Exclusive Interview with Concept 2 about the Model E Ergometer

Bill Patton has been in marketing with Concept2 for the past eight years. He also built the online ranking/log application that many rowers have enjoyed over the years. He is also the technical web developer for Concept2. Bill was kind enough to answer a few questions in an exclusive interview for Rowing Science readers.

This is a follow-up to our original posting about the new ergometer.


[RS]: People were excited to see the new Model E - can you tell us a few of your favorite new features?

[BP]: I think the slightly higher seat position is going to be popular with certain segments - people who perhaps aren't as flexible as they once were, those who row in gyms with less than clean floors, or those who want to be higher in order to see their surroundings better. In addition, the PM4 is going to be of interest to many rowers in health clubs, boathouses and clubs who want to set up frequent fun races - since they will be able to do this without needing a PC (or even connecting wires, if setting up small wireless races).

[RS]: Would you describe this an a major upgrade, or an incremental one? It seems interesting that you have gone from one model/one price to almost a two-tiered product now. Is that a conscious change? Can you tell us why it was done?

[BP]: I think the PM4 represents a major upgrade for us - the wireless mode alone took a great deal of R/D effort - and reflects a major innovation. The physical structure of the E would be in my opinion an incremental change. I would also have to say that the concept of offering two models at once (both the Model D and E will be available for sale) represents a departure from over 25 years of offering only one model at a time for sale.

"We anticipate that most indoor racing will be done on Model D's with PM4's."

[RS]: What does C2 envision happening at ergattas now - Model D or E? PM3 or 4?

[BP]: We anticipate that most indoor racing will be done on Model D's with PM4's.

[RS]: Having the racing features built in to the PM4 sounds exciting - does this mean two ergs can line up and race? How will this work? Do you have any screen shots of the PM4 in action that you can share?

[BP]: Without using a PC you can now race up to 8 PM4's at a time. This is supported by the additional software/hardware that is built into each PM4. Any PM4 can then act as a 'race creator' - controlling the set up and starting of a race. From the creator PM4 you can set up the race (distance/time specification). The remaining PM4's (up to seven additional) can then join the race. The 'race creator' then starts the race after all competitors have joined.

After the race has started each PM4 displays information about your own position relative to the others in the race - until the conclusion of the race at which time you can see the final finish times of all racers.

(in this view, you are lane three. Lane 2 is 20 meters behind you. This is the view that is displayed for 2-4 racers. The display changes to a more numeric display for 5-8 racers.)

[RS]: How long has the new Erg been in development? Is there a planned product cycle - by this I mean, can we expect that you are already getting down to planning the Model F?

[BP]: The E and PM4 have been in discussion for about 2 years now. Concept2 is a company of innovation, and is run by two inventor/engineers. They are always working on new ideas and products - making it impossible for me to even guess when the next machine may appear.

[RS]: You must have a few things that were left on the concept planning table - is there anything that didn't make it into the final machine or PM4 that you would like to see in future models?

[BP]: That is a long list! I'll leave them for a surprise for future products.

[RS]: How does rowing on the Model E feel different - what can rowers expect to feel on the new machine?

[BP]: Some people have said that the new nickel plated chain gives a slightly smoother feel when rowing - beyond that there is little in the way of 'feel' differences - the front end and drive train are exactly the same between the two models.

[RS]: Thank you Bill for taking the time to share your experience with Rowing Science readers.

[BP]: You're welcome. If there is anything else I can do for you, please ask.

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