There's a newer model of this product. It's been replaced by the Hammerhead Karoo 2, you may want to check out that review instead.
Hammerhead Karoo Cycling GPS In-Depth Review
After an elongated delivery timeframe, the Hammerhead Karoo is finally shipping. If the various engagement metrics I track tell me anything, it’s one of the most awaited bike computers of the last year. It could be the fast touchscreen display speeds, the built-in cellular capabilities, or maybe the gloriously colorful and bright screen. Or perhaps just the promise of something different.
The question is: Is that bated breath sentiment justified?
I’ve been using a Karoo now since late December, both in a beta state and now in a production shipping state. The company started sending out units to folks about two weeks ago to backers all over the world. This, after announcing the product last May. And of course a few fairly public misleading events this past December.
In my case, I bought my own unit (actually, two units oddly enough). And I’ve been using it alongside various other bike computers on the market since December. This allows me to compare not just the fancy navigational features side by side, but also more mundane things like GPS accuracy and sensor accuracy.
So how did things turn out? Well, let’s get right into it. I’ll give you a hint though: It’s not quite as clear-cut as one might envision.
I’ve got one heck of an unboxing video for you to watch, which you can hit up right here. The video includes a boatload of size and weight comparisons between the Karoo and other units on the market.
Inside you’ll find a slew of components; I’ll walk through each individually.
First, the least exciting one – the micro-USB cable:
But then we’ve got the mount, which is actually made by Barfly. What’s even cooler is that it’s got the ability for you to buy (relatively inexpensive) accessory parts from Barfly. For example, a Di2 adapter, or a GoPro adapter. The mount is stock Garmin compatible, so any mounts good for a Garmin device work here too.
Next, we’ve got a SIM card popper thingy, and SIM card tray. As well as a display cleaning cloth.
Then two tiny hex wrenches for accessing the internals and the mount:
Oh – and a lanyard:
It’s through these tools that you can access the innards and swap the SIM card or add the lanyard.
Oh, and speaking of the unit, I suppose I should include a couple of photos of that here. It’s got three buttons on the left side, and two buttons on the right side.
The bottom has the micro-USB cable port, which is internally waterproofed (like most bike computers these days):
With that – I think we’ve covered just about everything you could want!
After you’ve got it all unboxed, the device will walk you through creating an account on their platform. This allows you to upload rides to their site, as well as then pull down routes from not only their site but other 3rd party sites like Strava.
What’s interesting here is this is the very first device I’m aware of where you can have multiple user profiles. That’s because you can sign out and then sign-in as someone else, and all their settings come down to the device:
So if I had two people in my household that wanted to use the device, I could do so. It might take a minute or two to download all the routes and such that you’ve saved (or past activities). But your data screens and settings should all appear. I’ve loosely tested moving between devices and it seems to work (my pages and such). It’s possible there’s some nuanced bugs I may have missed, but even with that it’s far more than any other device maker does today.
Once that’s all done you’ll be at the main dashboard on Karoo. It’s here that you can access past activities (‘Activities’), pre-created routes (‘Routes’), your data pages/fields (‘Pages’), your paired sensors (‘Sensors’), various device settings (‘Settings’), and then some kinda random promotional videos (‘Videos’).
If you swipe down from the top edge of the screen you’ll see the WiFi network you’re connected to, as well as any Bluetooth audio sensors you’re connected to. You can also adjust screen brightness as well as enable GPS services and tweak the theme from dark to light (or light to dark). You’ll also see any notifications from the system, though at this point that’s just system notifications like pending updates or failed uploads. I did notice that the brightness slider doesn’t actually do anything.
Going through each page briefly, we’ll start at activities, which is where I can look at past activities. At present, it’s simply a list of past rides. You can tap on any given ride and look at the overall stats about that ride. Things like max and average speed, power, heart rate, and cadence.
You can also re-upload that ride to Strava, as well as change the title of the ride (locally on the device, or when you upload to Strava). There isn’t a map shown here though, which is kinda a bummer given they have beautiful maps otherwise. There also aren’t any other metrics for things like time in zone or related. Like I noted above, it’s kinda basic.
Back on the dashboard we’ve got the ‘Routes’ option. This is where I can pull open synchronized/created routes and look at them in more detail. Since I’m going to look at those details in more detail in the next section, I’m going to skip this for the moment.
Then we’ve got ‘Pages’. This is where you create your data pages (which have data fields). You can create different profiles for different activity types that you want different pages for. For example, perhaps one set for on the trainer, another mountain biking, and another in a race. The same concept exists on other bike computers as well.
Once inside the settings you’ll see that I can name it (above right), as well as tweak data screens. The only per-profile setting right now is Auto-Pause. Everything else is handled at the global device level. I suspect over time we’ll see more settings shift here for things like mapping behavior and such.
Within that, I can seemingly endlessly add data pages. Each page can have up to 12 data fields on it:
The fields covered are pretty robust, but not quite yet matching other competitors. You’ve got most of what you want (both max/average/lap fields), across most metrics (distance/speed/power/cadence/HR).
However, you’ll notice it’s missing power related fields like Intensity Factor (IF) and Training Stress Score (TSS). The company implemented NP (Normal Power) in the most recent firmware update, and says they plan to implement the other metrics (which are all licensed from Training Peaks), in about 6 weeks.
Other obvious fields that are missing are elevation/grade/temperature fields, which are planned to be implemented in about two weeks. Beyond that, you’ll find a lack of any graphical data fields (like little charts and such) that are often seen for metrics like power and heart rate zones. Those too appear to be on the futures radar, as seen on their futures page (more on that later).
For me riding mostly flat to rolling terrain in the past few weeks, it hasn’t been a huge issue lacking the elevation/grade/temp fields. But if I were going to do mountain riding, that’d be a pretty big gap. Note that at present they are not recording any elevation data to the unit, though again, that’s coming in a couple weeks they say (Update: It’s now there, woot!)
Sliding all the way back to the dashboard, the next screen we have is ‘Sensors’. This is where you pair ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, as you might expect. You can enable either ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart or both at once. When searching, it simply searches for all sensors (versus a filter of sorts).
This is actually an area that shows a bit of the lack of refinement compared to others. For example, instead of a gigantic Scarlet Letter “A+”, they could use the ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart logos (which would look cool). Also, it doesn’t list the specific sensor types in any categorical way once paired though. You see a small ‘Power’ or similar below it, but again using small icons here for power/speed/cadence/etc would be a really nice touch (perhaps instead of ANT+/BLE logos).
When it comes to sensor types, they allow pairing of the following today: Heart Rate, Cadence-only, Cadence/Speed Combo, Speed-only, and Power Meters.
Note that you can enable/disable various sensors without delaying them, as well as rename them to whatever you want (for example, rename a power meter to ‘Quarq power meter’).
Next, we’ve got the general ‘Settings’ page. It’s here that you’ll find device-specific settings.
For example, you’ll pair your device here to Strava (the only platform as of the time of this writing that they support). Note for Strava, this is purely uploads and not for Strava Live Segments. There isn’t a specific implementation timeframe for that at this point.
It’s also where you can connect to WiFi networks, and additionally access the sensors menu again. Further, you can poke at cellular options and enable airplane mode here.
For lack of anywhere else to stick it, let’s super briefly talk about cellular/3G connectivity (which requires you add a SIM card as you’d expect). Note that the hardware is there for LTE, but at present they’ve focused on enabling 3G since there isn’t a bandwidth need for LTE on Karoo yet. Regardless for cellular as a whole, at this point, it’s actually not really used for anything meaningful, except to upload workouts upon completion. So there isn’t any live tracking, nor do you need it for any sort of routing. If you haven’t downloaded maps for the local area, then you would need it, but that’s easy enough to do via WiFi before you set out
The SIM card slot is located in the back of the unit, and requires popping off the back of the case to access (which is good, it helps with waterproofing):
I can do everything and anything I want offline, save for uploading my completed ride, which I do as soon as I walk in the door when it connects to WiFi.
Also, what’s cool is that unlike a Garmin or Wahoo device, this can connect to protected ‘I agree’ type WiFi networks (like those at Starbucks or hotels). That’s because it leverages the Android operating system to handle that, so it can simply prompt you like it would on your phone.
Next in the settings section is personal settings. It’s here that you can login to your Hammerhead account, as well as specify rider profile, bike profile, and training zone options. Most of these are pretty darn basic.
Then we’ve got some device settings like ‘Date & Time’, Units (Metric/Statute), and about.
It’s also in here that you can update the software on your unit.
Ok, all the way back to the main page again we’ve got one section titled ‘Videos’. At present this isn’t terribly useful, as it’s just promotional stuff on what’s coming up. It sounds like down the road they may turn this into a more useful portal with how-to videos.
And then at the very bottom we’ve got a bright yellow bar which is where you start your ride from. So, let’s head straight into that.
Riding With It:
Now that we’ve got everything configured, it’s time to tap that lower left yellow bar (Sidebar: I really hope at some point we can change the yellow/black color scheme to anything else. It just looks kinda dated). That’ll first have you select which riding profile to use (that corresponds to your data pages):
Next, it’ll ask you whether you’d like to set/apply a route. This is notable because no other bike computer on the market makes navigation so up-front and center in terms of implying that every ride would utilize a pre-defined route. Again, going to show you that routing is really core to what they’re trying to do here.
After selecting a route (or not), you’ll press the ‘Go’ button and be immediately on the data pages. The one downside here is that you just have to kinda ‘trust’ that you’ve got GPS signal. I find in general the little GPS icon (if you swipe from the top of the screen), isn’t a reliable indicator of having GPS signal. For most of us cycling though, by time you get everything all set outdoors it’ll have it, but since there’s no real status – perhaps give it a few extra seconds.
At this point you can swipe left/right through the data pages, or you can press either of the two left buttons to iterate through the pages. Somewhat annoyingly you can’t simply swipe left or right forever, instead, you eventually hit a ‘wall’, and have to go back the other way.
Without getting into navigation (which I cover in the next section), it’s pretty much like any other bike computer in terms of showing data fields. There’s nothing special here.
What you may notice is how many features you’ve come to expect that are missing. There’s no Strava Live Segments, no virtual partner type options, no structured workouts that are downloadable, no live tracking (nor friend tracking), no trainer control, no other sensor types like Di2 or eTAP, nor muscle oxygen or anything else. Nor any apps. Hammerhead has various timelines for some of these, but it’s gonna be a while till you see the majority of them on the Karoo.
And even then, it’s kinda hard for me to know what your specific ‘must-have’ feature is. By that, I mean that everyone has things they consider show-stoppers, but sometimes they just don’t realize it till it’s not there. In culmination, these can kill a new entrant, because everyone’s ‘must-have’ list is different. One person might say they must have Varia Radar support, and another doesn’t give one fart about that. It’s effectively death by a thousand cuts.
Still, from a basic data display standpoint, I haven’t had any recent issues. That all works just fine. And there are some unique things here that aren’t seen elsewhere. For example, when I finish a ride, I get a Strava upload screen:
This screen actually allows me to set things like privacy settings and even the title of my ride before uploading to Strava. I’ll still likely go to my Strava mobile app to add a photo or what-not, but at least the title and privacy settings are correct.
Speaking of mobile apps, there is no mobile app for the Karoo (nor any plans to at this point). Similarly, at present, there’s no smartphone notifications (e.g. missed calls or texts or what-not). Hammerhead doesn’t really have any timelines for those either. Like almost everything out there, it’ll be one person’s ‘must-have’ and another person’s ‘don’t care’. Still, I do believe some things are definitely more important, especially if they’re considered baseline on even the cheapest connected bike computers these days.
Also of note, your ride file isn’t accessible locally on the unit (meaning you can’t plug the file in and access it locally via USB drive). However, your activity file is synced to their web platform and you can download the .FIT file there. The site still is pretty new, so you can’t do things like actually see your ride. It’s just a list to download.
But at least it’s there, it wasn’t always there. Still, I really want to see them generate the .FIT files locally on the unit and make them accessible via USB. Simply put – I don’t trust any company’s web platforms (Suunto was down for more than half a week just a couple weeks ago). I want to know that I can always access my workouts (my data) without having to upload to a site first.
Mapping & Navigation:
Since Hammerhead’s very first product (the H1), it’s always been about mapping and navigation. In fact, they even went out last year and acquired/hired the developers behind dynamicWatch (aka dwMap) Ironically, that app was voted a winner at Garmin’s Connect IQ Summit last year.
In order to dig into mapping, I’m actually going to start on their website. This isn’t required, but it’s definitely unique and notable. Also, its almost the only thing actually on the website, thus, seems relevant to talk about. You’ve got two options for creating a route. First is to import a previous route. This is actually super cool. You can just copy and paste any Strava route or activity, as well as any activity from any one of the services noted below. And of course files like GPX files too:
From there it’ll automatically create the route for you…and done. It’s that easy. It shows up in your list of routes. You’ll see the ones with the orange Strava icon are ones I pulled in from Strava. I can also click on any of them to get options like editing the routes.
But what if I want to create a route from scratch? I can do that via the route builder, which brings up a map and allows me to play ‘connect the dots’, like most other route engines:
The only problem is that sometimes it’s kinda finicky. It seems to have more troubles with traffic being on the wrong side of the road (Australia/UK/etc…) than being on the right side of the road. When back in France or on a trip to Amsterdam, I didn’t have such routing issues. Part of it is that you have to specifically click on the correct side of the road, else it’ll do odd things. That may sound obvious, but most other routing engines seem to figure it out better.
Another challenge is that it’s heavily biased towards putting you on bike paths (above right). That may sound like a good thing, but even in the example above it goes out of its way to put me on a shared use path that’s more appropriate for running strollers and beach cruisers than road bikes. Below, it routed me off this road to do apparently a real-estate tour of the neighborhood for a few hundred meters, because a crappy dirt bike path exists there.
Which then leads to the next issue – a maximum limit of points. Since I have to spend more time correcting where it’s going, you end up using those points pretty quickly. It used to be 30 points, but now it’s about 90 points. But even that’s easy to hit up against in any meaningfully long ride. My example ride above is a mere 13.6mi (21K), and I used 36 points to avoid all the required wonky automation onto sidewalks (and even then there’s still some wonk I just ignored). You can get around this limitation by just importing in from other services (I.e. Strava), but it’s not ideal. Also, before someone asks – no, you can’t do waypoints.
Personally, I don’t find much value in waypoints 99% of the time, but I know a bunch of folks do. To each their own.
Still, despite its quirks, I get my route all finished:
You’ll then see it listed within the list of routes:
Then, almost immediately (often within a second or two) you’ll find it available on your Karoo, assuming it’s connected to WiFi. You can tap to then set the whole route as offline, which downloads more detailed maps for that specific route.
You can tap the route to zoom around it, or even edit it.
In theory, you can also add stops which would be crazy cool. I tried searching for various local businesses though (for example ‘Boost Juice’, a smoothie shop), but it never found the place, or it found shops of that chain located thousands of miles away. So it doesn’t appear to search close to the route.
With that all settled, let’s head out on a ride with routing. In order to best demonstrate that, I’ve got an entire video on routing and how it looks, which you can watch here:
On non-map data pages, it’ll display a banner at the bottom as you approach a turn:
If you miss a turn it’ll give suggested routes to get back on track. Further, you’ll see upcoming turn alerts shown as well on all pages, regardless of which screen you’re on. Below, you see a thin blue line with the suggested route to get back on track. The red line is where I was supposed to be. The grey line behind me is where I’ve gone (I rather like that coloring).
The biggest and most important takeaways though you may have picked up from the video are:
– There are no audio alerts built into the device: Thus, you have to watch your screen for upcoming alerts. The hardware simply doesn’t exist in Karoo to make a beep. The company says they’re looking to add Bluetooth headphone support (which would also work with helmets like the COROS Linx I use). But they don’t have a timeline for that.
– The routing engine is actually pretty forgiving: In my experience it does a really good job and trying to figure out a better route forward after you ignore it or miss a turn. That said, in the past on previous firmware versions I have seen cases where it’s almost too excited to give me a new (more scenic) route, even when I’m already on the existing route. I haven’t seen that in the current firmware version.
– The map downloading piece is precisely what Garmin should be doing: Garmin seems to be dragging tooth and nail against making it easy to have maps on their devices. I get they think they can make money on that piece (especially outside your default region), but nobody cares. It’s a core reason why Wahoo has succeeded – it just works and people don’t pay extra. Now, Wahoo actually doesn’t have legit on-device turn by turn navigation like Garmin or Hammerhead does. The Wahoo devices don’t really know what streets you’re on, they just hope you don’t go off-course, as it can’t re-route you back onto course. That’s the key difference in mapping here, and Karoo makes it the most seamless thing in the world to have the right super-detailed maps for your device, when and where you need them.
All that said, routing mostly works well for me while riding – but I think the lack of audio alerts is a pretty significant issue. It’s less of a problem when your next turn is in 38KM. But in busy city type riding, having to constantly be watching the screen waiting for the next turn is a pain in the butt. I rarely got my turns right when routing through cities.
Smartphone Connectivity & Online Site:
Sometimes I include sections within a review, even when said section will be relatively empty. It’s largely done to assist those trying to find out information on a specific aspect of the topic. Especially when the topic is a big ticket item and folks might incorrectly assume I’ve forgotten about it.
In most of my device reviews I include a section about the smartphone app and online site experience. But in this case, that’s kinda hard to do.
Starting with the smartphone app: There is no app.
There’s at present no method to connect to the Karoo from your smartphone, save creating a WiFi hotspot. But even then, that’s not an app – that’s just allowing the Karoo to access the interwebs to upload/download things. In talking with the company, they say that they really wanted Karoo to stand alone on its own as a device, and not need a smartphone app.
And there’s some truth to that. I haven’t really needed one per se. But at the same time – the general trend in the industry is well-designed apps that enhance the experience. They aim to make it faster and easier to create routes, view activities after a ride, or track fitness related stats like how your FTP is trending or your HR zones for that activity or month. These are all common things in one form or another on all Garmin or Wahoo devices.
More importantly though – it also means there’s no connectivity to your smartphone for functions like smartphone notifications of texts or calls (or any other apps). Same goes for live tracking (none).
Shifting focus to the site, I covered the route navigation piece in the previous section (which is pretty cool). But I didn’t really cover anything else on the site up till this point.
Because there is nothing else. For real.
The only other tab/page/anything is a single list of your completed activities:
From there you can tap the cloud icon to download the .FIT file of that activity.
And that’s it. There are at this time no other functions.
Of course, such an approach isn’t new. Readers will know that Wahoo also gets away with having no site at all (so even less than Hammerhead). But in Wahoo’s case they have a highly functional companion smartphone app. They also have extensive 3rd party app integration (versus just activity upload to Strava at this time for Hammerhead).
And to Hammerhead’s credit, their cloud-sync option for your user profile pieces is pretty cool. I can login on a new device (or reset my existing device) – and everything follows me. My data pages and field configurations, my downloaded routes, and all assortment of settings. It’s just instantly there when I connect to WiFi and sign-in with my username. That’s something that nobody else has today in the industry, surprisingly enough.
GPS & Data Accuracy:
Typically speaking when it comes to GPS bike computers I’m looking at accuracy in three categories:
A) GPS Accuracy: How well does it track where you went from a track/mapping standpoint?
B) Elevation Accuracy: How well does it track your elevation gain (as well as things like grade/incline)?
C) Data Sensor Accuracy: Does it accurately capture sensors like power meters and heart rate?
In general, for most bike computers I review, bullet point A above on GPS accuracy is usually pretty easy. Watches, on the other hand, tend to be more complicated here, but bike computers – largely by virtue of your speed, tend to do fairly well. And the same is true of the Karoo too. If I look at track file after track file, it’s essentially perfect. It not only nails the road I travelled on, but generally even the correct lane I was in.
Just picking a bunch of random screenshots here. For example, today’s ride showed near perfect alignment, even through some building construction areas:
Last week on a longer route with plenty of twists and turns as I rounded to and through the city and back, including a few bridges (over and under):
If we look at the distances on that ride, all of these three via GPS, we’ll see they’re within 50m in total – for the entire 53KM ride. That’s solid.
Skimming through the entire 53KM, I can only find a single turn to nitpick (and really, it’s if I’m really nitpicking), whereby the Karoo cut the corner by a couple of meters. But there were other spots where the Garmin did similar.
No matter how many sets I look at, the result is the same – there’s zero issues with GPS on the Karoo from what I see. Be it accumulated distance, or the actual track files – it’s super clean. Below – a total variance of +/- 75m off the average between them, on 32KM (thus 0.1% – 1/10th of 1%).
Another ride, from today, if we look at recorded distance – all the units are within 100m of each other on a 21K ride. In fact, it’s actually even closer than that. The one that’s 21,900m is using the PowerTap hub ground-speed data, putting it 100m higher than the others. Else, all units are within 10 meters of each other, which is kinda crazy.
Next, I’d typically look at elevation data accuracy. Unfortunately in the case of the Karoo that’s not possible yet. See, the unit doesn’t yet leverage its internal barometric altimeter for anything. So it’s not showing elevation data from that, nor is it recording data from that. Thus at present there are no elevation data fields. [Update: As of the latest software, this is now being recorded. I’ll look at get a few rides in and add some charts.]
The good news is that Hammerhead has it on the short-list to implement the barometric altimeter data. The bad news is that it’s simply not there today, and without it even recording altimeter data, I can’t begin to compare it. The files are just empty for that data field (see above how it shows 0.00m for ascent).
Finally, there’s the aspect of data collection – primarily around sensor data, but not explicitly. Still, since sensor data is actually the most straightforward one to analyze, I’m going to focus on that. To do so, I’m comparing data gathered from the same sensor on multiple devices. In this case, it’s a power meter and a heart rate strap. The power meter also broadcasts cadence too. Note however that as of this writing, the Karoo cannot trigger a power meter to calibrate (zero offset). That’s coming shortly, but as of today you’ll need to use some other method of doing that.
Up until yesterday, I was having issues with power meter data collection and it doing some incorrect stuff around zero values. However, per the release notes and my ride from this afternoon, the latest firmware now fixes that. You can see that most easily in my data sets, but also just in the values recorded from the same power meter on two different head units. Here’s today’s ride for example.
If I look at the data charts, those power meters show virtually identical plots:
You will see very slight per-second variances due to the way the units receive the data packets, but if you look at the mean/max graph, it’s also virtually identical. The only differences you see (tiny ones) are at the sprints, which again is totally normal since you’re talking 1-second sampling rate differences.
That said, I suspect there’s some bumps in the road ahead on different units that aren’t on my bike at this second. For example, certain SRM power meter models are still a challenge for Wahoo’s head units. It’s due to a very specific version of SRM units that can cause the issue. But there are many such data quirks that companies like Hammerhead, Wahoo, and Garmin have to (and have already) deal with. It’s simply that the longer a company has been around, the longer they have known about these things to figure out.
So in my case, I can only report back the specific sensors I’ve tested with. In this case, most of my time with the Karoo has been using the following sensors: Stages LR power meter, Wahoo TICKR X heart rate strap, Wahoo TICKR FIT heart rate strap, PowerTap G3 hub power meter, and the Shimano R9100P power meter. I’ve undoubtedly connected a few other items in there, but those are the biggies off the top of my head.
