Article and photos of the WaterRower vs. Concept2 Rowing Machine by Mitrovski
After deciding I wanted to add another piece of cardio equipment to my home gym, I did some research. Reading here (and just about anywhere), I decided to try and track down a used Concept 2 rower on my local craigslist. Waited a while, missed a few (of what I felt were) overpriced ones, and then low and behold a WaterRower showed its face at a reasonable price.
My first thought was to dismiss it as another gimmicky product that lured in unknowing victims, but after reading some information found that many people liked it quite a bit. Purchased and enjoyed it, and a few weeks later (as tends to happen), a reasonably priced Concept2 popped up on craigslist. At the price I felt I couldn't pass it up and went ahead and purchased it as well.
On a side note, this only increased how crazy my wife thinks I am for buying and selling all this "junk" off craigslist.
For the record, neither machine has a monitor. The C2 is a model C and while there are some minor problems with its appearance (mostly just normal wear and tear), it functions well mechanically. The WaterRower, henceforth to be referred to as WR, is the "Natural" model and an absolute beauty.
After spending some time with each rower I have come up with a list of things that I like best about each machine. If you came here looking for an A is greater than B then sorry. Both rowers are great and I'd be happy having either.
Based on looks alone, WR hands down. My wife said we could keep it in the house (first time ever), and that's the plan. The C2 does not look bad by any means, but it is definitely older (i.e. has a lot more wear), and has the cold feel of metal rather than the wooden WR which could pass as a nice piece of furniture.
Water vs. Air
I feel the WR is more relaxing (Is this good or bad for a workout?) and much quieter. However the C2 provides some cooling action using the fan system, this is actually a nice feature as you're sure to be working up a sweat. Additionally, the C2 is louder, but not too loud by any means, and just fine in my garage gym where I'm generally blasting hard rock up to 11 while I work out anyways.
This is obviously the most important aspect of any rower. After trying a few other rowers (a life fitness video rower, and a budget rower I've seen on CL multiple times), I feel these are easily the two better of the group. Both have plenty of stroke in them (I'm just over 6') and feel good and stable while you row.
Overall here is what I like better about each:
It has an overall smoother action. It just feels like one fluid motion all the way through. Not that the C2 feels bad, WR just does it better.
Included with the above is the return (from the end of a full stroke back to a starting position), the WR almost pulls you back in even without using the foot straps.
Feels like I get a better Leg Drive out of the C2 I maxed out the resistance today, and could actually feel my legs pushing with every row.
I also like the ability to change the resistance on the fly. I liked the max resistance (10), and my wife liked it a little bit lower (6 or 7). The point is, we could just hop on, set the resistance and go.
While the following aren't necessarily dislikes, it is areas where there other does better.
The first pull is the hardest, and after that it gets easier. This has to do with the motion of the water inside the bowl. Additionally, the resistance is based on the amount of water actually in the rower. This is not a huge deal, but you just have to realize that there is not going to be an easy/med/hard setting. It is supposed to be self adjusting based on force, but I don't see how that's any different than a fan and air, and probably not quite as good since the water has more force moving with it than air in a room.
This is just an extension of the above, but I've read you can add or siphon out water to adjust resistance, and that seems like a PITA if you needed to do it often. I have yet to adjust the water level as it is at the standard level right now, but may decide to increase it to try and match the leg drive I feel with the C2.
Not a lot of complaints, but the main one for me would be that after you complete your stroke, it doesn't suck you back in quite like the WR. This isn't even a big deal, just a difference.
Also, while not hard to break down, the guy I bought it from did have some trouble while trying to show me how to do it (LOL, he still got asking price but it was kind of funny after he had just said how "easy" it was to break down and put back together).
This goes on to storage, which you are still going to have at least 2 pieces which take up floor space. The WR stores vertical simply by using the water to weigh it down. Fully assembled and ready for use they take up a similar footprint.
Overall, I like both machines and had no problem getting into the zone while rowing. Both are built great and if you have either, you are a step ahead of most other people with indoor rowers.
Things I cannot comment on:
I'd imagine both companies should be able to take care of you should anything go wrong, and both offer plenty of replacement parts through their website at reasonable prices.
No monitor on either machine. WR's S4 runs $250 from their website and is the current model; however I do not believe they offer the older S3 that I saw on another WR. C2 offers both the PM3 & PM4 for $160 & $310 respectively. These may add some variety to the workout, but do not affect the overall use.
Have not had to do any maintenance to either machine beyond a quick cleaning when I bought them. WR recommends occasionally adding a water purification tablet, and if done correctly you should never have to change the water. WR website says there is zero maintenance beyond this, but an occasional wipe down is probably best. As for C2, it has moving parts and metal on metal contact, so I'm guessing occasional lubrication is needed. I have not looked into it yet, but will soon.
After using both, I think I like the C2 just slightly better based namely on the initial drive out of the hole. (This may also just be that it is the newer piece of equipment so my heart still flutters when I see it...errr) Using a brand new C2 may be even better based on a newer model and less internal wear, but I wouldn't know that until trying it.
Additionally, there is just more info to be found regarding the C2 and as many have stated it is built like a tank and will take a beating for years and years. (My C2 is a testament to this, it's a model C so it is at least 7 or more years old, on its 3rd owner and the only thing that's gone wrong beyond some minor surface damage is the electronics crapped out.)
I recently found the First Degree Fitness Newport Adjustable Resistance Water Rower for an unbelievable price of $639 and it gets great reviews:
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"Using a Concept2 Indoor Rowing machine is very hard on the hands, causing nasty calluses and blisters, all of which Newgrip rowing gloves prevent. I will never wear any other gloves for rowing." -Roger Lewis
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