cityrow go max vs concept 2 model d rower comparison

CITYROW Go Vs. Concept2: Should you spring for the smart rower?

For those of us that prioritize fitness and working out, there are a handful of goals that we generally have. Most of us want to achieve one or more of the following; fat loss, muscle gains, or increase cardiovascular endurance.

With those goals in mind, and a desire to achieve them from home, you may be looking to invest in a piece of equipment that will help get you there. If you’re considering a rowing machine, you’re on the right track.

Rowing recruits 86% of your body’s muscles in a single workout, which blows any other cardio-based workout out of the water. And, studies have shown that rowing decreases fat mass, and total body fat percentage significantly. Pretty compelling stuff!

In today’s article, I’m lining up two popular indoor rowing machines, Concept 2 and Cityrow Go, and answering the question of whether or not you should go for the smart rower or stick with the tried and true. I’ll give you all the information you need to know to make the best buying decision for you, your needs, and your budget.

CITYROW GO Max made our best connected rowing machine list + buying guide, and Concept 2 has been a fan-favorite for a while now.

Ready? Let’s hit the water! But, first, let’s go inside the benefits of rowing for a closer look at how these machines can help you reach your goals.

Exploring The Benefits of Rowing

You’re interested in purchasing a rower, but before you do, let’s take a closer look at the kind of benefits that you’ll reap from doing so.

Total Body Workout

If you’re new to rowing, you might be under the false pretense that it’s a workout for your arms only. However, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it actually works 86% of your body’s muscles! The AFPA (American Fitness Professionals Association) reported that the rowing stroke is 65-75 leg work and 25-35% upper body work. The major muscles targeted include:

  • Back
  • Arms
  • Core
  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Calves

It suffices to say that this is a pretty comprehensive workout!

Low Impact

Not every exercise or machine is made for everyone, particularly the machines that are high-impact or jarring on your muscles and joints. Luckily, rowing is virtually impact-free, making it generally safe for those of all fitness levels (always check with your doctor before starting any fitness regime!). Rowing allows you to torch calories without sacrificing your joints – a win-win!


Sure, you’re burning calories and working up a sweat while challenging your muscles, but it’s also a strangely relaxing and almost meditative experience. Rowing requires a mind-body connection that can really get you in the zone. Even when rowing indoors, there’s a feeling of peace and ease when going through the motions.

Gives Your Heart and Lungs a Boost

Since this is a cardiovascular-dominant exercise, you’re strengthening your heart and lungs with every stroke, thereby improving your overall health and fitness.

Comparison Chart Between These Two Rowers

The above table displays an accurate evaluation of the differences and similarities between these two machines. Let’s take things a bit further by pitting these two against each other in a more intense match up to see which one is going to be the best choice for you.

Concept2 Model D vs CityRow Go Max: Two different rowers, two different experiences

Regardless of which rower you choose, you’re going to get a great workout in. That’s a given. The difference lies in the experience you’ll get with each machine. CityRow Go is a smart rower and Concept2 Model D is not.

While Concept2 has been a tried and true favorite for years, smart rowers like CityRow Go, Ergatta, and Hydrow have changed the landscape of the indoor rowing scene. Let’s take a closer look at what makes these two machines different and if the connected experience is worth the extra investment.

What’s the difference?

The difference between rowing on Concept2 and on CityRow Go is that the Concept2 is a more straightforward, simplistic approach to rowing. There are no extra frills or bells and whistles. It’s a self-guided workout that’s controlled by you and you alone. 

CityRow Go, on the other hand, is more of an experience. With an HD touchscreen affixed in front of you as you row and an instructor guiding you through your workout, it feels more like you’re sitting inside a fitness studio than in your home.

Next, I’ll get into some of the specifics of each machine’s experience so that you can get a clearer picture of what you can expect and which one sounds the most appealing to you and your preferred workout style.