(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)
In many (most) ways, the sustainability of Karoo as a product (and likely Hammerhead as a company) depends 110% on the next 3-6 months. That may sound obvious, but it’s quite different than most other products.
That’s because put quite simply, Karoo is a barely finished product. Actually, a little card in the package states that they never expect to be finished – to be always evolving. And while that’s a laudable Silicon Valley-type techie goal, one has to step back and compare features (which the next section does). A pretty screen only gets you so far if you’re missing the things people want.
The company has put together a plan for the next couple months, which they outline on this site (click the software tab).
That plan is both aggressive and not at the same time. It’s aggressive in the very short term (I.e. few weeks), but less so when you look longer term (I.e. summer). Sure, the company doesn’t want to show all their eggs for fear of competitors stealing them. But honestly, they need to show that they’re going to at least reach feature parity with their competitors. Things like Strava Live Segments, connecting to platforms like Training Peaks and Today’s Plan, integrating with your phone for smartphone notifications and so on.
Speaking of 3rd party connectivity – you may be wondering about apps. In fact, you may be wondering why I’ve only used the word ‘Android’ once in this entire review. The reason is simple: While the unit is Android, that has no practical meaning here. They aren’t opening up the doors for you to download YouTube (or Strava) on it. It’s totally locked down – even more so than your average Android phone. Instead, they hope to entice developers to work with them via their own app store for Karoo. That’s going to be a tough sell until they can get volume such that a 3rd party believes it’s in their interest to invest in Karoo over apps on Garmin or a direct integration with Wahoo. A really tough sell.
Still, all Hammerhead can keep doing is keep their head down and just release features. Of course, balancing that with managing what will likely be a slew of bugs for a new product launch (like any new product launch) will slow things short term.
Product Comparison Tool:
I’ve added the Karoo into the product comparison database, which allows me (and you) to compare various features on the product against other unit competitors. In this case, I put it up against what I think are the most relevant/viable competitors in the space – the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT and the Garmin Edge 520 and 820. I put both Garmin Edge units, because one is mapping focused and one is not. It’s also quite valid to compare against the Edge 1000 – since that’s the same price these days. And of course the ELEMNT and ELMNT BOLT are identical software-wise, just different screen sizes and an extra LED light bar. In any case, you can mix and match those all as you see fit here.
|Function/Feature||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated October 11th, 2022 @ 6:33 pm New Window|
|Product Announcement Date||July 1st, 2015||July 13th, 2016||May 2nd, 2017||Mar 14th, 2017|
|Actual Availability/Shipping Date||July 31st, 2015||Mid-July 2016||Feb 9th, 2018 [No longer available]||Mar 14th, 2017|
|GPS Recording Functionality||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Data Transfer||USB & Bluetooth Smart||USB, Bluetooth, WiFi||WiFi||Bluetooth Smart, WiFi, USB|
|Battery Life (GPS)||15 hours||15 hours||10-15hrs||15 hours|
|Recording Interval||1-Second or Smart||1-Second or Smart||1-second||1-second|
|Alerts||Audio/Visual||Sound/Visual||Visual||AUDIO/VISUAL + LED's|
|Ability to download custom apps to unit/device||Yes||Yes||In future||No|
|Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)||No||No||N/A||N/A||Music||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Can control phone music||No||No||No||No|
|Has music storage and playback||No||No||No||No|
|Streaming Services||No||Payments||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Contactless-NFC Payments||No||Connectivity||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Bluetooth Smart to Phone Uploading||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Live Tracking (streaming location to website)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)||No||No||Yes (with SIM card added)||No||Cycling||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Designed for cycling||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter Capable||Yes||YEs||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter Configuration/Calibration Options||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter TSS/NP/IF||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Speed/Cadence Sensor Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strava segments live on device||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Crash detection||Yes||Yes||No||No||Running||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Designed for running||N/A||No||No||N/A|
|VO2Max Estimation||(CYCLING YES THOUGH)||(Cycling Yes though)||(No for cycling too)||N/A|
|Recovery Advisor||(CYCLING YES THOUGH)||(Cycling Yes Though)||(No for cycling too)||N/A||Triathlon||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Designed for triathlon||N/A||No||No||N/A||Workouts||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Create/Follow custom workouts||Yes||Yes||Yes via TrainingPeaks||Yes|
|On-unit interval Feature||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Training Calendar Functionality||Yes||Yes||No||No||Functions||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Auto Start/Stop||Yes||Yes||Auto-pause/restart (but not Auto-Start)||Yes|
|Virtual Partner Feature||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Virtual Racer Feature||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Tidal Tables (Tide Information)||N/A||No||N/A||N/A|
|Weather Display (live data)||Yes||Yes||No||No||Navigate||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)||Yes for maps (but not routable)||Yes||Yes||Sorta (Maps yes, but technically not routable)|
|Back to start||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Impromptu Round Trip Route Creation||No||Yes||No (But can create one-way routes on device)||No (But can create one-way routes from phone app)|
|Download courses/routes from phone to unit||Yes||Yes||No (only via WiFi from site)||Yes||Sensors||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Heart Rate Strap Compatible||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Heart Rate Strap Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Speed/Cadence Capable||YEs||YEs||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Footpod Capable||No||No||No||No|
|ANT+ Power Meter Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Lighting Control||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|ANT+ Bike Radar Integration||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|ANT+ Remote Control||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|ANT+ eBike Compatibility||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Shimano Di2 Shifting||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bluetooth Smart HR Strap Capable||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Capable||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Bluetooth Smart Footpod Capable||No||No||No||YEs|
|Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Capable||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Temp Recording (internal sensor)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Temp Recording (external sensor)||No||No||No||No||Software||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|PC Application||Garmin Express||Garmin Express (PC/Mac)||No||N/A|
|Web Application||Garmin Connect||Garmin Connect||Yes||N/A|
|Phone App||iOS/Android/Windows Phone||iOS/Android/Windows PHone||No||iOS/Android|
|Ability to Export Settings||No||No||No||No||Purchase||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||Garmin Edge 520||Garmin Edge 820||Hammerhead Karoo||Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT|
Again, remember you can mix and match to make your own comparison charts here in the product comparison database.
The Hammerhead Karoo shows a lot of promise of what a bike computer could be, specifically with respect to high-quality displays and fast touch interactions. It’s effectively like using a streamlined phone on your handlebars (well, because technically it is). But the challenge is converting that promise into reality. As I’ve said numerous times over the last 6 or so months, I don’t expect Hammerhead to be a serious contender to Garmin or Wahoo until 12-18 months after release.
It took Wahoo 12 months after the release of the ELEMNT to be in a competitive spot with the BOLT (which has done fantastically well). But that was after having 3+ years of bike computer development experience with the RFLKT product line. They had a jump start that Hammerhead doesn’t. On the flip side, Hammerhead isn’t burdened by expectations and legacy baggage like a company such as Garmin (or even Wahoo) would be.
There are elements within Karoo today that are fantastically unique and move bike computers forward. They include the Strava customization, offline map download pieces, user profile/settings cloud sync, and of course the speed and brilliance of the display. And if we look down the road at some of what they’ve proposed – those too could be uniquely leveraged – such as their SIM card support.
But you just have to understand it’s a long game. If you’re looking for the best bike computer $300 can buy today for immediate use, I don’t think the Karoo is it. But if you’re looking down the road, perhaps Fall 2018 or Winter 2019 – Karoo could be very compelling to a lot of people that are looking for something different.
With that – thanks for reading!
Thanks for the review Ray, and thank you to all the folks here at DCR who have supported Karoo!
We have built the most capable hardware on the market. We have a ways to go on software before we can call ourselves the market leader. We are moving fast on software and look forward to your feedback to help us prioritize next features. We are listening, working hard and greatly appreciate the input! Head over to https://support.hammerhead.io if you want to get in touch with us.
not strictly speaking “the most capable” as there is no audio alerts !
I have been paying close attention to Hammerhead since Hammer ONE kickstarter day one, and I did own 2 of them. It was very promising at first but once I had the unit, it turned out to be a big disappointment. Now they pretty much ditched ONE and started all over again with another product, giving the experience I have with Hammerhead, I am reluctant to get the bike computer….
I was soooo going there. Not even close without audible alerts without using something in my helmet or ears.
Must beep, without that basic safety feature this early adopter won’t buy it, and your claim of most capable hardware rings hollow. Hope that helps, want to support.
Agree with the comments above. I would seriously consider buying this product because of the navigation features but the lack of audio cues feature is a killer for me.
LOL at the beeping. Not that I think it’s useless, but during a fat bike ultra race 3 weeks ago my Garmin (810) lost the signal … on the middle of a frozen lake. And started beeping; every 5 seconds for the best part of 40 minutes. I was very close to simply turning off the damn thing.
It is unfortunately a recurring issue, especially when following a route on adventure rides (trails, gravel, or off-piste races). And it proves recalcitrant and difficult to correct. Due to the course (it required going through the lake then across a specific spot to go down and up on the banks) I needed the navigation. That and the well known occasional Garmin shutdown issues made me consider a change.
We’ll see how it goes with the Karoo.
Same with the Garmin Edge 1000. Random shutdowns… random reboots… lost rides. My unit would randomly turn itself on… 10… 15… 30 minutes after I turned it off.
I had a Karoo on order as a replacement… until it started to become obvious that version 1 of the Karoo wasn’t living up to the pre-release hype. I canceled my order. Now I’m using the Wahoo Elemnt. I’m glad I switched!
Of the members of our community who have expressed their concern that Karoo will not make any native sound, we hear you (no pun intended!) and are actively discussing possible solutions. Some are complex and time-consuming, while others are quicker and easier; reliability and efficacy, without drastic hardware revisions, are the main objectives. Hardware revisions, even for a relatively small feature, are very taxing of a company’s resources – especially a small one like ours – so we’re moving very carefully along this topic.
We’ll certainly share any developments with our community more broadly! Until then, we’re still working to optimize the visual navigation experience, with the hope of mitigating the need for audio cues for most riders.
Oops – please ignore the accidental logo upload!
What are your thoughts now?
Just received mine this morning!!!!!!!!! 🙂 Can’t wait to play with it this we.
Another great review, for a company starting out with a clean sheet of paper they have done a very bad job in my view, no noise prompts for turns… bad, no smartphone integration… bad, in fact I am struggling to find any reason to buy one and I am glad I didn’t. I have an 820, 12 months ago I would of crushed it with a rock if I could of afforded a new computer, but Garmin have fixed all the software issues (it wouldn’t re-route or work when going off route.. such as going to a coffee shop 50 meters off route), wouldn’t show the Map page when turns came up (like the 800 did) which was horrible as cross roads, it would say turn right… so you did and then ask you to do a u-turn!!!, plus a few other horrible nasties that the 800 didn’t have, all have been fixed, the only thing left which can’t be fixed is that horrible touch screen. The Karoo has no USP from what I can see and too much missing, they have got it badly wrong.
I just received mine yesterday. So far, it excels at the things it is able to do (so far). I have no doubt that Hammerhead will continue to add features to it. You say that you were going to crush your 820 with a rock a year ago, and it didn’t do the things your 800 did. And those things seem to have finally been fixed. So Garmin (a well established company that has a long history in making cycling computers) released a product that didn’t do the basic things that it’s previous iteration of the computer did, and it took them a year to fix it? And is still has issues (touchscreen)? Yet, in the same response you are calling Hammerhead out for not doing specific things right out of the gate with their very first cycling computer?
I was an early adopter of the Wahoo ELEMNT (non-Bolt), and it did lack basic features at first in addition to not connecting to or dropping signals with several sensor types/brands. It, also, took Wahoo a very long time to finally omit 0’s from average cadence. Something that seems so simple yet took a very long time for them to do. It has come a long way in the time it has been out, but it’s clear it can’t evolve too much more as it simply doesn’t have the hardware to do more things.
The Karoo has the hardware to do a ton. As Ray states, it’s up to Hammerhead to implement the software to make full use of that hardware. The Hammerhead team seems like very smart individuals and want to make their device the best in the industry. It’s a lofty goal, but I do hope they succeed.
another Karoo convert here, coming from the 820 and its horrible touch screen (then I have an edge Touring too, which is just the same, so maybe the issue is not just with the 820) – Karoo doesn’t really need smartphone integration since it can connect directly (it has its own sim…) beeps for prompts is less necessary since map is much more responsive (main reason for beeps on the 820 was missed turns due to the slow map) defining a route while on the road is a breeze (definitely cannot say the same for the 820… actually, when I need to define a new route with my 820, I usually pull out my iPhone and use google maps instead!)
of course it lacks training features (for now) and probably won’t be doing many of the things Garmin’s can for a while, but navigation is the most important to me (and I guess I’m not the only one) can’t say they got it that wrong IMO… 😉
Thing is Garmin has far more resources than Hammerhead and a long track record of delivering improvements to existing products. Hammerhead is the opposite — few resources and a bad record for supporting products.
well… Garmin improving its products as a reaction is all I can hope for ! I was really tired with having to cope with their horrendous maps and routing for lack of a real alternative (I fear this is one area where they never improved, and sadly enough that’s the one that matters most to me).
Now, if Garmin reacts, I’d be happy to buy from them again, but this year, Hammerhead gets my money… and if ever they manage to become a durable contender on that market, I’d be happy for them.
One of the top cycling equipment decisions i have made to date was to shelf Garmin for Wahoo. Touch screen on a bike is just not for me. Spotty in the rain, hard to see, distracting when trying to use. The element is superb for me compared to Garmin. Wahoo has everything I want in a cycling computer, and continues to develop. Two totally different markets I guess touch screen vs non touch screen. Touch screen is like down tube shifters to me, very usable but why would you now?
Don’t know man, the complaints about the 820 sound a lot like the complaints I have with the 810. Not sure how much they’ve been improving things.
Did you get to check out claimed battery life?
One of the negatives of using a smart phone as a GPS unit is the screen backlight drains the battery quickly so I’m interested to know how Hammerhead does given it appears to be similar to a smart phone.
Also screen legibility?
One of the plus points for me about the Wahoo ELEMNT b&w display is I find the screen a lot more legible than a Garmin colour screen, particularly in bright sunlight when wearing sunglasses.
However my 50 year old plus eyesight isn’t very good and not getting any better!
battery life is great. after 3h ride I had 74% left
screen is amazing and readability under direct sunlight (yes sun is shining in Belgium) is very good
Screen legibility is in general good. I have on two occasions managed to have the hot and bright Australian summer sun hit it just right where it was hard to see (as seen in my routing video when riding at high noon) – but otherwise it’s been fine.
For battery, I’ll be letting it hang out on the deck over the next day or so to do battery life tests. I tend to do them after I publish a review and add them back in (unless I see something of concern during regular use), simply because I’m usually using the unit up till the last minute on review to prep photos/text/etc…
The only problematic battery thing is that sometimes I find it doesn’t properly go into standby after a ride, but I haven’t had that problem this week (I had it last week though – so it’d drain itself till death overnight). But again, nothing obvious on that since the latest updates.
I did a 6 hr ride the other day and battery was down to 3% at finish. Glad it will take a charge from a powerbank while riding!
The problem with just leaving it out on a deck is then you aren’t doing the cpu intensive work of constant navigation which tends to drain the battery much faster. Try having two garmin edge 8×0 devices on a ride, one following a course and left on the map screen during a ride and the other just on a data screen and no course loaded.
Of course, the deck/garden/whatever tests were/are never perfect, but they do establish a ‘best case’ scenario to work better from.
Plus, in the case of Karoo we pretty much already know that the biggest battery draw is the screen, not the mapping engine.
Rode 4 hours today, with screen set to dark, at lowest brightness setting and auto-adjust off. Karoo battery at 59% at finish. Much improved performance. Had no trouble reading data, in daylight or darkness. That said, it wasn’t too bright out today – maybe a bright sunny day would make me turn brightness up.
I call b.s. on this.
The sun never shines in Belgium.
On the subject of battery life: Karoo’s battery optimization was, and still is, a subject of great focus during the product’s development. In our testing, at various processing loads, the battery lasts 15 hours or more. In a “sleep” mode or other passive states, we’ve had the battery last for up to six days – and we’re going to keep working on it to make it even better. Stay tuned.
I don’t know how you tested, but my battery was completely drained after 5 hours.
Bluetooth off, WiFi off, no route planning, and only a powermeter and a speedsensor connected. Temperature 17 degrees Celcius and cloudy.
Carl, My battery is typically in the 40-45% range after 5 hours of riding in 5C-23C temps. One difference that I see is it looks like you have cellular turned on. I don’t have a SIM card in my Karoo so I don’t have that sucking up power, not sure how much difference disabling the cellular would make but it might be worth trying. You didn’t mention screen settings – I am running mine with Auto Adjust off and backlight set to lowest setting. I find it is still readable at that setting in almost all lighting situations.
Does it have auto scroll?
no or not yet
I did not have the turn by turn notification on my other data screens except for the map screen (obviously). when switching from dark theme to light theme it appeared briefly but then again it went away
hardware is imo great (except for the lack of a speaker/buzzer), SW still needs a lot of work.
At this moment I cannot use it as my main computer.
Also when uploading to Strava, only a part of my ride was uploaded and the .fit file I downloaded from the dashboard was corrupt…
I believe in this project don’t get me wrong, but it will need plenty more time. Hoped they had a better product by now.
Hmm, not sure why it’s not showing up for you. As seen the turn notification is on that photo I took this afternoon on the latest build that I downloaded a few hours prior (the second update this week).
May be worth using that feedback link on both issues to see if they can trace it down.
Ray, did the use of B/T audio with ear buds for nav prompts and zone alarms come up in your discussions? Thanks.
Yeah, there’s no specific timeframe for implementing that (audio alerts via BT).
Personally, I think that once mainstream cycling media starts to review the device, the lack of audio alerts will become it’s biggest hindering block. I don’t see BT alerts as a great fix for it, but it’s better than nothing (in general I don’t believe folks should be wearing headphones while riding, though I have less concerns with helmet audio that doesn’t block the ears).
I specifically recommended to them that they look to find a manufacturing break-point well before Interbike/Eurobike that they can add the audio beeper too the units. Like any company they’ll have various hardware iterations that you as a user never really see. Small manuf changes are totally common. This is slightly more than that, but I’d personally get out in front of it. I don’t think waiting 1-2 years for a new hardware version is wise. I also wouldn’t let that small audio hardware change (if they do such a thing, which they’ve not at all said they will – purely a DCR suggestion), become a larger snowball. There would be great temptation to add in other items, but before you know it…it spirals out of control.
I would note however that I actually wouldn’t make that change for another 1-2 months. The reason? In the event they find some other hardware-specific issue after having boatloads of people use it, they can incorporate those changes into such a unit.
Obviously, adding in a beeper would upset existing users (again, if they did it, purely my recommendation). For that I’ve got no good solution, but I’d point out that not doing it will hurt them more than doing it from a business standpoint.
Again, purely my two cents…
Wearing ear buds is the fast track to the ER. And if you think you really need to wear some kind of BT audio speaker, use something like Aftershokz which leaves your ears uncovered.
Not having a speaker was my number 1 reason to cancel my Karoo order.
Wise thoughts, all. I’m adamant that folks not use earbuds on rides — for obvious reasons. From too many years riding NYC subways I have enough of a hearing deficit to require aids. Mine are B/T enabled so I may be able to jury-rig them for audio from the Karoo if H enables that function. Otherwise I can’t and won’t use buds. I hope it doesn’t.
Your comments and suggestions are worth infinitely more than mine, but in direct contacts with the company I said its key to make us, the early adopters, comfortable and happy. You’re right the next 3-6 months is crucial for them both with software updates and customer relationship. I also implored them to stop the promotional stuff and let your deeds catch up with your words.
I’m impressed it rolled out two updates this week. Is it starting to walk-the-walk?
Here’s some ideas to solve the beeper problem.
Let’s say a Karoo Model 2 in the future gets a beeper. (It better or Karoo is DOOMED.)
As a courtesy to customers who purchased a Karoo1 HH also introduces a beeper bottom cover for Karoo Model 1.
Remove the old bottom, install the new bottom, and now you have a BT beeper powered by a coin battery with on/off/hi-low volume switch. Turn it on when you want. Turn it off when you don’t.
HH introduces a bone conduction BT speaker that clips onto your helmet strap and rests on your cheekbone in front of your ear. Now you’ve got beeps plus sound — safely.
Would you carry a bluetooth audio device just for beeps? You can’t really pair speakers to more then one audio device at a time. Maybe if the Karoo could receive audio from something else and then overlay its own audio on top.
For a device that is navigation first not having an indicator to tell you a turn is coming up other then constantly monitoring the screen is a big oversight.
New bottom cover with beeper capabilities is a no-brainer
They could put out a mini USB speaker bar.
The bottom cover idea could certainly be interesting, though, my bet is their cost of doing that would likely be greater all-things totaled (time+money) than other options (since that would require new molds, etc…) Whereas adding in the beeper on a board is probably actually a less complicated path.
Though, I do appreciate the creativeness of the back cover idea. 🙂
Brace for more creativity: that speaker back could also plug into the USB, eliminating the speaker battery and the potentially unstable (and definitely battery consuming) Bluetooth link. Of course the usb charging would have to be passed through to a secondary port on the speaker back. And while we’re at it, a fully waterproof charging connector could be included as well. For people who only want the beeper for navigation, this would be a perfect “long distance” configuration, day to day training rides could use the regular (then called “aero”?).
But I agree that cost would be prohibitive for a small band-aid run like that. It might actually be even more expensive than just offering free (or very cheap) swaps to 1.1 for early adopters. Which I absolutely don’t expect to happen. Maybe (big maybe) if they actually do make it to the originally announced full price I could imagine a swap offer for the the pre-order/final price difference happening.
I agree – this is a very wise suggestion for them. I was perfectly willing to wait for other features to be delivered via software updates, but 9 months after I placed my order I canceled it when I learned there was no hardware support for audio.
Hi All – my copy-and-pasted response to the same topic above:
Of the members of our community who have expressed their concern that Karoo will not make any native sound, we hear you (no pun intended!) and are actively discussing possible solutions. Some are complex and time-consuming, while others are quicker and easier; reliability and efficacy, without drastic hardware revisions, are the main objectives. Hardware revisions, even for a relatively small feature, are very taxing of a company’s resources – especially a small one like ours – so we’re moving very carefully along this topic.
We’ll certainly share any developments with our community more broadly! Until then, we’re still working to optimize the visual navigation experience, with the hope of mitigating the need for audio cues for most riders.
I think all this anti-blutooth earbud talk is a bit alarmist: unless you have bose noise-cancelling or the customized ear-canal type, they block scarcely any environmental noise. There are far more potent risks we willingly accept. Riding around NYC, for instance, involves so much noise pollution that you’re in no way safer with a few decibels more volume at high frequencies, either from a Tesla or from a teenager in an RS7 over the speed-limit. I’d vastly prefer bluetooth connectivity & my low-volume techno to waiting for KarooV2 or a whole separate product cycle. (Btw, I was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on a fixie, in the bike lane, when a minivan apparently overtook me ’til I was in their blind-spot & slowly cut into my lane to make a turn, in front of an NYPD officer. As I was shaking off some minor scrapes, broken front wheel & dented laptop – both the assailant & cop pulled away like it was nothing. I’m glad I wasn’t on a full carbon back then, I may have an aggravated assault charge.)
