Hammerhead Karoo 1 vs Karoo 2
At their core, GPS bicycle computers are the ideal tool for gathering your cycling metrics.
Standard bike computers will record and store measures of distance, your routes, altitude gain, and speed (average and top speed). Pairing a cadence sensor and pedal wattage meter allows you to go even more in-depth with metric recording, getting the most from your computer.
Premium models go even further. These models offer features like access to phone notifications on screen, live weather updates, and in-ride adjustable GPS navigation. All of these features are displayed conveniently in front of you as you ride, with your computer fixed to the handlebars with an adjustable handlebar mount.
You can eliminate the need to use your cell phone while riding by using a bicycle computer which keeps riders safe while providing unparalleled convenience to accompany you on all your rides.
Why to even use a bike computer?
Bike computers perfect for any passionate cyclist who wants to record their metrics and routes in one safe place and navigate safely during their ride.
Recording your ride statistics provides detail that can be used to help future ride performance. The individual metrics can be identified and used to make improvements through tailored training. Progress and difficulties can be tracked over time to help with this process.
Advanced GPS technology records and tracks routes, upload them automatically to the cloud as a back-up. This allows riders easy access to their favorite routes on-demand.
As mentioned, higher-end versions allow on-screen navigation and route mapping, which helps riders arrive at their destination safely with hands-free directions which can be adjusted while you ride in some models.
These devices are highly accurate, convenient, durable, and tailored specifically for cyclist’s needs, which makes the bicycle computer superior to other devices such as a mobile phone or smartwatch.
Founded in 2012, Hammerhead is a relatively new entrant to the bicycle computer market. Dealing solely in bicycle computers and specializing in Android-based software, their product Hammerhead Karoo, has a unique but familiar experience to its users.
This brave startup-style tech company has successfully entered a market traditionally dominated by Garmin, by delivering a quality product at highly competitive prices.
Like any startup, Hammerhead’s Karoo computer is not without flaws. With their newest model, the Karoo 2, they have successfully addressed most of the issues identified by users of the original version. Hammerhead also promises continuous improvement through an ambitious software update release schedule.
Table of Contents
Karoo 1 vs Karoo 2
Karoo 1 Review
Karoo 2 Review
Hammerhead Karoo 1 vs Karoo 2
MSRP $399 ea
Hammerhead proudly calls their bike computer “the finest head unit ever built”. Although this is debatable, the Karoo is an exceptional product. Its features rival those of Garmin’s top ‘Edge 1030 Plus’ model while also sporting cell phone-like responsiveness with the android based software.
In building the Karoo 2, Hammerhead has packed far greater power and more features into a unit that is 40% smaller and 33% lighter. They also back up their product’s reliability and performance with top customer service support 365 days a year. In addition, the Karoo also includes industry-leading warranty, crash replacement, and return policies.
Let’s take a look at the key features.
Screen – Smartphone-grade touchscreen with anti-glare and water droplet rejection
3 axis accelerometer
3 axis magnetometer
3 axis gyroscope
45-Day Risk-free return policy
Software updates every two weeks, including bug fixes and new features
3rd Party Apps
Sideload Android APKs
Graphic Data fields
Dynamic heart rate and power zone data fields, upcoming and historical elevation, electronic gearing
Karoo’s hardware spec undoubtedly positions the device as a top producer within the market.
The computer has a high-definition touchscreen with a 480×800 resolution, almost twice that of Garmin’s top device, the Edge 1030. The screen is durable and designed for usage in all weather, performing well rain or shine, with anti-glare and droplet resistant technology. It is also highly scratch-resistant.
The Karoo 2 is fully controllable by its buttons for ease of operation in the harshest conditions. All of your in-ride data fields are easily visible on its crystal clear display, including all of the metric fields mentioned above.
In navigation mode, users can rely on turn-by-turn navigation for every route along with instant rerouting which helps you reach your destination with ease. The Karoo 2 system also uses audio cues and visual indicators so you don’t miss a turn.
For experienced android users or developers, it is possible to sideload android APKs (apps) to the Karoo 2. This could expose the device to unwanted effects and is not recommended for those unfamiliar with the process.
All preferences, routes, and activities are saved to the cloud
Di2 Electronic Shifting Supported
Varia Rearview Radar Supported
Wireless Route Import – Via web dashboard or Chrome extension
Automatic Route Sync – Manage all routes on the Karoo or web dashboard
Automatic Sensor Priority – With manual override
Connectivity – WiFi, ANT+, Bluetooth, GPS
One of the most important characteristics of any technology is the convenience it delivers. This is particularly important with bicycle computers because many of the features can be found in modern mobile devices. The added benefit is where top-quality bike computers (like the Karoo) really shine.
With the Karoo, all of your ride preferences, routes, and statistics are saved conveniently online. They have also uploaded automatically to your favorite third-party services, such as Strava, MapMyRide, or TrainingPeaks.
Integration with the Di2 electronic shifting is a highlight of the Karoo 2. Users can see the current gear, control the Karoo 2 with shifter hood buttons, and see the level of battery your Di2 system has remaining. Current gear and battery levels are also supported in the Campagnolo EPS and SRAM eTAP.
Another astonishingly helpful feature of the Karoo 2 is its ability to import any route from a website with just one click. To do this it uses a convenient Google Chrome extension that can be added to your browser in seconds.
Planned and completed routes can be managed on the app or web dashboard, with easy wireless syncing across apps like Strava, Komoot, Ride With GPS, or MTB Project.
In addition to the standard connectivity features expected with bike computers as listed above, the Karoo 2 also has cellular GSM compatibility for added functionality.
