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Karoo Hammerhead 2 - is it worth it?


mecheng89
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Good morning Hubbers!

For those GPS/techie obsessed amongst you, does anyone have an experience with the Karoo brand of GPS? I'm in the market for a head unit, and I'm keen on a Edge 830, until a sale email from Karoo popped into my inbox. 399USD equates to about R6500, and they include free shipping (whether it's free to RSA remains to be seen). I'm looking for a larger head unit (so that discounts the great 130) because I want to dip my toes into the multi-day sphere, and get back into the Audax groove (yes, I know they hand out route sheets, but I never read them and much prefer to have them on my device). 

So, what can people recommend? 

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24 minutes ago, mecheng89 said:

Good morning Hubbers!

For those GPS/techie obsessed amongst you, does anyone have an experience with the Karoo brand of GPS? I'm in the market for a head unit, and I'm keen on a Edge 830, until a sale email from Karoo popped into my inbox. 399USD equates to about R6500, and they include free shipping (whether it's free to RSA remains to be seen). I'm looking for a larger head unit (so that discounts the great 130) because I want to dip my toes into the multi-day sphere, and get back into the Audax groove (yes, I know they hand out route sheets, but I never read them and much prefer to have them on my device). 

So, what can people recommend? 

Also keen on hearing experiences with the Karoo Hammerhead 2.  At the moment I'm "locked in" with Polar products, but maybe in future this might be the one.

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I've been using a Karoo 2 for about six months – it's a fantastic product. I summarised most of my initial impressions for a Bicycling article published last year:

https://www.bicycling.co.za/bikes-gear/gear/reviewed-hammerhead-karoo-2/

Highlights for me include the Climber feature (🤯), which they've subsequently updated to work even if you're not on a route, the excellent battery life and great UX experience. (SO much more intuitive than Garmin, for example.) The only real down side is that you don't get automatic Discovery points.

Their whole ethos of an 'open-source' software platform really appeals to me. The updates always make the experience of using the Karoo more interesting and practical, and they seem to take rider feedback seriously. The SA connection is also cool.

In short, you won't be disappointed.

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probably worthwhile joining the Hammerhead Karoo 2 chat group on stalkbroek. Theres penty of user experience mostly positive despite the ham fistedtrying their best to create accidents.

The supplied mount seems a bit problematic but mostly the reviews and feedback are good.

Also consider the Stages Dash L200.

its not available in SA yet but also good reviews so far and its basically the same as the new Giant GPS computers, They developed it in colab

Edited by DieselnDust
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From the limited reading I've done today, the main complaints are - 

Short battery life

Difficulty plugging in supplementary power

And for long events, this is clearly an issue, unless you want to carry a powerbank along. 

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I wouldn't say the battery life is short. I did the Ceder last year (245km, 3700m elevation gain) and it lasted the full 15 hours it took me to do the ride. I used battery save mode, which turns off the screen unless you need it for navigating or Climber. If you wanted the screen on the whole time, battery life would be shorter. That said, I also did the Swartberg 100 and it lasted 8.5 hours with the screen on permanently, with 30% remaining at the end. 

I got nervous at one point on the Ceder and tried to plug in a power bank. You're right there – the mount it ships with doesn't make that very easy. You'd have to use the quarter turn adaptor and a different mount if you wanted to run it with external power more often.  

I enjoyed Cass's review on Bikepacking.com – thanks to @Thug for posting. I think all devices have their limitations, but the Karoo 2 is definitely one to consider if you're in the market for a premium head unit at a less than premium price. 

(Side note: The Garmin 130 Plus is probably the best general use GPS out there IMO, if you don't need all the features of the Karoo 2. Separate discussion!)