While I’m at it, everyone wishing for Di2 support, keep being a squeeky gear on the Feature Requests page.
Nice review, as usual.
Price comparison is a bit misleading, as the pricetag increase to 499$ is imminent (using the word they like to use a lot :). I cancelled along the way in favor of the 1030, as I want a completely functional device NOW, not in one year. I’ll let HH prove they can build a competitive product first, as well as having service / distribution points in Europe, and it might be my next device in some years.
Yeah, I compare based on today’s pricing – which is $300. I don’t believe $499 is remotely sustainable for this unit anytime this year. Prices for high end cycling computers are set to plummet this year, not sustain/rise.
We’re seeing exactly what we saw in running GPS watches (features vs price) over the last 24 months starting to occur for bike computers.
Looks good enough to be bought by Fitbit to add to their platform. It’s hard to see them catching up at this pace.
Stopt reading after this “There is no audio alerts built into the device:”
Great review Ray. A couple of quick shots:
1. How about set weather usage? Or simply wet fingers touch responsiveness comparing to 1030?
2. Can you quickly create a route in Taiwan just to see if it supports Chinese?
thanks a lot.
I’ve somehow managed to have zero rain in Australia since I arrived in early January.
However, as always I got rain back in France and a week in Amsterdam – so no issues came up then. I might try and shoot a shower video with it or something. On the flip side, I haven’t really had any water issues on my Edge 1030 either. It’s not as fast as the Karoo of course, but water hasn’t been a problem for me (and I’ve got far more wet riding time there with that).
It’s a tough one to know for sure. I went into the route creater and clicked around a bit. I see street names in English characters and Chinese. But the routing engine doesn’t really show me on the site what I’d get on the device. And if I were to load on the device it wouldn’t route for me since I’m thousands of miles away. It’d probably best to defer to Hammerhead on this one. :-/
Thanks for trying, Ray. Could you just drag the map to Taiwan on the Karoo just to check if Chinese road name is displayed? Thanks a lot!
Yup, in Chinese. I downloaded an offline map of the area, and then I went to create a route from the device itself in that area. I started off putting ‘Taiwan City’ in English as the from spot, and interestingly, as soon as I did that it converted it to Chinese characters (though, I have no idea what it says in Chinese).
Attached pic from my phone.
The last pieces of the puzzle would be either:
1. Chinese Keyboard (The usual variants like Changjie, Quick, Pin Yin, etc)
2. Accepts Google Maps routing (or any routing app on smart phone) so that I can create a route on my phone and send it to the HH while I’m outside.
I’m sorry, but out where we ride (in traffic, busy intersections, and the like) the lack of an audible alert for navigation purposes makes this a non-starter. This is very seriously a life/death issue; to expect a cyclist to be constantly reading the screen to see where the next turn is is simply ludicrous and dangerous. There is a reason all others have a loud and clear sound. Hell, there is a reason why in-car GPS units do that too, and have for years. No go.
If they really wanted to vault past the competition, they’d add a speaker and spoken turn directions, just like in-car GPS units do.
I don’t see any need this device is meeting. That being said, I am surprised how many people want / use navigation.
Thanks for the review Ray. Your write up is pretty much exactly what I’ve been looking at and thinking since I received mine about a week and a half ago.
I’m really kinda torn right now because I’m trying to weigh the promises made and future possibilities, with the actual functionality of the device we received. I want to give it a chance, but in it’s current state it is nowhere near what we were sold in the advertising and marketing, and I don’t see it getting there before the expiration of the return period (45 days). As it is right now, it looks like it’s still going to be 3-6 months before it gets to what we were sold 9 months ago.
The lack of phone data connectivity actually did something to irk me yesterday. Just to test out navigation, I told it to find me a route from work to home so I could see how it ran as I drove home (about 25 miles by highway). Got the route setup, got in my car and tried to run it, and it lost the route. I noticed this as I got to the edge of the parking lot, so I typed in my home address to setup the new route…. it couldn’t find it because there was no network and I was out of WiFi range. This despite downloading maps for the surrounding 250 or so square miles (50x50mi area). Requiring a SIM for data is quickly becoming a burden. I think it’s great as being optional, but that’s an additional $10-20/mo cost (AT&T). I think an additional $120-240/year to get data outside of wifi is a big oversight for a $300 device… it’s an absolutely massive oversight for a $500 device.
I’m really trying to justify keeping it and waiting it out, but it’s really getting hard not to get my money back and pick up a used or open box 820 at this point.
Same problem here: can’t create a route offline. I don’t want to add a SIM card. The maps are on the device, I even downloaded an offline map, but Karoo won’t allow me to create a route when offline. Ridiculous! I just want to enter an address and start cycling, like I do on my current Mio Cyclo 315HC. Look like Hammerhead forgot something….
I must be the only person who doesn’t miss yelling ‘Shut up Garmin’ all the time.
Joking aside, do i wish it had audio alerts? Probably. But I stop well short of calling it a life/death issue. So you miss a turn, its ok. Stop, turn around when safe, enjoy life.
haha! no, you’re not the only one! Garmin had a tendency to beep way too much to my liking, I prefer riding in silence… 🙂
actually, it’s just like using a car GPS with no sound (which I usually do, so I feel perfectly at home) beeps were necessary on my edge 820 due to slow refresh rate and tiny screen, but not here.
However the audio can be turned off if it has it. So best of both worlds right. Whereas only 1 world here for now anyway..
One of the last things I said to my Garmin Car GPS was “recalculate this!” as I hurled it into the woods from my car window.
eTap is not a sensor type… it’s the second company to implement the ANT+ shifting profile which includes Campagnolo EPS (3 years ago) and FSA WE (whenever it shipped / ships?).
True. I was trying to simplify since I’ve yet to hear of an actual EPS user in the wild ask for connectivity (vs Di2/eTAP). I’m sure they’re out there somewhere…
Plus, I cover device profile types more specifically later in the review in the tables.
Good review Ray, thanks!
One thing on your unboxing that wasn’t reiterated in the review is the weight — the Karoo is a chunky monkey hanging on your bars in comparison to any of the other units.
Having all the wireless connectivity (ANT+, BT, Cell) and having no connection to the messages you get on your phone seems to be another huge omission, neverminding the missing Strava Live Segments.
I think the lack of sound, along with the extra weight, seriously diminishes desirablility, and this is compounded by Hammerhead’s over-the-top promises of a Garmin killer. A lot of people have waited through some Garmin teething problems and don’t want to switch manufacturers to find more teething problems.
Yeah, I’ll probably take some more weight/size shots and add them in here (as you/I noted, I went super-deep/overkill in the video on that). Just gotta take them…
How do you think the possibility to navigate in the mtb mountain trips, sometimes even outside any paths, just using prepared .gpx earlier? How would it navigate?
I think the best any device can do in that scenario is to warn you when you start to diverge from the planned route. Generally this is not a scenario that any device manufacturer tries to address. If someone really wanted to do the best they can in this situation, the device could display an arrow pointing in the direction of the planned route. I am not aware of any device that actually does this.
Garmin Edge devices warn you when you go off track.
Garmin etrex devices display an arrow pointing in the direction of the planning route (since they have a magnetic compass that Edge devices don’t have).
Hey Rainmaker – make it rain and tell me how well the touchscreen works when it’s wet! 😀
I stopped reading the instant I saw it was touchscreen.
I’ll stick with my Elemnt over any touchscreen.
I too was agains touch screens, but have to admit that the Karoo’s is very good: I had doubts, but I can definitely use it with my winter gloves (gore GTX-1) which is definitely impossible to do with my 820…
still have to try it in the rain, but there is nothing I didn’t manage to do using the buttons on the unit, apart from zooming in/out on the map (guess a software update could solve that if necessary) so not too worried…
Karoo has two interfaces: it has a touchscreen and also five buttons on its sides that control all functions redundantly.
Great timing. Mine should arrive by the time I get home today. You’ve made the decision on whether to crack open the box a little harder, though. It’s a lot of promise and with the myriad delays getting out the hardware, my hope is that the software stuff is quicker/easier? Still feeling a bit disappointed and burned by all the delays. Decisions, decisions…
Just a note on the comparison table, Hammerhead already bumped the price to $399 on the website, even though they said earlier they would hold at $299 till all the pre-orders are shipped and inventory is on hand.
unrelated to the this post, but for some reason when I go to your homepage the list of current posts isn’t updating and only shows posts prior to Feb 13th.
I swear this problem is going to be in whatever WordPress cache plugins this site uses or in the CDN if Ray uses one.
Yeah, there was a problem where some ISP’s were caching pages as of late January, but we resolved that about a week or so ago, so the Feb 13th date is actually kinda odd to me. We put in stronger ‘no-cache’ language on the homepage (basically, used two settings now to try and catch people using it the other way).
Davis – what browser/platform combo are you on?
I’m using Chrome and it’s still a problem. The most recent post showing up is: Sports Tech Round Up: Stryd, Live, BSX….
I’m left with a nagging question… WHY?
Bringing a product to market is hard work, let alone building an entirely new company – and this in a very mature market segment with entrenched competitors at various levels. You better have a really compelling reason to do that in 2018. Right? Or is this a Coke / Pepsi / Fanta thing?
actually, it does bring something : compared to your phone, planning and following a route on an edge device (I have an edge 820) feels like something from a different era… using your phone for cycling is definitely not great (even with a dedicated app, screen and battery life are big limiters) and none of these devices are very easy to use if you’re wearing gloves.
I just started using a Karoo today, and it definitely is a great tool for planning/following a route on a bike. Much better than my 820, and better suited for cycling than my phone. for the rest, we’ll see what the future brings…
Regarding using them while wearing gloves… my 810 works fine while wearing gloves… my Karoo, not so much. Unless the gloves are designed to be used with capacitive touch screens, you run into exactly the same issues as with phones. In fact, when wearing my heavy gloves, my iPhone is more responsive than my Karoo.
hmmm… that’s odd, I have a very good experience here, using mid weight gloves that are not designed for touch screens (Gore GTX-1) much better than with 820, and obviously they don’t work with my iPhone… have to admit that the icons Karoo uses are a bit too small to use with big gloves, maybe that’s what your issue is.
I sent Hammerhead a request to make the buttons bigger and spaced further apart from one another in order to make the use of gloves easier on some screens, maybe you should do the same ?
It wasn’t an issue with the button sizes, I mean unless I licked the fingers of the gloves or there was sweat soaking through, the screen was completely unresponsive. Couldn’t push buttons, couldn’t swipe, couldn’t hit “resume” when it auto-paused.
My gloves with conductive threads work fine, but I have a few mid-weight and heavy gloves that I use when it gets down into the mid-40ºF and below range that didn’t do anything at all. My Garmin 810, not being a capacitive screen works fine in that regard. I have no experience with the 820, so I don’t know how that one works.
That being said… without gloves or with the gloves designed for touch screens, it’s beautifully responsive. Just a minor annoyance that I’d have to deal with 3-4 months out of the year.
My magellan cyclo did awesome routing also, nothing else worked though and never did. So, its like Ray says, if basic purpose doesn’t work the additional features mean nothing.
hmm… interesting… I just tried with different gloves, and indeed it seems that some work less than others, my ski gloves being close to unresponsive… thankfully, we don’t get anything close to -40F where I live and all my cycling gloves work well enough ! 🙂
I mean, routing is a cool feature, but is that enough to build an entire hardware + software company around, assuming the rest is sort of “me too” features (many from years ago)?
I could totally see Garmin, Wahoo, etc. developing a new product upgrade around routing… a company?
But they aren’t really starting from scratch, its an android base. From a CPU aspect, Wahoo’s is basically a dumb device that needs to pair to a phone to do much, garmin is a low power device that is just powerful enough to do everything built in. (OS doesn’t natively support lots of functionality that android does) This is a much more powerful device like a dedicated cell phone. Could in theory do much more functionality if they do it right.
A lot of people are fed up with Garmin because the flaky software loses part of a ride. Those people are going to be eager to have other choices. Wahoo ELEMNT is a great choice, but it’s a slightly different style of device — not great for viewing maps.
In general, more competition and more choices is a good thing.
“I did notice that the brightness slider doesn’t actually do anything.”
hmmmm… it works here… maybe reset your unit ?
Maybe “adaptive brightness” was activated?
In bright sunlight, brightness will be at max, so you won’t notice any difference if you adjust the slider. The screen should automatically dim when you enter a tunnel or something, in an amount relative to the slider position. In lower light conditions, the effect of adjusting the slider should be quite noticeable.
This seems a lot like Magellan. Wahoo had an established footprint in other areas to sustain them. After getting burned by magellan cyclo, I would be hesitant to purchase this. But, sometimes the risk is worth the reward. Personally, I think Garmin has greatly improved (still buggy at times though), so I just don’t see this taking hold.
Great review as always Ray. Next piece you need to add to your review hardware is a “nit” analyzer. When laptops are reviewed the screen brightness is measured in “nits”. That would be a nice little data field to add to your review.
Hmm… I made up my mind and pulled the trigger on a Garmin Edge 1000 at $299. Don’t think I’ll regret it anytime soon.
I’m really surprised at the negative comments. The potential upside to the Karoo is amazing. It reminds me alot of the potential of the Motorola Motoactv. I have a soft spot in my heart still for the Motoactv. I personally think the Motoactv shook up Garmin and others and it definitely showed the potential of Android for fitness devices. That said, I haven’t really seen another company put together any other solid Android fitness device. At currently, half the price of the Garmin 1030, if no one thinks this could be a potential gamechanger they are dead wrong. To be honest, I thought the Element was a fart in the wind when it came out. I’m older and wiser. Look at the Element Bolt now. And about this beeping business and head phones. We all have had our near misses. Headphones or no wouldn’t have saved me if those cars had been another foot over. I had a car miss me by inches going 75 mph. I was 10 feet on the shoulder. She was high on meth according law enforcement that later caught her. Never heard anything but standard traffic noise. I can’t hear a gps in Oklahoma wind anyway. Everyone should be pulling for Hammerhead if for no other reason than to bring down the price of the 1030.
not surprised at all here : HH released the device several months late, tried lying about it, and it only comes with half the features, obviously not the ones their target demographic finds important!
I’m mostly happy with my Karoo because I was essentially looking for an Edge touring alternative (I use a 820 but make relatively little use of the training features) but most people here compare the Karoo with an edge 1000/1030, which include advanced training features. To them, it’s like the most important stuff still remains to be implemented!
… and the lack of beeper? to many it’s not so much about turn alerts than training intervals alerts, and regarding this, you really cannot ask people to look at the screen constantly…
really not sure what HH can do apart from offering a version with full training features and an integrated beeper asap (I can live with using an external device when training occasionally but someone who uses that as a training tool 3 or more times a week wouldn’t even consider that an option…) or admit that what they have is a GPS navigation device on steroids and change the price accordingly…
I too live in Oklahoma, and the endless grid of gravel in my area makes this an appealing choice to me. I want to record a ride, upload to Strava, and use the mapping to make sure I can get to where I’m going without pulling out my phone, which I usually have to do. I prefer to decide where I’m going, on the fly. I also want more players in this field to push innovation and cost. I get the reality of their history during development and the current status of this product, but I’m pulling for them. Mine is on the way and as long as it addresses my core needs, I’ll keep it. Also, the lack of audio notifications is a non-issue for me. Most turns are a mile apart where I ride.
The motoactv is still my biggest disappointment. I loved that thing, still have it and wish it became what it could have become. How it never took off I will never understand
Maybe instead of a beep when a turn is missed. They can use the screen to blink bright to black. I shure would notice that just as Wahoo is doing with the Led’s.
how does the battery life compare to the Garmin Edge 820
Yes absolutely I agree the software will improve, but I was talking about stuff that can’t change like Bleep, it’s critical as I don’t look at my device for turns unless it beeps, my point is they know what is needed from lots of existing computers, but they decided not to have such an important part which is bad judgement, likewise the SIM card and no phone support, who has a 2nd SIM card or am I supposed to sign up for a 2nd contract, this is what cars had years ago and binned them because they are not practical and phone integration took off, if they wanted no link why did they not do eSim ? This is the future not SIM cards, for a brand new product they are showing poor design choices. In additional they are very late in delivery, how confident are we that all the new features will come in the time frame promised ? And I work in software, all these new features will come with lots of bugs and frustrations. I would also add that who ever allowed the 820 to be shipped that that screen needs to be fired !!!!!
What’s pretty unclear (at least to me) is why it’s designed to connect to wireless data networks with a Sim card. It would be a lot easier and cheaper for users to download maps via Wifi.
And even if there are eventually going to be features that actually use cellular data, such as live segments, why not just go the normal route of connecting to a mobile phone via Bluetooth ?
What scenario is there where the owner of a Karoo finds it worthwhile to spend at least $20/month on a separate Sim for the Karoo ?
my 2 cents:
– depending on where you live and your service provider, data plans can be cheap and additional SIM cards can be free – in my country, the 20€/month you talk about brings me 50Gb data/month and 4 SIM cards to use as I please. obviously, it depends where you live, but in many countries, a SIM card makes perfect sense.
– also, as of today, SIM is supported by more service providers than eSIM (here again talking for France, but probably the case in many other places)
– Bluetooth tethering is not a simple issue actually – ensuring compatibility between devices takes a huge amount of dev time and even a big company like Tomtom never managed to deal correctly with that – I understand a small company like Hammerhead prefers to avoid that for now.
– making the device independent from a phone means no need for developing/maintaining phone apps on different platforms, again freeing dev time to work on the Karoo.
and anyway, Karoo is actually a smartphone (that’s just missing the speaker and microphone :p ), so why would they need to connect to another phone in order to get internet access ?
for those users who do not want/cannot get a dedicated SIM card, you still can connect to wifi (even to your phone if it can be used as a hotpoint) and I guess it’s still possible to share the SIM with your phone if really necessary ?
Just to clarify – you already download everything on Karoo via WiFi (that’s the only choice), it’s only if you insert a SIM that you can replace that WiFi connectivity for a SIM card.
The challenge a SIM card doesn’t really get you that a BT tethered connection does is single-number portability. Meaning, people text me at my regular cell phone number, not my secondary device number (which is generally not known).
Apple these days has NumberSync (or whatever the heck various carriers call it), which allows one to merge their Apple Watch number and regular phone number as one, so calls/texts going from phone get to both numbers at once. But even that has limitations in other scenarios. For example, in Apple’s case you can actually run apps like Twitter or what-not on your Apple Watch, whereas there isn’t a WhatsApp on Karoo. So if people are using other platforms, the dethering of phone to Karoo breaks down a bit.
I was expecting something an option like what Apple did for Apple Watch (eSIM), without the requirement of a SIM Card. And the device became a extension of the mobile phone. Anyway… I bought the device like many others early adopters, and I’m a little bit upset about the lack of “basic” connectivity funcionalities (mobile phone integration for notifications, Shifting systems, elevation, Training Peaks integraion, etc).
I’m a user of Garmin Edge 1000 and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt, I was expecting, at least, a minimal equivalent, with the mapping and routing advanced features, and a better integrated device.
Anyway, let’s take a good look and wait the next updates… That’s what I have now…
Regarding Karoo’s use of a SIM card for cellular data connectivity: We have built Karoo not just for now but to be relevant in the future. Native cellular is going to enable many software experiences in the years ahead, and we wanted to allow those folks who want to be at the forefront of this to be able to do this now. You do not need cellular to use Karoo, but it makes a small number of things possible now, like the ability to create routes out on the road on Karoo itself. In the months ahead it will become more clear to folks why cellular is exciting.
I dunno about other countries, but here in the Netherlands we need to pay for an extra simcard. Cheapest contract is €5 a month. Not sure if it’s worth that. I tried to use my phone as a hotspot for the karoo, but it seems that doesn’t work with bluetooth. At least I could not get it working.
Ray some times I think we take your work for granted. Another very thorough and informative review. I am one those who have a few deal breakers and hopefully they really can close the gaps in a reasonable amount of time. The platform looks promising.
Thanks Scott, glad you enjoyed!
I’m waiting for my karoo, thanks Ray for the review.
Hammerhead pushed out two software updates last week, a relatively feverish pace that probably was related to Ray’s then-pending review. I have to wonder if we’ll see further updates at the desired/necessary pace now that Ray is (for the moment) done.
It’s to Ray’s credit that he’s not a cynic, but I know he has a sensitive BS meter which seems pretty quiet with respect to Hammerhead. Mine continues to twitch. Too many questionable decisions and way too much promotion are leaving me a skeptic, but still a hopeful one. Hope I’m wrong.
I’m told there are 24 now on the payroll. I wish I could see its current cash balance and burn rate to see how long it can stay viable.
No doubt they were trying to get those updates in time, which is fine. I personally rather slide the review a day or two to include notable updates, then have it be out of date a day later.
As for my take on things, I think I’m reasonably clear not to buy it at this time. Both in the futures section as well as the summary section. Same goes for the intro, whereby my linked comments effectively forced them to issue a pretty substantial apology (though, interestingly, that linked apology is set not to be indexed by search engines or visible to their blog archive).
Thanks Ray. Remaining questions none of us can answer:
-Does it have enough cash to sustain it through the period of matching deeds with words? If, that is
-Will it realize we can see through its overly promotional approach, even though it hasn’t?
-Will it come out of hiding with respect to answering the tough questions, e.g., speaker, or continue to fling the BS?
-Will it develop a responsive, helpful and transparent customer support system?
-Will I be using a new paperweight next year?
These guys have a steep learning curve ahead, I’m just not sure they have the attitude to do it. Lose the arrogance please.
The market for Karoo ranges from recreational riders with no sensors or perhaps one (HR) to fitness/performance riders who want it all (cadence, power, HR, etc). The majority will likely be road cyclists.
I think the bulk of their customers aren’t going to demand more than decent mapping and navigation plus some level of fitness tracking.
The SIM issue is a toss up. Either you live in a region where an extra SIM is low or no cost or you don’t. You don’t need a SIM to effectively use the device for its primary functions.
As long as the hardware is solid and firmware/app updates are issued on a regular basis to address obvious shortcomings, I’ll give Hammerhead the benefit of the doubt — for now.
They can’t meet my expectations in the v1.0 hardware but perhaps 2019 will tell a different story.
Regarding the map. I hear most of you say that the map is great. I don’t think it is great. I don’t own the Karoo but i have been trying the web dashboard. The map in the dashboard (which i presume is the same as in the Karoo) lacks lots of info.
Level curves are not metered. Most peaks are not labelled. Same with many other minor topo places that you need to identify if you wanna know where you are. Zoom any mountain area in the Karoo map and compare it with the say Wikiloc’s or with the Spanish IGN maps. Karoo seems to have “lightened” their maps sooo much that you can hardly tell a thing. Even worse when you switch to the satellite view, no labels at all (haven’t they heard or hybrid maps?)
One of the things i complain about Garmin is their poor mapping. You need to squeeze your brains to tweak firmware and be able to use other maps. Karoo should reconsider offering the ability to use other maps, either offline (files in different formats) or online (wms services). Their map is no good at the current state and you have no other choice.
