Hammerhead revamps the UI of Karoo: Internet Uprisings


Hammerhead has carved out its name in the cycling GPS world by continually updating their products with new features and an ever-evolving user interface. For the most part, it focuses on new features. But, every once in a while, Hammerhead will update the UI, and overall, it’s been very good. It feels sleek and modern, if a little slower these days as the Karoo 2 ages. But overall, people are very happy with the Karoo 2 (and rightly use it often).

And then it happened yesterday.

Hammerhead has released a new UI update for data pages in particular. The main pre-ride/post-ride menus and the like have remained the same, but the new data page fields (this is the thing you look at as you ride) have changed to a relatively minimalistic and a bit more boxy layout.

And with that change, a lot of people have been very upset by it. The latest count on the Hammerhead Karoo 2 forums (a place that probably very few Karoo 2 users know actually exists), is about 100% against, 0% for. There have been a vague comment or two, perhaps in favor, but it’s plausible that they’ve had a few beers before. Pretty hard to know.

So, being someone who really wants to try it before butchering something, I went out for a couple of hours gravel ride with it yesterday. I had pre-loaded a route and then set up all my usual data fields. Here is the new configuration:


For comparison, here is the old UI. It’s funny, I have a billion photos of the Karoo 2 with the CLIMBER function enabled or the Shimano Di2 plug-in enabled, but finding a photo older but not too old than just the generic data pages was absolutely impossible. So, here’s their stock photo:


As you can see, the new UI adds a bunch of tiles around everything. Whereas the old UI was flatter and stripped down.

And here’s the thing, during my two hours riding the new UI wasn’t my biggest problem. My real biggest problem wasn’t checking the tides before taking a tour of the beach, and then finding out that it was precisely (to the minute) high tide. Meaning it was a soft sand slogan.


However, even then, the new UI didn’t really bother me that much. But there is, I think, one important difference: I have mine set to dark mode. In other words, white text on a black background, as you can see. Also, in the photos above, taken with less light, the central sections disappear. While in the next photos, I increased the brightness level and these dark gray spaces became more evident.


In that realm, the boxes aren’t so cheeky. Whereas most of the complaints seem to center around the light mode, where its black text on a black background, as such.


For that, I took a tour of the coach today. But here’s a nicer exterior image with the light mode on, to make them look more like it:


And in that lightest mode, yes, honestly, it looks horribly dated. Why is there all that empty gray space?

Some people have mentioned it reminding them of Bryton. But I would go even further and say it reminds me of the Mio bike computers from at least a decade ago. Here’s the one for reference (from a post in August 2012):


Do I think there are worse crimes? Sure, I suppose. I mean they could have removed ANT+ or something.

But yeah, the light mode UI is not my favorite at all. Anyway, I didn’t have any real issues with the dark mode UI during my run, it worked perfectly and didn’t bother me one way or the other.

Hammerhead responded to the criticism in a comment on their forum, saying:

Hi everyone,

Thank you for providing your feedback on the new look and feel of data fields.

While these may not solve all problems, but rest assured we are moving in a direction that we believe would make our product stronger and better for our riders in the long run. The changes are critical to significant improvements to come.

We understand that some of the real concerns are with reducing data values ​​and background contrast.

We’ve listened to your feedback and are looking into ways to make some of these adjustable. Thanks again!!

Meanwhile, in unrelated news, Hammerhead has significantly discounted its Karoo 2 units, down 35% to $259 (normally $399), its lowest price ever (by a ton). Of course, they weren’t exactly aiming for news coverage of their sale to come via an internet riot on their UI. As for whether or not a Karoo 3 is in the works? Who knows. I certainly think Hammerhead/SRAM are late for one, but they’re fast approaching the limit for when it makes sense to launch a new bike computer (ideally June or earlier), or else you’re missing out on the summer season. Certainly there are many years where the cyclocomputers of the past have been launched in mid-summer or late summer, but the general trend is towards the May/early June period.

In any case, I still think the Karoo 2 is a fantastic unit, especially at $259 USD. I’m sure Hammerhead will sort things out, as they tend to be known for listening to customer feedback. Until then, I’ll just stick with dark mode.

With that thank you for reading!

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