Hammerhead Karoo GPS Bike Computer Detailed & Demoed

Hammerhead Karoo GPS Bike Computer Detailed & Demoed

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(whoosh) – This is the Hammerhead Karoo. If you’re after a bike computer
for navigation and routing, routing in you’re American, then this unit aims to be
the best tool for the job. There’s a lot of tech and hardware crammed into this Android-based computer though, meaning it has the
potential to offer far more than just navigation. In this video, we’re going
to take a detailed look at all the feature and
exactly the things it can do. Now, if you like our content, and would like to support the channel, then please click subscribe down below and also the bell icon so
that you get notifications. Right, let’s have a look. (energetic music) – Firstly, I’m going to show you the unit and focus mainly on the hardware. And, then I’m going to
talk about the software, so the mapping, the routing, and the real time data side of things. Now, out of the box, the
first thing that you notice is that massive screen. And, also the unit feels
pretty weighty and substantial in your hand, and that’s because it’s just so much tech crammed inside it. And, it also has a really
robust construction. So, inside here is a
titanium alloy skeleton to make it really strong, and
also a Gorilla Glass screen, which is either made by or from gorillas. (energetic music) I can’t remember, but either
way, it’s really tough stuff. While on the subject of the screen, this is no ordinary bike computer screen. The Karoo is more like a
smartphone in this regard. The screen is said to be
the highest definition and most responsive on the
market for bike computers. And, it’s 480 by 640 with 229 pixels per inch. The responsiveness is really impressive, and you can multitouch
and pinch zoom in or out on the maps and stuff. It’s like a smartphone screen. As well as the high resolution screen, there’s also anti-glare built in, a feature you will never
ever ever need in the UK. But, you will in other places. There’s also false touch
detection on the screen as well, which is designed to
help stop rain droplets from interfering with the touch screen, something that you will
definitely need in the UK. Although to be fair, it’s quite sunny. It’s weird, global warming. (energetic music) There’s also the option
to lock the touch screen by pressing these two buttons here, and the buttons on the side have some really ergonomic, cool features. So, the functions of
those buttons double up with the main functions of the screen, meaning you don’t have to use the screen if you don’t want to. This is useful if you’re,
say, wearing gloves, where a touch screen can
be a bit difficult to use. Also, the buttons are offset,
which is a clever idea because it means when you pinch the unit to press the buttons on one side, you don’t accidentally press the buttons on the other side as well. There’s wi-fi, ANT+, and
Bluetooth connectivity built in to the unit, and the claimed
battery life is 15 hours. But, there is a handily
placed USB port here that’s useful for charging it on the fly if you want to with an
external battery pack. Something that we
increasingly see people do when they’re bikepacking or
doing extreme endurance events. Something else that’s different from many other bike computers, and again perhaps more
similar to smartphones, is that the Karoo is built
on an Android platform. And, Hammerhead tells us that
there’s loads of hardware built into the device that
it’s yet to take advantage of. Meaning that what this unit
offers is likely to evolve over time in a way that we’ve never seen with a bike computer before. Now, an example of this is a SIM card slot built into the device down here. Now, you don’t need to use
a SIM card to make it work, and this feature can remain dormant. But, down the line Hammerhead reckons that it can add a whole host
of exciting functionality, such as live tracking
and things like that. And, also, the open source
nature of Android means that you can actually design
and build your own apps and put things on the device. Now, apparently some people
in the Hammerhead community have done just that. Right, let’s talk about
routing and navigation. The Karoo is aiming to vastly improve its navigation experience,
and there are a number of routing options. But, firstly, it’s important to point out that maps are included with the device. They’re not all stored
on the device though. They’re stored up in the cloud. I can’t actually see the cloud today. So, it’s a good job that I
downloaded the UK maps earlier, when I could see the cloud. You download the maps for the region that you’re going to be
riding in and delete them and reupload the as appropriate
whenever you need them. And, it’s a similar
system to what Wahoo does. It’s important to point out
because, some other brands they charge extra for the
maps on top of the price of the unit and this could
be quite significant. You can create routes on
the fly on the device, and you can actually edit the
routes on the device as well, so powerful is the processor
and the screen combined. So, if you want to go via a
particular waypoint or road, you can do. Now for example, I’m currently
in the middle of nowhere. And now if I put in home
and ask it to take me there, it calculates a route that’s
pretty sensible actually. That is the roads that I
would take having knowledge of the area myself, so yeah pretty cool. (energetic music) You can also put routes on the device using Hammerhead’s own dashboard. It’s really easy, right. So, you can just take a link
from your chosen mapping site, whether that’s Kamoot, Strava,
or Google Maps or others, and you copy and paste it into this bar. And, then it will appear on the device. So easy! There’s also the option to create routes within Hammerhead’s own dashboard, too. You just go into the route builder, and then you go create new
route, and away you go. I’ve just created one to Cheddar Gorge. Nice. Customizing your data screens can be done on the device, too. It’s really easy, and a
neat feature allows you to prioritize certain sensors over others. So, for example, if you had a speed sensor and you wanted to make sure
your speed reading was coming from the speed sensor and not from GPS which is less accurate, you can do. Or, for example, if you had
more than one power meter and you want to make sure that it was preferentially
reading one and not the other, again you can do. All of your settings and
customs screens and sensors and preferences, they’re
stored up in the cloud. Which means that if you
were to lose your unit, or if it were to get broken
or stolen or whatever then if you get a replacement unit, you can instantly put all of
your settings onto that unit. It also means if you were
to ever borrow a unit, you can put the settings
on there instantly as well. Or you could share a
unit with multiple people and you can all have your
own individual profiles. (energetic music) And when you’ve finished your
ride, when you go to upload it to your chosen third-party
site, whether that’s Strava, Kamoot, or whatever then
you actually get the option to name the ride and
set the privacy settings on the device before it
just automatically uploads. I like that, and it’s not a
feature that I’ve encountered on any other bike computer before. Nice. Now, I hope you’ve found
this video informative, and I hope you can see that it’s a really interesting device. And if you have them,
please give it a thumbs up, share it with your friends,
and let us know what you think about the Karoo in the
comments section down below.

