I pre-ordered the Hammerhead Karoo 2 during the last quarter of 2020, fully aware that I might be getting a device that would still require significant levels of “continuous enhancements”. In other words, I bought into the promise of Hammerhead eventually delivering “the world’s finest cycling computer” through software updates.
I want to point out right away that in many ways, the Karoo 2 already is a very good bike computer. In other ways, however, the Karoo 2 is lagging behind its competition. Unlike others, I never considered returning the device. Instead, I am looking forward to see the improvements that Hammerhead hopefully will be introducing over time. As I continue to use the Karoo 2, I will be updating this list of unresolved issues that in my view should get fixed as soon as possible. My other cycling computer is a Wahoo Elemnt Roam.
Limited battery capacity and USB-C port
I expect that recharging the Karoo 2 will become necessary on long rides. However, charging the device while in its mount is not possible with the supplied cable. There just isn’t enough space between the base of the unit and the handlebar. Instead, I use the UGREEN Right Angle USB-C to -A Cable to connect the Karoo 2 to a Zendure SuperMini 5K. Conveniently, this also keeps the USB-C port covered so that I won’t have to lose any of the tiny rubber caps that came in the box…
Despite its IP67 rating, charging the Karoo 2 in wet conditions may yet damage your device.
Missing auto lap functionality
The Karoo 2 does not offer auto lap functionality. Currently, there is no way to set reminders of any kind. Hammerhead merely say that they are “working on adding more towards the lap functionality“. This appears to be a long-standing issue with users of the Karoo 1 as well. The auto lap feature now has reportedly spent more than a year in the “development pipeline”, yet Hammerhead are not committing to a “dedicated timeline for its implementation“. “The world’s finest cycling computer” it is not.
Display delayed in battery save mode
When in Battery Save mode, the Karoo 2 is conserving energy by keeping off the screen as much as possible. The device will announce the next navigational cue with an audio alert and, after a short intervall, switch the screen back on for a limited time to show the route ahead. Seems like a neat solution, until you realise that the intervall between the audio alert and the screen switching on is too long by a fraction. You end up having to delay your reaction for just long enough to avoid looking down onto a black screen. Not ideal while riding a bicycle.
Accessing the dashboard
It is only a small thing, but when navigating to dashboard.hammerhead.io, visitors are presented with a form to set up a new user account. Each and every time. Registered users are required to change to yet another page to authenticate. This is only getting more annoying with time.
Hammerhead, you’ve got this backwards. If anyone splashed out 400 EUR on your new cycling computer, they will be motivated to look for the link to set up the required user account. Registered users shouldn’t have to jump through unecessary hoops after that.
Komoot limited to 50 planned tours
The Dashboard is supposed to facilitate the integration of the Karoo 2 with services such as Strava, Ride with GPS, Komoot and others. Unfortunately, synchronisation of available routes does not take place automatically and requires the use of either a computer or a phone.
For Komoot in particular, there currently is a limitation that will only allow you to “sync your 50 most recent planned tours“. Having used other bike computers in the past, I am stunned that this should even be an issue.
The Dashboard provides rudimentary tools for route planning and live tracking only. With this I think that Hammerhead are taking the right approach. As a direct result, however, there is an absolute requirement for integration with third party services to be flawless. After setting things up, there should be no need for user intervention and this is where Hammerhead are falling short.
Useless live tracking links With Software Build Version 1.187.987, Hammerhead appear to be pleased that they “fixed an issue that prevented users from viewing a Live Tracking link if they weren’t logged in ahead of clicking the link.” They are missing the point. What is preventing users from viewing any link is having to register and then authenticate every time they want to access the link. Until such time that Hammerhead get rid of these short-sighted requirements, actual owners of the Karoo 2 won’t be sharing anything. In the meantime, getting a SIM and data plan for your Karoo 2 does not appear to make a lot of sense. Unless, that is, you’re planning on inflicting Live Tracking links on friends and family…