Hammerhead Karoo 2 assessment: All in regards to the updates


(Pocket-lint) – Hammerhead claims that the Karoo 2 is the nearest you’ll be able to get to a smartphone. That is no marvel, as a result of this can be a Google Android-based motorcycle pc – the working machine that such a lot of telephones run – which is reason for some pleasure.

Hammerhead’s pitch with the Karoo 2 is that you’ll be able to get common updates. And that is the reason true – certainly, we have began to write down this assessment on a number of events, best to seek out we needed to discover one thing extra following further updates.

Because of updates, the Karoo 2 has were given higher over the months we have been the usage of it. However is it excellent sufficient to tempt you clear of the likes of the Garmin Edge?

Design and construct

  • Dimensions: 100.6 x 60.Eight x 19.3mm / Weight: 131g
  • Handlebar and out-front mounts integrated
  • IP67 waterproofing

The Hammerhead Karoo 2 has a three.2-inch show, that means it sits between the Garmin Edge 530/830 and Edge 1030 sizes, however it is larger than the Wahoo motorcycle computer systems. It is at the better dimension, sure, however that is excellent for speedy glancing.

The frame itself is a glass-filled polycarbonate, with an elastomer bumper. The show is crowned with Dragontrail Glass for scratch resistance, whilst the entire package deal will get an IP67 score to stay the water and dust out.


At the rear there is a sealed compartment you’ll be able to open with a coin that may settle for a SIM card, whilst a USB-C socket at the backside of the tool is used for charging. This has a rubber bung that inserts into it (with a spare within the field), however it is not hooked up whatsoever. We’ve got no qualms about dropping it on a experience, however we may lose it when we need to take it out for charging.

We’ve got used the Karoo 2 in rain and shine, via dust and sleet, and we have no worries in regards to the waterproofing of this tool. It feels cast, it seems excellent, and it is stored on going with all we have put it via.

We are not massive enthusiasts of the buttons being on reverse aspects of the frame, although, as a result of we discover it harder to press a button than should be. Press the ground button too laborious and the tool may rotate at the mount – which is the way you take away it. However with every other button at the different facet, gripping to press on one facet is a bit more tough. Principally, we would desire them to be staggered.


It is one thing of a moot level, on the other hand, for the reason that maximum biking gloves at the present time paintings with contact presentations (or one finger does no less than) and there may be contact toughen for just about anything else you could wish to use a button for – even though that is much less dependable within the rainy, when the buttons come into their very own.

Turning to mounting, there may be an out-front mount within the field, which customers Hammerhead’s connection machine. This may occasionally permit you to slide it into position to fasten in securely, with a twist to unlock and slide ahead once more to take away. This implies you’ll be able to mount it on busy handlebars and not using a twist as massive as you would want for a Garmin pc, as an example.

The offered mount is designed to take a seat out the entrance of your handlebars and to be aerodynamic. It is designed for same old 31.8mm bars and there is no shims offered for any individual using a antique steed or anything else smaller.

There may be an adapter to modify the Karoo 2 to a Garmin quarter-turn mount, which was once bundled with preorders, differently to be had as an adjunct (it is £14 in the United Kingdom). That is an excellent choice as you’ll be able to transfer between motorcycles the usage of an previous mount (which we did), with no need to debris round with converting all of the mounts on your whole motorcycles.

Show and {hardware}

  • Sensors: Accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, barometer
  • Show: 3.2in panel, 800 x 480 pixels (292ppi)
  • Connectivity: GPS, ANT+, Bluetooth
  • Connection: Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G
  • 32GB garage

The show is necessary, as a result of in an international of knowledge, that is what you spend your time having a look at. It is a excellent solution too, with 292 pixels consistent with inch, and whilst that is quite decrease in rely than the newest smartphones, it fits the content material neatly sufficient – which is the necessary level.

As that is an Android-based machine (Android 8, so generations at the back of present telephones), one of the vital interface and interactions can be acquainted. Attempting to make use of the tiny keyboard, on the other hand, particularly for setup, is a little bit tedious – and Hammerhead may just neatly do with offloading a few of these duties to a spouse app, in the best way Garmin does.


