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Hammerhead Karoo 3

9
£450.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Robust and user-friendly unit that also offers smooth operation, a superb screen and great interaction with numerous sensors
Awesome touchscreen
Impressive clarity
Quick processing
Robust build quality
Easy to pair with various devices
Weight: 
118g
road.cc Recommends

This product has been selected to feature in road.cc recommends. That means it's not just scored well, but we think it stands out as special. Go to road.cc recommends

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This Hammerhead Karoo is the third generation Karoo cycling computer and the first launched since Hammerhead was acquired by SRAM – so it's no surprise to see integration with SRAM's wireless AXS groupsets as one of the main updates. It doesn't stop there, though – the increased processing power, storage and battery capacity make this a capable, fast, responsive and easy-to-use computer. Its super-clear screen rounds out an excellent product and the fact that Hammerhead achieves all of this at a competitive price is just the icing on the cake.

Buy now: Hammerhead Karoo 3 for £450 from Tredz

2024 Hammerhead Karoo computer - 1

Both the original Karoo and the Karoo 2 were reviewed positively here and this latest version – confusingly just known as Karoo, not Karoo 3 – isn't going to be any different, showing big improvements on what was already a very impressive platform.

Setting things up

I've used plenty of computers over the years, taking in most of Garmin's line-up including the new 840 Solar, and those from Mio and Bryton, but this is the first time I've used a Hammerhead.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - navigation 3.jpg

Straight out of the box I found it easy and intuitive to set up. As you'd expect these days, there is an app (Karoo Companion) that helps you pair the unit to your smartphone, and there's also a brand-new Hammerhead Companion app that allows uploads and downloads from and to the unit, along with live tracking and syncing workouts and rides even when there is no Wi-Fi access.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - set up screen 3.jpg

You can access past rides, routes and workouts from Hammerhead's desktop website if you want to pore over some data, and you can also connect Strava, Suunto, Ride with GPS, Training Peaks, TrainerRoad, Komoot, Xert and Sentiero.

I also have a SRAM AXS app account that allows me to log in and configure bikes with AXS groupsets, and I could use that login to connect to Hammerhead rather than having to have a separate account.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - setup 2.jpg

Using the SRAM app login helps, as any bike with an AXS groupset you have saved on it automatically gets recognised on the Karoo unit. You can configure your groupset from the head unit and see all kinds of info such as battery life and get charging prompts.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - setup 3.jpg

Hardware & Software

The Karoo has a 3.2in touchscreen that is responsive to ambient light and overall it is similar to that of Garmin's 1040 head unit. I'd say that makes it a usable size for displaying plenty of information without it taking over your handlebar. It's not overly bulky either.

The mount is the same shape as earlier ones: you slide the computer on to the mount to secure it, and twist it a quarter turn to release it. This makes it compatible with all Garmin-style mounts.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - mount.jpg

But the new Karoo mount also offers you some fore-and-aft adjustment so you can move the unit closer to or further away from your handlebar.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - back of unit.jpg

The computer also comes with a lanyard that secures the unit to the bar, and while I think it's a neat touch that will stop it jettisoning down the road or trail, I think it might just be a case of overkill – I used this on both road and gravel rides and I never felt it was going to come off at any point.

It's a robust-feeling unit too, with the Corning Gorilla glass screen covering pretty much all of the upper face of the unit. The ambient light sensor works very well at responding to external light sources, getting brighter in well-lit surroundings and doing the opposite when the conditions darken.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - screen showing intro video.jpg

The 480 x 800-pixel screen is crystal clear in all lights, with no glare, something that really impressed me. The touchscreen is hugely responsive too, just like that of a high-quality mobile phone. There was no lag, and you can drag down a quick settings menu to turn on things like a rain lock to stop raindrops from activating the screen.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - settings - display.jpg

The new Karoo has two buttons on each side for changing screens, lap, start/stop and a new on/off button on the bottom of the unit.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - side buttons 1.jpg