100 thoughts on “Hammerhead Karoo GPS Bike Computer Detailed & Demoed

  • Oliver Higbee Post author

    Finally a decent bike computer!

  • Javier Vazquez Post author

    Not sure if that you mentioned the price. What does it cost?

  • Phil Lentz Post author

    Android ~~~~ failure

  • David W Post author

    Is there a free Karoo contest web link ?

  • Paul Jakma Post author

    "unique in that it uses android" – this simply is not true, the Wahoo ELEMNT computers are Android under the skin, and you can even run the APK for the Wahoo bike computer interface on your Android smartphone.

  • Vee_DT Post author

    I own one of these, I use it on a daily basis, and I love mine. Personally speaking, I think Karoo is better suited to riding than my Android phone for three main reasons:

    1. the screen-on time is realistically around 11 hrs; no phones can have the screen on for that long, esp. with navigation on as well.
    2. in a crash, the phone will likely get shot out of the handlebar mount; I'm not confident at all that it'll survive the crash. Karoo, OTOH, is much sturdier and will likely survive. This is repeatedly reported by several users in the community.
    3. the best part is that Karoo resists water droplets really well; the touchscreen will continue to work despite getting droplets all over it (not 100% of the time, but 97%+ I'd say). And everyone knows how a smartphone screen behaves even with wet fingers, let alone wet screen with raindrops on it.

    Disclaimer: I paid for my unit and I'm not affiliated with Hammerhead.

  • MR. QUE Post author

    The more you have to do fiddling around with your devices , stopping to pinch a screen or setup routes ect…takes away from actually riding ..for me in my opinion. However having said that this unit looks interesting. 😊

  • Scott G Post author

    There's much more than could have been included in this demo.

    Battery life should be stated as depending on many variables such as screen brightness, how long you have the screen on, if you leave certain functions on like wifi, and how many sensors it's pulling data for.

