Hammerhead Karoo 2 has landed

I pre-ordered the Hammerhead Karoo 2 during the last quarter of 2020, fully aware of the fact that I might be getting a device that would still require significant levels of “continuous enhancement”. 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 that in many ways, the Karoo 2 already is a good cycling computer. In some ways, however, it is not. Unlike others, I did not think about returning the device. But I am more than a bit surprised to notice an ever increasing number of glowing reviews that somehow fail to highlight its shortcomings. As I continue to use the Karoo 2, I will be updating this list of unresolved issues that in my view should urgently be receiving more attention. My other cycling computer is a Wahoo Elemnt Roam.

The Karoo 2 does not offer auto lap functionality. There is no way to set any reminders, either. Hammerhead merely say that they are “working on adding more towards the lap functionality“.

I am under no illusions that recharging the Karoo 2 will become an absolute necessity on long rides. However, charging the device while in its mount is not possible with the cable supplied. There just isn’t enough space between the bottom of the unit and most handlebars. I use the UGREEN Right Angle USB-C to -A Cable to connect the Karoo 2 to a Zendure SuperMini 5K when on the go. Conveniently, this also keeps the USB-C port covered at all times so that I don’t have to lose any of the rubber caps that came in the box…

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

When in Battery Save mode, the Karoo 2 is conserving energy by switching off the screen in between turn-by-turn instructions. It will announce the next navigational cue with an audio alert and, after a short intervall, switch the screen back on to show you the route ahead. Seems like a neat solution, until you realise that the intervall is too long by a fraction. You end up in a habit of trying to delay your reaction to those audio alerts for just long enough to avoid looking down onto a black screen. Not ideal while riding a bicycle.

When visiting dashboard.hammerhead.io, you are presented with a form to register a user account. It is only a small thing, but to authenticate you are required to navigate to yet another page and that is only getting more annoying with time.
Hammerhead, you got this backwards. If anyone splashed out 400 EUR on a new cycling computer, they will be motivated to look for any link in order to set up the account required for operation. Registered users shouldn’t have to jump through unecessary hoops just to get in. Nor should those unfortunate enough to receive a Live Tracking link…

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, the actual owners of the Karoo 2 won’t be sharing anything.

If you want to see how Live Tracking is done, get a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt.

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.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
www.youtube.com

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.
janheine.wordpress.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 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.
www.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.
online.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.