Concept2 Model D’s Rowing Experience

If you’re familiar with a rowing machine, then this is likely the type that first comes to mind. Concept2 is a mainstay in gyms all around the country. This is traditional indoor rowing at its finest. Using the Concept2 for a workout means getting on and getting to work, using your own fitness level and experience to make the workout all your own.

There’s a small display screen located on the machine that will display all your most important stats like your output, calories, time, etc. Aside from that, the main draw to the machine is the fact that it’s made from high-quality materials that are built to last. There are a lot of Concept2 users out there and they pretty much all attest to the fact that this is a quality rowing machine, made from a trusted name in the industry.

Aesthetics and design

Again, this is a simplistic machine, there are no extras that make it overly bulky or obtrusive, which works really well for folks who have limited space in their home gym. The company recommends having about 9 ft by 4 ft of space for your rower, leaving a little extra space for the flywheel to prevent the drag factor from closing off the air circulation.


  • Air resistance makes operation quiet and smooth
  • Sleek, slender design
  • Simple to fold up and store when not in use
  • Integrated screen shows your data as you row
  • High-quality design and materials for longevity
  • Thousands of positive reviews from raving fans

CityRow Go Rowing Experience

As I mentioned, this experience is entirely different from that of the Model D because you’re led by an instructor as opposed to rowing on your own. This machine can be considered the Peloton of rowers as the programming and concept are very similar, just differing in the workout (cycling vs. rowing).

CityRow Go began as a rowing studio, inviting folks in to join live, instructor-led classes with all the energy and hype that comes from being pushed to your limits in a group fitness setting. What CityRow did was take that thrill and excitement and re-create it for users at home, just like Peloton did.

Attached to the rower is a large, HD touchscreen that delivers a fully immersive, connected fitness experience right from your living room. And with dedicated programming that includes rowing as well as cross-training options, CityRow Go provides you with a well-rounded fitness regime without the need to purchase any additional machines or equipment.

Aesthetics and design

CityRow partnered with WaterRower to create a rowing experience that more closely resembles physically being out on the water than any other type of resistance. There’s a large, water-filled tank located at the helm that gently whooshes every time you row. It’s a quiet, relaxing sound for most. The rest of the machine is built from beautiful, sustainable wood, giving it a sleek, luxurious look and feel that meshes well with any home décor.

Similar to the Concept2, CityRow’s rowers fold up when not in use for easy, convenient storage. Stowing your rower takes less than 20 seconds and, once stored, takes up about as much space as an end table.


  • 19.5” sweat-proof screen (on the MAX)
  • Water-resistance gives a realistic rowing experience
  • Folds up quickly and easily
  • Swivel screen with adjustable viewing angle
  • High-fidelity sound speakers
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Live weekly classes + a full library of on-demand options
  • Studio rowing class experience led by expert instructors
  • Sleek, beautiful design

Decision Time: Should you go for the connected rowing experience or keep it simple?

The game is on the line, it’s time to make the final call – is it worth it to spend the extra dough on the smart, connected rower?

This crucial decision comes down to your answer to this question: what kind of experience do you want from your rowing machine?

Are you looking to simply reap the benefits that the act of rowing has to offer, without any extra thrills and frills? Go with the Concept2.

Would you like to purchase a machine that’s more of an all-in-one workout experience, giving you the opportunity to cross-train, connect with others, and feel the high-vibe energy of being inside a fitness studio? Go with CityRow Go.

If you want my personal opinion, I say spend the extra money (if your budget allows!) and spring for the smart rower. Connected home fitness equipment is the wave of the future, eliminating the need for folks to go to the gym and attend fitness classes. Unfortunately, Concept2 feels like outdated technology at this point.

Plus, CityRow Go is already making a giant splash (get it?) on the market. They were just named the best rowing machine for 2021 by Women’s Health, which is a pretty impressive feat and very indicative of big things for this brand in the upcoming year.



*Our editors research, review and recommend the best products we trust. We may receive a commission on some (but not all) links in our content. TRAIN HARD!

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