Concept2 Rower No Resistance Troubleshooting: 4 Tips From My Experience

Concept2 Rower No Resistance
Concept2 Rower No Resistance

The purpose of my rowing machine is to make me and my body work hard.

Doing so makes me stronger, fitter, and hopefully thinner.

It is a crucial and amazingly practical part of my weekly routine. Therefore, if I ever encounter an issue with it I know I need to get it fixed as soon as possible.

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One of the most significant issues I have faced is when I sit down to start a work out then I pull on the handle and it feels like there is nothing holding it back.

When this happens, normally the rowing machine is also not turning on and the PM5 monitor won’t start counting at the same time.

In this case, I know there is something clearly wrong, so I have developed some steps to take to make sure I am fixed fast.

Related: PM5 Monitor Not Working on Concept2 Rower

Concept 2 Rower No Resistance

1. Resistance Setting

One of the most innovative parts of my Concept2 Rowing machine is that it is almost entirely manually operated, other than the digital read-out display.

This includes the resistance setting. I can manually operate the resistance, from 1-10, on the side of the large flywheel that feets the pulling chain.

concept2 rower highest setting

When I first notice that there is almost no resistance, I will immediately check the position of the resistance lever.

Although even at setting one I should still feel some resistance.

concept2 rower low setting

I have noticed that if the handle is pushed too firmly down it can disengage the connection to the flywheel.

This means that all of the resistance has been removed.

Fortunately, to fix this I simply lift the handle to the top, and at the same time, set it to the highest resistance – setting 10, and try pulling to feel if there is any resistance.

concept2 rower lift handle to the top

When confirms that the flywheel is engaged and that I can now freely set it to whatever I need to.

2. Chain Spring

The pulling system of my rowing machine is relatively simple. It uses what is essentially a chain to pull and spin a flywheel which generates resistance.

The chain is then pulled by an internal spring to bring the chain back into the flywheels compartment to reset the pulling cycle.

However, I have noticed at times that the chain is failing to pull itself back into the flywheel which makes rowing feel like there is no resistance.

If this happens I remove the flywheel’s plastic covering and check if there the wheel is rotating when I pull the chain.

concept2 rowerg machine cover removed

If the wheel is rotating when you are pulling but does not retract automatically, I know there is something wrong with the internal spring.

The internal spring needs to be reattached in order to retract and load the chain.

You might need to remove the wheel drum to access the internal spring that is located on another side.

The nut below is very difficult to loosen in my case.

concept2 rowerg machine remove nut

3. Flyweel Air Gap

Before this, you’ve probably never seen how the flywheel work internally without cover, let me show you.

Sometimes I wonder how the settings on side of the flywheel control the resistance.

There are 10 settings, namely from Setting 1 to Setting 10.

Setting 1 is the easiest level, with less resistance while Setting 10 is the hardest, with more resistance.

I just noticed that the machine uses the air gap on the wheel to control the resistance.

As you can see, at setting 1, the air gap is smaller.

concept2 rower level one airgap

Here is what it looks like at setting 5, the air gap becomes bigger.

concept2 rower level five airgap

At setting 10, the air gap is the biggest as shown below.

concept2 rower level ten airgap

That means when the air gap is smaller, less resistance would be produced.

When the air gap is bigger, more resistance you could feel.

My personal assumption is when the air gap is small, less airflow into the wheel causes less air resistance thus less resistance.

I am not a physician and I am unable to explain this phenomenon in a more scientific way.

Hence, I believe when the air gap is blocked the resistance would become much lesser.

Make sure you clean the Concept2 rowing machine regularly to avoid spider nets or other kinds of stuff that might block the airflow of the wheel.

4. Chain Lubrication

The chain on the Concept 2 rowing machine is really simple.

It is a flexible metal length that is comprised of a load of metal clips which allows for a very strong and maneuverable component.

However, metal components need a lot of attention to make sure that they work smoothly at all times.

Sometimes if the chain is maintained for a long period of time, it can cause dislodgement and you won’t feel the resistance when pulling the chain.

I live in a hot and humid climate which means my chain is exposed to a lot of rust producing moisture day and night.

If I don’t lubricate the chain frequently then it becomes stiff and more difficult to pull smoothly.

When this happens, the chain gets jammed in the mechanism which can make pulling feel like there is no resistance behind it.

I always make sure to lubricate the chain regularly, depending on the climate I am experiencing and how often I use it.

I use simple Pneumatic Tool Lubricant and coat the entire length of the chain to make sure it remains as slick as possible.

How to Lubricate the Concept2 Rower Chain
How to Lubricate the Concept2 Rower Chain

I make sure to do this regularly as the oil also prevents rust from forming which is a must more annoying task to deal with.


I know that there are a number of issues that make my Concept2 feel like it has no resistance.

However, after a few years of dealing with all of this potential problem, I know that I can handle them with ease.

Making sure I maintain the device regularly has been the best way to prevent any issue that stop me from having a productive work out every day.


  • Hadwin Blair

    Hi, I am Hadwin, a Gym lover and have set up my own home Gym for daily use. Empower Gym Equipment! I share my real personalized experiences on the Gym equipment!

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