NordicTrack’s RW500 vs. Concept2’s RowErg

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NordicTrack’s RW500 and Concept2’s RowErg are decent choices for moderately priced rowing machines for home use.

While narrowing it down to these two rowing machines was not easy, choosing only one from them is an even tougher task as they both have impressive configurations.

From reputation to performance, they compete equally well, making your decision a little difficult.

Do not worry as we will help you understand these machines better in various aspects to make an informed decision which allows you to choose based on your needs through this article.

First and foremost, these two rowers differ in their resistance methods as RW500 uses magnetic resistance, whereas Concept2 utilizes an air resistance mechanism. You can start noting down your preferences right from here itself.

Let us go through the other details together and ultimately guide you to that point where you can finally make that big decision of bringing the rower of your choice home. Find a quick comparison of these elite rowers below in the form of a table that allows you to compare both of them easily.

NordicTrack RW500 Concept2 RowErg
Resistance 26 magnetic resistance levels Air
Frame 100 lb assembled weight
250 lb weight capacity
57 lb assembled weight
500 lb weight capacity
Console Features Large console
30 workout programs
iFit compatible
Chest strap compatible
Quick-touch resistance buttons
5″ PM5 console
10 built-in workouts
Advanced metric tracking
Race/pace features
Chest strap compatible
Warranty 5-year frame
1-year parts
1-year labor
5-year frame
2-year parts

Introduction To NordicTrack RW500 And Concept2 RowErg

A little introduction about both the companies should get you started from their roots. NordicTrack and Concept2 are both prominent brands for rowing equipment.

NordicTrack makes many kinds of fitness equipment found in many people’s home gyms and is a well-known fitness brand.

They started with their Pro Skier Machine a few decades ago and gradually made their way into several other fitness pieces of equipment. Today their brand name is known to every fitness enthusiast’s household as their ellipticals, stationary bikes, and treadmills are part of their home gyms.

Also, most of their products are suitable for pairing with iFit that provides numerous benefits. Coming to Concept2, this company has a reputation of decades in making rowing equipment, and if you are an avid rower, then chances are you might already know it.

Otherwise, I can’t say they have a similar reputation as NordicTrack. Even though this company has been in existence since the ’70s, its focused approach limited its reach, but that does not make it anything less. You should know that this company was started by 2 brothers who are rowers themselves.

They started by making their custom-made oars and progressed into making their rowing machine from which they never turned back and built exceptional rowing machines with their expertise and vision.

Even though Concept2 offers only a few products, they are all powered by an air resistance system similar to the rower in the discussion.

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Their RowErg, also popular with its former name of Model D, is the most popular rowing machine among their makes.

Even Olympians and elite rowers use these rower machines for the times they cannot have access to water and require to train for an event.

If they are good enough for prominent rowers, they should be doing a good job of making these rowers.

You can find these rowers usually on the manufacturer’s website and in other online stores such as Wal-Mart and Amazon.

Even after these models get old and are not listed on the maker’s website, you can try your luck on other e-commerce websites where you can still find them.

After a little background about both the companies, it is time to dive into actual information about these machines.

As resistance is the most important concept and both these machines vary in this aspect, it is a good starting point.


Each resistance type has different advantages and disadvantages. Few rowers come with a combination of two types of resistance, and the NordicTrack RW500 here uses both magnetic and air systems for resistance creation.

This combination technology utilizes magnets, and a spinning metal flywheel for its primary resistance provided using magnetic power.

The smooth feel and quiet operation are great as it gives you a perfect ambiance that is pleasant and similar to the rowing atmosphere.

You get to feel consistent resistance regardless of what rowing speed you use, meaning even slower rowing offers strong resistance.

It is not the case with air rowers, which makes this a noteworthy point about magnetic rowers.

You can choose from 26 magnetic resistance levels with RW500, allowing you to choose from a wide range of intensities and also facilitates you to increase your resistance in smaller steps.

The RW500 comes with 26 magnetic resistance levels to choose from, giving you a wide range of intensity levels to work with.

This machine’s manual air damper lever allows you to fine-tune your intensity by regulating the airflow into the flywheel.

Most users feel this damper is ineffective as it does not demonstrate a significant change in resistance.

However, based on technology, when you allow more air than you will feel greater resistance.

Despite this experience, users do agree that RW500 offers excellent resistance for challenging workouts.

It is supported by magnetic and air resistance, and its primary resistance source being magnetic, which is much more dependable than air resistance.

As already mentioned, the Concept2 model is based on air resistance. Though it does not offer consistent resistance like a magnetic rower, it offers variable resistance, which is very useful and highly appreciated as the movements seem closer to rowing on water.

So, when you row the rower quickly, you will experience higher resistance, and when you row slower, you get lesser resistance.

