Hammerhead vs Wahoo vs Garmin – The 3 Best Sub $400 Bike Computer Comparison
Cycling computers were originally designed as a specialized tool to collect all of your cycling metrics. However, new high-end models, such as the three bike units we compare in this article, do far more than just record routes and statistics.
These models also function as advanced GPS navigation systems, they display live weather updates, sync notifications from your cellphone, and even integrate with your bicycle’s components.
The bicycle computer has become an all-in-one tool to accompany you on every ride. Their functionality allows users to stay safe on the road while delivering unmatched convenience by having everything you need conveniently mounted to your handlebars.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at, and compare the most popular bicycle computers available in the range of $400.
Garmin, Hammerhead, and Wahoo are currently the major players in the market and each company produces top-quality products. That being said, despite similar pricing, the product specifications vary hugely amongst the 3 models we have chosen.
In order to help you make the right decision on which bike computer to pick, we’ve described each unit, wrapping up by highlighting their unique pros and cons at the end of the article.
Table of Contents
T E C H S P E C S
Hammerhead – Karoo 2
Weight: 4.6 oz (131 grams)
Dimensions [W x H x L] – (61mm x 100mm x 20mm)
Made by a brand that makes bike computers only, Hammerhead’s Karoo 2 is a computer that runs on the Android operating system (OS) that can be paired up with an iPhone as well.
The use of Android technology allows Hammerhead to deliver a familiar user interface, with an exceptionally responsive touchscreen. The Karoo 2 also has an industry-leading ultra-high-definition display, almost twice that of Garmin’s top model (priced at $600).
With the Karoo 2, Hammerhead has built a compact and durable device with the full connectivity features expected of premium bike computers. The Karoo 2 integrates smoothly across all devices and has the ability to connect to a range of electronic shifters and the Varia Rear-view Radar device.
The Karoo 2 offers a top-quality navigation system, prioritizing speed and convenience with its routing and navigation features. Instant rerouting (under 5 seconds) is especially notable. Route generation is quick and simple on and off devices, and the effectiveness of the rerouting function is currently the best on the market.
Finally, what really sets the Karoo apart is Hammerhead’s ambitious commitment to the development of its software. They promise a bi-weekly update schedule that will regularly bring new features, supported by the advanced processing power of the device.
Related Review: Karoo 1 vs Karoo 2
- Dragontrail Glass panel with Acid Etched matte finish
- Detailed cycling maps
- 3.2″ display (292PPI, 480×800 portrait resolution, 16.7 million color support)
- Responsive touchscreen with droplet rejection & fully controllable with buttons
- Glass-filled polycarbonate chassis
- Waterproof SIM-card
- Water & dustproof to IP67
- Battery life: 12h
- Charge time: 3h
- 2500 mAh battery
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Cellular – 2G, 3G, 4G
- 32GB of storage
- Processor: Quad-core 1.1Ghz, CPU with 2GB of RAM!
- Bike Computer
- Mountain System (Fits 31.8mm handlebars) & Quarter-Turn Mounting Adapter (For aero and other non-standard bars
- USB-A to USB-C Cable
- Starting Guide & Allen key for installing
- Damage Cover & Warranty
*Risk-Free Trial period of 45 days!
Garmin Edge 830 GPS
Weight – 2.8oz (79.1g)
Dimensions [L x W x H] – 3.2″ x 1.9″ x .08 (82mm x 50mm x 20mm)
Garmin has traditionally dominated the bicycle computer market, doing so by consistently producing quality devices and software. With the Edge 830 comes all of Garmin’s reliability, functionality, and sleek design.
The Edge 830 includes the usual connectivity features, as with all of Garmin’s premium models, but without the cellular connectivity seen in the Karoo 2.
The Edge 830 finds and connects to other devices in seconds setting the standard for connectivity of bicycle computers. Garmin’s Edge 830 is widely supported, integrating with all third-party apps (including Strava Live Segments), as well as the unrivaled Garmin Cycle Maps. This makes the Edge 830 a pleasure to use.
Navigation is fast and easy due to the highly responsive screen and advanced map system. However, the Edge 830’s rerouting function is slower than its main competitors.
The unit also boasts an exceptional 20-hour battery life, 3 more than the Wahoo, and 8 more than the Karoo 2.