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I have had a unit going on a year now and my thoughts are it is a Garmin Killer.

it landed in RSA at a total of around R7500

the screen resolution is far superior.

its absolutely intuitive - simple to setup and use. fast to change anything you wish.

climb pro is awesome - it pops up on any hill without the need to load a route.

the battery is not as good, but is more than good enough - it got me through Wine2Whales no issues, obviously charging it after each day. i really do not think battery is a concern at all. i've done 8 plus hour rides without any concern.

it is effectively a phone that is specialised towards riding, its far far more powerful than a garmin.

side loading apps is easy and so awesome - i do a lot of solo rides and often use bone conduction headphones. having itunes/spotify on with songs downloaded and easily available on my head unit is such a win.

the biggest win is the 2 year warranty vs garmins and i think all other head units having only 1 year. i've had endless trouble with my garmins breaking 5 months out of warranty. yes garmin assists but its frustrating having to send it in so often.

There two things i do not like on the Karoo 2.

1st:

The live track on garmin is better - each and every ride it sends an email to my contacts to let them know i'm riding and allow them to track me. really great safety feature.

Karoo 2 has a tracker system but it is a link you share and your contacts once off - you share the link and they must save it to reference back in order to watch your ride. it also never lets them know when you start a ride thereafter they have to hunt it down each time. they are also never made aware of when you start a ride.

from a safety standpoint this i hope will get addressed later down the line - as this feature is the only reason i miss my garmin. to get around it i ride with my EPIX running concurrently so no big issue.

2nd: 

The charge port is USB C - awesome! the rubber cover is crappy and gets lost way to easily.

to get around this i use a magnetic recharging USB-C cable and part that keeps the port gunk free and makes my life easier when charging the unit.

these can be found and bought off takealot

 

if i was in the market to buy a head unit again - i'd still buy the Karoo 2. even with the frustration of having to run a concurrent Garmin watch to keep the wife happy - hey safety first.

 

that said the Edge 130 Plus is a tempting option - simple and does everything i need it to.

i have owned the following head units:

Edge 510 (replaced once under warranty)

Edge 520 (replaced twice under warranty) 

Edge 530 (replaced twice under warranty, once outside of warranty)

before Garmin i was on SRM headunits and before that Polar.

 

i cannot wrap my head around buying another expensive garmin unit only for it to fail out of the blue. maybe i have just been unlucky. bur my maths has me out of pocket R7500 in total in less than 2 years for owning the Garmin 530 (i had to pay in for the out of warranty replacement unit).

but even if i write off that bad luck i'd still pick the Karoo 2.

 

 

Edited by Furbz
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I wouldn't buy a new hammerhead just yet though.
They were acquired by SRAM recently so you can bet your house they have a new updated unit in the works to make the marriage official…even if it will still be sold under the current brand name - allegedly. ( although value added sram tax means it will probably cost way more now) 
 

 

Edited by MORNE
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Nah Karoo 2 is only in its second year in the market . It may get a bigger and smaller additions to the family to better compete with Garmin, Stages/Giant and Wahoo but the 2 isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.

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1 hour ago, Madone69 said:

I do know Hammerhead is owned by SRAM and Shimano licenses that feature to third party’s like Garmin , bryton, Giant, sigma etc

no way sram is going to pay license fees to Shimano 😂 

 

It seems Shimano is the antagonist here:

Not that long ago it was announced that SRAM has acquired the cycling computer company, Hammerhead. With SRAM focusing on more electronic functionality in everything from shifters to suspension, the move made sense to provide a SRAM-owned head unit to the mix. However, a recent announcement by Hammerhead suggests that a certain competitor might have issue with the acquisition.

According to Hammerhead, Shimano has requested that they end support for certain Di2 features on the Karoo 2. Starting next Thursday with the latest software update on June, 2nd, riders will lose the on-screen battery status and shifter mode data, front and rear derailleur indications, and Karoo screen control via the Di2 hood buttons on Shimano Di2 drivetrains.

Hammerhead points out that all other Karoo 2 functionality will continue for Shimano users, but in terms of the Di2 specific features, it looks like that will be on pause until “Hammerhead is able to forge a new agreement.”

It’s not clear if you might be able to just not update your head unit and retain those features, but if you’re a Di2 user it might be worth a shot. Of course, then you’d lose out on the frequent over-the-air product updates that Hammerhead has been pushing out, so it may not be worth it.

Edited by DieselnDust
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