It will show you any tree or hazard in your way…

October 21, 2013

…so you can conveniently avoid danger.

Red light. Log!
Red light. Log!

Here at Singletrack, we are faced with a seemingly unending stream of press releases.  Most can be ignored- especially those at the intersection of cycling and consumer electronics.  But on the third or fourth message from the people from the Hammerhead navigation device, the following jumped out at us:

Ever rode bike at night and been concerned you might hit a tree or something else in the road – well, with this, you don’t have to. It will show you any tree or hazard in your way so you can conveniently avoid danger.

Wait, what?

Turn right here.
Turn right here.

We suppose that the answer would be yes- but that’s why we have lights.  But the claim merited investigation- how could the forthcoming Hammerhead navigation device know that there was an obstacle in the trail or on the bike path?  Does it have sonar?  Maybe pair of tiny stereo cameras?

Well, no.

See, the log in the first photo would have to have been, ahem, logged into the Hammerhead’s smartphone app in order for the device to warn the rider of its presence.  Something that one would think might take longer than, we don’t know, moving the log.  Potholes might make for a better example, but still.

The unfortunate thing is that this sort of claim overshadows what could be a pretty nifty gadget.  Paired with a GPS-enabled smartphone, the Hammerhead provides turn-by-turn route guidance without asking the rider to decipher a tiny pixelated map on the fly.  It allows competitors to follow Strava segments relying only on colour-coded lights in their peripheral vision.

Dirt-appropriate mounting
Dirt-appropriate mounting
(gosh, that’s a long stem)

Here in the States, there are a growing number of free, unsanctioned ‘group rides’ on public lands that provide GPS tracks on which riders compete for bragging rights- and nothing more.  Typically more endurance-oriented (50-100 miles), turn indication from a Hammerhead sure seems like it would be easier to follow than a tiny wiggles Garmin map.  Simply follow the dots without getting bogged down in unnecessary data.  At a target price of £70/$110, it’s also less dear than most bike-oriented GPS devices- not a bad thing given their often vulnerable mounting positions.

So there’s actually some interesting potential here.  Being primarily a road- and commuter-oriented product we’d have to see just how well it did off road: annoyingly indicating every corner or unobtrusively integrating itself into the ride.  The Hammerhead has already surpassed its funding goal, so seems likely to make production.  Despite a couple of possibly overblown claims, it seems like a device worth keeping tabs on.  For anyone looking to support the project or purchase an early example, the crowdfunding site is here, at a discounted price around £50/$80 (closer to £60/$100 with international shipping).

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