There may be abundant brightness, however it is not automated, so you could have to swipe to bump it up when the rain begins falling – or certainly when the solar comes out.

There is a Qualcomm-supplied quad-core processor, 32GB of garage, and an entire international of connectivity. That comes with all of the necessities: Bluetooth and ANT+ for equipment; GPS for location monitoring; Wi-Fi for syncing and updates; 3G/4G for cellular information connectivity; movement sensors to assist navigation, and so on.

This being an Android tool it will be significant that there is sufficient energy to do what you need. Startup is a little bit sluggish, however we have were given used to beginning it on how you can getting modified for a experience. Loading routes and profiles is a little bit slower than we would like too, however we are certain that device updates may just repair this.


It is simple to control hooked up gadgets, most likely a little bit more practical than every other motorcycle computer systems, particularly if your means round Android.

We examined the Hammerhead with Garmin ANT+ motorcycle sensors, Scosche Rhythm+ 2.0, and the Polar Verity Sense via Bluetooth – and found no connectivity problems at all.

On to that smartphone-like experience. There’s no call support, because even with the SIM card this isn’t a phone, but the card slot in the back gives the option for a permanent data connection. Otherwise, you can just use a Wi-Fi hotspot from the phone – the one that’s probably in the back pocket of your jersey anyway – to save you needing another SIM.


However, there’s no data connection between the Karoo 2 and your actual smartphone via Bluetooth – all the syncing that the Karoo 2 does is via its own Wi-Fi or data connection if you’ve given it a SIM card. That’s mostly fine – but does also present some limitations.

You could, of course, ditch your smartphone and just take the connected Karoo 2, knowing that it will give you map searching and other features. But on a display this small, it could end up being just a little too frustrating when you get properly lost.

How Hammerhead handles its data

You need to make sure the Karoo 2 is connected to Wi-Fi if you want to sync a new route that you’ve made, or to push ride data to a third-party service, because Hammerhead isn’t trying to run its own platform.

This is the fundamental difference between the Karoo 2 and Garmin’s devices: Garmin wants you to be as connected as possible, to feed data into Garmin Connect and drive the data machine. Hammerhead doesn’t offer that, so presenting some services is limited or constricted, while third-party connectivity plays a bigger role.

We hinted before that setup is a little strange. There’s no real smartphone app for starters: there’s the Karoo Companion app, which only handles push notifications; or there’s the web dashboard. This is a weird position for a company developing on Android, as you’d think Hammerhead would focus on being mobile first – but it’s not.


The notifications you get are a little basic too, missing a huge opportunity: Android quick replies. This is a gem that iPhone won’t know about, but quick replies on Android work really well on Garmin, letting you send a reply to an incoming message or call – really useful when you’re riding. Visually, the Hammerhead notifications are too basic too, so could certainly be presented better.

Instead you need to get yourself onto the browser and setup your Hammerhead account and then sign into your Karoo with that account when it arrives. There’s some downloading and updating that takes place – but syncing, you’ll remember, is via the device to third-party services and the dashboard, rather than within a smartphone app.

Really, your phone plays no part – and we think Hammerhead could make everything smoother with much closer pairing with phones. For example: if you want use the live tracking feature, that data can’t go via your Bluetooth-connected phone, you have to connect the Karoo 2 via Wi-Fi or a data connection and then share a URL to those you want to live track you.

It’s jumping through disconnected hoops and resulted in us using WhatsApp location tracking instead. Bear in mind that Garmin’s livetracking can be set to automatically notify a list of people as soon as you start a ride – and that’s really what Hammerhead needs to offer, rather than relying on people finding a link that was shared with them a few months prior.


Some might say there aren’t enough partnerships to drive this platformless system. For many, the link with Strava will give them all the data analysis they want, with the reciprocal Strava Segments in place too – which does have some parity to Garmin’s offering, allowing you to have your starred Segments pop up when you get to them.