The USB-C charge port is now protected by a cover rather than being exposed – something that Anna criticised in her review of the previous generation.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - USB C port and power button.jpg
2024 Hammerhead Karoo - USB C port cover and power button.jpg

This new unit also has double the processing capacity of the previous model, with 4GB RAM and double the storage space at 64GB. You get full access to worldwide maps broken down into sections and with the UK block and a couple of routes downloaded to the unit, I was using 3.1GB of storage, so there is plenty of room.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - settings - ride.jpg

You can download Android apps to the device without voiding the unit's warranty.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - routes screen.jpg

Hammerhead has also increased the battery capacity and even with relatively heavy usage, such as having everything turned on and running in the background, Hammerhead claims 15+ hours.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - 3.jpg

You can increase this further by using the battery saver mode, and the recharge time is pretty quick too – taking just 2.5 hours to go from empty to 100%, and passing 30% in just 30 minutes. Both of which I found to be replicable in testing.

When you connect it to your phone, you can receive all kinds of notifications and with full Wi-Fi you can quickly upload/download rides and routes. You can also set software updates to automatic, which then take place in the background.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - notifications.jpg

Its ANT+ and Bluetooth you to connect it to pretty much any sensor.

In use

It didn't take me very long to get the Karoo set up exactly how I wanted it.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - options.jpg

On the opening screen you can choose which type of ride you are going to do from one of four preset profiles. For instance, if you are going to be riding a bike with a power meter fitted and you are wearing a heart rate monitor (Hammerhead offers a chest-mounted HR belt for £50) you can select Power + HR, and the data pages will show power and HR readings alongside all of the other metrics you might want shown.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - profile screen 3.jpg

If you are heading out and just want to see GPS data, you can use Basic Profile for a simplified view, which I think is a good option. You can set up other profiles too, depending on what type of bike you're riding and what info you want to see.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - navigation 1.jpg

Once on the bike the Karoo connects to satellites quickly because of its multi-band connectivity and I never found it lose a signal, even when I was riding in the woods on my gravel bike.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - overview 3.jpg

The maps are easy to read and the amount of information available to you on the screen is impressive. Following a route is simple and the device gives you full details of the route ahead of you.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - navigation 2.jpg

I wouldn't say it shows that much more than a Garmin would display, but I love how the unit works – it's clear, simple and concise.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo - elevation.jpg

Value

The new Karoo has a UK price of £450, which I believe is pretty decent when you compare it to the £519.99 of Garmin's 1040 unit. We recently reviewed the Solar version and George rated it very highly indeed.

The non-solar Edge 840 has a smaller screen than the Karoo and only half the storage available, but it's the same price as this new unit. Again, it was the Solar unit that we reviewed, and while I liked it a lot, I did think there were a couple of minor flaws.

Bryton's range-topper is the S800, which I reviewed last year. It's a chunk cheaper at £339.99, but it's not really in the same league as the Karoo. The Karoo is faster, smoother and has a better screen.

Our cycling computers buyer's guide rounds up our top choices from just £50 to over £600 – and this Karoo deserves a place in it.

Conclusion

After using the Karoo for the last month I've found it brilliant, and dare I say it – even better than the Garmin units that I have been using in terms of how easy it is to use.

There is so much data on offer, the connectivity is very impressive, as is the overall quality of the unit. And heavy rain of a very wet spring caused it no issues whatsoever.

But for me – even on top of all the other qualities – the biggest draw is the screen. It's unbelievably clear and the performance of the touchscreen is one of the best I've ever experienced on any bike computer.