Agree. In this post, quite some way down, there’s a comparison of a screenshot from the Karoo’s mapping with an alternative that is available for free (read: could easily be used by Hammerhead’s team). Now tell me that the Karoo’s map has any advantage besides looking sleek.
link to gertaly.wordpress.com
agree mostly with what you say here, but I think it’s purposely not great : HH is just as aware as me and you that very potent (free) options exist out there to create a route, so why waste time developing yet another alternative when so much stuff remains to be done on the Karoo. What they did was to allow automatic sync to some of these services, allow import via url copy/paste, and of course GPX import. I think the only reason they added a map on their website was so that we can visualize the routes easily, nothing more.
and when it comes to Karoo itself, simple is good when on the road: more info also means more clutter, and cluttered maps are more difficult to read!
Of course it would be nice to be able to show some stuff like watering holes, coffee and bike shops, train stations on demand, I’d find the maps easier to read if the map was more contrasted… but for a V1 it’s really not bad at all!
I agree with gl00 – I don’t want that on my bike computer. I don’t need to know where the Beer & Wine shop is (per that screenshot), nor an image of every ski chalet weekly rental on the switchbacks up a mountain.
To me, Karoo actually strikes a really clean balance here. I do agree that perhaps a handful of things like mountain peaks could be labeled (and perhaps they are, I haven’t ridden by mountain peaks in Perth, Paris, or Amsterdam yet).
Not to mention the obvious: The more crap you put on a map, the longer it takes to render. The longer it takes to render, the more processing power it takes. And the more processing power it takes the more battery it takes. The more battery it takes, the less battery you have to ride. Given the map refreshes every second or so…I want less stuff.
Finally – as much as I’d love to say that I would pull open my bike computer to search for the nearest eatery (i.e. nearest sandwhich shop), I’ve found I’ve just never done that. or, any times I’ve tried it’s been disappointing at best. It takes forever, and the results just suck compared to what Google Maps can do on my phone in a fraction of a second. Given almost all of us ride (since we’re talking a cycling device, not a hiking device) with our phones, I’d honestly rather companies focus on cycling-specific features than trying to re-invent the Google Maps wheel.
Just my two cents…
Clutter is a fair point, but a good map software gives you the ability to show what you need – which is not the same for everyone, naturally. Maps are rendered with themes. That software I just threw in as a benchmark technically allows me to use my very own theme. Even within themes, I don’t need to display all these items; I could toggle them off category by category. But I should could. And I can tell you that I’ve needed hints on fountains in Italy’s hot summers. That I’ve used information on road surfaces and closed gates.
And, Ray, you are right that search for POIs sucks on dedicated bike computers, but the HH being an Android-based device, I don’t see why it should. They could even just HAVE GoogleMaps on their unit.
Point being: I understand this might not be the priority and it might not be worse than what their most visible competitors have. But they are one step (customized themes) away from having an awesome solution there and stop just shy of it.
Perfect opportunity for a POI app built by an outside developer. I wouldn’t use it much, if at all. but an app that’s not baked in has its appeal. That, to me. is the draw of an Android-based system. However, no developer should go near Hammerhead until it demonstrates financial stability.
I’ve had the Karoo on my desk and didn’t know it was on standby overnight. Used very little power: 7% Nice to see.
Valid points, but with an “open” OS that’s based on android, I’m a bit disappointed that I can’t choose which map. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that they have included maps and they look clean and nice. But it should/would be nice to have the option to go for clutter / lots of details. It’s a bit too bleak, and the street names are very very hard to read due to the small print. Nice that there’s a lot of real estate to be used, but readability is also a factor. I want the big screen for better visibility, which I got, only to be let down by small fonts.
Anyway I hope the future will bring improvements.
One thing to keep in mind with maps is that companies have to pay mapping providers. With OSM it’s a bit different, but most mapping products (including Karoo) actually take map data from multiple providers, usually to try and achieve the best overall dataset. Some mapping providers are better in certain regions than others.
You can see the leveraged provider listed in the corner of the map. In my case where I am right now, the Karoo is leveraging Mapbox (which is a paid mapping provider).
When you wrote about the Zwatt power meter, you spoke about the appeal of subscription-based business models. With a good device, I think you could even charge people a small monthly fee if they were not happy with a free base product.
I totally agree with that blog entry.
If only i could find a way to make the screen not sensitive to water drops i would definetly go for a blackview 6000 or a similar rugerized smartphone.
Cheap, strong, barometer, and all the benefits of having an android.
Dedicate it for gps use only to avoid other apps draining the battery and voila.
Only disadvantage is sunglare that you can bypass with a barfly to adjust the angle view, and the above water on screen issue.
I can’t find a reason to spend 300 bucks (500 later final price?!) in a dedicated gps like the Karoo with so many limitations.
But these are the reasons to buy a cycling computer…
We have seen your comments on rain usability here and on our other channels – thanks for the eager input. We have not done a good enough job of explaining the Karoo screen technology that we have here.
Karoo allows you to use both a touchscreen and or buttons to control it. This means that Karoo works great in a cafe or in a muddy rainstorm. Karoo also has some pretty high tech software that reads whether it is water or a finger touching it, allowing the touchscreen to work really well in the rain should you chose to use it then.
Check out our video of Randy using it in the rain, or the one of us using it while it is covered in water droplets. We are confident that Karoo provides a great experience in all conditions, and expect that it would meet your needs as well as anything can, even if you live in a really rainy place!
Hammerhead’s biggest problem is not the device or the missing features. It is the people in charge. If they for once would stop bragging about their unfinished product being world’s best cycling computer things might start to get better. You do not correct your backers publicly on Facebook in a cocky way. You do not promise things you cannot deliver. “Soon” should not be your most used word at any time. If they had started with a more humble approach and involved their customers in a statistically relevant way things would surely have turned out totally different.
I got my Karoo today. I bought this thing before I realized it was missing a few “must have” items for me.
One: Texts messages from my phone. My wife always texts me when she gets home from work to let me know that she’s okay, or if she needs me to stop by my in-laws before I come home to help them (disabilities). I posted about this on Facebook and they got incredibly defensive about not ever adding this because “It would distract from riding your bike. You should pull over to the side of the road to check your phone for every text you get.” I asked why even make a device with a screen at this point, looking at the map is just as distracting, or looking at the data is distracting, or what about turn-by-turn notifications?
Two: No speaker. No beeps. So now that we don’t have a speaker, I guess this means we’re going to be even more distracted by looking at their screen more so we don’t miss our turns. Can you tell I am a little salty over this ridiculous argument?
Three: No status lights like the Wahoos where I tie it to my zone rates. I like to see red flashing lights if I’m maxing out before I go and blow an artery trying to get up a hill too hard. This is hopefully something they can add in.
I will give the device an honest try, and I’ll follow their development, but I have a sinking feeling the next generation of Wahoo devices will be the holy grail. The Karoo certainly set the bar for a color touch screen going forward. Garmin and Wahoo will need as screen that is as colorful and as FAST as this.
Truely, the screen is amazing. I love it, I love this screen!
Much has been said about the lack of a beeper.
Some say they don’t need it, good for you.
But some find it necessary.
You approach a waypoint you want a beeper (they have no ability for waypoints by the way, neither you can create them in the dashboard nor they will show up if the gpx you dowloaded has waypoint in it).
Some say that missing a turn is not the end of the world, you turn back and ride a few more meters, fine if you are riding a flat town. What if you are riding downhill a trail and you miss the turn. The you ride uphill to cath it. Gps devices are intended for navigation not for recreation unless you simply want to make a free ride (a route that you already know) and use the Gps for logging purposes only.
External bt audio is a solution they say. Earbuds, no thank you. Helmet earphones or other kind of bt beeper attached to your handlebar? No thanks, another extra gadget to buy and another battery you need to keep charged or replaced.
“Riding with it”
“Next, it’ll ask you whether you’d like to set/apply a route. This is notable because no other bike computer on the market makes navigation so up-front and center in terms of implying that every ride would utilize a pre-defined route. Again, going to show you that routing is really core to what they’re trying to do here.”
I have to disagree. Twonav computers made that for years.
You click on “start” and you get 6 choices: 1 and 2: track or route (that will open the list of tracks in your device). 3: Place: if the map is routable you can enter a name of a place or select it in the map (waypoint, by map, geocache, poi, coordinates, favorites, home, bearing). 4) Historic (find a track by date) 5) Training (free, time, distance, trackattack) and finally 6) Free: you just log a free ride.
I was wondering. Can you have several routes open at the same time? That’s very useful when you navigate a predifined route but want to have on screen other possible routes. My device will show them in different colors so that you can tell one from the others easily (very helpful when they ovelap). I think Garmin can do that if you combine all tracks in one (you must do it home before you ride).
Interesting but the company has such a low profile, at least in North America, that its products aren’t particularly relevant. Doesn’t appear that they have a NA distributor. Looked at their website. If they want more of a presence in English speaking countries they should get a native level writer to redo many pages. As the pages are currently constructed one doesn’t get a good feeling about support.
Dude, the company s based out of new york…
@ray great review, thanks!
Fwiw two is from Spain, and I could find no ma company selling their products
I think he was referring to TwoNav as being non-US based, which is correct.
RE: Two tracks at once
No, Karoo can’t do that (and neither can Garmin or Wahoo). You could combine them ahead of time using 3rd party tools, but that’s pretty messy.
Oops, yeah you are totally right.. Misread that completely.. To be honest i had never heard of Twonav before. Checking their site, they seem to have some nice products aimed at the cycling enthousiast link to twonav.com but also link to twonav.com
Is there a chance that you are gong to be reviewing any of them in the (near) future?
I don’t have any plans at present. I looked at a unit a few years back, and poke at things each time I see them at shows. Just not sure it’s really competitive at this point, but perhaps I’ll revisit it at some point.
Hmm.. link to twonav.com
Road map model
Offroad topo map model
SeeMe live tracking and emergency alert: link to info-seeme.twonav.com
10+ hour battery
120 data fields
What’s not to like? 🙂
That’s what I was thinking… the Karoo avant la lettre.. I only couldn’t find training software and maybe Strava live segments…
The more I look at TwoNav the more perplexed I am they haven’t come up on the radar before.
They certainly track all metrics, post to Strava, support live tracking, issue emergency alerts, offer some type of segments, have good looking maps, support Android/iOS, include a SIM card, and price covers HR strap, speed/cadence sensor, plus dual mounts.
Do they only support regions shown in the map dropdown attached?
JD, no power sensor that I can see in any of its devices. If so, deal-breaker for many.
Looks like they use a barbell to represent power.
I searched for “power” in the Velo manual poste here: link to twonav.com
JD, thanks. Indeed it does. I did what I chastise others for: not reading a manual. Interesting that power monitoring seems to be nowhere in its promotional materials. (Please don’t point me to it if so, I’m chastened already.)
Until it was posted here I never heard of this company perhaps because it’s not in the US.
I was in the same boat. Never heard of TwoNav until mentioned here.
Now it appears their Velo product line for cycling covers all the bases.
The first thing they should do is send eval units to DCR so we can get a deep-dive review.
The Garmin Edges (with maps) let you display any number of tracks and you can pick different colors for the tracks. It’s a useful feature (but I suspect not many people use it).
Only one is used for navigation (I don’t see any way to rationally use more than one for navigation).
Great review! I’m guessing I can’t connect it to my wattbike pro via Bluetooth to record my wattbike training sessions?
Hmm, does the Wattbike Pro transmit BLE power via the standard BLE power profile, or is it custom?
A simple test is: Can the Wahoo Fitness app (free one) see/pair/display it or not. If it can see it, than Karoo will too.
Yes – Wattbike Pro does have BT (if you have the upgraded head unit)
And I can confirm that Karoo does indeed connect the WB Pro and works well too!
Anyone getting rejected strava uploads as of today? Was working fine before. See picture.
downloading the activity fit file from dashboard.hammerhead.io says that the fit file is malformed. Same issue trying to upload it to garmin connect.
golden cheetah says “error – local type 3 without previous definition”
It appears to be a date/time issue… dashboard.hammerhead.io says the correct date/time when viewed from the web, but from mobile says invalid. date/time settings in the karoo are set to use GPS date/time and display the correct date/time on device.
running it through the various fit file fixers I found in the resources guide, best result is moving it through 2 of the fixers and that outputs 6.9 miles of the 37.2 mile ride…
Attached is the fit file if anyone wants to take a deeper look at it to see what is going on.
Unfortunately the site doesn’t accept .FIT files directly (but you can link to one on Dropbox or what-not).
I agree it sounds like something got all dorked up. And I assume you had done the update of the software that came out this past week? That’s build number 22.214.171.124 (Settings > About > Build Number)?
Either way, I’d use that Feedback portal option and get the file in their hands.
There’s a corrupt record in the file after 11.1 km (containing some 0xff bytes instead of actual data), but it looks like the remainder of the activity was recorded properly.
I’ve attached a fixed version.
Onno, not sure how you got access to the fit file since it didnt seem to upload correctly to this blog (unless you are at hammerhead?), but your fixed version didn’t get uploaded either.
Here are dropbox links for the original and a fixed version:
original fit file:
link to dropbox.com
link to dropbox.com
The fixed version was fixed using “fit file repair tool” by a member of the garmin forums.
Hope this helps.
Ah, it appears that files can be downloaded (fit files) even though they aren’t correctly linked via this blog software.
Got a corrupted file Strava reject yesterday. Looked for the file in the FitFiles folder and it wasn’t there, but my last ride was. It is, however, showing in Activity on the Karoo. Filed a report with H.
Not at all sure I’m keeping the device, but I’d sure like to get it rooted if I do.
It looks massive in your hands, what are the size comparisons?
There’s a massive pile of size comparisons within the unboxing video. I’ll try and get some more photos added in here shortly.
Used my Karoo for the first time today (stationary trainer/turbo).
A couple of observations/comments/issues:
1) The device is virtually the same length as a Garmin 1000, but is wider. This means it might not fit on all existing mounts (for example on my Canyon Garmin mount when I come to twist/mount the Karoo, it rubs on the stem as the mount is not quite long enough. As it fouls now, it definitely wont twist/mount if I ever get a rubber case for the unit). Similarly with a Lifeline Garmin mount, the Karoo only just twists/mounts without fouling the stem. So there is a chance it might not fit with some Garmin 1000 mounts.
2) I have an anomaly with the ride data, which I still need to investigate. When I started to record the ride, it instantly set my average speed to 29mph, so for the whole ride the average speed was wrong.
3) They do not make the best use of screen real-estate when showing data fields. For example, the screen will have 6 rows of data, where the top 4 rows are only a single column, but the bottom 2 rows have two columns. If they made all the rows have two columns, then the individual data fields could be larger in size.
4) There doesn’t seem to be a way of disabling the GPS via the profiles (pages) screen, such that it was recording my stationary GPS location
5) The fit file has intermittent records with no speed data (8880 records in total, 3500 missing speed data!!)
6) The FIT file doesn’t appear to have the manufacturer/model of the device?
7) The device seemed to cope ok with drops of sweat falling on the screen
Hopefully I’ll get out to do a test on the road with the device
4) Not via profiles, just via swipe-down at the top (‘Location’ icon)
5) Any chance you have a speed sensor (or a combo sensor that was speed missing a magnet?).
6) Yeah, it also doesn’t record the ANT+ ID’s properly either. Minor behind the scenes things. Fwiw, they’ve made a bunch of ANT+ progress in the last week on proper recording. They noted to me on a call they’re getting assistance from industry folks on getting some of the recording pieces more proper. I had recommended they reach out to ANT+, which has teams of people that are happy to help on that front, so it sounds like they’re doing that.
I found another annoyance today…. Actually, yesterday, but it reared its ugly head again today because I was on a different bike.
If you forget to pair a sensor or a sensor doesn’t connect, there does not appear to be a way to pair sensors, enable/disable sensors, etc. while in an activity. At least not that I could find. You must end the activity, pair/repair/enable/disable the sensor in settings and re-start a new activity.
I’m sure if we present this issue to HH, we’ll get something to the effect of “undocumented product feature” designed into the system for safety, like the lack of notifications, to prevent us from being distracted from the task of riding a bike.
I am so ready to ask for a refund at this point.
Yeah. It’s funny though, these are kinda the death by a thousand 1% cuts that I refer to. For many people, they’ll shrug and say ‘well…shrug’, but for some it’s that 1% item that they really want or use frequently.
Of random note, Suunto devices don’t do this either. And I’m pretty sure you can’t do it within Polar devices. Or TomTom, or Apple, or others I’m likely forgetting. Both Garmin/Wahoo support it, but still, it’s not entirely standard across the board.
I was wrong on being able to manage BT/ANT+. This morning I figured out that you can manage sensors on the fly if you swipe down from the top and go to the BT menu. It’s not very intuitive, but it will get you there.
Interestingly, I turned off ANT+ completely and my power meter readings froze on the screen. I haven’t uploaded or looked at the .fit files, but it was a odd little anomaly.
That’s good news that are seeking help to progress/rectify the current issues/limitations.
I think the Avg. speed anomaly is due to the intermittent missing speeds in the FIT file (it’s the only thing that jumps out at me. Maybe they take into account the 0’s in the calculation?)
I also had my 1000 and VivoActive 3 recording at the same time and they worked fine (no missing speed data in their fit files).
Hopefully the work they are currently doing on Ant+/sensors will fix the issue
Wow, that pretty much makes it impossible to have a bathroom/water/coffee stop with pedal based power meters because they shut off. Forget taking your computer with you while leaving the activity paused.
I haven’t seen that be an issue. I stopped on a few rides where the power meters went into standby and it resumed just fine.
The remark about that LTE is about bandwidth is misleading at best.
LTE vs 3G is about network coverage! For example, in Germany 3G is being divested in, in favour of LTE. It’s with the latter you have a signal at all, especially outside cities.
As for the US, Verizon has announced to discontinue its 3G services by end of 2019, as did T-Mobile. Taiwan? End of 2018!
As noted in that very comment, it’s about priority. Their priority from a software development standpoint was 3G first, since the path was easier. Then LTE later. I can’t really disagree with that.
As for 3G services being discontinued, everyone knows that’s telecom FUD at best (largely driven to get you to buy new devices). There’s no way 3G is going to be shutoff anytime soon. Far too many enterprises use 3G communication devices today, of which many are critical to national infrastructure.
I’m all for the fastest of interwebs (trust me, I really am), but I’m also practical in it. At present the Karoo’s use of the SIM card is best described as non-meaningful. So whether it’s 3G or LTE has no bearing on anything today anyway.
According to the FCC information that Hammerhead filed with them, the cellular chip on the Karoo does support LTE, but it is turned off by the Karoo software. My hunch on this is that LTE data speed is not required to download the relatively small amount of data that is needed and it saves on battery (LTE is more power hungry than 3G as it used MIMO – multiple in multiple out). So, if this really is an issue, I think Hammerhead can “unlock” the LTE bands for those areas that need it (with the understanding of reduced battery life).
Correct, per the post up above they intend to enable LTE down the road via software update, it’s just not high on their priority list of to-do’s right now.
It’ll be interesting to see what flipping that switch will do to battery life.
Karoo not an option for me; want audible alerts, Strava integration and proven product.
The question is: Should I buy the Elemnt Bolt right now or wait for its successor? Do we know (can we guess) anything about the timeframe for that?
I wouldn’t expect any successor to the BOLT anytime soon.
Did you hear something about an ELMNT (not BOLT) successor?
No, I’m simply saying it’s highly unlikely Wahoo would release a new unit a mere year after they announced the BOLT.
So glad I canceled my order. The lack of any type of beeper and the rather rude replies to so many backer’s questions were the two biggest factors. Excuses after excuses started to make it feel like another failing kickstarter program.
With DCR’s review and mini pre-views, along with comments here… I’ll be surprised if HH survives to make a version 2.
I wish HH luck. They need it.
I don’t really see that this device does anything that a basic Android phone and a Quadlock mount can’t do…
If you have a mid range Samsung or Sony device, chances are it will have ANT+, and Bluetooth 4.0, then you can connect to hardware, use the Strava app, or any other app you choose, as well as Google Maps or others for navigation…
If connectivity is important, you can even chuck in a sim card.
If you want a phone like device on your handlebars, then why not just use a phone?
Unless this device is extremely cheap (I don’t see a cost anywhere) then that’s the way I’d go.
Infact I did. I used a Samsung A5 for a few months, in between selling my Edge 520, and waiting for my 935 to ship.
The challenge is (and honestly, has been for almost a decade every time this comes up), that nobody makes a single cohesive app that does what bike computers do.
Meaning, sure, the Strava app can track where you are an upload to Strava. But what if you want to route where you’re going? Well, the Strava app can’t do that.
Google Maps can route you somewhere, but it can’t display your bike data. Plus, it can only route you to a given destination, it can’t create a loop route of your choosing.
ipBike or the Wahoo Fitness app can handily connect to your sensors, but it can’t route you anywhere or map, nor can it do a structured workout.
CycleMeter is probably the closest to the perfection here – and they do much of what I describe above. The challenge? It looks ugly. And someone will probably laugh and say ‘Oh that’s silly DCR, nobody cares’ – but overwhelmingly people do care. People buy all sorts of things based on the UI experience. It’s fundamentally why Apple does well. Or why Fitbit does well. Or why Wahoo does well. They look pretty.
Heck – it’s why so many people bought into Karoo, despite having so few features: It looked pretty.
All of which ignores the bigger issue is that people are generally afraid of putting phones on their handlebars, even if they’re cheap ones.
Well put, this is a question I hear and read a -lot- of times when discussing bike computers. You would think people would jump right into the app market hole, but so many apps none perfect.
A well formulated reply
Right, people think weird if it’s a phone, so don’t call it a phone, but a bike computer with phone capabilities. Like it seemed for a long time HH did. Few people who are in the market for a phone will look at bike computer attributes, but those who are in the market for a bike computer might look into phone attributes.
Beyond that: with the advent of multi-tasking in smartphone operating systems, it’s not necessarily a problem anymore that I have to use different apps. I have to use different icons or menu options on a Garmin/Wahoo/HH as well. The whole idea of a fragmented app market was something people didn’t believe in when it came to phones. The argument against this concept would have been nearly identical. Now there are Garmin apps anyways.
Been there, done that:
Been using iPhone SE in a Lifeproof Nuud case (shockproof, waterproof) with a 3D printed Garmin mount glued to it so I can use in alternance with my Garmin 820 (essentially when routing is more important than data accuracy/training features).
Doing so actually convinced me to order the Karoo when I saw it : iPhone is ok for routing short rides (but not much more due to lack of dedicated software), but very difficult/impossible to use when wearing gloves, impossible to use once wet, no buttons as backup, screen subject to glare, plus not bright enough in strong sun, batteries too small, speaker is present but way too weak even at max volume… also the same setup with a bigger phone model failed due to too much wobbling (screen difficult to read) and eventual mount failure (and phone crashing on cobbles at high speed), hence limiting me to iPhone SE as personal phone…
Apart from the speaker thing, Karoo answers most these issues – now essentially waiting for software improvements, but quite optimist…
You’re right Ray, no app makes everything. No GPS make everything. Some are good for routing/navigation, some for training…
The good thing of the Karoo seemed to be its Android core, but we cannot intall apps for Android in this “android”.
Twonav, Wikiloc, Oruxmaps… have great apps for navigation.
Strava and Connect for training metrics.
They all work great in a phone except that phones are not designed for mounting on a bike.
The Karoo for me is just another proprietary device that chose to force users into their closed ecosystem.
