first look hammerhead karoo Opinion Review Tech Tests & Experiences

Hammerhead Karoo – First Rides, First Thoughts the5krunner

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

I’ll full a Hammerhead Karoo Evaluate later in 2018; for now listed here are my ideas and experiences after a couple of rides.

The Hammerhead Karoo is a excessive-finish bike pc with a specialist nod in the direction of navigation.

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

I might record all of the options the Hammerhead Karoo hasn’t acquired after which inform you that Garmin has all of them. I might then undergo an inventory of another biking head models and inform you that they lack sure primary options and that Garmin has all of them.

You’d in all probability then accuse me of being an extension of Garmin’s advertising workforce.


I are typically somewhat extra curious about operating watches than biking head models, despite the fact that I spend far more time biking than operating today. One consequence of that’s that I appear to get round to Biking Pc ‘X’ a bit of late within the day. By then, sometimes, Biking Pc ‘X’ appears ‘alright’ and completely usable and sure, it does nonetheless are likely to miss out obscure function ‘Y’. Typically obscure function ‘Y’ is simply what I ‘need’. Typically…however not typically.

I got here to the Wahoo ELEMENT late within the day. It appears fairly superior to me. I exploit it.

I solely acquired round to the Polar V650 late within the day. A number of months in the past, truly. It appears principally superior to me. I ought to use it.

I acquired maintain of a Garmin Edge 820 nearly when it was launched and the touchscreen didn’t work too nicely. It nonetheless doesn’t work too nicely. The hardware appeared a bit sluggish and, greater than a yr on with some CIQ bits and items added, it now appears slower, particularly on navigation over lengthy routes. And I nonetheless discover it comparatively complicated to seek out any function that I don’t recurrently use within the deeply nested and sophisticated menu system. Day 1…to…Day NOW….nonetheless the identical. It’s not nice, however it actually has acquired each function you possibly can consider and it makes a double-shot latte even higher than I do. I dont use it. #TopSeller

Truly that’s a lie. I make even higher double-shot lattes than Starbuck’s greatest and best barista.

So. The Hammerhead Karoo introduced you to learn this. Yeah, nicely. It appears alright. I’ll elaborate later.

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

BTW: I actually do have ZERO relationship with Garmin, aside from being a buyer. So I’m allowed to say my model of the reality. Make of that what you’ll. (However the Garmin Forerunner 935 is the most effective ever triathlon watch…there, I stated it, simply to show I’m not stupidly biased towards Garmin who do superior stuff…#NotThe820)

I’m in all probability a little bit of a minimalist at coronary heart. The Hammerhead Karoo is a bit bit fancy and vibrant for my liking. Nevertheless it actually is a wonderful piece of hardware. It appears and feels impressively made. Maybe a bit on the heavy aspect however it’s by no means going for use for racing by Staff SKY, so I’m not going to fret about its weight an excessive amount of (168g).

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Hammerhead say that their aim was to start out out with superior hardware and construct nice software program on that platform over time. To me that appears a greater technique than releasing extremely useful software program on simply-enough hardware with a poor touchscreen. In fact, if enhancing performance over time is Hammerhead’s plan (it’s) then one of the best technique for you and me is to WAIT till they’ve the options that we ‘need’ up and operating. So it’s a dangerous technique for Hammerhead. However what different options does a small firm have?

However, as we will see, it has a fairly good function set launched now…if that function set coincides with what you need. Hey, you realize what to do.

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Effective & Fancy Display

I can say with no shadow of doubt that the Hammerhead Karoo has the perfect sporty touchscreen I’ve ever used. It almost all the time works…which doesn’t sound too nice. However that may be a excessive praise from me…I’m a little bit of a touchscreen hater. I don’t hate this one. (Taylor Swift suggested me to not)

The Karoo has a wonderful matte display; vivid with nice colors (640x480px, 229ppi, three.5″ diagonal). I seemed on the Mio Cyclo 210 final month and appreciated its touchscreen’s colors. The Mio appears to have deeper, extra dense colors however the Hammerhead has readability and sharpness. And the stream of the display actions on the Karoo is one of the best I’ve seen on a motorcycle pc. Its screens transfer identical to these in your cell phone…and there’s a cause for that ? [It’s built on Android 6.0]

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Superb & Fancy Nobbly Buttons

The Karoo’s buttons are on the aspect and they’re nobbly. Everybody ought to like nobbly buttons as a result of you’ll be able to really feel them when you’re sporting gloves. Keep in mind winter? You cycle then too proper? and it’s chilly. You put on gloves. It’s October. “Winter is coming“, you’ve been warned. Actually I think I’ll copyright that phrase, it has a certain catchy ring to it.

