Hammerhead Karoo 2 has landed

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 delivering “the world’s finest cycling computer” through software updates. Eventually.

In many ways, the Karoo 2 already is a good bike computer. In other ways, however, the Karoo 2 is far behind its competition and most definitely a work in progress. I never considered returning the device. Instead, I am looking forward to see the improvements that Hammerhead will be introducing over time. My other cycling computer is a Wahoo Elemnt Roam.

Limited battery capacity and USB-C cable

After about 3 hours of riding, I would expect the battery of my Karoo 2 to be half-empty. On at least two occasions, however, the Karoo 2 died with an empty battery after just over 4 hours of use. Unless you turn off the very features which, in all likelihood, made you buy the device in the first place, charging becomes an absolute necessity on longer rides. Charging the Karoo 2 while in its mount, however, is not possible with the cable supplied in the box. There just isn’t enough space between the base of the unit and the handlebar. I use a UGREEN Right Angle USB-C to -A Cable and connect the Karoo 2 to a Zendure SuperMini 5K power bank during rides.

Despite its IP67 rating, charging the Karoo 2 in wet conditions may yet damage your device.

Komoot limited to 50 planned tours, use Ride with GPS

The Hammerhead 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 with any of these services does not take place automatically and requires the use of either a computer or a smart phone.

With Komoot, there is the added limitation that is allowing you to only “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. Komoot users with more than 50 routes to choose from are required, effectively, to start jockeying around with routes just to get them to show up on the Karoo 2…

The solution to the problem is to ditch Komoot and use Ride with GPS, instead.

The Dashboard itself is of limited functionality. Route planning is rudimentary at best and there are next to no tools for post-ride analysis of your data. While not necessarily a disadvantage, this needs to be spelled out clearly. It also means that integration with third party services needs to to be flawless. Hammerhead’s focus, meanwhile, appears to lie elsewhere.

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 has reportedly spent more than a year in the “development pipeline”, yet Hammerhead are not committing to a “dedicated timeline for its implementation“.

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…

Hammerhead no longer require registration to view Live Tracking links. This is a welcome improvement and, in conjunction with a dedicated SIM, appears to be working well at this point.
hammerhead.io

Jan Heine – Bicycle Quarterly/Compass Bicycles

“…but beyond that you just go for a ride and, you know, usually, especially when you are riding with friends, you’re talking. Not about bikes, about anything. And so you sort of forget the whole bike thing and the bike intrudes when it does things that you don’t expect. Or you never notice the bike, you say ‘man, this is a great bike’ we just rode, you know, 75 miles and not once did I think about the bike. You know, so it sort of the best bike is the one that you don’t notice. And, you know, people sometimes think because we focus so much about bikes [sic] and technology that we’re constantly thinking about bikes. But I think about my bike when I am not riding, so that I don’t have to think about it when I’m riding.”
Jan Heine

Ti flies when you’re having fun

“Nevertheless, the fact remains that the age of 40 has long since disappeared in my helmet mirror (no, I don’t use a helmet mirror, it’s just a metaphor), and while colonoscopies and mole removals may take up more of my time than I’d like, overall I’m rather enjoying pedaling down this particular stretch of road. In fact, I like to think my latest velocipedal acquisition is a perfect encapsulation of where I’m at right now.” Bike Snob NYC, through space and time, has recently given himself a trans-dimensional high five for finally aquiring that new bicycle.
bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com

Terrorists don’t scare city cyclists. We already have to deal with cars.

“If there’s one group of road users virtually immune to being cowed by a lowly act of terrorism involving a motor vehicle, it’s cyclists. We’re reminded every day—through rolled-down car windows, on too-narrow roads, via social media—that we “share” the roads with people who actively hate us and that our interests (including safety) come behind theirs. Every one of us knows what it’s like to stare death in the grille. Daily riders have all had drivers aim their cars at us as if they were about to plow us down, whether because of run-of-the-mill inattention or out-and-out road rage. This reality is priced into our decision to ride.” Eben Weiss alias Bike Snob NYC offers the urban cyclist’s perspective on the latest terrorist threat.
www.washingtonpost.com

