Home / News / The Hammerhead Karoo 2 is one of our favourite bike computers and it's 35% off, is it time to buy?

The Hammerhead Karoo 2 is one of our favourite bike computers and it's 35% off, is it time to buy?

Aug 25, 2023Aug 25, 2023

No need for suspense, this is a great deal that's definitely worth grabbing if you're in the market for a new bike computer

The best bike computers on the market today offer an incredible array of options and features. You'll find long battery life, excellent navigation, a plethora of training help, and most options on the market will manage an indoor trainer also. Some of the options are touch screens and some of them use buttons but no matter what you choose, they allow you to keep your smartphone safely tucked away while still seeing the info you need.

As you continue to research the category, what you might find is that there are three main players these days. The giant in the category is Garmin and the brand dominated for years until Wahoo came to market. At the time, Wahoo offered a user experience unlike anything else available by integrating with smartphones in a way that Garmin still hasn't fully implemented. More recently though, a new name has started to make waves as a viable option. That name is Hammerhead and today the brand stands in front of the full backing of SRAM.

Hammerhead still doesn't have the user numbers of Wahoo or Garmin but the Hammerhead Karoo 2 is a product worth considering. Our team has covered the Hammerhead Karoo 2 with a full review in the past but as we come up on two years later should you still be considering this bike computer? What if I told you that you could get the same hardware for 35% less?

US Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: $399 $259 at Hammerhead

UK Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: £359 £235 at Hammerhead

Unlike the other market leaders, Hammerhead uses a modified version of Android as the operating system for the Karoo 2. Instead of being a custom built system, it's a smartphone with a very specific use case and matching hardware design.

On the hardware side, that means things start with a glass-filled polycarbonate chassis that is roughly 100.6mm x 60.8mm x 19.3mm. There is a custom mounting system with a unique outfront mount however there's also an adapter that allows use with any Garmin compatible outfront mount. The water resistance rating is IP67 and the screen uses Dragontrail glass with a matte coating reminiscent of older Apple computer screens. Also like those screens, the glass pushes out to the edge encompassing sizable bezels.

Under the glass, you'll find a 3.2-inch (roughly 81mm) display panel. If there's anything that sets the Karoo 2 apart from the competition, it's this panel. You may or may not find 292 PPI and 480x800 pixels groundbreaking but it's bright and there are 16.7 million colours onboard. If you ever ride with a friend who has one, you will notice it.

Aside from the actual look of the display though, keep in mind this is really a smartphone. The quad core 1.1Ghz CPU and 2GB of RAM assures that the display is responsive and it's got true multi-touch support. Unlike most other bike computers though, the just-released Garmin 840 series is notable for this as well, it's possible to use buttons to navigate the Hammerhead Karoo 2 if that's more convenient.

All this performance does come with a cost to battery life. Although it's grown since the initial release, Hammerhead still lists a max 12-hour runtime with normal use. That's despite a 2500mAh battery that is actually larger than the competition. The USB-C charging with fast charge capability does help mitigate this though. Fast charging gets Karoo 2 from 0% - 30% in 30 minutes, and fully charged in under 3 hours although you'll need to get creative in the rain. The USB-C port is waterproof on its own, despite gaining a cover over the years, but it will short out if there's power flowing through it in the rain.

Rounding out the hardware features are the sensors and connectivity. GPS comes courtesy of a single band GNSS antenna and it sits alongside BT 4.0, Wifi (b/g/n) and ANT+ that connect to compatible sensors. Onboard sensors include a barometer, ambient temperature sensors, 3-axis accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope. Somewhat unusually, and once again nodding to the smartphone similarities, there is also a cellular antenna. Just add a sim card to take advantage of the functionality.

A discussion of the screen dominates every single discussion of using the Hammerhead Karoo 2. When I'm out riding with it, people see the screen and immediately start asking questions. I've even had discussions where people have seen a friend riding with it and want to know what bike computer they saw that had such a bright screen.

In my own experience, it's not so much the brightness of the screen I appreciate. It's also the quality of the screen. The graphics are smoother, the fonts more readable, and the colours are brighter. It's impressive but even more than that it's the ability to jump back and forth between touch screen and buttons that I love.

When I'm riding in the summer, it's no big deal to just use the screen to quickly interact with what I need. When it's winter and I'm wearing gloves in the pouring rain, then I can just use the buttons. If I’m navigating and need to figure out where I am, I can use the touch screen to pinch and twist the map for better context. I can quickly move around in a way no other bike computer can match. Or I can use buttons when that's easier.

Part of what makes that dual functionality great is the impressive interface. Garmin and Wahoo also have non-touchscreen interfaces but despite Hammerhead being usable both ways, it feels completely natural no matter which way you use it. It wasn't always quite so smooth either.

Operating more like a phone company than a bike computer company, Hammerhead updates the system constantly. Today it's far different than it was at launch and it's constantly getting better. Not only has there been software updates to the custom Android implementation but there's also been running hardware changes. Last year saw a replacement, with backwards compatibility, for the lower portion of the shell to add an integrated port cover. Hammerhead has even managed to squeeze a couple of hours of extra battery life out of the unit since launch.

Nothing is perfect though and the Hammerhead Karoo 2 has always had a couple of small downsides. A big one is the battery power deficit although even that's seen some software side improvement over the years. What hasn't seen an update is the non-existent, companion app. Only the most basic functions are available off the unit and they happen via a web interface. You can see your rides as well as a map and summary but there's no attempt to keep track of anything. If you want analysis of a ride, or to keep track of anything over time, you'll want to add an account like Strava to sync to. You can also add a TrainingPeaks account to sync workouts and you can create routes in the capable map creator, but mostly the web interface is a conduit. Adding a route requires uploading a file or providing a URL and other workouts will need a file to upload.

This isn't a full review. I've tried, and somewhat failed, to keep things ultra brief. Still, there are a ton more details I could dive into. The broad strokes are that the Hammerhead Karoo 2 is an incredibly full featured and unique take on a bike computer. It updates constantly, it's got a screen like nothing else on the market, and size puts it into the company of other midrange bike computers such as the Wahoo Roam v2 and the Garmin 840. The downsides are that it's got less battery life than those computers and there's no companion app.

Today's discount changes everything though. At 35% off of standard retail price, the downsides become little more than noise. Instead of comparing the price to other midrange computers, now you get the capabilities of those computers at a price closer to either small screen options like the Wahoo Bolt v2 or third tier options with less market support. The price for performance is impossible to otherwise match. If you’ve been on the fence, now is the time to jump.

US Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: $399 $259 at Hammerhead

UK Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: £359 £235 at Hammerhead

The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!

Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.Height: 5'9"Weight: 140 lb.Rides: Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx

Puppy paws position set for a comeback at 2023 Unbound Gravel

Good riddance to aero bars - Pros agree on ban at Unbound Gravel

Tadej Pogacar confirms just two race days to prepare for 2023 Tour de France

By CyclingnewsMay 29, 2023

By Laura WeisloMay 29, 2023

By Philippa YorkMay 29, 2023

By Simone GiulianiMay 29, 2023

By Barry RyanMay 28, 2023

By Kirsten FrattiniMay 27, 2023

By Josh RossMay 26, 2023

By Barry RyanMay 25, 2023

By Alasdair FotheringhamMay 25, 2023

By Simone GiulianiMay 25, 2023

By Barry RyanMay 25, 2023

US Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: $259 at Hammerhead UK Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: £235 at Hammerhead US Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: $259 at Hammerhead UK Deal: Hammerhead Karoo 2: £235 at Hammerhead