Verdict

Robust and user-friendly unit that also offers smooth operation, a superb screen and great interaction with numerous sensors

road.cc test report

Make and model: Hammerhead Karoo

Size tested: One size

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Hammerhead says: "The all-new Hammerhead Karoo cycling computer represents the pinnacle of innovation, design, and performance. Karoo offers an unparalleled single-point union to experience and control every aspect of your ride: from the data you see and record, to your routes and workouts, connected components and AXS products, E-Bikes, and ANT+ lights. The stunning screen, premium materials, and all-day battery life combine to make Karoo a cycling computer without compromise. Easy to use in every condition thanks to thoughtful hardware and software design, Karoo allows you to focus on the road - and the ride - instead of your equipment. Featuring comprehensive structured workout support, industry-best navigation, and a Companion App and Dashboard that let you manage your device without removing it from the handlebars; Karoo helps you hit your training goals, explore new routes, and enjoy every ride."

I think the screen makes this one of the easiest to use computers when on the bike and that it displays pretty much as much data as you could want – and in a user-friendly way too.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Specifications

Screen Dimensions 3.2in

Display resolution 480 x 800 pixels

Processor Quad Core 2.0 GHz

Memory 64GB Storage, 4GB Ram

Sensor connectivity ANT+ and Bluetooth

Satellite Connectivity Multi-band (L1+L5) GNSS GPS,

Satellite constellations GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BEIDOU

Charging USB-C

Charge time 30% in 30 minutes, 100% in 2.5 hours

Battery Life 15+ hours

Water resistance IP67

LANGUAGES SUPPORTED English, Spanish, French, German, Italian

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

A great lock on satellites regardless of where you are and a stunning screen make it a joy to use.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The clear, high-quality screen.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It is well priced, offering a bigger screen than the Garmin 840 for the same money, while coming in much cheaper than Garmin's similarly sized 1040. Bryton's range topper is cheaper, but nowhere near as good in terms of performance.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

A stunning unit in terms of performance, especially from the screen – which I think is one of the best out there. You'll find more than enough data and interaction with other sensors than you'll probably need, and it's all wrapped up in a reliable and durable unit.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment

6 comments

Avatar
leedorney | 1 week ago
0 likes

An a-typical glowing review for a cycle-computer that lacks in many areas but shines soo bright in others.. Sram truly need to develop this drastically and not just have it as a prime included with a new Red gruppo

Avatar
jaymack | 1 month ago
1 like

All very impressive I'm sure but £450 for a bike computer? Don't get me wrong I've used a Wahoo Bolt and bought computer's last iteration in a sale 'cos my old man's eyes needed a larger screen but, like so many cycling related products, pricing is becoming exploitative.

Avatar
mark1a replied to jaymack | 1 month ago
2 likes
jaymack wrote:

All very impressive I'm sure but £450 for a bike computer? Don't get me wrong I've used a Wahoo Bolt and bought computer's last iteration in a sale 'cos my old man's eyes needed a larger screen but, like so many cycling related products, pricing is becoming exploitative.

I don't entirely agree...

A quick couple of examples - here's a review of the Garmin Edge 500 in 2010:
https://road.cc/content/review/17933-garmin-edge-500
It had an RRP of £199. The BoE inflation calculator puts that at £296 today. Its modern equivalent Garmin Edge 540 has RRP of £349 and has a vastly superior perfomance and feature set, in addition to being available for around £300 at a number of retailers. Similar story for Garmin Edge 1000, £499 in 2014, inflation adjusted to £664, the modern Edge or Karoo costs less than that now, and again, vastly superior units.

 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to mark1a | 1 week ago
0 likes

Looked at from one angle your figures do refute the idea that pricing has become exploitative, but looked at from another angle they might simply show that pricing has always been exploitative. When one can obtain a new smartphone that's not much bigger and that, with the addition of a couple of free apps, has pretty much the same functionality for around £50, nine times the price for a cycle-specific gadget does feel like they are taking the piss somewhat.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
2 likes

A few things missing from the review.

No DI2 support OOB (Though this is on Shimano being gits) an app is available to add it back.

The Sim card slot is now gone (tbf it was under utilised in the older Karoo's)

 

Avatar
leedorney replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 week ago
0 likes

Very true, grossly under-used...

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