- VO2 max, recovery, training balance, heat and altitude acclimation, nutrition, hydration, and more
- Display: 246x322pixels
- PIN PROTECTED BIKE ALARM! (Notifies your smartphone if your bike is moved)
- Group messaging and tracking
- Preloaded routable Garmin Cycle Maps
- Waterproof rating: IPX7
- Battery life up to 20h with GPS (Up to 40h of additional battery life)
- Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
- iPhone, Android
- Connect IQ
- MTB Dynamics
- Garmin Edge 830 unit
- Flush out-front mount, standard mount
- USB cable
- Instructions guide
Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM GPS
Weight: 3.3oz (94g)
Dimensions [L x W x H] – 3.5″ x 2.3″ x 0.7″ (89mm x 55mm x 18mm)
Along with Hammerhead, Wahoo has been slowly eating into Garmin’s control of the cycling computer market. They have done so by building simple, yet unshakably reliable devices.
The Roam’s on-device functionality is limited, with many features only accessible via their application. That being said, the lightweight software means the device runs smoothly and without bugs. Cellphone connectivity means that all data is instantly backed-up on the Wahoo and third-party apps.
The reliability of the software is complimented by a durable chassis featuring damage-resistant Gorilla Glass and a waterproof casing. This combination ensures the Elemnt Roam performs in all conditions.
With their latest model the Element they have added coloring functionality and a larger screen so the navigation system functions better. However, navigation functionality is not as comprehensive as its 2 competitors.
Another benefit of purchasing a Wahoo device is that they use OpenStreetMaps maps (like the Karoo). These maps are free for the worldwide version, whereas users must pay for Garmin’s worldwide version.
A final caveat to the Elemnt Roam is it doesn’t feature a touchscreen, but that doesn’t detract from its user-friendliness.
iOS & Android
- 2.7″ display
- Gorilla Glass screen resists damage from scratches, bumps, and drops
- Touchscreen and button operated
- Two sturdy and secure mounting options
- Waterproof rating: IPX7 (Waterproof up to 5ft)
- Battery life: 17h
- Dual-band ANT+
- ELEMNT Companion App
- Electronic Gear Shifters – (Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, SRAM eTAP, FSA WE, Campagnolo EPS
- BSXinsight, Moxy Muscle Oxygen Sensors
- Pioneer Pedaling Mintor
Wahoo Kickr, Kickr Core, Kickr Snap
Strava, Best Bike Split, Komoot, Ride With GPS, Relieve
- ELEMNT ROAM Unit
- Intergrated Out-frount mount & Stem Mount
- Quick Start Guide
BEST OF COMPARISON
Hammerhead Karoo vs Garmin 1030+, Wahoo Elemnt ROAM, Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, Iphone X
Karoo – Hammerhead 2
- Made by a specific bike computer brand
- Customizable smart notifications
- Regular software updates
- Best screen resolution on the market
- Rapid charging with USB-C
- High-speed rerouting during navigation
- Android only
- Short battery life
- Slow to pair to new devices
- Need third-party apps for detailed ride analysis
Garmin 830 Edge
- Long 20 hour battery life
- Incident detection feature
- Access to Garmin platforms for ride analysis
- Detailed maps
- Integrates seamlessly with all third-party apps
- Pairs quickly with new devices
- Some software bugs
- Poor rerouting and in-ride navigation changes
- Must pay for worldwide map function
Wahoo ELMENT Roam GPS
- User-friendly customizable interface
- Excellent companion app
- Runs smoothly, without bugs
- Good battery life of 17 hours
- Durable hardware and reliable software
- Easily readable screen
- Lack of functionality on the device
- Basic navigation system – No on-device routing
- No touchscreen
- Chunky design
Hammerhead Karoo Latest Update (February 25, 2021):
- Upcoming elevation when navigating to a Pin or Point of Interest.
- Route to Home from Quick Actions
- Tap on any POI mid-ride, or long-press to navigate anywhere and you’ll be able to see a full-resolution elevation graph in the Upcoming Elevation data field.
- Refined the Total Ascent calculation to better match other platforms.
- Fixed a rare syncing issue between Karoo and Dashboard.
- Fixed an issue that could cause short intervals in planned workouts to be “missed” by FE-C trainers. This led to the trainer not changing the target wattage until the next interval.
- Fixed an issue that prevented Karoo 2 from connecting to wifi on particular routers.
Hammerhead Karoo release date
Hammerhead Karoo Strava
The Karoo 2 now supports Strava Live Segments. The segments must be synced with your Karoo device in advance by connecting your Strava account to the dashboard.
Doesn’t sync with downhill segments. For more information see Hammerhead support.
Karoo – Hammerhead.io
Garmin – REI.com
Wahoo – REI.com
Image courtesy: Unsplash.com