Think of the Karoo giving you the chance of intalling the above apps, then you could choose one or another depending on the activity you plan (outdoor mountain bike, indoor bike, road vs recreation…). That would be the “best bike computer”.
The “Ride with GPS” phone app is a better alternative for those of you wanting to use your phones. It does TBT routing, displays distance, speed, elevation gain, time, etc. It’s a shame it doesn’t get much press on this website.
I don’t think the Karoo will ever meet your expectations.
Doesn’t the TwoNav Horizon do 90% of what you want?
Offroad topo maps, ruggedized case, memory card slot, audio buzzer, swappable battery, etc.
link to twonav.com
Carry an Android smartphone and you’ll have 110%.
Yeah, the Horizon/Velo seems a good device, the upcoming Aventura too (though too big for a bicycle). Problem is they are not that different from their predecessor (Anima plus that i own now). And yeah, the 10% i am missing is probably what android could give us (direct access to internet and the ability to have other apps in the same device). I know, there’s no perfect gps. The Twonav series are great for navigation but very poor for training. And despite having ant+, blte and wifi, integration with phone is minimal.
“What does Karoo bring to the table that I can’t do with a smartphone?” This is a question we get sometimes. The fact that folks spend hundreds of dollars on cycle computers indicates that most do not want to use their smartphones as their computer. Smartphones just aren’t great cycle computers. As we are, in many ways, bringing high-end smartphone technology to the bike, we have written a blog post that covers this in more detail for those of you who want to know more of our thinking on the subject. You can check it out here: link to blog.hammerhead.io
Given the potential market for a computer where navigation is a primary function (and has audible alerts), it seems to me that Magellan/Mio really lost out when they lost focus on their device. I still have my Mio 505 and really like it as a navigation device, and bike computer. It doesn’t have sensational battery life; and really falls down these days on the lack of manufacturer support and development of the software, however it seems to match/surpass the Hammerhead in much of its navigation ability, and has the all important audible alerts. A missed opportunity.
Hi possible to get a size comparison against 820/520 and Elemnt Bolt ?
Yup, it’s in the unboxing video. I’ll try and shoot some standalone photos today.
I still have mine on pre-order and it’s part of the “2nd Wave” or whatever they’re calling it. But I’m still really skeptical about whether I should keep it.
For me the “deal breaker” is the lack of tethering on the device because I think that text/phone notifications on device are a safety issue. If my daughter is being sent to the ED, I want to be able to see that notification on my head unit. I don’t want to have to be listening for a beep on my phone in my jersey pocket, fishing it out while riding, reading it, sticking it back there, etc. Especially when I probably don’t care about the call/text I just received. But I wouldn’t forgive myself if I ignored the beep/vibrate and it was something critical that I didn’t learn about for an hour or more because I was cycling down the road. Not to mention the safety issue of trying to fish your phone out and then look at it and then tuck it back in when you should be watching the road.
I brought this up with Karoo on their Facebook and they gave a completely dismissive and obnoxious answer about how they feel that when you’re cycling you should be able to let go of the world around you and really focus on cycling. I felt like I was being lectured by a hipster about how I should just “be free from the world, man!” A bunch of folks chimed in about how they felt notifications were important and Karoo responded again that they want to listen to lots of people and that they would add features that lots of people wanted…but that FB wasn’t “representative of all their clients” so apparently all the folks on FB that thought notifications were important didn’t really matter.
I still can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth from that interaction.
By all means, be a hipster and have strong opinions about what you “believe a bike computer should be” but if you’re hoping to get other people to pay money for your product, you better also listen to what THEY think it should be.
My advice: Cancel the order.
I own it, I’ve used it and it’s not so much that it’s half-baked, it’s the arrogance/hubris of the company that is a sure path to failure. A week before Ray’s review one of the founders reached out to me after a FB post. Lots of interest in my thoughts and problems. Since the review, nothing. Silence and not one support issue has been addressed. It has 4 more days to be proactive or mine goes back. Just like the company, Karoo is a pretty face but “its cornbread isn’t baked in the middle.”
if phone tethering is of such importance to you and you don’t have an alternative solution you can use alongside the Karoo, just send it back and get something that works for you. HH clearly isn’t willing to develop that for now, and as far as we can tell, this feature might never be implemented.
I’m half convinced the answers you got from HH are actually hiding another reality: they probably don’t have the resources to develop that without severe delays on other core features on the Karoo. Phone tethering seems obvious and easy, but it is actually a very time consuming thing to develop and maintain. For the time being, it definitely makes sense for them to focus on other things.
Not sure why companies are never more honest about this type of stuff, but at least HH was honest enough to give you a “no”, instead of the usual “thanks for your feedback, we’ll make sure to take that into account…”
“they probably don’t have the resources to develop that without severe delays on other core features on the Karoo.”
This is the #1 thing that concerns me about this product for the last 6 months and why I’m really really close to sending mine back.
Exactly what I did. I canceled based on the attitude of replies and the lack of a beeper (and, being told by HH that they know better than you do on what you want).
I love your comments about the “hipsters”. Yes, they say they have researched what people want/need, i would like to know how they did it.
The solution is so very easy, enable/disable, you wanna receive notifications enable, you wanna be a hipster disable.
I’ve been very reluctant to enable notifications in my Fenix 3 but i have to say it is sometimes very convenient to see incoming calls. If the call can wait i ignore it. If i find it important then i take my phone from my pocket or bagpack and answer. Choices, people want choices, and you should give choices if you wanna sell.
well… so far, I don’t see a motive to be too worried regarding their current firmware release timeline: their spring/late spring releases are very close, meaning that most things they promise should already be implemented and being tested/fine tuned as we talk now. It’ looks like a realistic timeline
on the other hand, I would definitively be very worried if they suddenly said something like “oh sorry, we forgot about phone notifications, we’ll start working on it right now, you’ll get that in 2 months.”
The last company I heard saying that was Tomtom (almost literally, I think they were talking about 3 months…): it took them over a year before a semi working implementation of it was released (and they already had iPhone/Android apps and had enabled BTLE connectivity to their device, whereas HH would have to start from scratch)… other bigger, more established companies like polar and suunto took several months in implementing that same feature after the initial release of their V800 and Spartans (and I’m pretty sure they were working on that before release)…
phone tethering and notifications is definitely not a simple matter as it would involve developing apps for iPhone and Android, testing and maintaining compatibility with a wide range of devices, and providing customer support for all that: that’s definitely not a matter of asking a dev to work a few more hours…
Like other features on our roadmap, we are going to listen to you folks to determine what you want, and build that. We did not expect that notifications would be as important as they are to some folks. You have made it clear that this is something that you really want, and we are therefore going to add it to our pipeline!
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to do. We must just slot it in behind some of the higher priority stuff like core stability, getting great elevation data and addressing some of the bugs that our users are finding. We will do this – and should have a sense of when we can get to it in the next few weeks. Our website and forum will make it more and more clear what is coming up next.
Much more polite and receptive than what you posted on FB:
“We hear your concern, and thank you for expressing it, but we also firmly disagree. Your assertion is like saying automobile manufacturers who exclude autonomous driving features from their cars are creating a dangerous condition for drivers who want to watch YouTube videos behind the wheel. A rider’s decision to pull out a phone and check a text that comes in during a ride is their choice, not a cycling computer company’s liability.
We’ve written at length about the philosophy behind the development of Karoo that explains why Bluetooth tethering of phone functionality was not prioritized (and you can read it here: link to bit.ly). With that said, we’ve heard our community call for the introduction of these features, and while we won’t commit to a timeline on this just yet, we are integrating it into our workflow. You can scroll up and see our most recent Facebook live video, wherein we address this (around the 26:16 mark). Thanks!”
That said, thank you for adding this to your timeline and workflow.
Great review as always Ray!
Custom Maps, sort of obvious that it’s not an option, or is there a tweak?
The Karoo doesn’t upload to Strava although synced accounts. I heard more people complain about this. Even manually uploading gives errors. I need to clean up the activity through another site after downloading it to my computer . I hope they fix that.
I’m not sure I follow. The Karoo creates and authorized connection via Strava’s published API’s, and uploads the file accordingly. That actually works really well, and in fact, I’d argue that’s the single item they do better than any other unit on the market (period).
If however the file is corrupted, then it’s no so much the Strava connection that’s the problem (since Strava will obviously reject it), but rather the file itself generated by the Karoo. Someone up in the comments had a similar issue with a corrupted file a few days back.
Ray, I posted this elsewhere after yours above: I too had a “corrupted” Strava upload yesterday. The file was saved from my ride, it shows in Activities, but the FIT file is not showing in the FitFiles folder, yet my ride from 2/13 is. Strange.
Hmm, yeah, I’d definitely raise a ticket with Karoo so that they can try and establish whatever the pattern is.
Ray, the FIT file missing from my Karoo’s internal FitFIle folder did upload to H’s Dashboard. I downloaded it and looked at it with Fit File Repair Tool. You’ve previously said, I think, that elevation data wasn’t in FIT, yet it shows on each data point with this app. I know you’re familiar with FFRT. Thoughts?
Correct, previously they hadn’t been recording elevation data (or at least, not doing it right per the standard). The files just enumerated blanks for those fields.
In just looking at my most recent ride, it’s now there. Woot!
Yup. Don’t understand why the delay in showing it on Karoo, then again there’s a lot I don’t understand about this company.
Silence on so many fronts from them, then this annoyance: 16 days ago I asked through “Submit Request” if it will have a PDF user manual. Nothing back through formal and informal channels. Looked at the request yesterday to see it was labelled “Solved.” Replied that it hadn’t. Heard back with a vague reply. Asked for clarification. Nothing.
As of the moment no further software updates.
Not liking what I see. Tick-tock, tick-tock till it’s returned.
It is this (their) attitude… along with the lack of any sound cue… that I canceled my order. So much like another failed kickstarter.
I got lost many times navigating in the city while doing century or double century ride with my Garmin Edge 705 so I decided to buy the Karoo in July 2017. It’s sad to know there is no audio alerts now!!!
The weather was above 50 today, so I dusted off my helmet and took my Karoo on it’s maiden voyage!
It paired with my Bontrager DuoTrap and Wahoo TICKR over Ant+ just fine. However I immediately noticed my speed was 0 then 14 then 0 then 14 then 0.. etc etc.. My cadence which is part of the same sensor looked just fine. My TICKR looked fine as well. I pulled over, disabled the ANT+ Device, then turned on Bluetooth and it immediately found it and the rest of the ride was rock solid. I don’t know if this means the ANT+ sensor is faulty in my unit, or that maybe the range is not long enough, or if it’s just a programming error? It’s not vital for me because I can use Bluetooth on all my devices these days.
The mapping looked great, but they need a way to zoom like the Karoo does with a BUTTON. Have preset zoom levels that you cycle through with a single button. Then use another button to cycle through the data screens. We don’t need a forward and backward button. We just need buttons that cycle through.
Using the touch screen made the screen smudgy and hard to read. I will be a button users as much as I can.
It looked fine in the sun, and it looked fine at dusk.
Overall, I liked it. I am happy to see more additions.
And if they’re listening, PLEASE put in phone tethering to receive SMS messages. I could care less about sending. I just want to see them like I can on my ELEMNT.
Hey Ray, nice review, very informative. I was wondering whether you had tested out the GPX functionality. Do you get turn-by-turn with GPX-loaded routes?
It seems like an interesting option for touring once they smooth out the kinks (some people will point out battery life but I have a dynamo hub on my touring rig and so can charge on the go). The Adventure Cycling Association lets you download the routes as GPX files, but that’s not especially helpful if you don’t get turn-by-turn from it.
Currently I still have my eye on the Elemnt for general road riding, but I think having to use route-building to map out an entire bike tour would be unwieldy. It’d be nice to get a computer that can do it all, and I’ve heard too many people complain about Garmin to stomach spending my money on one of their units.
Lack of audio prompt is a frustrating drawback. I could already see it being an issue in your test ride video.
I haven’t tried GPX file routes (was mostly using other services). I’ll try and create a GPX route nearby and see what happens, though, if someone else has done so – feel free to chime in.
Getting a GPX route onto an ELEMNT with turn-by-turn is pretty easy. The secret is to upload the GPX file to Komoot.com. Komoot will automagically put in the turn-by-turn, without needing to “trace” the route in a route builder like you need to do with RideWithGPS. You can then sync the route to the ELEMNT from Komoot, and it will include the precise turn-by-turn notifications.
yup, GPX on Karoo works fine for me so far – no endless route calculation needed, you just press start and that’s it, and best of all, super fast, big bright map that’s easy to read: already quite happy with the routing feature at this stage.
Turn instructions work fine, routes are easy to follow (only missed one turn in the middle of a long, fast descent, but chances are I would have missed it even with a beeper, considering wind noise and speed i was going at… ) in most cases, turns are indicated clearly enough, and I just look at the screen when I see the intersections in case there is any doubt.
What I like best is that if I go off route, or do not pass by each and every point, Karoo is very forbidding and simply (and instantaneously) shows me the shortest way to go back to the route: it doesn’t recalculate a completely different route to the end point, nor asks me to do a u turn… or even worse: force me to go to the starting point of the ride in case I passed 30 meters away from it and not exactly on it before starting route guidance… (all of which my Garmin does…)
for the negative points, an update with improvements and bug fixes is scheduled for tomorrow, so I’ll pass on the (mostly minor) issues I have with this function unless they are not corrected as promised – will update if necessary.
Really appreciate everyone’s feedback, that’s very helpful.
Todd, that’s a neat little trick with Komoot. I didn’t realize you could do that… thought you’d have to re-trace the entire route in the route-builder. Unfortunately for the Karoo, that really skews my interest toward the ELEMNT. However, the re-routing protocol on the Karoo is really appealing to me. They seem to have it sorted better than anyone else.
gl00, thanks for the input. Seems like the navigation, aside from the lack of an audio prompt, is pretty dialed in with that computer, more so than anywhere else. I still haven’t made any decisions yet. I’m going to hold off until I see where Hammerhead takes the product in the next few months.
You can access the .fit files on the Karoo, though it’s a bit of a pain. You need to use the adb tool (Android Debug Bridge) and have developer mode switched on on the Karoo. This is the same sort of method that you can use to access files on any Android device.
But I agree that it’s a pain and we really need a much better drag and drop way of seeing the files, e.g. plug it into your PC and you can see the file folders.
Steve, there is a way: enable USB debugging in dev options. Use MTP options under Select USB Config. Plug it in PC. It will likely show no folders. Go back to USB Config and select RNDIS (while still connected) and that should get the directory open — even though Config will revert back to MTP. There ain’t much there. They do have this locked down tight. Makes you wonder why they used AOSP, but that’s for another discussion
If you want to get into recovery mode: power down. Press button below power button and hold, press power and hold until you get recovery screen. Not much there, but I didn’t try it through ADB which might be worth a shot.
Let me know.
Thanks Seth, yes, that worked for me too.
Where is the USB debugging option in the settings? I can’t find it.
Go to Settings/About. Scroll to Build Number and click on it around 4 times. You’ll see a pop-up telling you Developer Options is enabled. It will be in the main Settings menu. Open it and scroll to USB Debugging. Good to go from there.
To follow up on myself.
The upload to Strava worked fine. The entire ride was there sans temperature readings.
One thing I noticed riding is the numbers were small to read. I would like to be able to make some numbers bigger than others. Like the current speed and miles really big, while having others smaller. Right now the less fields you have, it will arrange itself to have some fields become bigger, and while others remain small. I’d like full control over this. Perhaps offer different colors or boxes with different background colors, etc.
The more customizable the better!
I had cancelled my preorder a while ago, and I am glad. I really want the Karoo to succeed. I have a love/hate relationship with my Garmin devices.
Reasons I will stick with Garmin
1) Varia Radar
2) D-fly control of GPS from the hoods/drops
3) Cycle dynamics
4) Waterproof charging through the mount
5) Audio Alerts from device and Bluetooth
7) Best Bike Split
Reasons I hate my Garmins
2) 820 is slow
3) No Active Weather like the handhelds get (Doppler radar overlay on map)
4) Getting courses onto the device that are emailed/on websites
5) Same beeps for everything (turn left/right/download complete/device was bored)
6) Who designed their touchscreens?
The question for me in the end is assuming everything works out for HH to get the Karoo into close parity to the Edge line, where will Garmin be in that time? While they’ve stagnated quite a bit, with competition from both Wahoo and Hammerhead hopefully it will mean improvements and more integration and less silos of excellence (features from one business unit don’t go to other business units).
Got my shipping # … that is they printed a label.
I had requested to cancel the orde last week. They told me it had already ship. Then 5 days later I asked where it is and said I wanted a refund. They told me to be patient it would ship soon. I told them again that I requested a refund. A few days passed and now I have a shipping label.
Well, I guess I’ll hook it up to Android Studio and see if I can put any new stuff on it.
Can you do that? i mean, hooking it to android studio? i think firmware is needed to start tweaking it. I will say it a thousand time, if i could only install any app of my own i would not mind trying the Karoo.
If you get to do it please let us know.
… or not… bc i am still missing more storage and audio… no, definetely no. ha ha ha
Maybe I missed it in the discussion, but I don’t think that anyone has mentioned another solution to the lack of a beeper on the Karoo. This could be done via connection to your phone, so that it makes your phone beep, or even give audio instructions. Not a perfect solution by any means (depends on how loud your phone is, for example, and of course that you have it with you), but a feasible work around if it was deemed an important-enough feature to add in.
Except… the Karoo doesn’t connect to your phone.
I know, but it doesn’t have beeping either. I’m suggesting a new feature. It could connect to the phone either through wifi or Bluetooth.
Unfortunately HH has made it clear they have no intention of pairing to a phone at this time. That would upset the “purity of the riding experience”.
Yeah, I know. Makes no sense whatsoever and is one reason you have some users trying to hack the device already. 😉
What they have mentioned is they “might” consider sending a beep to a BT beeper device “if enough users express an interest”, like they haven’t already. Of course that device could be a smartphone, but I don’t think they intend to go that route anytime soon.
Perhaps they expect audio cues to be the first 3rd party app in the Karoo Store. 😀
“Purity of the riding experience” to me means put the computer/gps in the back pocket, or leave it at home. It’s a very funny phrase.
Well, they can call it what they want. Everyone knows when a company is feeding people a pile. It’s up to them; if they want to compete, you need to feature match your competition, and then go beyond.
Just got mine and love it. Does anyone know how to access the menu whilst in an activity?
press the bottom right button a couple seconds
You can also swipe down from the top to get to some of the settings such as brightness, wifi, bluetooth, etc.
TThank gl00, I think I tried everything but that. I messaged support and they responded real quick which was great but they said push the bottom left…. Eventually got it on my own afterward. Thanks again.
I know, but it doesn’t have beeping either. I’m suggesting a new feature. It could connect to the phone either through wifi or Bluetooth.
Maybe it’s a stupid question
When I want to explore and register a new route while riding……..does it this function exist ?
Yes and no: yes if you have a SIM card installed; no if you don’t.
If you have a phone with the ability to run as a WiFi hotspot, you should be able to use that to provide the Karoo with network… but that’s still a bit of a PITA.
New update pushed today v126.96.36.199.
Only change I can see is elevation data fields are now available under Climb, but they’re labelled beta and only ascent/descent and current elevation are available. No grade % or its variants. Better than nothing but half-baked again.
Oh, no change log too.
most of the changes are user interface improvements, and a couple additional features here and there – not expecting a revolution one week after the previous release, they’re slowly catching up on the data field area, and keep on improving the mapping/routing features.
This build’s biggest improvements IMO are improved routing features: the on device routing now allows for multiple steps (not jus a to b, but a, b, c etc. ), and it’s even possible to drag/drop steps to modify the route (we can even modify imported GPX routes on the device!).
Don’t expect to ditch the computer to prepare my routes yet, but nice to know it can be done on the device itself.
Change log was posted here instead of under Change Log on main website.
link to blog.hammerhead.io
I went through the list and didn’t see a fix for average speed anomalies or problems showing time of day in 12 hour format.
Twonav mentioned in an email earlier that the Velo models came to market in December of last year… I gu as they didn’t have the whole marketing buzz going round beforehand and need to get the buzz from word to mouth or something like that..
Since there’s currently no way to calibrate a power meter on the Karoo…are you just out of luck with getting any accurate power readings? Or is there some work around? I considered whether I could use my Garmin to calibrate my Powertap P1 and then have them connect to the Karoo…but I’m not sure where the calibration is set, whether it’s stored in the head unit or in the pedals.
You can use another unit or an app to do the zero offset. For example, with the P1’s you can use the PowerTap mobile app to do the zero offset.
Most power meters have companion mobile apps that have zero offset/calibrate functions in them. It’s not ideal, but is a stopgap until Hammerhead adds it in (hopefully soon).
As an aside, for those on Android with an ANT+ enabled phone, I believe that ipBike has the ANT+ calibrate commands in there, thus making it universal for power meters. But alas, the only Android phone I brought with me on this trip is a Pixel, so can’t validate that.
Vinicius Martins, at the time of your comment elevation was available as a data field (via update)…
First ride since the latest update and the beta elevation data is wonky. Ascent/Descent are too low by a factor of 3-4X. It suggests feet are being shown as meters. Anyone else seeing this?
I’m still showing anomalous avg speed readings, 25% above actual (the isn’t-that-nice factor has faded.) Mileage and real time MPH are spot on.
I’ve been pushing the company to answer when it will have a user manual and will it be in PDF. Here’s the answer I got this morning: “We are still unclear as to how we are making this user manual. It could be PDFs or a Series of Videos.” We’re almost a month after shipping started and it’s still on the fence. Actually, I’ll bet its not and all we’ll get are videos. Shaking my head…
Amazing. After months of delays… they didn’t have anyone working on written documentation. Amateur hour.
I don’t think HH should waste any time producing a PDF manual. The product is too much in flux for that. When software development has stabilized — months from now — they can focus on content.
A PDF manual would be a snapshot in time and the picture is a unclear at the moment. They are better off focusing on frequent updates.
I’m sure most smartphones have a PDF manual online and I bet 99% of users never glance at it. Perhaps that is why HH got the idea in their heads that “Karoo will be so intuitive you won’t need a manual!” Uh-huh.
A GPS cycling computer is a lot different than a smartphone with an app. A much greater percentage of GPS computer users want an online manual for reference. One that delves into all the details.
I doubt HH has the wherewithal to produce those details until Genet has been released (“Late Spring, 2018”?). Until then short video tutorials would be much easier to produce. However, those aren’t likely to appear until the Lynx update. Otherwise it would be a wasted effort showing a prototype UI that is about to change.
If they post any documentation it could be simple HTML instructions updated with expanding release notes over time. Otherwise they have their hands full with a 45 day countdown on returns.
If they don’t prove themselves in that time frame a PDF manual is the least of their worries.
Concerning the lack of a manual, below is the response I received from Hammerhead’s communication director when I asked about a manual and tech support. Hammerhead needs to wake up to the fact that buyers want more information than the limited amount they have provided. Not having phone tech support is also unbelievable.