    Metrics – it does all the standard metrics. HRM, Cadence, Speed, Power. Power has built in manual calibration in the sensor setting.

    You can also pick up the Karoo for a 45 day free trial. Don't like it, they take it back.

    And for anyone that thinks touchscreen is a waste, when was the last time you wished you could zoom in or zoom out on a map while using a map?

    The community has also started side loading other apps on the device which is a fairly recent software update.

  • J D Post author

    Future proof? In 70 years of computers, never has one been future proof.

  • Paul Djerassi Post author

    Wow what a great piece of kit Ollie but how much.

  • Ivan Malechko Post author

    Android? It’s gonna be a frozen brick in 1 year!

  • Unicorn Bikes Post author

    I'll happily pay them €50 for just the software to put on my phone, but $400 for what is basically a crappy phone you can't call with, or take pictures with is a bit steep for my likings..

  • Stuart Harding Post author

    Is the bike a Terra with GRX?

  • Martijn Valkier Post author

    Wahoo Elemnt bike computers are built on android as well.

  • Martijn Valkier Post author

    Wahoo Elemnt running on Android: https://hackaday.com/2019/04/29/bike-computer-exploration-uncovers-a-hidden-android/

  • Salva Avlas Post author

    Like first iPhone presentation …
    Reinventing the bike computer… it will NOT be “evolutive”, it will be like for the smartphones: 2years. My old analog bike computer is still fresh after 15years !
    Why just not put a smartphone on the bike with an Ant+ to Bluetooth converter?

  • THEoldgreydude Post author

    Waiting for my Garmin to break so I can get one of these
    Looks an awsome bit of kit

  • Kenneth Wren Post author


  • inket Post author

    Some of these comments read like the marketing department of that company. Be careful of what you see.

  • Jaspalfie Post author

    Failed quiff alert Ollie! Where's wardrobe to sort this out??!!

  • sa vegan Post author

    another paid advertisement

  • The Happy Sporty Vegan Post author

    Hammerhead need to show people their roadmap. It used to be online but has since been removed. Unless they can show clear deliverables then will be sticking with Wahoo. I have the £ ready but not willing to shell out as so much is lacking in the software and all they say is it will be coming 🤪

  • Alan Thompson Post author

    Quadlock plus phone

  • Alexander Bell Post author

    Why does the gcn studio not have internet

  • Carl Forde Post author

    new bike Ollie? Very nice paint work

  • VELOBAR+ Post author

    That screen bezel… and no USB-C?

  • Christopher Harrer Post author

    Have one for a few years now, love it!

  • Jerry Gundecker Post author

    Not about biking, Ollie. This was an infomercial…sneaky.

  • uhurupeak2001 Post author

    strava vs garmin i am thinking to sell my garmin and use plenty my phone with strava.
    the funny way to use strava with segment and compete with others riders is great. also it is annoying to use garmin and want to change your route the bip of the garmin to get you back to good road is an headhake

  • Kennedy Stuart Post author

    You guys are definitely top notch….keep up the fabulous work…great work..👍🇨🇦

  • Ref 123 Post author

    Ive googled and looked on amazon, cant find it

  • TomEnduro Post author

    I just bought a Garmin 520 Plus for my first navigation bike computer and having charged it and played with it, I can honestly say that I paid about 4 times the real value of it… Wish I had seen this 4 weeks ago!!

  • dec 1 Post author

    Thumbs up for the Ollie's american 'routing' alone!!

  • John Matthews Post author

    it's actually come out after years of hype then!

  • John Matthews Post author

    Why spend $400 on this when you could just get a smartphone for $100

  • Keith McCallum Post author

    Very nice….what no giveaway???

  • minushphoto Post author

    Since this is like a smartphone then what is wrong with just having a smartphone mounted to the bars for $60?
    Have an external battery for the longest of rides and you are all set. Am I missing something?

  • Ronald G Josey Post author

    Appears to be a nice Cycle Computer. When are you going to Test Drive the new Garmin 530 and 830?

