If I could only keep one bike computer (and I have many), the Hammerhead Karoo 2 would be it. I first reviewed a Karoo 2 five months ago and gushed about the beautiful, high-resolution touchscreen display and the simple navigation. Now that I’ve had more time to play with it, I’ve discovered plenty more to love about this powerful head unit. Here are a few of the best features of the Karoo 2 that you might not know about.
Hammerhead Karoo 2 - $399.00
The Karoo 2’s CLIMBER feature helps riders pace themselves by providing granular climb data like distance to the top, VAM (vertical ascent in meters a.k.a. average ascent speed), and a gradient breakdown for every 100 meters/yards.
When you have this feature activated and are riding with a navigation route, CLIMBER automatically detects climbs using distance and grade. You can choose between ‘All Climbs,’ ‘Medium and Large Climbs,’ and ‘Large Climbs only,’ to change the feature's sensitivity.
When you reach a climb, a "drawer" tab pops up at the bottom, which can be expanded to full-screen, giving you all of the details about the climb. When exploring new roads or racing, CLIMBER helps me adjust my pacing in real-time so I can decide when to kick and when to back off.
Graphical data fields
For me, these visuals really separate the Karoo 2 from the competition. My favorites are dynamic heart rate and power which are displayed inside a circle that moves and changes color with your heart rate and power. It’s a fun and futuristic-looking feature that is more pleasing to the eye than anything. But when you’re riding hard, it is nice to glance down and judge your effort in an instant using a graphic, rather than trying to interpret a number.
Maps in 3D view
By swiping up with two fingers, you can also switch Karoo 2 maps to 3D view. It’s a small feature, but among head units, it’s unique. I’m not a visual learner and sometimes struggle to orient myself using traditional maps. If I get turned around, a 3D map makes it easier to regain my bearings and figure out which way to go. Like the graphical data fields, it also looks futuristic and pleasing. Now, I permanently leave my map in the 3D view and don’t want to go back to the 2D world.
Battery Save Mode
I rarely worry about the Karoo 2 dying mid-ride because when the it dips below 20% charge, you have the option to switch to Battery Save Mode. In Battery Save Mode, the display automatically turns off after 30 seconds of no user interaction, like a smartphone. It will turn back on for key events like turn-by-turn instructions, approaching cars (when paired with radar), or Strava Live Segments. This has already saved my butt a few times, ensuring I have a full ride to upload when I get home.
The Karoo 2 is essentially an Android device, so it can run any Android app. Some riders use screen recording apps to display head-unit data over GoPro race footage. In time, more developers will create apps for the Karoo 2. Xert, for example, is a smart training platform that helps athletes coach themselves. If you have a Xert account, you can install the Xert EBC app on the Karoo 2 to play and record workouts, and access Xert’s metrics and training tools through your head unit.
I’m keen to run the Zwift Companion app and TrainerRoad on my Karoo 2. You can’t do a direct-download (yet) and instead, need to “sideload” Android apps which requires a few extra steps but still only takes about 10 minutes. This winter, I plan to control Zwift through Zwift Companion on my Karoo 2 instead of my phone, streamlining my indoor training set-up. If I want to go crazy, I could try adding Netflix or Instagram too!
The Karoo 2 is constantly improving thanks to monthly software updates that provide new enhancements, features, and bug fixes. Each month, you get an email that explains all the new updates and the developers are always seeking feedback. The CLIMBER update, for example, was added this summer and will get more refined with feedback and future updates. Since I plan to keep using my Karoo 2 as my primary head unit, I can’t wait to see what gets added in the future.
Theres way more to Karoo 2 than can be covered here. If you want to learn more about my favorite head unit, visit Hammerhead.io or check out of Hammerhead’s detailed FAQs which help you navigate the feature-packed Karoo 2 like a pro.