“To answer your question: there will be no active customer support phone number for Karoo upon its release, and any potential interface issues will have to be either troubleshooted on the device itself or via messaging our support team online. We simply do not have the bandwidth to support a full-time customer service effort at this time. In conjunction with understanding this, it’s also important to release Karoo from your preconceived notions of it, and critical, from comparison with Garmin devices and what you’ve come to expect from them. Just as an iPhone does not have a user manual, nor will Karoo (yes, technically, the iPhone does, but it is 1.5 pages of primarily legal statements with a note to visit Apple’s website for any support issues). Why does it not have a user manual? Because it’s operation is intuitive, straightforward, and requires minimal input from only a small number of controls (touchscreen and buttons). Your belief that a device like Karoo should have a user manual at all illustrates a misconception about the unit that needs to be digested first before you will understand its capabilities.”
I don’t disagree about their statement on user manuals.
That’s a really poor response to come from a communications director in my opinion. How long ago did you receive this?
Few takeaways I got from that…
“there will be no active customer support phone number for Karoo upon its release, and any potential interface issues will have to be either troubleshooted on the device itself or via messaging our support team online. We simply do not have the bandwidth to support a full-time customer service effort at this time.”
That does not instill me with a lot of confidence in the company being able to support users long term if they run into issues. What happens when/if they get to a point where they ramp up production?
“In conjunction with understanding this, it’s also important to release Karoo from your preconceived notions of it, and critical, from comparison with Garmin devices and what you’ve come to expect from them.”
So basically, what this tells me, aside from the “YOUR preconceived notions” being a bit accusatory, is that they don’t want to be compared to Garmin. But aren’t they trying to compete with Garmin and Wahoo? This seems like they are saying “everyone needs to lower their expectations”.
“Just as an iPhone does not have a user manual, nor will Karoo … Why does it not have a user manual? Because it’s operation is intuitive, straightforward, and requires minimal input from only a small number of controls.”
Problem is, Apple has a HUGE development budget to make their products so intuitive and easy to use. HH can’t afford a support team and has shown that their dev team can’t live up to what has been advertised. Some of it is very intuitive, but it’s not Apple intuitive. For example, there’s no clear and obvious way to get back to Settings once you’ve started an activity. I’ve yet to figure out how to increase the text size on the map. These are pretty basic things.
“Your belief that a device like Karoo should have a user manual at all illustrates a misconception about the unit that needs to be digested first before you will understand its capabilities.”
All I can say here is WOW!!! This kind of attitude coming from a Communications Director toward a customer or potential customer?!? I don’t care what the tone of the original email he received is, that’s not how you deal with someone who has given, or potentially will be giving you money for a product or service. Would have been better in my opinion to just not respond (as they’ve done to me twice).
This is not a company, nor a product, thats not ready for mass market in any way shape or form. I think at this point I’m out. I just hope they’ll honor their return policy and give me my money back.
“Your belief that a device like Karoo should have a user manual at all illustrates a misconception about the unit that needs to be digested first before you will understand its capabilities.”
Arrogance to the nth degree. For so many reasons. BTW, there are user manuals for iPhones, here’s one: link to help.apple.com
Camilo, you know everything about the Karoo and how it works?
I received the email I quoted around the middle of November. I started asking a lot of questions at that time. I was concerned because Hammerhead stated the Karoo was going to ship the last week of October and of course that did not happen. In fact, no production Karoo’s were even built at that time and they kept saying until the third week in October shipping was on schedule for the last week in October. Everything really started to go downhill at that time. I would never support Hammerhead in anyway due to their dishonesty.
Well said Drew.
I should have added “condescending” to “arrogance.”
BTW, I sent the last quote to Caffery Garff, its author and effectively asked: WTF?
Hi Seth, I know nothing about Karoos (but I’d like). Still I would prefer a company to focus on actual features rather than a manual, since I rarely (actually never) use them. But we’re talking about personal priorities here, no?
JD, I think we’re talking apples and shoelaces here. The folks working on software will not be the same as those working on a manual. I don’t think the knowledge set for either overlaps.
A user manual, in any form can always be updated. I’m not wedded to a PDF per se, I’m using the term generically. Something in text form is mandatory. The fact that it wasn’t available at rollout is so telling of the work in front of the company and its lack of preparation.
To quote a variation of that old ad: Having to pay $300 for the privilege of being a beta tester? Worthless.
See, I’d be OK with paying $300 to be a beta tester if I felt they were standing behind their product. I’ve harped on this a few times already, but I keep going back to how Watteam handled their situation. When they discovered their problem they dealt with it head on. At any point between when they stopped shipping and when the v2 came out I could have gotten a refund. I never asked for it because they were proactive in providing info and supporting the devices they had in the wild. At no point did I feel they weren’t 100% committed to providing a product every bit as good as they promised and at no point did they blow off customers or were they dismissive or rude in the face of negative comments or customer requests. I paid $500 for my Watteam power meter, felt like a beta tester for something like a year, and actually felt kinda proud of it. I actually felt like they were using my input and feedback to make the v2 product better.
I’m not getting that feeling here. None of it. For me it’s more about how the company is conducting themselves than the state of the product. I don’t trust them to stand behind their product and support their customers in a respectful manner anymore.
I put in my RMA/return request today after browsing through their forums a bit. I honestly expect to have to fight to get that done.
Let’s not forget that Hammerhead’s first product the H1 never had a manual. I guess It was intuitive too. Intuitive to the point of Hammerhead now not even being able to give them away.
Make no mistake about it, Karoo is in beta phase regardless of what most pre-order customers expect. v1.0 is a misnomer. No amount of cajoling and complaining is going to change that fact. HH simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to flip that narrative anytime soon.
The iPhone manual is an example of an online HTML manual of a mature product. HH could certainly start something similar if only in outline format to be filled in later as features emerge. I bet if they do that they’ll get another round of complaints about the manual being “too thin”. ;->
There are some diehard Hammerheaders out there that continue to believe. I bet at least one of them would volunteer to write the manual if HH asked them. 😀
It is exactly this type of attitude and arrogance, that I don’t crApple… and, now… I don’t Karoo, too.
That is not how you gain customers or market share.
“The folks working on software will not be the same as those working on a manual. I don’t think the knowledge set for either overlaps.”
In a large company, that’s true. In larger companies you have technical writers, whose job it is to write documentation like this. In smaller companies you’d likely outsource that a bit to freelancers.
The challenge though in either scenario is that technical writers typically depend on product managers and or lead engineers to write the spec sheet of what to cover in that manual. Then, those same product managers/engineers go through each of the various iterations, making changes/corrections/etc…. And that all assumes the technical writer is competent with the material at hand.
Meaning, you can’t throw a random technical writer at a bike related project, else you’ll get all sorts of wrong jargon. Just like I wouldn’t throw a technical writer that’s not familiar with databases onto writing a SQL manual. Sure, you can in a pinch, but it slows the whole process down a boatload.
Which isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be writing a manual, or something. I’d prefer them to focus on quick-start style guides or a large FAQ of how to fix/do common things that anyone on the team can knock out on a given night (Q&A style). Easy to add to, easy to tweak. But knowing that resources finite (as with almost anything, but especially a startup), I’d rather have those leads working on adding features than writing a sacred bible that will be out of date next month anyway (thus why a Q&A style sectioned page is easier to manage).
Just my two cents…
Ray, the combination of no manual as the rollout began, the nebulous answers as to what form it will take and when will we see it, and the feverish pace they must employ for updates to a not-yet-ready for prime-time device is suggestive of a company that was woefully under-prepared.
I continue to wonder how much of Karoo was developed in a vacuum by a few folks and then dropped on us to be beta testers. When a company hangs the World’s Best label on a product, is it not fair to expect it to be just that, or damn close to it, right out of the box?
Smartphones also have a huge range of online resources providing tutorials and other information. The FAQs are totally useless right now on HH’s website. What on earth were they doing at the company during all those shipping delays, couldn’t they have written up some brief text-based tutorials? It’s clear from questions coming up from users that some basic things aren’t as “obvious” as HH assumed they would be – e.g. double-clicking the bottom-right button to switch between running apps, and a long press to go back to the home screen.
I do wonder what HH were expecting users to think of the initial software, given all the shipping delays. If they were thinking that it was relatively reliable and worked well, then what went wrong with their QA and why did they think that (what about the Caracal programme?). If they knew that it was very buggy and unreliable, then why didn’t they spend some extra effort in advance to make a good impression to initial customers?
We do understand why a manual is required for a lot of folks. Karoo is a new product, and, as a result, no one knows how to use it!
That said, we are moving fast on software, so by the time a paper manual or written and illustrated PDF could be created, it would be out of date. We have made a list of the things that people understandably find confusing, and we are going to use video to walk folks through Karoo. We also think that video can make things easier to understand than trying to read manuals. This is especially true in our case, as we have customers in over 30 countries now, and would have to translate a manual into many languages, which is something that we just don’t have the bandwidth to do! We do believe that video will show anyone how to use Karoo in a really clear way. Please stay tuned.
In my humble opinion, an html manual (in progress, changing and updating as needed) is better than videos. In fact you can scan read an html but you cannot scan watch a video to find what you’re looking for.
As for the language, html manual can be automatically translated by the browser while videos cannot (afain).
Sorry, but this doesn’t make much sense. A video is easier to translate than an on-line document? A video is easier to update than an on-line manual? It’s easier to explain strange button combinations (e.g., press the middle button for 2 second) in a video rather than a manual? The manual has to be neither printed nor pretty, just informative. It could even take the form of a Q&A. Regardless, it’s needed.
I’m one of those who pre ordered the Karoo and then canceled the order. Reading this review and the amazing lack of features of the unit has assured me that I made the right decision in canceling. No doubt a Android based bike computer has great potential but I don’t think Hammerhead is a reputable company. I simply do not trust them to do what they say they are going to do.
After I pre ordered, I waited as one after another shipping date went by. The reason was always circumstances beyond their control. I started reading some of the Facebook comments and I was surprised at the negative attitude Hammerhead showed toward their customers. Very vague or even rude responses to questions and many simply went unanswered.
As I read more Facebook posts, I saw the disturbing trend that any negative question especially concerning shipping dates, was removed. I have read that those who posted any kind of negative comment were then blocked by Hammerhead and some even had their pre order cancelled. Remember this is Facebook and not the Hammerhead website. I’ve never seen behavior like this from a reputable company.
I then found out the nice graphs that first attracted me to the Karoo shown on the Hammerhead Karoo website don’t even exit. And no tech support by phone or a manual exists or is planned for the future. What happens when you need a answer quickly because you are leaving that day for a trip? When it was uncovered that it was a lie that the Karoo was shipping but actually it was only shipping to beta testers who got the computer free, that was it for me and I cancelled. The way Hammerhead tried to control comments from the beta testers is nothing short of unbelievable.
Now Hammerhead has made all these promises about firmware upgrades that will supposedly soon be here. I have doubts that these upgrades will happen as scheduled. Or even happen at all. I don’t think it is wise when making a buying decision to just look at the product. You also have to look at the company making it and Hammerhead has in the last year made some seriously wrong decisions and does not deserve my money.
Don’t be naive and think Hammerhead will suddenly play by the rules and start thinking about serving the customer and take their mind off the money. That will take a change in upper management and I doubt that will happen.
I ordered a unit on Oct 5 and I’m still waiting while keeping tabs on FB, DCR, their website / blog, etc. What would be helpful is if HH would prioritize and communicate what’s next. There’s been a significant amount of REALLY GOOD feedback such as audible prompts, etc. that any company developing a product would assess, analyze and develop a plan for action and then communicate along w timing (or at least sequence). Maybe they’ve done that and i’ve missed it but haven’t seen so far. They need a plan internally to direct resources to improve, develop, fix, test, etc. which should then be communicated to the purchasers and prospective buyers. I’m about to pull the trigger because i know how to use a paper map…
To be fair, they have actually posted that priority list: link to hammerhead.io (click the software tab).
As I noted up above, some of it is a bit wishy-washy to me, but the general theory is there.
Reading the questions, comments, and replies on the newly opened Hammerhead Community website… it is clear that there is a need for some type of operator/owner documentation/manual.
It is also clear there is a group of Karoo fanboys waiting to make snide remarks towards anyone with an honest question about usability or lack there of. I wonder how many of them are getting paid by HH.
Clearly… the Karoo is not ready. So many things not working.
I’ve hesitated to post this, but there does seem to a lot of negativity towards HH/the Karoo product.
I originally placed my order back in May (maybe one of the first?), from that point to now, I saw reality not meet expectation, as Hammerhead failed to deliver on time, not deliver the features, poorly communicate (and maybe lie) and even now have issues for stability and bugs.
I was close (actually my fault for being too late) to cancelling the order, BUT….
I do not have negativity towards the company or the product. I do genuinely believe the guys/company are trying their best (yes they have been miss guided at times).
People on here seem to be having a vendetta towards HH. Yes there is no manual, do I believe a manual would make it any better, no. The product is quite intuitive. Would I have read the manual if there had been one? TBH, no. A few quick guide videos would probably appease a few people on here…
For the people unhappy with HH/Karoo who cancelled their order, move on and let it go. For the unhappy people who have a Karoo, either return it or use your time to help improve the product instead of flaming it.
There is a forum/community website, which I’ll admit isn’t perfect, but can be a good source of help and info (and one where staff of HH participate). I have been a user of Garmin products for years, I get far better support from HH than Garmin, who never check their forums, just want to sell you a replacement unit and not actually fix your issue.
There have been comments about the staff at HH potentially not being cyclists and not understanding how the functionality of the Karoo should work, I think that applies to the Edge team at Garmin too (and this is a company worth millions, who have had years of product development behind them). Even after having a product out for years and having it superseded, they never fixed some fundamental issues.
I actually like my Karoo, even in it’s current state (with missing functionality and bugs). I do genuinely believe the product can be a game changer and offers some fantastic features. BTW, I have no association with Hammerhead or any of it’s staff (I wasn’t a beta user and I paid full price for my unit before anyone comments)
Hopefully Hammerhead are now listening to the community (bar the repetitive comments about no manual and continuous digs at how bad a company they are) and taking positive input from their current and future customers.
J. (Ready to be flamed!) 😀
Jay, I agree. And I think the environment is totally Hammerhead’s own doing. Once they lost trust through the Caracal Debacle (which resulted in the most non-apology apology I’ve seen in a while), they continued with a holier-than-thou attitude in their FB messages. It is hard to look at them with a sympathetic eye when they have promised the world and delivered something… less than par, to be kind.
They have continually made snide remarks about ignorant customers, without giving those same customers respect and gratitude for funding something that was just a venture-funded kickstarter program.
Jay, no flaming from me and I’m probably its harshest critic. If you’re willing to accept the device as it is and believe management will deliver, so be it. For me, there’s just too much dissonance to be comfortable — so far.
I’ve kept the device because I have seen its promise. I like the display and its capacitive response. It’s last update finally introduced elevation data. I found out on Sunday why it’s in beta: ascent/descent data was off by a factor of 3-4x (too low.) Perhaps it’s just my device, but I doubt it. I informed the company of the bug, suggesting it’s in meters not feet. Easy fix I assume, but how can I be inspired when it doesn’t work a few days after its release?
As to the manual: it does not matter whether I or you need it. It’s all about making a product that will appeal to as wide a customer base as possible. Just because the company believes it’s so intuitive that no user manual is/was needed tells me it doesn’t get it. In effect it’s saying “If you’re too stupid to understand Karoo, it’s your problem, not ours.”
If Hammerhead’s management believes it knows better than any of us about everything it takes to be successful and chooses to dismiss the valid criticism posted here, then I don’t see it succeeding. It’s nice to be comforted by supporters such as yourself, but — in my opinion — it’s far more valuable to be listening to its critics. Its success will be measured in how it adapts
I know of many companies whose founders have been replaced after a product/service comes to market because it doesn’t have the skill set to succeed post rollout. I’m speaking of any company irrespective of industry. I’m thinking Hammerhead is going down that path. I like the product’s potential; management is the problem. Put another way, it ain’t the arrow, it’s the indian.
Just my two cents, too.
I think it’s a matter of expectation, what I believe any company should deliver when it’s built up expectations
Disregard the last sentence it was from an earlier draft that was to be deleted.
I’m glad you like your Karoo and I’m probably one of those that has a somewhat of a vendetta against Hammerhead. This is due to the way I was treated by them. I asked probing questions about how the device works and I was ignored and finally blocked on Facebook. Then they went so far as to cancel my order since I guess I don’t live up to their standards of dishonesty. I feel a obligation to warn others of what they could be getting into.
As far as manuals go, I’m fairly knowledgeable about electronic stuff. I’m the type that reads the manual several times before I start to play with a new gadget. When other riders are having problems with their Garmin computers the first thing I ask them is if they have read the manual. The answer is always no. I direct them to the page in the manual that pertains to their problem and that usually solves it. So, I think for the majority of users a manual is a really good thing. Why Hammerhead does not provide one is a complete mystery to me since they obviously had a lot of time on their hands with the never ending shipping delays. I think they could have produced something in those six months.
I still say don’t just look at the product. Look at the company too.
I don’t think I’m the only Karoo customer who has been somewhat frustrated by the current state of the official HH forums for the device. There’s very little functionality or active management there, so the same questions keep coming up without topics being merged together, nowhere to have useful information, etc.
I and another similarly frustrated customer have got tired of waiting for HH to improve that situation. So we’ve set up our own set of unofficial Karoo forums at karoousers.org
We’ve put up an FAQ based on some of the more commonly-asked questions by people about their device, plus one or two other posts, but of course what we really need a community to build up there so that we can make it a lot better. We think it will be much easier to ask and to give help there (compared to the official forums) because it’s a phpBB board so we have sticky posts, ordering by most recent reply (not most recent topic) in each sub-forum, etc, etc. We’re aware there’s a Facebook group too, but of course there are so many difference between the way FB groups work and forums that we think there’s plenty of room for both.
Come over to karoousers.org and check it out. Thanks.
Steve (and DOug) — thanks for doing this. I registered this morning.
My humble apologies, but I made a major screw-up on the karoousers.org forums and had to restore from yesterday. A hard lesson learned there for me. So I’m sorry to say that all users who registered in the last 24 hours have gone because of the restore. We’ve put the board back to how it was apart from the odd couple of posts (once of which I think might have been yours, Seth, so sorry if it was).
Please do re-register, because if you just view the forum without logging in then you won’t be able to take advantage of the forum highlighting the newly-posted stuff since you last visited.
There’s useful (IMHO) stuff like some FAQs based on what people have really been asking, at link to karoousers.org , a list we’re compiling of which sensors are known to work (or not) at link to karoousers.org , and a summary of the known issues at link to karoousers.org
Thanks and sorry again for the inconvenience.
Twas me Steve.Not a problem.
v188.8.131.52 was just pushed.
Thanks for the heads up Seth.
I boxed mine back up, waiting for them to reply about my return/refund request. They acknowledged my request after about 48 hours… I still haven’t heard from them after another 48.
Let us know if the update has anything good in it, I have a sinking feeling they’re going to stiff me and I’m going to be forced to keep it.
Well, this is not good news Drew. I assume you’re within the 45 day period? I know H monitors these comments and comes through for you.
Yes. I received mine around Feb. 12th, so I’m well within 30 days. I sort of anticipated getting a return being an issue, so I wanted to get the process started early.
The bounced emails I did not anticipate and that gives me more cause for concern than anything else. I could be playing chicken little here, and it might just be a technical issue, but to see emails getting rejected and people on HH’s own forums asking if anyone’s been able to get an RMA gives me a lot of concern. Not just about getting my return/refund processed, but about how they are going to handle support and future development for the people who decide to keep theirs.
So hopefully it’s just a technical issue or an admin error with their filter settings on their mail server.
Has anyone else tried to email email@example.com lately?
I tried to reply to their acknowledgement of my return request and got a bounce due to spam filter. Tried from two other email addresses, got the same thing.
Might be a technical issue… but in my opinion, from a PR standpoint, it looks really bad.
Thanks for the heads-up. Aside from your comment here, we’ve not had anyone else report this issue to us. We ran a few quick tests after seeing your comment, as well, and all server activity seemed normal. Please let us know (here as a response to this comment) if the problem persists!
Regarding the bounced emails.
As of 17:33 EST the problem was still occurring. I tried to reply to Franklin with my tracking number from my phone and it bounced. This was from a second device over cellular, not WiFi at my office, so definitely doesn’t appear to be device or network related.
That being said, I was able to get my issue addressed via multiple Zendesk tickets.
Just checking in here again. Glad you were able to get your issue sorted. Are you still getting email bounce-backs?
Thanks for checking, I haven’t tried since last week. I’m not sure I need to unless someone from your team needs more info or additional comments from me.
From the guy who has been toughest in his criticism of the company, thanks Hammerhead for your multiple posts today. I may have some follow-up questions but it’s nice to see you reaching out and fielding issues directly. Please…keep it going.
I used it for 2 rides and am very disappointed.
1. Battery life — dead after 6.5 hours. No Wi-Fi, Cell or BLE, adaptive brightness on, one ANT+ device. Temps were around 60 F (15C).
2. Navigation — that banner takes 25% of the screen and cannot be turned off, WHY?? I was unable to zoom in/out too with the active route.
3. GPS accuracy — last year, the difference between Edge 520 and Fenix 5 — 1 mile.
This year, the difference between Karoo and Fenix 5 — at least 5 miles!
4. Misc issues — active ride doesn’t resume after reboot. Sleep mode doesn’t seem to work.
All I wanted was a good quick mapping and better battery life, can’t even get that much.
Sorry to hear that. That sounds very frustrating. Based on those issues, it also sounds like there’s a chance your Karoo is running an outdated version of software. Try checking under Settings – About – System Update, to make sure you’re running the most current software (v184.108.40.206).
If that doesn’t help, please feel free to get in touch with us directly, and we’ll be happy to troubleshoot whatever’s going on.
Hi H. team,
I have just updated the software to 220.127.116.11 before the said ride. I have also contacted you yesterday requesting a return.
There was a thread that disappeared on the Hammerhead Karoo Users Facebook group that was interest. Some guy compared the specs listed on Hammerhead’s current page and compared it with the specs listed on Hammerhead’s page from December, cached on archive.org. A LOT of de-contenting that was done under the radar from Hammerhead. Looked to be an interesting discussion, but that group seems to be deleting things just like Hammerhead’s main Facebook page.
The Hammerhead claim was that all orders pre-mid-September would be filled by the end of February. Did that happen?
The Hammerhead claim was that they’d change the “Early Offer” price would change once the unit was shipping on demand. With all of the delays in certification and whatever, how is this “Early Offer” not closed by now?
AKU — You are starting to sound like Aku from Samarai Jack. 😉
What’s wrong with HH clarifying content on their website now that they are in production? I certainly hope they edited out what was ambiguous or the pie-in-the-sky proclamations that allowed visitors to assume too much.
What’s wrong with controlling content on their FB pages? Every other company does that. Many of the posts are redundant and some are complete rubbish (on both sides of the fence).
What’s wrong with keeping the intro price at $299? They’re not into on-demand shipping mode yet, plus the product isn’t finished software-wise by a long shot. It’s not worth $499 until the Karoo matches the hype.
What’s wrong with a delay in shipment to rectify the 3rd party bracket problem reported? (loose mount on some)
Realistically HH has April/May/June to pull this off including the “Late Spring release” for Genet. Some customers may give up within the 90 day return period while others may be perfectly happy in that time. If mostly the latter HH will continue to sell units and new customers will receive a device much closer to Karoo’s website hype versus the prototype/beta unit that pre-order customers received.