Considering all of these integration features, the Karoo merits a place at the top with heavy hitters Garmin and Wahoo. What these two do not offer is Hammerhead’s promise to deliver even further value in the future through their continuous software development.
Pin-Drop Route Creation – Route-to-pin or create full savable routes on the device
‘Navigate to Start’ – Navigate to the start of any route in your offline maps
Rerouting Speed – Under 5 seconds on any route length
Route Sort – Elevation gain, proximity, date, distance, and name
Upcoming Elevation Graph – Available for all routes automatically
Map Coverage – Free global maps, downloadable over WiFi
Map POIs – Details like cafes, water fountains, bathrooms, and campsites. Manual and route-level POIs as well.
Map Infrastructure Detection – Build any route for road, gravel, or MTB specific surfaces
The Hammerhead Karoo offers unrivaled navigation, due to its extensive features and ultra-high-definition, responsive screen design. One caveat to the Karoo is that it uses OpenStreetMaps (OSM), which can take some getting used to for users of Google Maps.
With the latest model, Hammerhead has prioritized speed and convenience with its routing and navigation features. Instant rerouting (under 5 seconds) is particularly helpful. The effectiveness of the rerouting function is currently the best on the market.
Routes are created with ease by searching a destination or using the pin-drop to build function. To make the in-ride experience more convenient, you can also update your route on the go. This route modification is even easier due to the long-press to modify route features. Long-press any point of interest (POI) on your map to instantly reroute to that area. These POIs are built into the map system but are fully customizable so you can add any extra POIs to your map.
The level of detail in the navigation system is quite remarkable. All routes can be chosen based on their characteristics like elevation and distance. They can also be selected based on your bicycle type (mountain, road, gravel).
While riding, the upcoming terrain details are displayed so you can be aware of changes in gradient. All of these make the Karoo a wonderful companion on any ride.
|Karoo 2||Karoo 1|
|Screen||400 x 800, 292 PPI||480 x 640, 229 PPI|
|Battery life||Up to 14h||Up to 13h|
|Sounds||Beeper notification||No audio notification|
|Trainer Support||ANT+, Bluetooth||ANT+|
When placed side by side, it is easy to see the work Hammerhead has put into improving the Karoo. Both the design and the spec are notably better, with more power and functionality squeezed into its newly compact, sleek design.
Hammerhead clearly prioritized design in the Karoo 2. However, even though the features do not differ greatly, the improved processing capability and storage of the Karoo 2 leaves the door open to many new software-based features in the future.
Even though it is almost half the size of the original, the Karoo 2 screen doesn’t sacrifice usability. The improved high-definition display is still visible in any weather conditions, with a slightly longer-lasting battery despite the resolution improvement.
Other notable improvements are the sounds and phone notification syncing not seen in the first model. These sound notifications are invaluable as support for the navigation system so that you are always aware of upcoming turns.
Lastly, with the help of USB-C charging technology, the Karoo 2 has improved charging speeds (30% in 30 minutes, 50% in 1 hour).
Hammerhead Karoo 1
MSRP $400 Hammerhead.io
It is clear that the original model Karoo is the product of a technology startup. Hammerhead’s entry into the market with their flagship bicycle computer was brave and has ultimately been successful. Regardless of its flaws, the Karoo 1 developed a large group of passionate users who praise the device for its intuitive functionality.
The unit is clearly well built with top-quality materials and hardware, resulting in a powerful computer. The screen was unmatched by competitors and Hammerhead’s commitment to regular and continuous software development means that there is always more room to improve.
The pricing of the Karoo was intentionally competitive, even though its features rival that of the most expensive Garmin Edge. Detractors of the Karoo raised issues with the size and lack of functionality mostly. The lack of audio hardware a notable absence.
These issues are to be expected with the first iteration of any new product. As we see with any new device, especially one coming from a newly established company, there is always a lot to improve on at first. That being said, there are very few negatives to point out in Karoo 1.
The Karoo 1 over delivered on most aspects expected in a head unit, and with it, Hammerhead has secured a strong foothold in the market, offering exciting possibilities for the future of bicycle computers.
Hammerhead Karoo 2
MSRP $400 Hammerhead.io
Due to the success of the Karoo, there were huge expectations within the cycling community for Hammerhead’s follow-up model the Karoo 2. Months after Karoo 2 has been released, it is safe to say that the general consensus is overwhelmingly positive.
Hammerhead, being an agile startup business, clearly took user feedback on the first model seriously. They fixed all of the glaring issues in their updated model and went even further.
The device is now significantly smaller (40%) and lighter (33%), one of the main issues reported by users. They also added audio hardware to support the navigation system. Connectivity to mobile phone notifications is new, and most importantly, improved power that will support their ambitious bi-weekly feature update schedule.
Lastly, they have somehow improved all of this functionality while making the screen sharper and more responsive, and slightly boosting battery life and charging speed. The future is certainly bright for Hammerhead and the Karoo bicycle computer.
From a consumer’s point of view, any competition to Garmin and Wahoo is welcome, as it drives feature innovation and pricing improvements for us. We’re excited by the improvements and anticipate an exciting string of updates to the Karoo 2 in the near future. Hammerhead also ensures that the Karoo 1 will be updated for a long time to come until the hardware can no longer support the new functionality.Hammerhead - Karoo 2
Setting Up & Visuals
Karoo Hammerhead latest update
The Karoo can download software updates automatically when connected to Wi-Fi.
Here are the steps to enable Auto Downloading of software updates:
- On the Home screen, click on the “Settings” app
- Scroll to the bottom of the page.
- Select “System Update”
- Tap on the three dots at the top right of this page.
- Tap on the checkbox to toggle Auto-Download “On“.
*Note: Updates will not be downloaded when the Karoo is connected to the internet via cellular data.
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