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The future of cycle computers

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The Hammerhead Karoo 2 delivers everything you might need from a cycle computer, and adds a little bit more

24 Aug 2021

Why does the Hammerhead Karoo 2 represent the future of cycle computers? Because the Karoo 2 you buy today isn’t the Karoo 2 you’ll use next week, next month or even next year. What Hammerhead has created is a truly flexible and upgradable device, built to grow and evolve over time, adding the features you might not even know you need today, but will probably want tomorrow.

This evolutionary upgradability is something that Hammerhead has baked into the very fibres of the Karoo 2. Because underneath the high-end, cutting edge, cycling computer feature set lies a version of the Android mobile operating system, the same OS that powers millions of smartphones and tablets. With Android at its heart, the Karoo 2 has near limitless potential, both in terms of upgrades and new features developed by Hammerhead, and the possibility of third party native apps being developed for the device, just like a smartphone. You can even try out artificial intelligence-based coaching app Xert on the device now.

But there’s so much more to the Karoo 2 than its ubiquitous operating system, the hardware itself is state of the art, delivering the feature set, user experience and design that serious cyclists demand.

The Karoo 2 looks great in the hand, but even better when mounted on your bike, regardless of what livery or colour scheme your ride might be sporting. Because while the Karoo 2 has a stylish, matte black, stealthy look out of the box, Hammerhead offers a rainbow of case colour options, changing the look to match your bike, your outfit, or even just your mood. And we’re not talking about rubber case sleeves that wrap around the device, either. You can buy a replacement outer casing in myriad colours – simply remove a couple of screws and change the factory look of your Karoo 2; you even get a screwdriver in the box with the new, coloured casing.

Mounting the Karoo 2 couldn’t be easier. There’s an ‘out front’ mount in the box, which will fit most non-aero bars and ensure a secure fit. However, Hammerhead also makes life super-simple for anyone switching from a Garmin computer to the Karoo 2, shipping a mount converter in the box, which clips onto the underside of the device and makes it compatible with any Garmin twist mount you may already have. Likewise, the Karoo 2 will happily pair with existing ANT+ or Bluetooth sensors you may already have mounted to your bike, along with HRM straps.

The 3.2in screen delivers a clear and colourful display in any lighting condition, while the touch and swipe functionality is responsive and accurate even when pushing hard in the saddle. There are four physical buttons as well – two on each side of the device – so you’re not totally reliant on the touchscreen interface.

You can configure exactly what you want on that screen, too, with the ability to create custom ride profiles, with each profile made up of multiple pages with myriad layout options for various data fields, map layouts and graphical data representations allowing for at-a-glance readouts while riding.

Unlike most other cycle computers, the Karoo 2 doesn’t try to tie you into its own tracking and analysis platform. In fact Hammerhead has designed the Karoo 2 specifically to be partnered with your preferred third party platform like Strava, Ride with GPS, TrainingPeaks or Komoot. While you will have to register a Hammerhead Dashboard account, the main purpose of that account is to link your existing third party accounts and profiles. Once you’ve authorised a link with Strava for example, all your rides will automatically sync to Strava from your Karoo 2, while all your Strava routes and live segments will automatically sync the other way.

That syncing requires a data connection, and when you setup the Karoo 2 you’ll connect it to your WiFi network, after which it will check for firmware updates and sync all data to and from your linked platforms. But you can also keep the Karoo 2 connected when you’re out on a ride thanks to the built-in data SIM slot – equipping the device with a data SIM will enable it to keep connected at all times and make use of live tracking features like Strava Beacon.

If you don’t want to install a dedicated SIM, the Karoo 2 can make use of your phone’s data connection by enabling a WiFi hotspot on your phone and connecting the Karoo 2 to that. You can also pair the Karoo 2 to your phone via Bluetooth to enable call alerts and text messages to be relayed to the device while you’re riding.

If you’re a Strava user – and who isn’t? – the Karoo 2 could well be your new best friend. The integration with Strava is simple, clean and seamless. All starred Strava segments will automatically be synced with the device, and will trigger as soon as you near the start of the segment on your ride. The Karoo 2 can display the elevation profile of the segment in real time, along with the distance to the segment end. You can also see a map overview that will show you how far ahead or behind your competitors are on the map. In terms of segment competitors, you can pit yourself against friends, KOM / QOM times, or even your own PB or most recent time.

That seamless third party integration makes route planning a breeze, too – as soon as you’ve linked your account all your created routes will sync, along with any new routes that you plan. Route guidance while riding is also well implemented, with clear and timely notifications overlaid on the display regardless of your ride profile. The audible alerts also come through loud and clear regardless of weather or road traffic conditions, ensuring that you never miss a turn.

And even if you know exactly where you’re going, it’s still worth planning your route in advance, because following a route also opens the door for the Karoo 2’s real-time CLIMBER feature. The Upcoming Elevation feature presents a clear graphical representation of the elevation profile you’ll be encountering on your ride, so you’ll never be caught by surprise when you round a bend and find yourself facing a brutal climb. This is a great feature when you’re embarking on a long ride peppered with climbs, allowing you to effectively pace yourself and not push too hard through the early stages.

Even more impressive is CLIMBER, which gives you detailed real-time analysis of a climb as you’re riding it. CLIMBER will trigger as soon as you encounter a climb of sufficient elevation and length, and once triggered the CLIMBER display overlays on whatever data screen you have live at the time. CLIMBER breaks down the climb into 100m segments, each of which will be colour coded, giving you a quick and clear understanding of the grade across the entire climb. CLIMBER will also keep you up to date on the distance to the top of the climb, along with the remaining gradient, and if you want more information you can expand the CLIMBER display for additional insight such as VAM and real time gradient.

We all have those killer climbs that we either dread seeing or look forward to in the hope of a new PB, and CLIMBER can help either overcome that fear, or better yet drive you towards new heights both literally and figuratively. It’s also worth noting that CLIMBER is a feature that Hammerhead added to the Karoo 2 through a recent firmware update, highlighting the flexible and ever-evolving nature of the device.

And it’s that potential for upgrades and new features that underpins everything that the Karoo 2 does, because as fully featured as it is today, there’s always the promise of something more tomorrow, something that could make an already great device even better.

Learn more about the Hammerhead Karoo 2

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