Yes, preorder customers paid $299 on a startup product less than a year ago. Yes, it was a “startup”. Get over it.
Anyone wasting their time using the wayback machine to prove an obtuse point needs to go ride their bike instead. 😉
Conspiracy theorists and trolls should to take a breather or opt-out (aka get a refund and move on).
As to some constructive criticism —
I’m still interested in a Karoo if there will be a future model with integrated beeper. I’d only consider the current hardware if they fully implement BT sound. A bone conduction headset (such as Aftershokz) would support beeps, voice, and music. This means TBT on a Karoo could be voice commands like integrated GPS works through a car’s speaker system.
If HH can support a solution like this ASAP the Karoo would standout amongst all other cycling computers. Superior OS, superior screen, superior touch and button controls, superior mapping, plus superior BT sound for notifications, beeps, music, and even voice instructions for TBT directions.
Couple that with important fitness functions and HH would have a category killer. One that I will gladly pay $499 or even $599 bundled with a bone conduction headset.
The first BT apps posted to Karoo Play might be music related or perhaps a trainer app with voice based coaching.
Karoo should also pair with my phone to display text messages and contact/caller ID alerts when I want that function enabled during a ride. HH’s argument against this function is invalid since a text or incoming call alert is NO DIFFERENT than a TBT notification. We are not talking about the ability to reply on a Karoo. Just inbound NOTIFICATIONS.
That plus live tracking, emergency alerts, and what else?
What’s ironic is the features most users want on a Karoo are readily available on a smartphone app. For instance, take a look at Cyclemeter for Android. The feature list is practically endless. HH should just hire the developers behind Cyclemeter to adapt a Karoo version and be done with it.
Ideally you want it both ways. An updated Karoo model with integrated beeper and enhanced software that natively supports BT headsets for extended sound functions, plus 3rd party apps available from the Karoo Play store to fill in any gaps or provide next-gen functionality we haven’t thought of yet.
For the moment it’s all about what HH accomplishes with their software updates in the next 3 months. Hopefully that will include BT support even if TBT notification is only beeps at first.
As to the evolving content on their website, blog, and FB pages, more power to them as long as they learn from their missteps and understand it is ALWAYS better for business to shut up and listen versus getting defensive and starting an argument. 😀
Saw the update today. Mostly Nav improvements. No Strava beacon. They did have elevation fixes.
Here is something I will say. HH seems only concerned with navigation. The unit I received had no ability to customize screens. I would urge Hammerhead to focus on the basics.
Hi Ray…..Seems that I became a bad boys for Hammerhead since they deliberately deleted two my comment i their facebook page.
Well…one comment was…maybe a bit “Hot”, but the other was legit and was referred to the fact that every time I ask more info by email they respond with the same preconfigured answer.
I send a message with messenger to ask why they removed my comment and they didn’t answer.
The “hot” message was referred to yet another big delay in production, that will restart on may for the order placed after the 7Th september! this delay traslate my shipment to a date after May while I paid my Karoo at 20 oct, so over eight month delay, my question/comment do Hammerhead was how they ramping the production? I don’t know many times they said that.
The true is that they are in the same ball park of one years ago with customer that have to wait over six/seven month…if nothing happening.
@Ray please I would like to know what is your opinion/position in the way that they controll the opinion of their customer? I ask because I would like to have onther point of view from a person that for sure know better than me that peaple from Hammerhead.
@Hammerhead…. if you want to cut head instead of serach for dialog, in my opinion you didn’t learn from the time, My frustration was very legit and maybe
if you had asked me to change my comment a bit I would have done it, your choice to act like a dictator I don’t think in the long term will pay you.
RE: My thoughts on Facebook/etc deletion
In general, I’m not a fan of deletion and blocking on Facebook or other social media sites, with some exceptions. First, if a person is having a clean and adult-like conversation (no matter how much the company disagrees), then I think that should remain. Second, if the person is requesting information, even if the company doesn’t want that seen – that should remain.
Where things get iffy is if the person is just constantly over and over again being abrasive without any real basis for their comments (‘Fake news’ if you will). If someone has a legit issue – then definitely that’s legit to keep. But if someone is basically just spreading rumors and lies, then less so. Without seeing your comments, I don’t know – but given your comments here, I highly doubt you’d fall into that camp.
I do think sometimes language (i.e. non-native English speakers) will use words that they don’t fully understand the tone to a native English speaker or an American, that may come across more nasty than they intended. I’m lucky here in that I can see the countries and IP’s of when people post from, and can kinda gauge whether or not that might be a factor in the way they phrased something. Facebook doesn’t show that info though, making that tougher. Also, I think in some cases regional differences can come across more abrasive. For example, I find typically speaking that as an American, when reading Brit comments (specifically complaints) that they come across more abrasive than they probably intend to. Oddly, in-person conversations the Brits come across more polite than they probably should be. Inversely, I find Brits tend to do a better job of praising a company when they’ve fixed something, whereas American’s will tend to say nothing. Again, hyper-generalizations…albeit based on more than half a million comments here on the site.
Now, with that said – I’m a huge fan of deletion and blocking on my YouTube videos (which for me primarily manifests itself on action cam and drone videos which draw a different audience than my more technical/adult audience for other product types). Specifically, folks can disagree with me all day long, but once people get into calling names and profanity laced 3-4 word snippets, I delete (damn is ok). For spam-like comments, I block. Note, I almost never delete a comment here on the site for really any reason except typical spam junk. I can’t even remember the last time I had to delete a comment here – maybe a year or two ago.
I understand deleting posts that are simply attacking or vulgar, but from what I’ve seen, Hammerhead is deleting posts that are simply pointing out obvious problems with the product and/or Hammerhead’s narrative.
Setting the actual device aside, Hammerhead has not shown an ounce of humility in the past 6 months of chaos. Yes, they “apologized” when caught red-handed. Yes, they acknowledge problems with their process, but it is almost always countered with a “but…” that explains the problems away. Some problems don’t just go away, you have to acknowledge them, but then you have to own them and deal with them.
As Ray pointed out, even the “Truth in 2017” post has been hidden from their blog. Caffery explained that away in a deleted thread, saying something along the lines of “we dealt with it and it’s over, it doesn’t apply any more,” but that’s just not the way things work. Consumers have a memory, and unless you fix the problems, they persist.
Even yesterday, they had a blog update that blames Barfly for their latest production delay (which in itself is worthy of derision), yet in the same blog they pat themselves on the back for extending the return to 90 days. This is good! However, immediately following that, they point out that “It’s worth noting that the industry standard is 30 days.” — again, not the absolute lack of humility for having to extend the return period because the launch software was significantly underdeveloped.
It just seems that Hammerhead continues to be its own worst enemy.
They extended it to 90 days? Hmmm. That’s kinda funny as I asked them a few weeks ago, before returning mine, if they’d extend it. Had they replied to my request with a “yes” prior to about a week ago I probably would have given them the benefit of the doubt and waited another month or two to fix their issues.
Along the same lines of what you’re saying, I think this speaks to a greater communications issue in general. I’ve said it before, they are being reactive in dealing with issues where they should be proactive.
Thanks for the thoughts here. We do not delete the vast majority of comments or ban users as general practice, though we certainly have in particular instances. Of the 28,978 followers of our Facebook page we have banned only 11. We have done this in the face of inappropriate behavior, including stalking members of our company and direct personal contact. The current social media landscape can be unnerving and it is very hard to know where to draw the line. We are still finding our feet with this, but are in the process of determining our guidelines, and will share these publicly once we’ve done so.
One of the most disheartening instances is public posting that has little to no truth behind it. In this case, Andrea messaged us to say “Sorry but I Think I did a big mistake, I think I removed the comment by my self. please sorry!”
Another comment from Hammerhead that deflects any blame. You specifically state the number of banned followers on Facebook, but you have DELETED many, many more people’s posts. Then Hammerhead claims that it’s the victim of the scary social environment.
See above post about lack of humility. Sad.
It’s true, I’m not to much familiar with Facebook, while gaming with the privacy I unaware deleted the comment made in their Faceebook page.
when I realized I send immediatly an email to Ray to cancel the message but was to late.
This is the start and the end of the story.
I want to say sorry to Ray and to Hammerhead for my mistake, it’s somethings that it should never been happened, especially if I think that it was started from a bit anger for the delay in the second round of shipment,
I find the following statement by HH to be almost comical.
“One of the most disheartening instances is public posting that has little to no truth behind it.”
HH is the poster child of dishonesty and they are being critical of others? Very, very strange.
I also don’t understand all of the recent posts here by Hammerhead. Especially the one that stated,”we are going to listen to you folks to determine what you want, and build that”.
In HH’s many hostile posts on Facebook to their pre order customers , they sure did not want to listen. Has something happened that has suddenly caused them to actually listen to their customers? Perhaps there has been more cancellations and returns than expected.
“Perhaps there has been more cancellations and returns than expected.”
That was my assumption, that and returns. I couldn’t help but notice they backtracked on their stance on BT connectivity to phones and have extended their satisfaction guarantee. Two things that might have kept me from returning mine so soon had they done it a week earlier and two of the things I cited in my return request.
Thanks for the follow-up comment here, Andrea. No problem at all. Mistakes happen – as we’ve certainly demonstrated ourselves.
We sent you a message in response to your question about the metric system on the Dashboard. Please let us know if we can help with anything else.
First … I returned my unit because of the lack of field customization and no strava beacon. I feel they are missing some very basic things. No hard feelings … I just need it to do more than navigation.
Second … it was a Quickstarter campaign. They had aggresive and lofty goals. I hope they can get their software in order soon to reach theor ambitions.
I just tried to watch their Facebook Live chat session, but they are so full of doublespeak that I can’t do it.
When they were asked about the “Lynx” software update, which is on their software timeline as “The first major update to Karoo’s software will be released approximately six weeks after the device’s debut,” they said that they are expecting it some time in mid-April. Well, after sending out the first units after FCC certification the first week in February what math could you possibly be using to say that Mid-April is “approximately six weeks” after that?
I give up, it’s like watching a slow-motion car crash, where the car’s passengers are saying “No, that’s not going to happen.”
Hi “Another Karoo User,”
Thanks for attending our FB Live session, and for your keen interest in Hammerhead.
It sounds like you’ve got some additional questions and concerns, and we’d love to get them answered for you. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you straight away. Feel free to let us know you’re “Another Karoo User,” and If you feel comfortable sharing your number, we would be happy to give you a call, as well.
Thank you again, and we look forward to hearing from you!
I bought the Karoo and thusfar used it without Antwerpen problem. I am wondering if the Karoo fits the powerpod/ Garmin mount. Does anyone know?
@Peter – the Karoo has a standard Garmin-type quarter-turn foot mount. So in theory it should fit a Garmin mount. However, there are two caveats. Most importantly, Karoo is quite big, so you’ll need a Garmin mount than can accept models like the 1000 or 1030 (enough room to clear the handlebars). Secondly, the tolerances aren’t always the same between devices and mounts. My Karoo does fit a couple of Garmin mounts that I’ve got, but it need a bit more force than the Bar Fly Max mount that the Karoo is supplied with. I don’t have any experience with the Powerpod mount though, sorry.
Thx for the reply Steve! The powerpod mount fits a Edge 1000, so it should function.
Peter, you could also attach the lanyard just to be extra-safe, sort of like wearing a belt and suspenders (I’ve seen it!)
Ray – shouldnt Stages Dash be included in the comparison table too?
That’s just the limited view one you see above based on what I think are the most applicable competitors. But you can mix and match any units (including the Stages Dash) using the full tool.
Here’s Stages + Hammerhead: link to dcrainmaker.com
Got my Karoo on Monday and have only tested it so far indoor on a Zwift-session (SPRING – WHERE ARE YOU???).
My initial impression is that it has a very nice, crisp screen that responds very smoothly to touch.
But as Hammerhead management obviously must have discovered now, it is a real bummer to not add some kind of audible alert capability into the unit.
My suggestion is that Hammerhead now looks into the possibility of supporting an external bluetooth device that has the necessary audio hardware.
I have a small “Tile” that may be such a device. It is a small keyring device that is a tracker. It communicates via bluetooth, and with the appropriate app installed on my mobile I can keep track of its current location. In the event that I loose my keys, other users with same app will be able to assist in locating my keys.
So, if Hammerhead follows my suggestion and implements something similar for the Karoo they can turn this into a win-win situation. Provide a similar device as the Tile, that I can hide on my bike and a similar app hosted on the Karoo. That way the tracker’s audio features can be used for navigation alerts. And as a added bonus, the device that I have hidden on my bike can be used to track it’s whereabouts.
Thanks for your thoughts! Here’s our copy-and-pasted response to the same topic (farther up):
“Of the members of our community who have expressed their concern that Karoo will not make any native sound, we hear you (no pun intended!) and are actively discussing possible solutions. Some are complex and time-consuming, while others are quicker and easier; reliability and efficacy, without drastic hardware revisions, are the main objectives. Hardware revisions, even for a relatively small feature, are very taxing of a company’s resources – especially a small one like ours – so we’re moving very carefully along this topic.
We’ll certainly share any developments with our community more broadly! Until then, we’re still working to optimize the visual navigation experience, with the hope of mitigating the need for audio cues for most riders.”
To join this discussion and others on our forum, head over to: link to support.hammerhead.io
It’s a shame that Hammerhead’s “copy-and-pasted” response shows that they didn’t even read Jarl P’s entire post. They missed a very interesting option to augment their mute device.
I have one of those Tiles. It’s the new model which is supposed to be louder than the previous model. I still can’t hear it even if I’m four feet away and that’s in a quiet room. Hammerhead would have to use a different technology to get the sound volume up so a cyclist could hear it.
Hammerhead can’t do much to fix their incredibly poor decision to not include a audio alert. Probably have to wait until the Karoo 2 hits the market
Anything that makes sound is going to have a power consumption issue, but maybe a Tile-type device in a helmet could be something. Then again, that may open up some liability issues. Either way, no good solution.
“Also, what’s cool is that unlike a Garmin or Wahoo device, this can connect to protected ‘I agree’ type WiFi networks (like those at Starbucks or hotels). That’s because it leverages the Android operating system to handle that, so it can simply prompt you like it would on your phone.”
Did you actually get this working? I haven’t managed to connect to the guest network at office where I get to a web portal to authenticate. (I get the wifi connection with IP and all, just not allowed out on the internet before I authenticate. But there’s no way to view that web page. Not even getting the android “you need to authenticate” notification, which I do get on my phone for the very same network.)
I have the device for about 4 weeks now and I am really happy with it. It works flawless, today I had a training session with the club of my son and the device was on from 10:00 till 15:00. It dropped to 65% of battery usage. You can even turn the screen off while it still records everything to maximize the battery usage.
Map is great, routing is great, I just turn on hotspot on my phone and automatically switches from Wifi to the hotspot. Everything goes smooth, I love it!
The support and kind words are very genuinely appreciated, Matty. We hope you keep loving your Karoo. If you think there’s a way you could love it even more, please come visit our support page and let us know: link to hammerhead.io
“Also, what’s cool is that unlike a Garmin or Wahoo device, this can connect to protected ‘I agree’ type WiFi networks (like those at Starbucks or hotels). That’s because it leverages the Android operating system to handle that, so it can simply prompt you like it would on your phone.”
Did this actually work for you or was this just speculation? I’ve had my Karoo for 2 weeks now and 2 software updates later and it has never prompted for the “I agree” protected network WIFI connections, including work and Starbucks. Since most protected public WIFI networks prompt, it would be very nice if the Karoo could handle that.
I saw it in practice at CES at the convention halls when I met them, but I hadn’t actually had a reason to use it in the last few months to try it. Perhaps Hammerhead can clarify there.
Competitors of the Karoo are on the way: link to jespr.ch
Interesting. Same CPU, 25% larger screen, slightly heavier, claimed 18 hour battery life. But I assume these are just pie-in-the sky dream specs as there is no information on their web site as to what stage of development this device is in.
What part of .ch isn’t a clue? ;->
Pie-in-the-sky is more like spy-in-the-sky.
Good luck with that.
I’ll bet you had the same first reaction I did, that .ch was China? It’s not. Switzerland. Considerably more legitimate eh? That it’s based on Android 5.1 tells me these folks have been at it a looooong time and may be far away from realization. Just a hunch, thus my opinion.
Ah… CH versus CI.
Looks more like a copycat effort than a serious contender.
Maybe it will be manufactured in a CI factory down the street from the Karoo source. 😉
Oops! Typo. Meant CN not CI (Cote d’Ivoire).
I now have my Karoo. I ride a Canyon Endurace with their integrated cockpit. Unfortunately the Karoo will not fit into the Garmin style mount as there is not enough clearance to twist it 90 degrees. ?
I will get a BarFly Spoon within the next days… Maybe this is a good one for the Karoo at Canyon Cockpits.
Will post a picture of it and will comment…
I had a similar problem and looked for 3d printed mounts. As I remember correctly there is a mount available for canyon hc11 cockpit on shapeways.com.
Thanks Peter, I’ll check it out.
It wasn’t the most encouraging start to my Karoo ownership!! Lol.
Hi Peter, Hi Ken,
I’m also interested in another mount. Same for me – but if you have the guts to try it… It works. It touches the cockpit, but it works. But that’s not a long time solution.
Would be nice to get a link to the mounts at shapeways… Couldn’t find them 🙁
Yes, I’ve been able to fit it onto the standard H31 cockpit Garmin mount, just needed to bend it a bit, so it’s not too bad. I’ll live with it as it is. One observation, it’s odd that top surface of the Karoo is shaped like a tray, with raised edges!? It’s just going to collect water when it rains.
Here’s the link to RaceWare’s cockpit mount but you’ll need to request a slightly longer version if clearance is an issue for mounting a Karoo.
link to racewaredirect.co
Here’s a Shapeways source for custom mounts: link to shapeways.com
It seems memory is fading, but I was convinced I saw one. Just a different website link to racewaredirect.co
Will this work with my Varia radar?
@Jeff – not at the moment, no. But integration with Varia has suggested before and I imagine it’ll come in time.
Seems like there’s an increasing problem with the Karoo breaking off the mount — either at the mounting tabs, or at the screw fastening the mount to the unit. This results in throwing the unit off of the bike if untethered. The extreme weight of the unit could be showing a fatigue point of failure / design problem with the mount. From the Facebook user’s group, it seems like Hammerhead is not approaching this as a significant issue, it very well may be, though.
The Karoo is silent with no audible tones so I can’t perceive using a Varia with it
After the last update which caused some trouble again, and the outcome of the live video session, I decided to abandon Karoo. I have to admit the idea and vision on the Karoo are very nice and promising. The hardware is very powerful and ready for it. But the point is: the product sold is not the product advertised. Some major differences/issues are: (in no particular order)
– No training plans
– Very small offline maps
– No offline route creation
– No streaming, live sharing etc
– No Strava live segments
– Missing elevation graphs
– Missing ride summary/post ride analyses
– No option to re-ride a ride
– Battery life not as promised
– Mount failures
– Intermittend crashes
– “mapping layers have filters for road, dirt, gradient and more”. No, they don’t.
Many shortcomings are discussed here, on the HH forum and on Facebook so I won’t drill down to those again. Some might be relevant for you, some might not. The issue for me is: I need a full working bike computer, not one that will be in continuous state of development for at least a year. The rate in which new feature are added is just too slow for me. With Karoo, I cannot make optimal use of my bike computer like I want to. The final straw, so to speak, was the announcement that offline route creation and navigation to an address etc. will not be planned in the near future, a feature that I use a lot.
I do have to admit I really like the large screen and responsiveness of the Karoo. But at the moment that’s all shadowed by the vast list of issues. I’ll check again in a year or so to see how far Karoo has progressed. Until then, it’s a Garmin 1030 for me.
All not-so-small shortcomings for a device pretending to compete in the high end area. Very glad I cancelled after the 597th delay around December and chose the 1030. Battery life of the 1030 is hilarious (on the positive side). Leaving bt and wifi while navigation is on it’s about 6% per hour, which brings it to about 16 hours or double what the 1000 did. For the grandfondo riders out there (those that push human wattages anyway) this means you don’t need that powerbank any more. The brilliant IQ app “routecourse” works around my biggest navigation issues in garmin devices, such as wireless gpx transfer and on the fly route creation.
Well, yesterday I finally also returned my Karoo. From the start the unit vibrated in the Barfly mount despite my trying to tighten (not overtighten!) the Barfly and 1/4 turn mount screws. 2 weeks ago the unit flew off the Barfly mount, the 1/4 turn bracket snapped. As the lanyard connects under the 1/4 turn, it does not protect. So the unit was in the road, the 1/4 turn mount was still mounted in the Barfly, the back panel disconnected, and both the front and back panel dented so that they no longer fit snugly. I suspect there will be many such failures, as this interface is clearly faulty, and much less robust than the Garmin mount system.
I was in email contact for 2 weeks. I asked to speak with someone, as in, on a phone call. Back and forth emails for 2 weeks, one stating that Jon Morgan was going to call me. No call received. Then I received an email stating that a new back panel and a new 1/4 turn mount were being shipped to me! Finally spoke with Caffery, who was finally helpful. We had a great conversation. I let him know that I wanted to return the Karoo. I received another email with instructions on how to return, but no return label attached to the email. Another email to Caffery and I then got the return label.
My concerns (discussed with Caffery);
Karoo is not ready for consumer distribution-there are clear quality control issues. The unit is too heavy and too large, the battery life is too short, the device hardware is failing. And the worst of it all is absolutely terrible customer service.
By the way, 2 years ago a friend gave me his Hammerhead Shark, my introduction to the company. It was a poorly functioning product as well. Constant loss of connection, and an extremely poor fit into the mount so that every time I inadvertently touched the unit, it spun around!
I wish them well with an ambitious endeavor. I think they will eventually correct the problems associated with a new product. However, in my opinion, the Karoo needs a serious hardware overhaul before it can be a reliable device. Quality control and customer service must improve, and materials used in construction need to be of higher quality.
The chance of success seems to be dwindling. The updates to fix problems are causing other problems (not unheard of, but definitely a bad indicator), the mount breaking is turning into an epidemic with no direct solution from Hammerhead, and now multiple users are reporting water ingress problems. Yowch.
I’m doing this as a service to anyone who is considering purchasing a Karoo. I regret purchasing it for many reasons but this is something for all to consider if you’re in the market:
In the third paragraph of Ray’s review, he references a blog written last December by Hammerhead. Note that it is no longer available publicly but Ray’s link is still active.
Here’s the first sentence from the blog: “Truth is our core value at Hammerhead.”
I posted the following on Hammerhead’s community forum almost four weeks ago under the heading “False Advertising?” On the company’s website under Karoo is a page showing graphics which do not exist in the current version of the device. I and others urged the company to take it down. As of today it is still on its website. Form your own conclusion.
link to support.hammerhead.io
Well. they posted this tweet yesterday. Two out of the three claims are blatantly false as they do not exist (there are no training tools and no social features, at all).
link to twitter.com
If Garmin was doing this how long do you think it would take a competitor to file a complaint with the FTC? Seems to me the company cares nothing about credibility. Is it an end game?