  • Evangelos Kapris Post author

    what is the battery life span …

  • GeebusCripes Post author

    Getting a bit over flogging off products, Ollie?

  • GeebusCripes Post author

    Oh wow, a sim card slot, gorilla glass and it's on an android platform? So just like my phone? Cool.

  • LaughingSaint Post author

    Soon as you said android I’m not interested I turn it off

  • MrViking Post author

    To sum up, it's an Android phone with crappy specs. Why would you buy it??

  • Pauly Flyer Post author

    Garmin is going the same way as Nokia did. I escaped and moved to Wahoo and its the best thing I ever did.

  • Kyle Sawatsky Post author

    This seems pretty outrageously priced when you compare to a Wahoo Elmnt which can be had for less while being bundled with 3 external sensors. Obviously the feature set is not the same but this thing is not far off from just being a smartphone.

  • Maciej Pilichowski Post author

    It looks like first bike GPS that makes sense, finally. I will wait for e-ink and bigger screen though. Oh, btw. you can write software for closed source platform, but of course open source one is a big plus.

  • Robert Lindgren Post author


  • Al Scher Post author

    Oh, I get the name now – it's a tribute to Rod Carew.

  • Teun Luijbregts Post author

    Had mine from the very first batch and it only got better with time and new releases. Would be doubtful about leaving home for a ride without it nowadays…

  • Dave Pratt Post author

    The device is neat, but the clear skies kept distracting me. Are you sure this was filmed in the UK?

  • David Mulligan Post author

    It is hard to find information about using the Karoo for training. Does it have all of the fields we need like power, tss, if, np, power balance etc? Also does it allow us to record in 1 second intervals or better? How about training intervals?

  • Jack Whitehouse Post author

    Not sure what all the beef is with Garmin. You don't buy a 5-series Garmin for its maps (some people are making the comparison in the comments) and I don't think you need a high resolution screen to see simple numbers. I don't see what this has that another head unit doesn't have? I'm all android and I'll stick to my Garmin. Just my opinion. Not beef. Nice to have another company in the market. More options push other companies to improve 👍

  • Mark Arehart Post author

    Hey GCN Tech, I've got an audio tech question for you. Hope this applies. I'm a radio journalist and I'm doing a story on e-bikes in the U.S. I'm wondering what your mic set up is for your presenters and guests? I'd love to replicate the sound quality and not get all the wind noise when I'm riding around. Cheers! Mark from Ohio. (PS I've got a "Screw Riding Upgrades, Buy Upgrades" submission currently in build in my dingy basement workshop.)

  • Nelio Scrat Post author

    Looks like a chunky version of the Xplova X5 (android, Sim slot, multitouch screen…) with the camera missing.

  • Rod Diaz Post author

    I've owned mine for a couple of years after my Garmin kept freezing and losing about a ride every couple of weeks (1 in 10 or so). So far I'm pretty happy with mine

    Good things:

    Very nice screen.
    Good battery life (had a 9 hour ride recently, 15% left) – this is after several updates to firmware
    Excellent road/trail data: mine includes very recent and unavailable-in-Garmin trails in my local MTB park. That was very superior to my previous computer.
    Very cold resistant – used it for 4 hour rides in below-freezing conditions.

    Bad things:

    Growing pains. Depending on the firmware update some things have gone wacky such as battery life (less than 4 hours at one point!). The current wackiness is that the interval segment on the unit does not match the recorded interval that's recorded on memory; seems offset by 10 seconds or so (I was doing 1 min efforts yesterday, the power in the intervals didn't match the Trainingpeak's report). Should be easily fixed but this didn't happen in previous updates.

    No sound – doesn't beep or give any signal to notify you. Not an issue for me, but a lot of people like the beeping for navigation
    Size – if big heavy computers bother you stay clear. This is hard to mount neatly on the aerobars of my TT bike.

    No trainer control / training software integration: my Wahoo computer can control a smart trainer and can download a training session from Trainingpeaks stating duration of intervals, intensity in W, etc. The Hammerhead unit doesn't.