Wahoo’s Elemnt has nobbly buttons too but not quite as nobbly. On a scale of 0 to nobbly, the Karoo is about 8 and the Wahoo about 3 or 4. Personally I find that having buttons on the side is a bit easier to press, sometimes, as I semi-grab the head unit. Those of you with fine motor skills will, no doubt, prefer a simple button press on the top of the device. Actually, either way it makes little difference so long as your buttons are nobbly.

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Bells & Whistles

Don’t mention the bells. There’s no audio alerts. And it is a navigational device. Shhhh.

The greatest architectural illusion is not Baroque fancy or Victorian flamboyant, but minimalism

Kevin McCloud

OK, so that’s an architectural quote relating to houses and stuff like that. But it applies equally to the tech architecture of the stuff we use.

At one end of the spectrum is Garmin who, ideally, would like to do everything in a big, ring-fenced field which you have to pay an entry fee for. Reality gets in the way and the fence has to have some gates in it so that people can freely walk from Garmin-world to Strava-world.

Perhaps right at the other end would be Wahoo. They still have a fence but it’s around a much smaller field and there are lots of free admission passes to move swiftly through the gates that they have. Putting the metaphor to one side, if there was a generic app to configure sports devices then I’m sure Wahoo would use it. But there isn’t. So Wahoo minimises the stuff on the bike computer and lets the app do much of the infrequent, boring configuration work.

Hammerhead are rightly aiming for a model somewhat closer to Wahoo than Garmin. Hammerhead seem to have made a subtly different call to keep the device admin ON the device and so you don’t need an app…at all. In one way that’s a good call for a small company as ‘all’ you have to do is bug-fix stuff in one place – on the device. If you have an app-based infrastructure and a web portal then you have to make one change in LOTS of places…after all one Android app really is not the same as another Android app on someone else’s smartphone and even different versions of iOS have their nuances. I would imagine that the downside is that complex changes made to a device’s firmware are hard to implement and restrictive in nature…then again the Karoo is basically an Android phone so I would imagine that there is a good pool of talent out there able to do wonderful stuff on the device.

Hammerhead *DO* have an online dashboard which currently lets you: look at completed activities; look at pre-existing routes; and create new routes. The dashboard is also where you link to external services like: RideWithGPS; Garmin Connect; STRAVA; KOMOOT; Training Peaks; MTB Project; and, no doubt, more in the future.

So, Hammerhead’s architecture is seemingly minimalist. However I bet they agonised about what to do with NAVIGATION.

  • On the one hand, ‘NAVIGATION’ is their thing. That’s one area that they want to stand out at
  • On the other hand it’s bloomin’ hard to do. And they also invested in their own online route builder which, I would imagine, is a monumentally complex and time-consuming undertaking fraught with intricate nuances that could cost a fledgling company dear. (You can build routable routes on the device too)

I bet they really thought about doing things like Wahoo and saying, “Sod it, let’s just let RideWithGPS do all the route creation stuff and get on with making a freakin’ awesome piece of biking tech gold“.

Well, Hammerhead have made their navigational bed and now they have to lie in it. It’s still a potentially comfy bed though!

In Hammerhead’s defence I would say that I find RideWithGPS to be nearly as impenetrable as a Garmin menu system (nearly). Like on a Garmin, you can do “it”…you simply should waste 30 minutes googling HOW to do “it”. So, perhaps Hammerhead have determined to merely present most individuals’s navigational wants themselves but in addition hyperlink with RideWith GPS to make sure that the complicated stuff may also be accomplished.

So. All of it makes theoretical sense.

Hammerhead One app is just not associated

Construct v1.5.270.three

It’s been fairly a experience, I beloved each minute of it

Charlton Heston

A method to determine for those who may just like the Hammerhead Karoo is to ask your self “Do I like good looking bike tech with an awesome touchscreen“. The other way would be to consider, “Do you often load a route at the start of your next bike journey?”. In the event you answered YES to both, then hold studying.

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigationHammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Confusingly, I gave my web page units the identify of a motorcycle.

