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Hammerhead to release new Karoo GPS unit

A cycling-specific Android operating system, instant Strava mapping and 10 hour battery life in full navigation mode: is the new Hammerhead Karoo a Garmin rival or better?

A young New York start-up, Hammerhead's previous flagship product was a uniquely-shaped navigational tool that simply told you which way to turn via bright LED lights in conjunction with their mobile app. The Karoo sees their attempt at a full-blown GPS computer, and looking at the spec list there are numerous features that set it apart from the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt and even Garmin's top end computers. 

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Hammerhead Karoo
The Karoo doesn't appear any bulkier than its rivals, and is compatible with Garmin mounts

The Karoo runs off a cycling-specific Android operating system, that has a whole host of bespoke apps for navigation, exploration, training, and sharing that constantly expands via over-the-air updates. Detail in design and simplicity in use is the mantra here, with a high-res, non-reflective touchscreen sourced from military suppliers and made of Gorilla Glass topping off the head unit. You can operate the touchscreen with gloves on, and it's also not affected by water droplets. Phone connectivity allows you to keep your phone charged and stowed away without having to stop and sync - everything, including mapping, can be recorded and logged instantaneously, which means you can record a Strava route and have it fully mapped and stored in the device before you've got home.

Hammerhead.jpg

 

The all-day battery is truly all-day, and the Karoo can operate for ten hours with all the mapping functions turned on. The positioning technology combines GPS, GLONASS, mobile triangulation and sensor data (accelerometer, compass and barometer), making for rapid satellite pickups. As well as plenty of third-party compatibility, Karoo offers its own training modes and programs too, including 
pre-loaded standard tests like FTP, and 
goal alerts for specific power, heart rate or speeds. It will be sold with a barfly out-front mount that's also Garmin-compatible, a smart move from Karoo in anticipation of reeling in previous Garmin users. 

If you're sold already unfortunately an RRP hasn't yet been given, although the cutting edge tech and long list of features has us guessing high rather than low. The Karoo will be sold direct via Hammerhead’s website, and they aim to start shipping the first units in August to "a number of countries", the UK being one of them we're told. You can join Hammerhead's mailing list for info on updates, pre-order discounts and possible test unit availability prior to general release… speaking of which, we’ll be looking to get our hands on one soon for an in-depth review, so keep an eye on our Reviews section over summer. 

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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20 comments

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vg955 | 6 years ago
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Well I have gone ahead and pre-ordered at £285 + customs.. Definitely taking a leap, but I am soooo sick to death of my Edge 1000, than anything has to be better.

I tried their companion app for the H1 on  my 10 mile commute home from central london and it works like a dream, so I am sure the navigation will be fine.. my only complaint is that the route opted for bike friendly routes which added 2 miles, but to be honest, the seller for me on the Karoo is importing rounds from strava through to ride with GPS.

I'm sure all the biometrics data will be fine.. there are at least 10 adroid apps that do it flawlessly already, so I cant imagine the Karoo will be any different.

Another key selling point is the quality of the screen and simplicity of the navigation instructions. My Edge 100O is horrendous for navigation... it it works, I have to glance down at a low res screen and try and find that pink line and arrow on a low res screen.. fine in the countryside, but in central london, with a 'busy' map... its a nightmare. I've been dreaming of a dedicated bike coputer that uses google map/apple maps principles of providing an uncluttered map that focuses on providing just the info required for you to navigate will minimal time spent looking at the screen for years.

To be able to creat a route in seconds will be just amazing.. rather than waiting minutes watching the edge 1000 calculating the route... given Garmin produce car nav units, its just incredible the navigation solution provided on the Edge 1000 is soo poor (mine doesnt even accept full post codes.... in 2017!!!).

Amyway, I'll report back once ive ridden with the Karoo for a few weeks!   

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amazon22 | 6 years ago
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I make it about £295 plus duty collection charge, say £25. That's not a problem in itself, but the direct selling from the USA is - having had a saddle sit in customs for 3 weeks, a speedy delivery certainly isn't guaranteed, and depending on the carrier, the duty collection charges can vary a lot. Talking of guarantees - if there is an issue, the tedium of shippng it back to the US and them returning it, or more likely sending a new one, and more delays, just makes it too tedious. I have asked them via Facebook if they can bulk ship units to Amazon UK (which is what the saddle people are starting to do) but they haven't replied.

It looks great and I'm very interested but I won't be jumping just yet.

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part_robot | 6 years ago
2 likes

They've just come on advance pre-order; at about £280 including taxes to import that's just about the right amount for an impulse buy so I did some due dillegence.

Firstly, looking around the screenshots there's a number of text alignment and design issues in the app which - as a former Android app developer - makes me immediately suspicious and leads me to wonder if their software dev is maybe outsourced?

Digging deaper, lo and behold I see their entire software team is based in India - a 10-15 hour time difference with their US team - which in my experience plus the former remark leads me to believe they are going to have a lot of quality control issues. If you're a startup and your product is a complex piece of software and you don't have your tech team fully in house (or at least in the same timezone as the founders) that raises a huge red flag. I know; I've been there!

