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.
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