A Garmin Edge killer? Hammerhead takes aim with Karoo

Turn any Strava file into a route and re-route on the fly with large touchscreen

On paper, the forthcoming Hammerhead Karoo sounds superior in many ways to the market-leading Garmin Edge and Wahoo Elemnt GPS cycling computers. 

The Karoo and its companion app boast the ability to turn any Strava file from any rider into a followable route, wirelessly. The Karoo can re-route on the fly and do so with various filters like gravel, mountain or road. 

It has a large, color touchscreen with a 'full-size' keyboard that works as well as a smartphone, 10-hour battery life with navigation on, and the most impressive list of connectivity options to date: WiFi, 3G GSMTM, Bluetooth and ANT+, plus GPS, Glonass, cellular triangulation and sensor data (accelerometer, compass, barometer) for positioning data. 

There's just one problem: the Karoo does not yet exist as a consumer product.

With a 3.5in screen, the Karoo isn't small
With a 3.5in screen, the Karoo isn't small

Android-based cycling computer with 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and ANT+

In development for three years, the Karoo will go on sale later this summer as a consumer-direct product, according to Hammerhead.

As of early May, Karoo has a website touting its features, free shipping and "365 + 1 days free return", but no price, nor indication of a specific on-sale date. 

Hammerhead's head of brand, Brooke Summers, told BikeRadar the Karoo has a few features that set it apart.

"Karoo is an Android-brained cycling computer," Summers said, adding that the OS, the large keyboard and connectivity options add to the ease of use in setting up screens, routes and training files either on the computer itself or the app.

"You can create, edit and share routes all from the device," Summers noted. "The routing and navigation are ideal for gravel grinding, exploration rides where you're off the normal map and you really need to know where you're going."

Here is how the navigation looks for a route created from a Strava file
Here is how the navigation looks for a route created from a Strava file

"The Karoo can reroute with turn-by-turn navigation when you change course," Summers said.

Summers also mentioned, "Training and workout features will be added later in the year."

Karoo specs

  • 184g / 6.49oz claimed (final weight might be lighter)
  • 3.5in Corning Gorilla Glass color touchscreen
  • 640x480p screen, 229ppi resolution
  • Works with any Garmin-compatible quarter-turn mount
  • Price: TBD
  • Availability: TBD

Maps and Routing — turn your buddy's Strava ride into a navigable route

Karoo will work on OpenStreetMap base maps, but then Hammerhead has what it claims to be "the most comprehensive bike-specific map data", which can be customized to show terrain preferences like dirt roads, bike lanes and cycling-specific points of interest.

To follow a route, you can use an existing route from a variety of sources or create it on the device itself, or the Hammerhead website.

Many computers can give basic routing help when you upload a GPX or TCX file, such as you'd get when creating a route on RideWithGPS. What's novel about the Karoo is the ability to look at others Strava rides, then turn those into a route you can follow.

Here is how reviewed Strava files look on the Karoo app. Note that a couple are checked
Here is how reviewed Strava files look on the Karoo app. Note that a couple are checked

Once you select routes on the Hammerhead app or website, the Karoo will automatically update when connected to WiFi.

"No more looking at maps side by side, trying to drop points where you think your buddies went when trying to ride their route," Summers said. "Karoo has a web-app, which lets you copy and paste any Strava ride activity and import the route. For example, if I have never ridden in San Francisco, I could find someone who rides there and import any one of their past rides." 

Then the app can turn these Strava ride files into navigable routes
Then the app can turn these Strava ride files into navigable routes

"In terms of how it navigates, imported routes can be navigated as turn by turn if they match to real map data," she said. "If they do not, we will do bread-crumb navigation. In our experience most routes can be navigated, unless riders are truly on unique single track or off-road trails."

If the claimed 10-hour battery life with color navigation proves true, the Karoo will definitely be well ahead of the Garmin Edge computers
If the claimed 10-hour battery life with color navigation proves true, the Karoo will definitely be well ahead of the Garmin Edge computers

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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