Finally, the reviews of their previous iOS app (for the Hammerhead product) made by the same software team are largely one and two stars with a lot of complaints about routing and app reliability.

All in all I don't advise people to buy this until the long term reviews come in. Sorry Hammerhead, but I'm going to need a lot more convincing.

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dlessard75 | 7 years ago
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@rct Not any bigger than Garmin 1000!

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Drinfinity | 7 years ago
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A cyclist at 36km/h will cover 10m in the 1 second recording frequency of her GPS. The unit could be set up to record every 0.1s, but given civilian GPS resolution is typically 5 m, there would be no point.

 

Maybe rkemb can cover 5m in a millisecond, but then they would be posting Strava times from the International Space Station. It's bad enough losing your KOM to an Ebike, I'd be even more annoyed to lose it to an orbiting astronaut 

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Stef Marazzi | 7 years ago
0 likes

Sticking to my Garmin. Lasts for the whole of the weeks commutes, plus the weekend 40 miler, before I need to charge it. Needs to be 17 hour battery life, not ten.

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andyeb | 7 years ago
1 like

I think it really is about time we had GPS units which logged 10 data points every second, rather than 1 data point per second. There are already GPS chipset which can do this. Given the top ten places on typical Strava segments are separated by just a second or two, I think it would be more of a selling point than most other bells and whistles, especially for the ultra-competitive.

Obviously, sites like Strava would have to be updated to take advantage of the additional accuracy.

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rkemb replied to andyeb | 7 years ago
0 likes

andyeb wrote:

Obviously, sites like Strava would have to be updated to take advantage of the additional accuracy.

The .gpx standard already accounts for millisecond accuracy, so as long as Strava conform to standards...

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The _Kaner replied to andyeb | 7 years ago
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andyeb wrote:

I think it really is about time we had GPS units which logged 10 data points every second, rather than 1 data point per second. There are already GPS chipset which can do this. Given the top ten places on typical Strava segments are separated by just a second or two, I think it would be more of a selling point than most other bells and whistles, especially for the ultra-competitive.

Obviously, sites like Strava would have to be updated to take advantage of the additional accuracy.

Exactly, I was 3 seconds ahead on a segment during a ride last week, the segment ended and suddenly I'm 2 seconds off the KOM......(garmin 520)

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rix | 7 years ago
0 likes

It is HUGE!

...or dcrainmaker has small hands  4

P.S. I'll be sticking to my edge 520, which still had 50% battery after 8h ride.

//media.dcrainmaker.com/images/2017/05/DSC_1335-1.jpg)

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rct replied to rix | 7 years ago
0 likes

rix wrote:

It is HUGE!

...or dcrainmaker has small hands  4

P.S. I'll be sticking to my edge 520, which still had 50% battery after 8h ride.

//media.dcrainmaker.com/images/2017/05/DSC_1335-1.jpg)

 

Wait until the contacts for the USB plug fail several times, you won't be sticking to your 520 then.

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BehindTheBikesheds | 7 years ago
0 likes

currently using (in France) a Teasi one3 extend GPS 3+" screen, does navigation for 9 hours plus, free updated maps, reasonable bar/stem fittings. I've waited years to upgrade from my magellan meridian (still no slouch and proper drop/weather proof) and managed to bag a twice used one for 75sovs.

retail is about 130ish

 

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keepontriking | 7 years ago
1 like

I hate advertisements dressed up as reviews. There are too many here of that ilk.

 

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part_robot | 7 years ago
3 likes

Dunno what all the "vaporware" chanting's about; DC Rainmaker has one and it looks pretty close to a production unit https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/hammerhead-karoo-gps-bike-computer.html.

Once it's released they've pretty much got my money; I can't stand Garmin Edge's and the Bolt still has a lot of shortcomings.

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Al__S | 7 years ago
1 like

there's very, very, very few riders that need more than 10hrs battery life for navigation. So if you're in the tiny % regularly knocking out 12 hr days the battery life is unlikely to be an issue?

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Man of Lard | 7 years ago
4 likes

You missed the "vapourware" tag on the article...

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bobinski | 7 years ago
4 likes

So it's not been released? And won't be for 3 months. 

Looks interesting but this is just free advertising.

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hawkinspeter replied to bobinski | 7 years ago
5 likes

Quote:

The all-day battery is truly all-day, and the Karoo can operate for ten hours with all the mapping functions turned on.

Since when did ten hours become all-day?

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ClubSmed replied to hawkinspeter | 7 years ago
0 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

Quote:

The all-day battery is truly all-day, and the Karoo can operate for ten hours with all the mapping functions turned on.

Since when did ten hours become all-day?

The 10 hour quoted is for "Full Navigation Mode", I assume there is a less power hungry mode that will allow it to go all day?

Avatar
Jack Sexty replied to bobinski | 7 years ago
4 likes
bobinski wrote:

So it's not been released? And won't be for 3 months. 

Looks interesting but this is just free advertising.

This is a preview and I'm simply listing the features here - this computer is of genuine interest to me (and others I'm sure) because it's claiming to offer something different to what's already out there, so we'd rather tell people when and where they can get one instead of not covering it at all. We'll be testing it soon and if it doesn't live up to expectations... we will frankly and honestly tell you so in our review!

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