Suspension losses confirmed

“On most roads, and especially on rough ones, a 32 mm Compass tire will be faster than a 26 mm Compass tire. But a 42 mm Schwalbe Marathon will be slower than both, even though it’s wider—because it’s so stiff that its casing absorbs way more energy.” Jan Heine concludes that higher tire pressures do not result in faster speeds.
www.renehersecycles.com

Food for thought …no one told me there’d be days like these

“As bikepacking becomes ever more popular, it seems that there’s ever more people trying to tempt the unwary to venture away from the trail centre or off the sofa and into the hills. The words and images used, make it a tempting prospect but you must exercise caution, as these words and pictures are often gilded with half truths and exaggeration, making them a trap for the unwary and ill-prepared.” Bearbonesnorm attempts to redress the balance.
bearbonesbikepacking.blogspot.co.uk

The cycling boom is fantastic—but I miss having London to myself

“Back when we were fewer there was a glorious freedom in dancing through the traffic, whose rules and logic we learned so well that it often felt like a benevolent force, sheltering us as much as it threatened us. We were the pilot fish darting in among the sharks, the gazelles sprinting through herds of lumbering bison.” Requiring only two sentences, Emily Chappell manages to capture the essence of cycling in London at a time before Boris Bikes and cycle superhighways.
www.theguardian.com

The Lance Armstrong fallout—questions, denials and doping reactions

“The problem is, if you choose to believe Armstrong, that it’s a witch-hunt, then you are also a conspiracy theorist, because the only way you can explain all the witnesses who are willing to testify is to say that they are part of a massive conspiracy against him. One that spans the Atlantic Ocean, includes former team-mates, journalists, doctors, administrators, soigneurs, strangers and mechanics.” Ross Tucker joins the debate.
sportsscientists.com

Bicycle weight and commuting time: randomised trial

“Evidence based cycling is not high on the bicycle salesman’s agenda. No one will tell you how much more efficient one bicycle is over another; they just say it is better.” Steel or carbon? Jeremy Groves buys a new bike in the hope of saving up to five minutes on his daily commute…
www.bmj.com

With thanks to Lutz Meißner

Cycling’s mystery man shows his face

“Over his nearly three years of obsessing over, satirizing and deftly puncturing the sport of cycling, the anonymous blogger Bike Snob has made his worldview clear. He loves to ride his bike. He wants you to ride, too. Just maybe not on those florescent wheel rims.” The identity of the Bike Snob NYC has been revealed, solving one of cycling’s last great mysteries.
www.wsj.com

Cannondale Cross XR 7

Cannondale Cross XR 7 08, wheels Mavic C29ssmax, fork Trigon XC06A, front brake Avid Juicy Ultimate 160 mm, rear brake Avid Juicy Ultimate 140 mm, chainset SRAM Rival 180 mm, chain SRAM PC1090, pedals Crankbrothers Egg Beater SL, seat post Easton EC90, saddle Selle Italia SLR, bar Easton EC90, tyres Schwalbe Kojak 28 x 1.35, weight 8.5 kg

Carbon posts for comfort

If you are a cyclist and would like a more comfortable ride, you might want to consider switching to a seat post made from carbon fibre. At a diameter of 27.2 mm, the Easton EC90 is the most compliant seat post that I have used to date. With enough of the post exposed, it offers a much more comfortable ride. If you require a larger diameter seat post, the theoretical advantages of carbon over other materials are much less likely to be realised in practice. At a diameter of 30.9 mm or greater, I’d stick with aluminium. Use a torque wrench and carbon assembly paste.

Attitude of an Empire State Courier

“Like most cyclists, when I acquire a bicycle I will spend some time and money to ‘dial it in’. However, this bicycle was the equivalent of an unplanned pregnancy, and I was damned if I was going to spend a single red cent on my new bastard child.” Bike Snob NYC, father of the PistaDex, evaluates the Scattante Empire State Courier in terms of its associated acceptance scores.
bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com

Best cycling gloves ever?

This is a picture of my Roeckl 3104 803 MTB gloves, which I picked up towards the end of the summer. In certain ways, these really are the best cycling gloves that I have used. Feel, grip as well as comfort are outstanding. But while I am aware that light gloves such as these cannot reasonably be expected to last forever, the amount of use I got out of this pair is disappointing at best.