concept 2 rower vs. airdyne assault bike

Concept 2 Rower vs. Assault Bike/Airdyne

One of the biggest question that home-gym owners are faced with is “should I buy a Concept 2 Rower or an Assault Bike?”.

I thought I’d try and provide some clarity on the topic.

I’m a big fan of both rowing machines and air bikes – I have used both in the past few years of training.

In my mind, these two machines are the best pieces of cardio gym equipment that you can get, especially if you have a home gym.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages – we’ll dig into that below.

Concept 2 Rowing Machine:

Concept 2 Rower

The C2 rower is one of the best pieces of workout machinery of all time.


Its ability to cater different styles of workouts and its data capture features are fantastic.

When it comes to conditioning, a rowing machine is an amazing all-in-one machine.

Pros of the C2 Rower

The Concept 2 has many benefits, including minimal maintenance, programming flexibility, data capture, and it’s easy to store.

We’ll dig into each of these below:


Concept 2 rowing machines need little, if any maintenance. They are built in such a way that they are virtually indestructible.

The only regular maintenance that you’ll need to perform is to occasionally oil the chain (the Concept 2 website recommends every 50 hours of use).

You’ll want to use a low odor, chain oil like this one.

Besides that, with a rowing machine, you are looking at minimal down time due to maintenance.

•Programing Flexibility:

A rowing machine is very easy to use for workout programming. It gives you all of the needed training info in one simple screen. You can track meters, calories, watts, etc… So whether you are looking to do an aerobic or anaerobic session, you can easily keep pace.


Another benefit of the Concept 2 rowing machine is the ease of storage. The C2 “stands up” when not in use, this reduces it’s footprint to rough a few square feet. This is an important consideration, especially if you have limited space. You can also easily break these machines down if you need to transport it in your car.

•High Re-Sale Value

Unlike a brand new car, when you buy a brand new Concept 2 rowing machine, you won’t loose your resale value.

The secondary market for Concept 2 rowing machines is very active. It’s very easy to sell these machines for close retail value on places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. If you end up not liking your C2 Rower, you can rest easy knowing that you can easily liquidate it at a similar price to what you initially paid.

Cons of the C2 Rower

As with everything, the Concept 2 rower does have a few problems. We’ll detail those below.


First ad foremost, Concept 2 rowing machines are expensive. You are looking at paying around $1,000 MSRP on these machines. You can save a few bucks by picking one up off of Craigslist, but you can still expect to pay $700+ even on an older used model.

•Not As Good For Hard Intervals:

This isn’t a major con, but the C2 isn’t as hard for short, fast intervals as the airbike. For whatever reason, the Airbike is more difficult than a rowing machine when it comes to hard intervals.

I think this has to do with the calibration, I’ve read that Airdyne’s are calibrated to match your effort as you pedal and pull harder. This means that you can’t “coast” when you work hard. Rowing machines don’t have this same feature.


Concept 2 rowing machines are durable and capable handling all types of workout styles (long and slow, or short and fast). They’re a bit more pricy than Airbikes, but once you buy, you’ll never have to worry about maintenance. Additionally, resale value is very high with C2 rowers, so if you ever have to move, you’ll be able to recoup the majority of your investment.

Assault AirBike/Airdyne

Assault AirBike

The air bike (whether it’s a Schwinn Airdyne brand or an Assault AirBike) is a great tool to have in your gym.

When it comes to short interval workouts, there is nothing else on this planet than can make 10 seconds feel so bad (but also good, right?).

Below we’ll dig into the cons of buying an airbike.

Pros of the Assault Bike

The airbike has many benefits; including that it’s better for short, fast interval training, less expensive than a rower, and that it’s easier on your body as a whole.

•Interval Training:

Airbikes are fantastic for fast paced interval training. They are calibrated in such a way that they match your effort as you push harder. This means that you have to continually work and can’t coast on your hard sprint efforts. This allows you to “empty the tank” in no time flat, a great option for those looking to get some hard conditioning/sprint workouts in.


Assault bikes are cheaper than rowing machines. This makes the airbike a nice option if you are budget sensitive. New bikes usually sell in the $700 range, with the top end Assault Airbike Elite going for around $1,300. You can also find used ones on Craigslist for a good deal cheaper (includes old Airdynes, which can be had for as little as $100).

Cons of the Assault Bike

The airbike has a few downsides, including higher maintenance, an uncomfortable seat, and a large footprint.

We’ll dig into these below.

•High Maintenance

Airbikes are going to require much more care and attention when compared to a rowing machine. This is due to more moving parts. Also, since airbikes tend to be used for more sprint-type workouts, this leads to more force being applied to the machine.

This means you’ll end up with the occasional loose nut, or handle.  These tend to be easy fixes, but it can be annoying that you have to constantly keep track of how the bike is running.

•Uncomfortable Seat

Anybody that has spent time on a bike knows how uncomfortable a bike seat can be. That’s no different with an Assault Bike. You can get aftermarket seats, which help to make it softer/more cushioned.

I think the lack of comfortably makes it difficult to do long 30+ minute efforts, though, this may be more of a personal opinion on my part.

•Large Footprint

Airbikes also take up more room than a rower. You can’t fold up a bike – so it’s going to take up a good amount of space. They are also hard to breakdown, so if you need to transport an airbike, you are going to need a truck. This isn’t major, but it’s something to consider.


Airbikes are great for intense, short workouts. They tend to have a lower price tag than a Concept 2 rower, but they also are more needy when it comes to repairs and maintenance.

Conclusion: Which is better?

In my opinion, the Concept 2 rowing machine is the better option (especially the bulletproof PM5 model).

C2 rowers are tanks.

Even though you have a higher upfront cost, the minimal maintenance and longevity of the machine more than make up for it.

Plus, rowing machines are amazing for all kinds of different conditioning workouts. If you are looking for the best long-term value, the Concept 2 rower is the best option.

If you’re looking to buy a rower, click the image below to get the lowest price on the Concept 2 PM5 rower.