s frame, I’m really looking to see how big and heavy it is – and to me, being heavy is a good thing.
Heavier rowers are more likely to feel stable during workouts, which is a good thing because nobody wants a rickety rower.
The Hydrow comes with a single piece, steel/aluminum frame. This design looks sleek as you know what, but it also makes the rower feel rock solid.
A single piece frame though, means that the Hydrow can’t fold for storage (although a vertical storage kit can be purchased separately).
Anyway, the Hydrow comes with an assembled weight of 145 lb and a max weight limit of 375 lb, both of which are very impressive for a home rower.
With a frame this heavy, you won’t have to worry about this rower wobbling or feeling shaky.
The Concept2, on the other hand, weighs in at 57 lb with standard legs and 68 lb with the extended legs.
Which reminds me, with the Concept2, you can opt for taller legs, making it easier to get up and down from the rower, which is a nice option.
The RowErg comes with a weight limit of 500 lb as tested by Concept2, but 300 lb as tested by European testing standards.
So the Hydrow is much heavier than the Concept2, but both come with great weight capacities.
If you’re worried about having to move your rower around your home, having a lighter weight rower might be a plus (although both come with transport wheels).
Something else worth considering is that professional athletes have been using the RowErg for years and there aren’t many complaints about it’s stability.
So even though it’s lightweight, stability won’t be an issue.
In terms of size, the Concept2 is a little longer than the Hydrow (96″ vs 86″), but both are about the same width (24-25″).
Oh, and the RowErg doesn’t exactly fold, but you can break it down into 2 pieces which can be placed side by side on the floor for storage.
Overall, the Hydrow is much heavier than the RowErg, but both rowers come with great weight limits and should feel very secure during use.
And again, the Hydrow doesn’t fold, but the RowErg does break down for storage.
Ok, the console department is where we see another huge difference between these 2 rowers.
The Hydrow comes with a 22″ HD touchscreen display that’s designed for streaming instructor-led workouts; the RowErg comes with a much smaller, backlit LCD monitor known as the PM5.
The PM5 is considered one of the most advanced rower consoles around – well, of the non-streaming ones that is.
Both consoles display and track pretty much every rowing metric you can think of, but with the Hydrow it’s all about the workouts.
That huge touchscreen is there for a reason.
The streaming workouts on the Hydrow are all filmed with elite rowers rowing real boats on real water, giving you the sensation of rowing outdoors yourself.
There are 100’s of on-demand and live workouts to choose from, as well as unguided rows through scenic waterways.
Hydrow has also added non-rowing workouts to compliment your routine as well (pilates, yoga, strength training, etc).
Access to all these workouts will cost ya $38/month.
The Hydrow’s console comes with built-in speakers and is also compatible with bluetooth for heart rate straps and headphones, as well as wi-fi (and ethernet) to access streaming data.
The PM5 on the Concept2 doesn’t come with a large touchscreen and isn’t designed for streaming instructor-led workouts, but it’s still quite advanced.
The PM5 makes it easy to choose between various different workouts (there are plenty) and allows you to store and track performance during workouts.
It even comes with advanced metric features like force curves that show how your forces change throughout the course of your stroke.
The PM5 can calculate and display split times and comes with pacer boat features and games that can make workout out a little more fun.
It’s also bluetooth and ANT+ compatible.
There’s a USB drive for data storage/transference and now there’s also a built-in device holder that allows you to connect with rowing apps (you could connect with Hydrow’s basic digital app even).
Overall, if you’re looking for streaming workouts, the Hydrow is your best bet, but the PM5 on the RowErg is very sophisticated in its own right.
The Hydrow comes with the following residential warranty:
- 5 year frame
- 1 year parts/electronics
- 1 year labor
And the Concept2 RowErg comes with this residential warranty:
- 5 year frame
- 2 year parts
Ok, so pretty similar, nothing huge going on here.
Both brands offer 5 years on the frame, which is pretty standard for elite rowers (although NordicTrack out does ’em both with a 10 year frame warranty).
Concept2 does offer an extra year on parts over Hydrow, but Hydrow includes a labor warranty.
Overall, I like the extra year that Concept2 offers, but I don’t think the warranties will have to play much role when deciding between these 2 rowers.
Ok, before we wrap things up here, I think it’s a good idea to discuss cost a little.
At the time of writing this, these 2 rowers cost the following:
The Hydrow: $2,295
Concept2 RowErg: $900
Ok, so a very big difference obviously.
Prices on fitness equipment can vary from year to year and there will be promotions that come and go that can affect these a little, but so far the prices for these 2 rowers has been very stable.
Something else to consider, the Hydrow price listed above is for the rower itself – if you want a mat or a heart rate monitor, that’ll cost extra.
You also have to consider the $38/month ongoing cost to use that Hydrow.
There isn’t a streaming fee with the RowErg, unless you choose to join a separate streaming app to connect with it.
Also, the above cost for the RowErg is with the standard legs; if you opts for the taller legs it bumps the price up to $1050.
But generally speaking, the Hydrow costs a little over 2x as much as the RowErg.
That’s about all I got.
I want to say that I respect both of these rowers a lot and I consider both of them to be amongst the best home rowers available.
And like I said at the very beginning, there are no wrong answers when choosing between rowers like these – it just comes down to what features you’re looking for.
If you’re looking to dive head first into streaming rowing, it makes more sense to go with the Hydrow.
If you aren’t interested in streaming workouts, then it makes a lot more sense to go with the Concept2.
If you like the idea of streaming workouts, but aren’t confident you’ll be in it for the long run, the Concept2 could make more sense because it’s bluetooth compatible with a lot of rowing apps.
Budget of course plays a huge role – if you don’t have the budget for the Hydrow then it’s off the table.
Speaking of budget, I think the Concept2 is wonderfully priced for such an elite rower with such an esteemed reputation.
Something else to think about is noise – if you want a really quiet rower, you’ll likely prefer the Hydrow’s magnetic system over the Concept2’s louder fan system.
But again, which ever way you go, you can’t go wrong.