As there is no particular resistance setting, you can enjoy rowing at various resistance levels without the need to change it each time and maximize or minimize it.

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This facility makes it a suitable machine for HIIT training which is another great reason to have this rower.

You get 10 damper settings useful for controlling the airflow, making it easier for beginners and professionals to tune the machine by allowing good air drag.

Rather than thinking of this damper setting as resistance control, it is apt to conceive it as load change in the boat, which offers a better understanding of this concept.

In short, you get RW500 with magnetic resistance, which is consistent and reliable, whereas RowErg has air resistance that is dynamic and challenging.


The RW500 comes with a footprint of 87″ x 22″ (L x W) after complete assembly and weights 100 lb.

The RowErg machines footprint is 95″ x 24″ (L x W) when assembled and weighs about 57 lb. Meaning RowErg is 8” longer than RW500 but weighs almost only half of it.

In general, a heavier machine is considered a more stable one, but rather than the weight of a machine, its weight capacity also plays a major role in deciding its standard.

The RW500’s weight limit is 250 lb., and the RowErg weight limit is 500 lb.

These two rowers differ hugely, and their weight difference is due to their working mechanism rather than the frame construction.

A magnetic rower requires heavy magnets and more parts to help it move. However, air resistance does not need similar parts, so that’s what keeps it lighter.

Based on weight capacity, I find Concept2 rower more dependable. As both these rowers fold, you can store them vertically when not in use and save some space when the rower is not in use.


Both rowers are equipped with LCD consoles and have several differences even in this regard. You get a fairly large console with quick touch buttons for resistance adjustment and an LCD screen for various interactive functions.

You get 30 different workout programs with this machine, and the console helps you utilize this large list of workout profiles as need be.

Since it is also compatible with iFit, you can enjoy unlimited workout modules and a personal training facility through video instructions using your membership.

NordicTrack RW500 does not have a large enough screen to view these videos from your iFit subscription conveniently so, and you can connect your tablet to utilize this feature.

You get an iFit subscription free for a year or so with this machine, and then you can opt to continue it or not.

LCD can display important fitness metrics such as strokes, calories, pace, etc., and this data is useful to track your metrics using iFit as you go.

The RW500’s compatibility with chest strap for heart rate monitoring allows accurate measuring of heart rate.

The PM5 console on RowErg is one of the current advanced consoles made for rowing. The monitor size is 5”, which displays key rowing metrics and provides access to 10 workout programs, among which 5 are pre-programmed and 5 custom slots.

You can also calculate advanced stats such as split times and drag factors using the PM5 console. Another mention-worthy feature is the pace boat, which allows you to choose between a standard pace or your previous workout.

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You also have access to the racing feature, which makes using this rower workout interesting. The PM5 memory function allows you to save your workout data into a USB flash drive to save it for further analysis.

You can also connect to a heart rate monitor using this console as it offers compatibility.

PM5 is sophisticated console technology for a rower when compared with RW500’s console in terms of metric tracking. However, RW500’s interactive training facility is no match to the former.

Both models have their strengths and weaknesses in this regard. It all depends on your need. If you need guidance, then RW500 is apt, and if you can work on your own or have a physical fitness trainer already but need detailed statistics, then RowErg it is.


When you compare warranties of these two rowers, you get 5 years for the frame, 1 year on parts, and labor for the NordicTrack backs the RW500. Concept2 RowErg is offering a warranty of 5 years on frame, 2 years on parts.

Both these warranties seem apt and similar. Users expect a little more warranty from RowErg, but it is still a fairly decent warranty despite being a little expensive.


When you talk about price, they vary from time to time, so it is not correct to say that the price mentioned here is always correct and it varies based on several factors such as your area, promotions, and so on.

So be warned that these are not always accurate, and make sure to check the latest price before you purchase.

While there does appear to be a considerable price difference between both rowers, you should not forget to factor in the cost of the iFit subscription if you want to take complete advantage of the RW500 machine.


While that was an interesting comparison, it is hard to choose one among them, but I can surely suggest which rower is better for what kind of user. RW500 is for quiet, loving users, users who like the idea of interaction with instructions and an on-demand video facility.

Magnetic rower with an iFit subscription offers all of this. On the other hand, if you want the rowing experience to seem just like natural rowing on the water, then air resistance is right for you, which is presented in the Concept2 RowErg.

If I had to choose from one of them, I would vote for Concept2 as it comes at a single cost and does not require any membership. Also, it is preferred by elite rowers and comes with an advanced metrics calculation facility, which I believe is more useful for people of my type.

It is easily understandable why even Olympians want it for themselves. You not only get access to sophisticated calculations, but even the experience and challenge it provides are worth your money.