  • Sheldon Wiebe Post author

    Please tell me there is a plug for that usb inlet!?

  • tom stringer Post author

    Great vid on the tech, ads for betting companies not so much. Used to love the Oakley ad on gcn vids.

  • Steven Vroom Post author

    Come on Ollie give this at least a super nice

  • chris doss Post author

    I love my Karoo. Bought during preproduction because planned obsolescence isn't built into the computer. Haven't looked anywhere else for a computer and don't plan to. Simply the best on the market and will be for a long time coming.
    They have just added an additional backshell that is awesome. Keep it going Hammerhead!

  • Another Weird Guy Post author

    What about pricing? Up in the clouds?

  • Cup & Cone Post author

    Won't surprise me when real world battery is closer to 6-8 hours with full screen brightness and navigation on.

  • Ryan T Post author

    I am looking to buy my first cycle computer and I am at a loss of which way to go. I don’t want to spend a fortune so was looking at the edge 520 plus or the wahoo bolt if any one has any advice. This looks interesting as mapping and navigation is the big thing for me as I am hopeless without it.
    I have used Garmin motorcycle sat navs and can’t fault them, so I am leaning towards Garmin over Wahoo at the min.

  • Buff Viking Post author

    GCN in pretty much every video: this is lighter, so therefore it's better.
    GCN in a paid ad: the unit feels pretty weighty and substantial in your hand, and that's because there's just so much tech crammed inside it, and it also has a really robust construction.

    According to Karoo's website, its 168 g, $400, and uses Android 6. It lacks modern features such as Bluetooth 5, USB-C, Galileo, Dual frequency GNSS, 5 GHz WiFi, Android 10. It's unclear if the screen is on all the time, or if you need to wake in, neither this demo nor their website mentions it. Is it readable in sunlight? 8.5 GB usable storage can get tight if you install other map apps.

    Overall it looks like an interesting device that I would consider if I was buying a bike computer now, but there's room for improvements if they release a newer version.

  • Jason Carmichael Post author

    have been getting ads on FB for this….I have a garmin 520 at the moment, but have been considering upgrading to something with better routing. It is rather large though

  • timtimzi ni Post author

    Oh this thing is out? I heard the initial kickstarter process took FOREVER to get the deliveries out… Ended up with a wahoo instead since the company was more established.

  • ΝΟΜΛ Post author

    Ok so it's Android based but I'll take future proof updates with a pinch of salt, it's more likely the manufacturer will push a revised product over supporting it.

  • Luke Trust Post author

    GCN: Ooh, but these rims are 12.3 grams lighter.

    Also GCN: I love this new bike computer, really weighty in the hand!

  • Joe V Post author

    Hmmm…future added feature…Phone…and app to order ahead for coffee.

  • Disafear Post author

    That looks amazing, dang

  • Evan Darling Post author

    Ok but how good is its integration with a power meter and other sensors? Can it be used training as well as adventuring?

  • Arthur Feitosa Post author

    $400 is too much, they should have a simpler version for 150 dollars

  • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Post author

    Polar v650 has been able to do much of what you describe for years, and its a build on android sw and hw too.

  • PredatorDK Post author

    Didn't think I would be considering upgrading from my ELEMNT after only a year, but this thing… I like what I'm seeing!

  • Aaron Kelly Post author

    Future Giveaway…?

  • criggie Post author

    Does it have a user-replaceable battery? Or has it gone all integrated+disposable ?

  • Allan Dodds Post author

    Decent take, but a bit too much of an ad to be called a review. I checked the DC Rainmaker review immediately after and was put off right away.

  • Scottx125 Productions Post author

    Or just use your actual smartphone.

  • Ben Turner Post author

    Where/When can you by them in the UK??

  • Jonathan Zappala Post author

    Yeah nobody says “row-ting” 😆 haha. Unless your talking about woodworking. Directions or mapping.