But there’s a lot that’s not on the list – and while more is likely to come, Hammerhead really needs to cover all cyclists’ needs.

Naturally, without a full platform for data analysis, most will be looking at this on Strava – which you can read about here – with Hammerhead’s dashboard only showing basic time, route, distance and elevation details.

Being Android-based also adds opportunity. Hammerhead mentions sideloading APKs onto the Karoo 2, which might be beyond your average user – but certainly there’s the opportunity for native apps rather than just data syncing. With a little thought, the Karoo 2 could be running its own Strava app or a Komoot app – but with the Karoo 2 running Android 8 (software originally released in 2017), some developers might baulk at the thought of working with that older version.

On the saddle and navigation

With all that out of the way and accepted, riding with the Karoo 2 is actually great. The user interface presents a range of profiles, each offering up different data sets. The default selection is a little odd, but you can make a custom profile or edit any of the default profiles to your liking.

It’s worth having a play around with, because once you’ve entered one of these profiles you can’t back out and switch to something else if you find you can’t get to the data you want. But you can customise all the existing profiles, so if you want to add cadence instead of your average heart rate (or whatever) that’s easy enough to do.


And there are loads of data fields, including shifting information for Shimano Di2, battery life, every variant on time, power, climb, etc., that you can think of. It makes everything super customisable so you’re looking at exactly what you want.

Navigation is good, with the option to create routes on the device, sync routes from other platforms, import GPX files and so forth. Despite the lack of a proper smartphone app, you can download a GPX route and upload it to the Dashboard in your phone browser, to then appear on your Karoo 2 when it syncs.

Hammerhead does have a habit of changing routes – especially offroad routes. Having found and saved a route in Komoot, Hammerhead then imported and reinterpreted it, switching some of the forest paths to roads. Attempting to edit that route created a lot of doglegs, again attempting to avoid some of the paths that are perfectly legitimate to ride on.


Rerouting is rapid, however, but missing a waypoint can lead to lengthy rerouting instructions – especially if that missed point is the start of the route. You’ll spend the first 10 minutes being directed back to where you came from.

The GPS is accurate and fast to locate, with a good sense of direction. Thankfully it uses arrows on the route and a directional arrow for you, so on circuits or routes that cross themselves, there’s no confusion.

Navigating maps on a ride is easy too, because you can pinch and zoom, or drag around the map, which is far easier than Garmin’s system.

When you’ve planned a route and head out, you’ll be able to see route profile data so you can see how long those climbs are and when they’re coming up, so you can prepare yourself to open the hurt box.


Once in a route you can browse the maps on the device to make an alteration. For example, if you need to get home, you can zoom out on screen, drop a pin on home, then follow the new route easily enough – which is great for last-minute changes.

There is support for workouts too, which can be imported from TrainingPeaks, so you can directly access them on the Karoo 2. Although as we said previously, there’s room to expand this offering to make it more encompassing.

A lot of what the Karoo 2 offers is about expanding the offering too. As we said in the introduction, the software is always changing. Mostly this adds functionality which is welcomed – but we’ve seen a few rearrangements of the on-screen controls that took us by surprise. You’ll get an email detailing the changes, but Hammerhead also has a changelog here.

Battery life

If you’ve used a smartphone you might be concerned about battery life. Having moved to Hammerhead from the capable Garmin Edge 830, we were pleasantly surprised.

You’ll get a reliable 12 hours of battery life from this computer. There are measures you can take to reduce the battery drain – including turning off the display if you just don’t need all those functions – and charging is fairly fast too.


You’ll get 30 per cent charge from 30 minutes plugged in – but you’ll need 3 hours to fully charge it again. And there’s no charger in the box, but as USB-C is common now you can simply charge it with any existing charger.

But put this in context: most phones will happily charge fully in half this time – with much larger batteries. So this isn’t really that fast in terms of charging speed, not when compared to the phone market. Certainly, we’d love to see faster charging in a future Karoo – just so you can avoid those last-minute delays.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe.

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