Hammerhead Karoo – Part 2 – Unboxing

A little more than a month ago, I wrote about the Hammerhead Karoo bike computer I ordered last year, and my thoughts about how it’s been dealt with up until now. Last Friday of February 2018 I finally got the device delivered! Here’s my first impressions of getting it in my hands.

After being a bit sceptical of ever getting the Karoo delivered, shortly after my first post Hammerhead announced deliveries in EU was starting very soon, and that devices should be shipped in the order they were ordered. It didn’t take long before I saw people in EU who ordered after me started to actually get their devices. Mostly in the Netherlands and Belgium. UK and Scandinavia didn’t get any messages with tracking numbers. But on Wednesday Feb 21st, in the late afternoon, an email turned up in my inbox telling me my Karoo had shipped! A quick check told me it had been picked up by DHL in UK and was on its way to me. Estimated delivery the Friday two days later.

Obviously I followed the shipment close via the DHL tracking. All the way from UK to Germany and finally to Stockholm, Sweden and to my delivery point in the Friday afternoon, where I picked it up shortly after. Yay! The Karoo finally made its way to me! Cool! Now let’s play! (having followed the discussions on social media, I was prepared that all the cool features the Karoo was sold with last year actually isn’t in there yet. So the expectations were set quite low even before I started the unboxing)

The Karoo come in a nice looking box, well packed. It radiates quality, both on the outside and inside. The device itself is looking real good. It’s big, but I knew that. The physical hardware feels very professional. And heavy. In the box we get the Karoo itself, a USB cable, two allen keys, a lanyard, a SIM card holder and pin for SIM card removal, a cloth and the out-front mount. And a quick-start guide.

The device have a protective shield on the screen which can be difficult to remove. But use your finger nails in a corner. Be sure to get it under the plastic or you may get sticky adhesive left on the screen. I had no problems with this myself but know others have. A bit of scotch tape in the corner may help get it all off properly.

After booting the GPS, it downloaded the updated firmware. Quite some releases of the software was made while I was waiting for delivery. I really got the feeling Hammerhead is working hard and quick to fix things as we go, in a very agile way. Listening to the users. And that is a good thing. Really good. The rest of the setup was simple and quick. I had already created my dashboard account and the Karoo connected just fine. At this time I decided to not try to pair any sensors. I don’t have the bike in the living room, and the sofa was too comfy to move myself closer to the bike. That’s something I will look at later. First the basics.

The first thing I noticed is that the screen is awsome! I’ve seen many other mentioning this as well, but it really is. And the screen is very responsive. The device feels very fast and react quickly to the input I give on the screen. The buttons on the side are large and it doesn’t feel like it will be a problem using them with the winter gloves. They do need quite a firm press though. More than on my Edge 500, but maybe that is a good thing. I’m sure it is something I will get used to pretty quick.

But there are some things that feel strange. Or feels missing. One of the selling points last year was that you’d be able to create unlimited(?) bike and display profiles. That’s not really the case. You *can* create several (unlimited?) display profiles that will show you the data values you want for different type of events. Say one setup for a road race and one for your commute. That’s good. But there’s (currently) no support for multiple bike profiles. You cannot pin certain sensors to a certain bike. Right now you have to pair all your sensors and the Karoo will pick the ones available when you take off for a ride. That will probably work most of the times, but can clearly be a problem in one of my scenarios;

From time to time I ride as a pilot on a tandem bike equipped with speed, cadence and pedal power sensors, and have those added to the tandem bike profile in my Garmin. Other times someone else may be piloting and I may be riding along on my own bike with its own set of sensors. Which are in that bikes profile on my Garmin. Now, what will happen if I instead use the Karoo when riding along, and it knows about all the sensors, those on my bike as well as on the tandem? I see a potential risk for conflicts here. Also, there’s only one input for wheel size. And no way to tell it to autocalculate the wheel size based on rotations (speed sensor) in combination with GPS distance. If you have bikes with different wheel sizes you’ll have to change this manually each time you switch bike. That’s not something I would like to do, and would most probably forget to do. Nah, here there is room for improvement. We do need bike profiles to pin sensors and set wheel sizes.

Given I’ll be away for a week starting tomorrow, I won’t be able to test the Karoo on the bike for a while. But the first quick tests inhouse sitting in the sofa went smooth. I could download maps for offline use. I could download routes for offline use. I could create routes directly on the device (while connected to wifi). A quick test of an activity created a (fluctuating inhouse) GPS track and it uploaded it to Strava just fine. Routes imported from Strava showed up on the device as it should. But at the moment it is a very basic bike computer that lacks much of the features announced last year. I have a list of things I’ll feed back to Hammerhead when I get the time for it. But I’ll probably wait with that until I’ve actually tested it on the bike too. And by then some of the items may have been fixed already as I know others have reported them too. First rides I will do with the Garmin on the bike too though. Primarily to compare the collected data values, but also to make sure I’m not loosing any activities. If it isn’t logged, it didn’t happen, right! 🙂

To summarize, the Karoo does feel very promising. The screen is awsome, it feels very responsive and I believe the hardware is really powerful. But there’s plenty of things to fix in software. And I really do believe Hammerhead can and will deliver there. The question is how fast. When will I have a Karoo that meets the standard I bought it for? When will it have the navigation features I need that was announced in May last year?

And hey! My bike computer speaks IPv6!


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