5 tips for Concept 2 rower maintenance

5 tips for Concept 2 rower maintenance

Ross Arnott Ross Arnott
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In this article we share 5 essential tips for Concept 2 rowing machine maintenance to help get the best from your rower. Concept 2 rowergs have a well deserved reputation for reliability.  In fact Concept 2 rowing machines are so robust that there's a good chance it will last as long as you are physically able to row on it and it can be handed down to the next generation!

To maximise the life of the machine, maintain resale value and allow you to achieve peak performance you'll want a rowerg that runs nice and smoothly. You'll also want to avoid any problems cropping up mid-workout which can be super-frustrating when you are on target for a personal best!  And of course a well maintained machine will have a higher resale value.  So read on to find our top tips for how to maintain your Concept 2 RowErg indoor rowing machine.

Take a chain-check

All the effort and force you put into every rowing stroke is transmitted to the flywheel through the rowing machine chain.  Lots of us store machines in a garage and that can be a damp, cold, dusty and dirty environment which isn't great for the machine's health, the metal chain in particular.  While the chains are strong and generally extremely robust, you'll want to make sure you keep them that way - so checking them should form an important part of your Concept 2 maintenance routine. 

How to clean and oil the Concept 2 Chain

A top Concept2 rowing machine maintenance tip is to clean and oil the chain periodically. How often should you oil the chain? Concept 2 recommend doing it every 50 hours of usage - so that might be a few times a year depending upon how much the machine is used, but also bear in mind the environment it's stored in and use your eyes to gauge if it needs attention more often.  To oil the chain you can just put a teaspoon of oil onto a cloth or paper towel and wipe it up and down the full length of the chain.  Don't over apply the oil as it can become a bit of a magnet for dust and dirt and you'll find yourself having to clean and re-apply the oil more often!

The recommended oil for a Concept 2 rower chain is Concept 2 chain oil, which isn't expensive (buy it now before the price goes up!) and we recommend you take care using anything else and avoid things like WD-40 or even bike chain oil unless you really know what you are doing since these can vary in suitability. 

Concept 2 rower maintenance: Eric Murray explains how to oil the chain on a Concept2 rower

If you find your machine isn't running smoothly that may be a damaged chain which can cause 'skipping' or jumping in the stroke, or in the worst case scenario it could break - so please don't row until you have resolved the issue.  

Lubing Accessory for Concept 2 Rowers

It can be tricky to keep the Concept 2 rower chain fully extended when cleaning and oiling it so a great tip is to use a simple accessory like the one pictured below that attaches the extended chain to the end of the slide.  This can be folded away so that it doesn't interfere with your rowing.  You can buy one of these simple 3D printed ERGTAG Concept 2 Lubing Accessory devices from Lucian Depold's Etsy store - we've used products from there before and had a good experience.  

Lubing helper for Concept2 rowers image 2

Handle holder to allow easier access to your Concept 2 Rower's chain for lubing or maintenance

For a strong recovery: check the bungee

When you enter the recovery phase of your rowing stroke and the handle pulls you gradually back towards the catch position it's the bungee cord that's pulling you back.  If this gets tired or worn out, then you are not going to benefit from as strong a recovery phase so this is an important aspect of Concept 2 rower maintenance.  If the handle barely retracts at all when you release it, it may be completely broken or have become disconnected.  Don't worry though, it's possible to adjust this and in the worst case there's a fairly cheap replacement bungee part (Concept 2 call this the "shock cord")  and it's something most people will be able to do for themselves with a bit of patience.  The bungee is located in the front part of the machine underneath the handle rack and is fairly easy to adjust or replace - for more info on replacement see here

In the video below Olympic Champion Eric Murray gives tips for maintaining the chain and the bungee cord ("Shock cord") on his Concept 2 rower:

Concept 2 rowing machine maintenance: Eric Murray discusses chain and bungee maintenance

For a smooth ride: clean the seat and the slide

Does your Concept2 rowing machine seat run smoothly up and down the slide ("monorail")?  When you take the seat to the end of the rail and release it, does it slide quietly and evenly back to the start position? If not then you will be losing some performance due to this unnecessary friction. Read on to understand how to clean your Concept 2 rower slide and seat rollers.

One of the first things to try is cleaning the Concept 2 rower by giving the metal slide a wipe with a clean lint-free cloth; you might consider doing this every time you workout as it's amazing how much dirt gets picked up here.  You can wipe it down using a damp cloth or give it a spray with glass cleaner, like Windex, if the dirt is a little tricky to remove, but always dry the slide with a cloth or lint free towel after cleaning. 

If the seat still isn't sliding smoothly then check the rollers underneath the seat are clean and clear too - these often pick up dirt from the slide.  To clean the Concept 2 seat roller wheels you can press a lint free cloth or paper towel against the wheel as you slide it up and down, this will remove the dirt.  Take care not to nip your finders or get the cloth caught up as you slide the seat back and forwards!  Again, if the dirt is difficult to dislodge a damp cloth or a spray of glass cleaner may help before you apply the cloth.

If cleaning the seat rollers and the slide doesn't help then you might need to figure out if either the slide is damaged or the rollers are past their best and perhaps dented.  In either situation you can get spare parts from Concept 2 - they are brilliant at providing spares for pretty much anything to do with the rowing machine, which is why even old machines can represent great value if maintained correctly.  

Concept 2 rowerg with dirty slide and rollers

Close-up image of Concept 2 RowErg showing dirty rollers and dirty slide.

More generally you may also want to regularly dust or wipe down the rest of your Concept 2 rowing machine, this ensures it looks good and if you keep the outside of the flywheel free of dust it will minimize the amount of dust that can be sucked which can affect the flywheel... 

