Posted in Cycle
Hammerhead Karoo 2

Wiggle's John Bann-Lavery tests the Karoo 2, but will it be the life-changing moment he's been promised?

When a Wiggle work colleague and experienced bike rider told me several years ago that using a Bike GPS computer is ‘life-changing’ for an avid cyclist, I couldn’t help but wonder what he meant.

So, I took the plunge and have never looked back; mapping, on-bike navigation and better ride data really did take my cycling experience to the next level.

Here we are several years later, and, for the past few months, I have been test-riding the latest high-tech bike GPS unit from US brand Hammerhead – the Karoo 2.


Out of the Box

Hammerhead Karoo 2 box

Straight out of the box, the quality look and premium texture of the hardware on the Karoo 2 is impressive. Excitement had kicked in at this stage and I was looking forward to seeing if appearances would translate into on-bike satisfaction.


Lighter and More Compact, with Larger Screen

At 132 grams, the Karoo 2 feels light and is indeed lighter than its predecessor, the original Karoo. It stands at around 60.3mm wide, 19.3mm deep, and 100.6mm tall with a good-sized 82mm screen. The touch screen is scratch resistant, a critical feature to help ensure durability when grit and mud get caked onto fingers and gloves while on dirty roads or off-road rides.


Set-Up

Hammerhead Karoo 2 set-up

The Hammerhead Karoo 2 set-up process is explained clearly on the Hammerhead website, which I availed of, with dedicated sections to help get the device hardware and software up and running.


Mounting onto the Bike

Hammerhead Karoo 2 accessories

Mounting the Karoo 2 onto my road bike was easy with the solid yet lightweight attachment provided. For my mountain bike and gravel steed, the mounting too was simple, as an adapter is included for the back of the unit so it can be easily attached to bike mounts designed by other bike GPS brands.


Processing Speed, and Increased Storage

The Karoo 2 has 2Gb of RAM and 32Gb of storage, twice the capacity of the original Karoo, allowing the user to store even more maps and ride data in comparison to the original Karoo.


On-Screen Data Fields

Hammerhead Karoo 2 screen

The data fields showing on each screen are highly customisable. I was able to choose between parameters such as Speed, Distance, Time, and Elevation, as well as several variations on those metrics, such as Average Speed, Maximum Speed, Distance to Destination, and Distance to Next Turn.

Other numerical data fields include Cadence and Power. Graphical data fields are available for Heart Rate, Power, Climb, and Shifting.


Mapping out a ride on Karoo website

I enjoy bike packing, as well as the more usual evening and weekend training rides on local roads - sometimes solo and sometimes with cycling friends. For this, the ability to map-out a ride in advance, using the Hammerhead website, is a really useful function relating to the unit.

It’s also easy to import routes from other route mapping platforms such as Komoot or Strava.

Browsing through routes on the device is intuitive and you can sort rides by length from shortest to longest, or vice versa, depending on how far you want to go on a given occasion.


Routing and Turn-by-Turn Navigation

Hammerhead Karoo 2 routes

The route of a pre-designed map is highlighted clearly in yellow, with a large yellow arrow showing where you are. Turn-by-turn navigation operates with an audio prompt in advance of the turn.

When I ventured off the planned route intentionally on one occasion, to take in some views of the shoreline, the map automatically indicated ways in which I could re-join my route afterwards. This feature would be particularly useful for instances when I have to follow a traffic diversion or go off my planned route unexpectedly for some other reason.

There’s an auto-pause feature as well to make sure your average speed isn’t negatively impacted when you stop mid-ride, and that is critical.


Notifications

Text and Whatsapp messages, calls, voicemail, and other app notifications can all be delivered to the Karoo 2 screen, which is useful. That said, for some rides I prefer to turn that functionality off so I can properly disconnect and experience the solitude of the countryside to its fullest without any distraction.


Battery Life

Battery life on the Karoo 2 is lengthy, especially when some of the non-essential functionality, such as smart notifications, are turned off. It’s even possible to turn the screen off completely at the push of a button, and that will enable the battery to last even longer during periods when ride info is perhaps not needed. Hammerhead claims the battery lasts up to 14 hours depending on functions used.


Live Tracking Function

Although I didn’t enable it when testing the Karoo 2, the unit also includes a live tracking function so that friends and family can track your location as you ride. This is a particularly cool feature when bike packing or purely training over long distances, as people can take interest throughout the day, follow your progress, and be part of the experience.


Auto upload to Strava

Hammerhead Karoo 2 Strava

I programmed the Karoo 2 to automatically upload my rides to Strava at the end of each ride. This is another convenient function that saves time after a few hours on the road, when the first thing on my mind is usually a warm shower (after a slice of cake).

It’s also possible to auto-upload to Training Peaks and other platforms.

I must admit that I am not the most technically advanced user of bike GPS devices (I have my own personal favourite data fields and features that I stick to), so there is even more to the Karoo 2 than what I’ve stated here.

But Live Segments, ‘Climber’(elevation) data and structured training are other functions available on the Karoo 2 that I’ve yet to delve into.


World Tour Standard – Israel Start Up Nation

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Israel Start-Up Nation World Tour Cycling Team uses Hammerhead bike GPS devices, with riders such as multi-Grand Tour winner Chris Froome, Giro d’Italia stage winner Alex Dowsett, and World Championships medallist Michael Woods all trusting the Karoo 2 on their respective roads to success.


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About the author

Damien Whinnery's picture
Damien Whinnery
Published on: 19 Jan 2022

Fascinated by fitness, serious about sport, and joyous about the gym