About a year ago, I bought a Concept2 Rowing Machine but until recently have struggled to find the best way to connect it to my Garmin watch to record activities. It turns out the best way to connect your Garmin to the PM 5 is to use Concept2’s tools rather than Garmin’s.
I find this, by the way, incredibly disappointing; I feel like Garmin has really missed an opportunity to make this seamless!
To set this up:
- Create an Online Logbook at Concept2
- Connect your logbook with Garmin and/or Strava.
- Install the ErgData app on your phone
- Log in to your online logbook in the ErgData app.
Then, for each workout:
- Connect your heart rate monitor (either watch or chest strap) to the PM5.
- Connect the ErgData app to the PM5.
- Sync the workout from the ErgData app to your online logbook when you’re done!
Concept2 handles the rest and even uploads an “image” of the PM5 to accompany the workout on Strava! So cool! Bravo Concept2!
I initially tried connecting things by way of my Fenix 3 HR via the ErgIQ app:
PM5 ➡️ ErgIQ app (on watch) ➡️ Garmin Connect ➡️ Strava
Getting the watch / ErgIQ app connected to the PM5 is a little tricky, but when it works, it gives me rich set of data about the workout. This approach has two main problems:
- The ErgIQ app crashes at the end of every workout and sometimes during the workout. The resulting activity appears in Garmin Connect as a “Trail Run”; I can change it and see the ErgIQ metrics, but this is by no means a seamless experience.
- The ErgIQ app isn’t authorized to modify the “real” workout metrics, so collecting data is useless except for viewing it in the Connect app. I see two graphs of things like stroke rate. The “real” one looks particularly broken:
This behavior is the same for heart rate as well! I’ve found wrist-based heart rate to be particularly inaccurate while rowing so I use the Garmin HRM-run monitor. Activities report the “real” HR using the wrist-based data and the other from ErgIQ (which has the HRM data from the PM5). This seems to happen whether I connect the HRM to both the watch and the PM5 or only the PM5.
Then, when syncing to Strava, Garmin sends only the “real” data, so stroke rate, number of strokes, HR, calories, etc. all appear in Strava with incorrect values. One workout showed 34 calories burned over a distance of 0m, speed of 0s/500m, and an average HR of 69 bpm.
Another approach I tried was to use the built-in “Indoor Rowing” Fenix 3 app. This works well for getting accurate HR data in both Connect and Strava. The watch is able to figure out stroke rate reasonably well but I (obviously) miss out on the richer metrics around power, distance, etc.
The Concept2 integration solves all these problems. It’s “authorized” by Garmin, so Garmin reports a single set of metrics for the workout. Details about the intervals show up correctly in Connect. Strava’s view of the workout not only has the fancy image of the PM5 but reports all the data – distance, cadence, speed, heart rate, power – correctly.
My only complaint with the Concept2 integration is how it handles rest intervals. In both Strava and Connect, all the metrics (even heart rate) seem to drop off during rests. This is evident in both the tabular interval data visible in Garmin Connect as well as in the graphs in both Connect and Strava.
I suppose I can understand the problem for the non-HR metrics, but I find it especially surprising the HR drops off during this time.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with this integration. It saves me a whole lot of headaches in getting things set up for each workout, the data set is complete across both Strava and Garmin Connect, and I no longer need to take a photo of the PM5 and attach it to my workout.
If you’ve gotten this far and are wondering, “where’s the watch?”, you’re absolutely right! I rowed this afternoon without my watch, and got all these metrics. In this approach, the watch’s value is limited to providing HR data, which, again, I’ve found to be quite inaccurate. Would I buy my Fenix 3 HR again (or maybe the Fenix 5)? I’d consider it – but not for its usefulness as an HR monitor. The battery life is amazing, and it’s convenient to get notifications on my wrist.
I have got a Garmin 235 forerunner and my experience is very similar to yours.
It is indeed much easier to connect the ErgData app directly to Strava.
I also managed to get the Garmin 235 to broadcast my HR directly to the PM5 so the HR is recorded.
Thanks Erich for your detailed report.
I am considering buying a Concept 2 rower and integrate it in my current Garmin ecosystem.
I am currently cycling and running, and rowing would be a nice full body add-on.
For the cycling and rowing activities I use my Garmin Fenix 6 watch to record workouts.
The advantage is that way I do get an integrated Training Status with Training Load overview within Garmin Connect.
Now if I connect the Concept 2 by only using the Concept 2 tools I will get all my performance data in Strava and Garmin connect, but since it isn’t recorded on a Garmin device it won’t be visible in my Training Status.
For me that is a show stopper because I am working towards a holistic approach in the Garmin ecosystem (including recovery time, HRV, etc. etc.).
Thanks anyway for making this clear to me by your detailed report!
I sync my rows to garmin and strava also but I have paired my garmin chest strap hrm to the egr app on my phone. Works flawless and is easy. I am using a pm3 with a usb cord to my phone to get the two to communicate.
Hello Erich, Great article thanks. I got it all uploading to Strava following your instructions. Cheers.
I too agree with using ergdata and let your logbook sync to garmin. One thing I found was that the daily high low heart rate didn’t factor in anything that came from my erging. I connect my HR chest strap to the erg so my watch has no involvement with recording the session. ( I found watch heart rates for rowing really inaccurate)
When the workout comes up on my connect IQ the max HR from the workout doesn’t update my day’s max HR.
A small thing but just something I’ve noticed.
Hello. I am having issues with heart rate using 735/935 optical in. I can connect the watches to ergdata/ergIQ to the PM5. Before I begin the workout the pm5 the monitor and watch are the same. When I start rowing, the heart rate increases as expected. It gets to around 80-85 then starts dropping to 40-45. I stop rowing and then the watch /monitor hr values increase again. Anyone help?
you can’t take your hr directly from your watch when you’re rowing. When you pull the handle, your wrist become to firm and the watch isn’t able to catch your hr anymore. It does the same problem when you are biking. Your watch hr is pretty inaccurate. For both of these sport, you need to use a chest strap.