  • Eric Garvock Post author

    @GCN Tech '…….routing, if you're American.'

    fucking unsubbed and disliked, this dude is a moron

  • EditioCastigata Post author

    Children, the “UK” used to be a coagulation of countries, kinda like an abusive relationship, on the isles in the North Sea. It became the post-apocalyptic open-sky amusement park that it is starting with the end of the reign of Boris I. You're welcome.

  • Benjamin Auer Post author

    lol its heavy because its a lot of tech? what year is it? 1989?

  • u a Post author

    I still have an edge 520 and will use it till it breaks. It only has “bread crumb” navigation, not true navigation. Other than that, I’ve had minimal issues with it. GPS is great, but we should try not to become over reliant on it when out on a ride. I like getting use to street signs.

  • Andrew King Post author

    I've had mine for over a year now and LOVE it! You didn't really show the data screens in the video, but the display is much bigger than competitive devices and has high DPI as well. It's bright, displays all the metrics I need (even upcoming elevation) and the routing is just AMAZING. I've never used maps and routing as much as I have this past year and the Karoo has been flawless. They're constantly releasing upgrades and it's improving all the time. One thing…the battery life is around 10-11 hours, not the stated 15…I don't think anyone in the community has ever realized 15 hours of battery life under normal use.

  • Schabo1234 Post author

    No Android! Sorry

  • Mr. Luigi Post author

    The size of the bezels on this and other bike computers are HUGE! These companies need to take a cue from every smartphone company and modernize to edge-to-edge displays.

  • Arthur J Post author

    In another word, it's an unfinished product.

  • Jazz echos Post author

    Never ever need in the UK……LMAO – Sweet
    I have been an State side American for 61 years born and raised and I have never said Raout…its always been route or routing…but hey my heritage is 4th generation Welsh. It must be genetically encoded. LOL

  • Gerard Hubbard Post author

    This is already obsolete with LEOMOs TYPE-S https://www.leomo.io/pages/introducing-type-s

  • Juan0003 Post author

    Can’t find the damn link to click and win one!…

  • Petinka Post author

    Ollie is a supreme presenter! Great video and thanks GCN!

  • David Williams Post author

    Great device! I've owned one since June 2109 and especially enjoy the reroute feature when you get off route, maybe because of an unexpected road closure. The Karoo will get you back on route much like car navigation. The color display is easy to read as well.

  • Tomasz Tarchała Post author

    @GCNTech – You did a segment once on whether we need cycling computers at all. But what about doing a segment on whether we need cycling computers if we can just put up a smartphone on our handlebars?

  • Mark Thomson Post author

    So Ollie, what do you reckon… Karoo or Bolt… any preference? Functionality?

  • Manana No Mas! Post author

    I love using my Hammerhead. One thing missed in the review, however, is the installation and use of the tether. This is a huge thing NOT to miss. Ask me why 😉 My riding buddies always smart off asking if I'm watching the game on the big screen — but funny how they always want to look at maps on my device.

  • robert o'keefe Post author

    I bought one one 3 weeks ago, customer support is second to none and the user interface is high quality and intuitive. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a better alternative than the mainstream devices out there.

  • RabidMortal1 Post author

    Your video solde me and I impulse bought one. Now that it's in the mail I'm having second thoughts . Looks like Karoo does not support things like "smart lights" and there is STILL no Di2 (or eTap) compatibility. They at least purport to have a very generous return policy (45 days no questions asked and free return shipping) so I guess give it a whirl and see

  • Clay Slocum Post author

    I, too, own a Karoo. I had read a bunch of negative reviews that were from the first year it was out and had some growing pains. So, hearing you could try it for 45 days, and having just had a mediocre experience with the Garmin Edge 530, I thought it couldn't hurt to give it a whirl. After a week of riding with it, I knew I would not be returning it. The size was strange at first, but I soon forgot about it and just enjoy the incredible performance, screen clarity and simplicity. Can't imagine going back to a low resolution screen like a Garmin or Wahoo.

  • SeaJayB Post author

    Just easier to strap my phone on at this point.

  • Nicol Halcrow Post author

    Only a matter of time until someone installs zwift onto it

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