Reduce the drag: clean out the flywheel

Over time as you workout the flywheel on your Concept 2 rowing machine will tend to accumulate dust and debris and may well benefit from a clean out. You can check this with a flashlight and then open up with a screwdriver and use a vacuum to clean the flywheel interior if required.  Eric Murray explains more in the video below. 

If your machine was full of dust then after a clean your drag factor may well change, meaning that for the same handle setting on the side of the machine the resistance will feel different (check this article to find out more about the relationship between drag factor, damper setting and flywheel). So after a clean don't forget to check your drag factor or adjust the resistance lever as the machine may be moving much more smoothly.  There's a session in the DRILLS AND SKILLS program in the asensei app that can help you set your drag factor to an appropriate level or you can do it manually via the PM5.

Eric Murray explains how to maintain and clean a Concept 2 rower flywheel.

If you want to find out more Concept 2 have produced a handy guide illustrating how to clean a rowing machine flywheel

Stay connected: update the firmware

Updating the firmware isn't like the other items on this Concept 2 maintenance list, in that it won't stop your machine from physically working.  But if you want a trouble-free life then updating firmware is definitely a good idea.  You'll find that the latest PM5 firmware versions have fewer bugs, more features, and connect to your phone or tablet more reliably. Here at asensei if there's ever a problem connecting to a rowing machine the first thing we'll suggest is to update the firmware.  There have been so many firmware updates since we first released our app and over time this has helped the Bluetooth connectivity become much more reliable - by using the latest firmware you ensure it's easier to connect to Bluetooth, it's more reliable and the connection to your phone can re-establish itself automatically if there's an interruption during a session.  So what are you waiting for - get upgrading!  

It's not difficult to upgrade the firmware, but there are a few things to bear in mind.  Firstly don't do this unless there is a decent amount of charge in the batteries, you don't want to try this when the level is too low, say below about 45% because this operation takes a few minutes and interruptions can cause problems.  Indeed low batteries and out of date firmware have been known to be a cause of connection instabilities.  Next you'll need a laptop computer with the free Concept 2 Utility software installed.  Then you either need a specific type of memory stick (not too large a capacity or it won't work) or a USB cable with a connector that can connect to your computer on one end and with a USB B port on the other; USB B ports are the squared off type used to connect to printers - back in the day when that was a thing - so not everyone will have one lying around!  It's possible to purchase these laptop-Monitor cables directly from Concept 2 to ensure you get the correct version. 

USB B cable for connecting to Concept 2 PM5

Concept 2 USB A to USB B cable - connects performance monitor to computer

Hopefully Concept 2 will unlock the ability to upgrade firmware over the air before long, it's rumored that a future edition of the Concept 2 Ergdata app may support this...   In the meantime this article gives full details of how to Update PM5 firmware.  If you are on a PM3 or a PM4 (or older) you should similarly update your firmware, but our recommendation, if you can afford it, would be to Upgrade to a PM5 and get the latest and greatest device, with Bluetooth capability for connecting to your phone or tablet and all of the latest features. 


Follow these Concept 2 rowing machine maintenance tips and you should avoid the majority of issues with your rowerg and keep it running perfectly, giving you trouble free and high performing workouts for many years to come. 

Are there other things you think we should cover?  If so let us know via support@asensei.com 

DISCLAIMER - make sure you follow the Concept 2 rower maintenance guidelines and if your rower is showing signs of wear and tear, be proactive and stop rowing until you have it resolved.  However rare a problem is, it's better to fix your machine than your body!  For more information see this Concept 2 troubleshooting guide.    


Should I clean the Concept 2 Rower Handle?

Cleaning the Concept 2 rower handle is a great idea for hygiene since it's one of the main parts of the machine that your body comes into contact with.  Accumulated dirt can also mean the rowing machine handle becomes a little slippery when wet, such as when you are working out with sweaty hands. For these reasons cleaning the handle is a good habit as part of your Concept 2 rower maintenance.

Wiping off sweat from the machine after a workout is always good practice, whether it's a shared machine or at home.  To clean the handle you can use soapy water and a brush with nylon bristles that is not too abrasive, or a diluted solution of bleach can be used instead of the soapy water and this will help disinfect the handle to kill any lingering germs.

Where can I buy Concept 2 Parts and Spares?

Concept 2 make it really easy for you to purchase spare parts, chain oil and everything you need to keep your rower running smoothly for years to come.  It's a refreshing change to find a company that is committed to keeping your equipment in top shape no matter its age - and you will find that these machines last a lifetime with the correct care and maintenance! 

The best place to find Concept 2 replacement parts for rowing machines dating back to the model A, right through to the latest RowErgs is online - a great starting point is the Concept 2 Parts Store.  There are also loads of useful guides on how to replace and repair the machines.

Spare parts available for all Concept 2 rowing machine models

Concept 2 stock a wide range of spare parts for their full historical range of rowing machine models


You now know about Concept 2 rower maintenance, now start to maintain your body.  Rowing training is better in the asensei app.  You will have all the key stats displayed on screen during your session, you will have asensei set you personalized goals, you won't need to program the machine or take note of your results, asensei does it all. 

asensei is FREE to download and with no commitment you can trial the first 3 workouts in the (RE)COMMIT program and also workouts from MASTER THE BASICS, (RE)FOCUS, SWEAT FACTORY and BE A DARK HORSE.

All you need is an iPhone and access to an asensei Compatible rowing machine from Concept 2, WaterRower or FluidRower with a bluetooth capable monitor.

download asensei from the appstore

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