I preordered a Karoo I think it was in July of last year. What attracted me to the computer were the “cool” graphs that were shown on the Hammerhead website. I’d never seen anything like that on a Garmin. It’s now a year later and the Karoo does not have the graphs or many even basic features. The no audible alerts is simply amazing for a navigation device.
I soon realized something was very wrong when any facebook post asking what was going on with the constant delays was removed. I sensed Hammerhead was not being totally honest in response to other questions. I started asking more questions about the Karoo and its capabilities and they were not answered and the preorder was cancelled and I bought a Garmin 1030 instead which does have a few idiosyncrasies but Garmin is slowly taking care of them. I am very pleased with its performance.
If you check out the Hammerhead forum, you will find that the Karoo has an endless list of issues. It appears that Hammerhead is just now getting issues like the navigation working and average speed showing correctly. Anyway, I prefer the approach Garmin takes which is new features are not announced until close to when they are released.
A Android based bike computer could really be something special but the Karoo and the Hammerhead company are not where to look for one.
If anyone is reading the comments from today and is still interested in buying the device I’d be happy to sell you mine. I’m serious. Please reach out with a comment and I’ll find a way to contact you.
Ray, please forgive me if posting this was inappropriate.
I’m with you, Joe. The Hammerhead advertising promises a lot, but they don’t tell you will be a beta tester for at least a year and that many functionalities are not present at this stage. If you are a serious rider, you will be very disappointed. Even the design of the Karoo is flaky, imho. Not being able to install large maps, other maps or transfer GPX files directly is unacceptable. I too purchased a Garmin 1030, best buy I ever made. It has everything I want, everything works, no hidden agenda like HH. I can install any map I want, copy any GPX I need. And lots more functionality. In my opinion, HH is selling vapourware, but they don’t tell you until it’s too late.
Seth… I read your comments. Spot on… on all points. I cancelled my pre-order when I smelled too many defensive replies to legitimate questions. Reading the replies to your posting… I have a hard time understanding why a paying customer defends a company or its product.
Jaques, I too have a hard time understanding the cheerleaders, but if you remember LIMITS, it too had hundreds if not thousands of devotees and backers even before the device was delivered and working. That was the definition of vaporware. Whenever LIMITS enters the conversation I’m reminded of Ray’s calm, consistent and skeptical stance on its power meter in the face of withering push-back. I know Ray has moved on but I’m still pissed at the folks who never apologized or gave him credit for being right.
I don’t know if Hammerhead will succeed, but its business strategy is not smart and it doesn’t pass the smell test. If it was publicly-held, I’d short the stock.
I agree with the above posters. The Karoo was DOA. Hammerhead had no idea what they were going to do once the unit (finally) shipped. After all the delays, they had no forum or feedback portal, in fact their Communications Head asked on a Facebook group which software they should use for communications (!!!). From that point on, it kept getting worst. They are extremely thin-skinned and delete negative feedback, meanwhile, as Seth said, they ghosted their “apology” for lying to customers about shipping status last December.
On top of that, they cannot make the unit function properly as a bike computer, much less delivering the advances features that were promised. Unreliable Turn-By-Turn, lost data, lost sensors, the list goes on and on. Yet, they keep promising more features are coming “soon.” Meanwhile, you can look on their hastily-build Community Forum and see that their newest “Featured Posts” are over 4 months old, and there is virtually no traffic.
This is a dead unit. The makers were deceptive from the start and it looks like a lot of someone’s capital has been squandered. Even after all of this, Hammerhead is still listing the unit as available in an “Early Offer” purchase. When does the “Early Offer” end? When does shipping end?
I use a Karoo.
I understand and am in sympathy regarding the comments about the misleading claims regarding what it would be capable of doing and when.
I think the management team have been over ambitious / lacking in knowledge in what they aspired to create and the skills / time required to get it there.
Maybe they’ve had too many buddies involved and not enough experienced (industry served) developers?
The mount has broken and been replaced by the improved version.
It does sometimes have the feel of a device with a gui that has consciously been put together by a team of non cyclists, starting from a blank canvas. You have to take it as it is (pages) and make them work for you (bike profiles).
The display is good.
Battery life can be conserved to make it run for 13+ hours, also good.
It’s only locked up once on me, but saved the ride, whereas I had lost count of the number of times my Garmin 810 crashed and lost the ride, using multiple 810 units.
Turn by turn has not as yet been perfected. I follow the red line as I did with my Garmin, but it’s easier to follow with the Karoo.
I often call the turns before and more accurately than my riding buddies using Garmin gps.
The HH dashboard is adequate if sometimes slow with downloads and I’m happy using other sites to build routes and log my cycling experiences.
As it currently is and for what I paid for it, £292, I’m happy.
Has the Karoo gotten better over the past several months? I see on their website that they push out updates quite often.
Again you call it an indepth review, but don’t included operating temperature range. Winter fat bikers need to know this info.
Temperature range for the Karoo is the least of its worries.
Mike — yes, they update the software on 2-week cycles, but that does not mean that they are fixing the problems that have existed since launch.
There’s a new (short, incomplete) video review from BikeRumor that was universally panned on karoousers.org link to karoousers.org Note that karoousers.org is really the only forum even discussing the Karoo and it’s had 4 posts in the last week.
Karoo is dead, and really was never living.
It’s got problems. Serious problems. But it’s far from dead. They are trying, with some success. They over promise, and the software development team is obviously inexperienced leading to many steps forward being matched with ones backward, but it’s been getting better at a slow rate.
It would be interesting to do a review next Spring after another 6 months of development is done.
“In many (most) ways, the sustainability of Karoo as a product (and likely Hammerhead as a company) depends 110% on the next 3-6 months…That’s because put quite simply, Karoo is a barely finished product.” That’s from Ray’s review. What do you think he’d say today, 7 months after Karoo hit the market? I’d wager it would be along the lines of “it’s still not a finished product.”
Progress has been paltry and in many cases empty. Grade, temperature readings, Ant+ pairings, auto-pause – to name some that come to mind quickly — are either wonky, not working or inaccurate. It’s as if Hammerhead decided to release these features knowing they don’t work correctly but hoping it will score points just because they’re now available. Some owners have fallen prey to the Crumb Acceptance Effect, whereby any morsel added to a measly slice of bread — not the full loaf — is accepted as progress, when in fact it is not.
Had I seen evidence of a transparent company, hungry and honest about its travails, struggling and dedicated to building a compelling computer, I might have been supportive rather than highly critical of its management. Integrity and credibility are absent from its business methods. It’s much more than over-promising and under-delivering, it is misrepresenting features which are now available on the device (see its landing page at Hammerhead.io.) It has admitted to the false advertising yet it remains on the website despite the criticism from many of us that this is not a path to success and is downright dishonest..
The lack of competency can now be added to the list of other failings. To me Hammerhead has a cloaked itself in a Karoo Kult and believes it can bull-crap its way to success. Management is living on another planet. I surmise its only source of income is from family members with deep pockets — no credible VC, private equity would back this company.
If you believe the company will succeed — as its currently structured — I have some property to sell you on Neptune, right next to Hammerhead’s headquarters.
I had a reply typed up earlier, but you hit a lot of my points.
If Hammerhead acted with a shred of humility, that would be one thing. Instead, they put on airs to make it appear that they are a huge company and know what they are doing. They are neither. They are a few guys that I absolutely could have gotten behind, but they chose to hide behind a front of control and competency that has fallen short at every step.
From “caracal” through to Caffery Garff cursing out owners on the Facebook forum, they seem to have no ability to see objectively just how poorly they communicate and overinflate their capabilities.
While it has some good components, the Karoo is already out of date and competitors have moved on. There’s no social connectivity, no group ride features, not even Segments. Not to mention no physical capability to make a beep for radar indication.
It was a disappointing ride at every step of the way, and Karoo will never amount to anything. Hopefully Hammerhead manages to find some self-awareness and learn from this mistake.
(Note that you had direct input from Hammerhead at points through this comment page, but they’ve disappeared entirely. Interesting.)
I wouldn’t call it dead. Thats Leikr. So much promise in that watch….
This device really needed some way to beep but outside of the the hardware seems good. Easy to improve the software as the device seems powerful enough to not be hardware limited. How much will it improve? who knows
Whatever happened to the 10 chapter history to be posted on their blog?
I believe it got as far as Chapter 8.
What is the status of this product? Still a work-in-progress?
Still struggling to get a solid basic setup. Last update was supposed to help device connection, but killed battery life. They’re behind the curve in hardware now, and knockoff-tier in software implementation.
Latest update in Jan forced me to remove and reload ALL of my offline maps. Same thing happened in December update. Every single release they put out is riddled with bugs. I have little confidence in my unit.
I’ve had my Karoo for a year now and used it for Dirty Kanza 100 last year, without using GPS & turn-by-turn in order to conserve battery life. This year I’m taking on Dirty Kanza 200 and would like to use the GPS & turn-by-turn features. I’m estimating taking up to 18 hours to finish and am looking for advice on a good power pack set-up to ensure that I have enough battery power for that time frame!
Anybody have any recent experience with these units regarding features and reliability?
I don’t have one, as I canceled my order prior to release. I have yet to read anything positive from anyone using these on long-distance rides.
They are getting much better but still have a long way to go. I did a century ride with one late last year and it worked well, except for TBT, which failed from the start. I had to follow a breadcrumb route the entire way. It used about 12% battery per hour but is supposed to have a bug that it goes from something like 20% to 0% very quickly so I took an Anker 3350 with me and was able to keep it above 50%.
I think they should read Ray’s recent article about Garmin’s software and incorporate his suggestions into their infrastructure. You can look at link to karoousers.org to see the ups and downs of Karoo.
If you want to buy one I’d be willing to sell you mine pretty cheap. I bought a Sigma Rox 12.0 which has proven to be much more reliable.
Nathan, Thanks for your response. I have been using a Bryton 330 for the last 2 years and have had very good luck with it. Reliable and dependable. I got excited when I saw the review on the Garmin 830 and 530 computers from DC Rainmaker. However, when I started reading about problems Garmin users have been having recently and over the years with software glitches, I put on the brakes. Then, recently, I started looking into the Hammerhead Karoo. That appears to have a nightmare worth of software problems. I’m doubting they will ever be viable. So, while I appreciate your offer I think I’m going to sit on the sidelines with my Bryton 330 and wait until some of these software issues get worked out if they ever do. So much promise so many problems!
Dave, I’d advise you to avoid the Karoo until/unless Hammerhead delivers a second device. Even then I’d be suspect.
I owned the Karoo for over 8 months and convinced the company to buy it back from me. I couldn’t live with its lacking reliability, lack of features and a management whose reach exceeds its grasp. Like Nathaniel, I bought the ROX 12 and have been quite happy ever since. Its screen pales in comparison to Karoo’s but it excels in every other way. Ray’s review of it vis-a-vis his reservations of the Karoo is spot on.
I still keep up with Hammerhead and read of continuing issues. To wit, where is Strava Live (on ROX from day one)
Hammerhead succeeded in getting $4mm through private equity which will keep it viable for some time perhaps (only?) with new management. IMO, as long as it stubbornly clings to development in India it will be behind the curve.
FWIW, Lars Hundley review of the Karoo in RoadBikeRider was severely lacking in my experience.
Heartily recommend the ROX.
I’ve owned the ROX for 8 months to give a frame of reference.
I´ve just bought the Karoo with their 45-day-risk-free option. I´ve been testing it For a couple of days in the way I plan to use it. Mostly drawing and uploading routes and just taking three rides. I find it really user friendly and extremely responsive. That´s more than I can say about my earlier Garmin units. I wonder what Seth S is missing more than Strava Live Segments?
For us with the need of streamline route drawing/uploading/riding I found it just perfect for that. A big plus for hardware buttons for handling the unit.
Hakan G, I’m not missing much from the Karoo. Almost a year since the company bought it back and over 20 months since its release and it continues to improve but more in the realm of making right that which should have been from the beginning, e.g., navigation, Strava Live integration and full Di2 integration were promised from the start and here we are over a year and a half from its release and neither feature is still available from what I can see. The company — from what I can see — is still not matching its promises to reality.
I’m very happy with the ROX12. With some exception it has been very reliable. Having Live Segments is terrific and essential for my training. Sigma closed its US offices the end of July which leaves me a bit troubled. Development continues but it could be at a quicker pace.
Good luck with your Karoo — hope it works out. I would have not been a happy camper had I stayed with Hammerhead. May you not face the same frustration.
Ditto. I still have my Karoo but gave up waiting for it to have reliable navigation. I also got a Sigma Rox12 and have been very happy, although I too worry about their closing of the US office. I’m looking to sell my Karoo.
Thanks for your answer Seth S! If it´s Live Segments and Di2-integration you miss the most, then I will be safe with the Karoo. Strava Live would be nice but I can wait for it. The screen response and intuitive route planning/riding makes my day. I can´t believe that Garmin hasn´t come further. I can´t get what you lack about navigation? Is there something I´ve missed? Big screen, good maps and rerouting. What´s missing? I want to have good arguments for choosing another unit instead of the Karoo before the 45 days have gone.
I gave up on the Karoo long ago. Sure, the screen is very nice but that is about it. Navigation is supposed to be what the Karoo is all about. But, navigation is not nearly as good as the Garmins. The last time I looked at how the Karoo navigates it had a red box come up at the bottom of the screen and did not clearly show the upcoming turn like Garmin has with their zoomed in screen.
Hammerhead promised the greatest bike computer but had so many major issues for the first year that it was basically unusable. As a result, it is very rare to see a Karoo on any group ride. I have only seen one and it was barely functioning due to a four hour battery life.
I’m extremely pleased with my Garmin 1030. It had a few problems with the remote control and Livetrack but those issues have been taken care of. Does the Karoo even have a remote control or livetracking? For $400, I think there are much better options available.
Hakan, lets look at this from a removed perspective. I had two major issues with Karoo: reliability and management’s reach exceeding its grasp. It’s a very pretty device, but if it isn’t consistently reliable and accurate, it’s just not worth it. I lost faith that management could put together a world beater and with that my trust. $400 is not pocket change to me.
Larry’s comments below echo mine.
As said before, I wish you well and hope that the company has worked out the kinks. Did you know there’s another version in the works? If so, I’d consider waiting for it. If there isn’t the company is toast IN MY OPINION (for the trolls.)
I gave up on the Karoo because it often failed to give me TBT directions on longer routes and it had no off-line mapping (I tried it with a SIM card – that worked about half the time). If I ever got lost with the Karoo I’d be lost. With the Sigma ROX12 I can reliably have it map a route for me, anywhere and at any point in my ride. The ROX12 beeper, which sounds when I need to turn or if I go off route, is also nice.
Maybe Hammerhead has fixed their problems the last few releases (I gave up at the start of this outdoor riding season), maybe not.
I love Karoo as a piece of hardware and is smart that the company elected to use Android OS though they created their own flavor. I received the unit 3 days ago, did 1 ride on Sunday and on Monday I decided to return it. Here is why…
My set-up before getting the Karoo:
-I primarily use an iPhone X though I also have a Pixel phone (Android)
-For apps I use Garmin Connect, Strava, TrainingPeaks, MyFitnessPal, and FORM (swim goggles with smart display)
-Garmin Radar (Varia RTL510)
-Garmin front light (Varia UT 800)
-Favero Assioma power pedals
My personal priorities are safety, training (workouts), and metrics. Navigation though it is great to have a better version than Garmin is not high on my priority list.
-Love the form factor, how substantial the unit feels (though heavier), the buttons
-The screen is awesome. Hands down much much better than the Garmin
-I like the navigation better though it does have some shortcomings. For example, during my ride we changed the course and Karoo tried to reroute me which was good. Problem was that the first 2 attempts it ask me to make a left in places where there was no road just driveways. I do like very much the slide up a notification about an upcoming turn.
-The lanyard and how it attaches. Garmin has one but is extra
Karoo missing functionality grouped by section:
-Integration with the Garmin Radar. Riding in “crazy” Miami I never ride without it and the one ride I took with Karoo made me nervous not having a notification on my head-unit screen for cars approaching, speed, how many, how long are the cars stuck behind me…
-Live tracking and Strava beacon. As above
-Incident detection. As above
-Emergency contact through my connected phone. As above
DATA SCREENS (attaching screenshots of the screens I have available on my Garmin)
-The ability to set up the screen having only one data field in one of the lines (in the middle) for the type I want to focus the most e.g. power
-More data types that sometimes I use with a lot of metrics coming from the power pedals (balance, smooth %, torque % etc.)
-The ability to have special screens for workouts
-Additional data coming from widgets. I use a wind widget that gives me speed, direction, and temp. Temp is not as important as the other two.
-Alerts to drink and eat (by time or distance)
-Receive SMS alerts and calls through my phone. Don’t answer them but I am able to get them
-Set up laps by distance e.g. 5-mile lap and at the next 5-mile mark I get a notification with data I have defined e.g. time, average speed, average power
-Strava live segments set-up and live tracking
-Integration with TrainingPeaks
-Connecting and controlling a smart trainer including the ability to modify the trainer settings (I use a CycleOps H2)
-The ability to build and import workouts.
METRICS (sent a PDF to support). Garmin has upgraded and updated the Garmin Connect app and it contains a lot of metrics as well information on updated FTP, performance stats, training load etc.
I did use the Hammerhead desktop app to create a route but I probably did not spend enough time trying things out and I had difficulty creating a different return course for a route so I ended up using another app to create the route and then imported the route to Karoo. Not a big deal. I typically use RideWithGPS or Garmin Connect to create my routes.
I am sure that my priorities do not necessarily align with other people or even most people. To me, safety is the one area I cannot compromise to allow me to give up on the Garmin. That said if I were to cycle in a secluded area I would probably prefer to use the Karoo because of the gorgeous screen. As Hammerhead moves forward if they are able to upgrade and improve the software components this will be the missing link to make things easier for people to switch platforms.
Yes, I don’t particularly like Garmin with their antiquated software platform from the last century and the hardware is not cutting edge. That said, Garmin support has been superb. Yes their support people may not provide workarounds or fix bugs (many) but they replaced my Garmin 1030 once with no questions asked, they replaced my Varia LT510 because the on/off button was not functioning so well with no questions asked and they do update their software frequently. When I compare them to Hammerhead there is no roadmap about software upgrades and reading through the forums the same “wish list” is being brought up by users and the response since 2018 has been we are working on it. Not good enough at least to me. Sorry Hammerhead team.
There wasn’t a lanyard in your 1030 box? I have one but never bothered to attach it.
Where is the wind widget and drink alert setup on the Garmin? I would definitely use those on long rides.
I don’t ride without LiveTrack or radar either. Wahoo added radar support. Hammerhead needs it now too.
I agree Hammerhead’s forte is screen/mapping/navigation but that’s a niche market. Otherwise there are too many gaps to be competitive with other GPS choices.
That’s a great critique of the Karoo Nick and reading it makes me so relieved I parted with mine over a year ago. Your citation of problems were the same I had, e.g. prompting incorrect turns on navigation. Features promised from the beginning, 21 months ago, are still missing. How long should you live in hope?
My fear for current owners is that you will be abandoned, if, and when, Karoo2 is unveiled which may have most of what you wish. Of course management will tell you otherwise, but I’d say they’re credibility is suspect.
Ask yourself this: If management is still struggling to make Karoo current after so much time, how can the next version be worthy?
I loved the pretty face…
There was JD. My bad. Look twice, dummy…
Sorry JD forgot to answer your questions.
Go to Activity Profiles. I use Road for outdoors. Choose Alerts. Use any of the ones already provided or add another one if you want. I added drink alert by time because of the heat down here.
From the Connect IQ store. link to apps.garmin.com
It is like $5. Attached is my screen with the widget bottom right.
I brushed the dust off mine about 4 weeks ago, and I have to say through all the updates, it’s been flawless on every ride. It’s beautiful and slick. Touch screen very responsive, clear and crisp display that makes it almost difficult to glance back at the garmin 830 which is also attached to handlebars. I enjoy the average (spd,pwr,hr) fields with the green/yellow/red dot to quickly see how I’m doing on pace. So many data fields to have on unlimited screens. Haven’t had any crashing or routing issues. If I upload a route, my favorite screen is the elevation ahead screen. Very clean and clear with a visual on steepness and vertical distance markers with current route mileage on x-axis. This has been a great way to pace myself on hills. Garmin has the climb pro with new colors, but the very tight bars and busy colors are a distraction, not very adept at staring at the screen to figure out what’s going on.
In my opinion, navigating on the fly on a garmin edge is painful. If I choose an address, it finds route quickly, but in order to see the entire route I need to hit zoom out ~5 times, then it’s a mess of a map and hit or miss with finger moving of map. Re-routing is also hit or miss: many times it’s just picking a terrible way and I need to ignore it. Again, once re-routed, not an easy way to get birds-eye view and I’m wary of blindly following garmin and ending up adding 30 miles to ride. Karoo blows that away with pinch/zoom and easy to pick routes, with the ever-so-helpful undo button. Also great if out of cell-phone area and GPS only reliable method of using a map.
I still ride with the 830 nearby on my cockpit–garmin has great integration with Radar, Strava segments, other sensors like Di2, and a plethora of apps (I use Xert on occasion). I enjoy analyzing my data in Garmin Connect at SportTracks. The extra data from 830 ports well on these 2 sites and many others. Sometimes I use mybiketraffic app/website to look at my route with data on all the cars that pass. Another cool app/website for Di2 is di2stats.com Geeky breakdown of all shifting and gear choices on the ride. Can’t do these things with any other bike computer.
Doing a 444 mile race this weekend to Natchez, MS. I’ll have a spare charger on my bike to keep the Karoo going. Looking forward to having my min-TV screen with 50 bits of data analysis on board.
Thank you, Jim. We are on the same page.
Though I read some complaints about the hardware, the screen, responsiveness, navigation are great. The problem is the software. In this day and age if you cannot integrate with the major players from the get-go and provide the promised functionality it will be tough to take on the behemoths. As I mentioned everyone is different and their needs are different. I ride in South Florida aka pancake so no climbing beside the local dump 🙂 Navigation is not that important to me. Safety definitely is cycling around South Florida.
The problem is the software. In this day and age if you cannot integrate with the major players from the get-go and provide the promised functionality it will be tough to take on the behemoths. I have to admit that I was a little ticked off by the Hammerhead response. I was asked by support why I am returning the Karoo and could I provide feedback. I spent 2 hours putting together examples, screenshots, and a write-up and what do I get back. …”Our priority is on workouts. Garmin radar is an interesting concept. We are discussing with 3rd parties about integration…”. Well, these all are the same comments the support has posted on forums for over a year now without any indication of roadmap etc. I have been running IT and software companies for 30 years. This is not the way to communicate with your early adopters and for a start-up to flourish.
I wish them luck and will keep an eye for any updates. Thanks again.
It integrates with Varia now. Reports are very favorable on the view on screen.
So, how does the Karoo sound a alert tone from the Varia? What’s the use of Varia without being alerted to approaching cars?
For black Friday 2019…enjoy
hammerhead karoo is $249 here
link to hammerhead.io
BUT subscribe to their newsletter AT THE BOTTOM OF THEIR HOME PAGE with a new email address
you will then get this code KAROOWELCOME which will save you $50 more
It is 2020 now and from what I can gather online the Karoo has turned 180 degrees integrating everything that was expected.
Is this review ever going to get updated? I