The Karoo’s primary begin display instantly prompts you with 2 issues:

  • Web page Units – You may need one set of pages on your path rides and one in your street rides. Extra like a sports activities profile than a motorcycle profile although, above, I referred to as mine “Cervelo S3”
  • Route – create route OR select a pre-present route. See above, I’ve already chosen Pru Journey London

In case you are the type of person who frequently masses up ROUTES, then the Karoo might be for you. Simply for easy ease of use causes.

My first notable journey with the Karoo was a return journey from London to Brighton, which is simply over 100 miles. I do this journey a few occasions a yr however often with different routes and diversified teams of individuals, so it truly is all the time a case of “following a route“.

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

I imported a route into the web dashboard from a RideWithGPS URL which the web dashboard then seamlessly linked to the Karoo over the web and by way of WiFi. I assume you can additionally do this while on the transfer in case your smartphone is about as a WiFi hotspot and your Karoo linked to that…why not?

If, as an alternative, you had chosen to create a route then you might comply with that in all it’s re-routing TBT glory.

Again to the Brighton journey: I had a Garmin HRM-TRI and Favero Assioma energy meter pedals paired up and raring to go. I had a Garmin 935 to document the journey and the SmO2 from a Humon Hex, I had the 935 on the bike’s handlebar stem with a Hex knowledge area displaying. A relatively fairly Polar Vantage V was additionally donning my left wrist, if I used to be going to stroll round a considerably-fashionable Brighton then I needed to look my greatest. (Lycra…actually?).

The experience began out somewhat chilly however, quickly sufficient, it became a heat and really nice day. Heat sufficient to make me sweat going up Ditchling Beacon which, I’ve to say, now appears rather a lot simpler than it used to after two weeks within the French mountains this summer time.

The Karoo was completely seen in comparatively robust daylight and the touchscreen labored close to-completely with both skinny gloves or naked fingers. I’ve not but fairly obtained used to the performance of the buttons and menus, although they appear comparatively simple.

The earlier night I had pre-configured the info pages to my liking and I appeared to have the ability to get most issues that I needed on there. It was a fast and painless course of that was considerably just like how Wahoo accomplish the identical activity on their app. I’d additionally configured the facility zones based mostly on my FTP of 405w (cling on a minute, perhaps I did that in my goals? ah sure, that may be’s decrease). I couldn’t set the HR zones based mostly on LTHR which might have been good however I by no means set the HR zones.

I don’t recall seeing a calibration immediate for the Assioma (?), I’ll need to look into that extra for the complete Hammerhead Karoo Evaluate, clearly. In addition to the route, I received my 3s common energy, cadence, HR and some extra issues on show too. There have been many others to select from. A few omissions appeared to be:

  • Lap NP;
  • Final lap NP; and
  • The elevation graph was candy-wanting however I might have anticipated it to point out the elevation forward of me on the route (if obtainable within the tcx). However the great display measurement did additionally permit four knowledge metrics beneath the elevation profile which was good, though I feel solely 2 are allowed beneath the map view – that’s effective.

Despite the fact that the Karoo has a said 15 hours of GPS+sensor battery time I cranked down the show brightness slightly…simply in case. And I had a battery pack plugged in…simply in case. All was good however the battery WAS considerably eaten into, presumably by the continual navigation which appears to blight different nav units’ said battery occasions. I might think about will probably be the identical on the Karoo sans battery pack.

In the long run, after lunch, we returned on an analogous path to the outward leg. This was dealt with properly by the Karoo which supported in-journey re-routing ie you’ll be able to load and comply with a brand new route with out stopping the exercise.

A usually nice expertise throughout. And did I say the Karoo seems to be good ? !

I feel I had beforehand set the auto-add to STRAVA to be ‘off’ on the Hammerhead dashboard. However I favored the Strava add facility out there on the finish of the journey which is far more properly built-in into the general expertise than on different units, permitting a level of management (eg with privateness) and modification earlier than you commit your biking efforts to our favorite phase engine within the sky.


Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation

Hammerhead Karoo Review bikenav navigation



It appears to do the job.

There appear to be a couple of bits and items that want addressing. Apparently Hammerhead are releasing frequent updates. Let’s see how issues pan out over the subsequent couple of months after which I’ll goal to supply a extra detailed evaluation.


These are the complete Hammerhead Karoo Specs for these of you interested by this type of factor.