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Hammerhead Karoo 2 new Climber Feature Update
There’s a new update to the Hammerhead Karoo CLIMBER features and this time it’s one that Garmin needs to quickly add to their ClimbPro equivalent.
Must Read: Garmin Killer – A Detailed Review of Hammerhead Karoo 2
ClimbPro/Climber – A Quick Background Check
Garmin’s and Hammerhead’s existing Climb features both work when navigating, whether that’s following an uploaded route or simply following the device’s directions. In each case, your bike computer knows where you are and where you are heading. Because it knows your future path it can show a forward-looking elevation profile to let you know in advance what degree of suffering there is to come!
The elevation information itself comes from either a pre-loaded course file or from the onboard map intelligence and, in both cases, the elevation information should usually be broadly accurate. Thus the climbs ahead can be broken down into sections showing differing grades.
Couple that raw data with some pretty graphs and some extrapolated bits of info like ‘time to top’, ‘time to start’, ‘number of climbs’ and you have the makings of a good climbing feature.
The problems include the accuracy of the pre-programmed elevations and determining your exact location. For example, on a winding hillside road in a forest, the satellite’s plot of the route used for the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) could be wrong and, similarly, your live GPS position could be wrong. The combined result is an inaccurate climbing feature in certain situations. I found some quite considerable errors with Garmin’s first release of ClimbPro on the Edge 530 which has since improved over the years.
Karoo 2 Introduces a Twist – In a Good Way
The new feature from Hammerhead expands the occasions when the existing Climber Profiles are displayed to include those that it thinks you are about to climb.
You can optionally allow the new algorithm to ‘guess’ the next hill you are about to climb and the elevation profile is the same as it would be if you were being navigated up the same hill.
The Climber screen automatically appears when you are close to the start of the climb.
I tried quite a few hills in Surrey over the weekend and it appeared on every occasion that I would call a hill. The following image shows a short and easy hill in Esher where the lighter shades of green indicate a slightly steeper section of the hill. The hatched green areas represent completed sections and the white circle over the black dot shows my current position on the hill. The current grade is shown in the bottom left-hand corner (7.2) and is colour coded to match the colour of the current section.
You can also see there is 0.1km to go to the top which equates to 7m of vertical ascent.
Other hills start to introduce steeper, yellow, sections and even steeper orange sections. The orange section on the third image is shown as 13% yet it is very steep and was indicated as 20% by the road signs.
“That’s great,” I hear you say but then you add, “what if the hill also coincides with one of my Strava Live Segments?”
Hammerhead thought of this scenario and introduce two tabs. One for Strava Live segments and one for Climber. I have to say that this screen is starting to get very busy, the two data fields at the top are a recent addition as is the elevation profile.
So, that Strava Live Segment was the famous Box Hill and I decided to stop halfway up to show you something else. (image below).
Q: What is the grade at my current position?
Nope. It’s 8.1, remember the number in the bottom left-hand corner is the current grade and the numbers to the right of that are the grades of all the upcoming sections. I can see why Hammerhead had to do this as it doesn’t waste screen space and accommodates relatively large pitch fonts. However…it’s confusing!
How does the algorithm work?
This is what Hammerhead said
CLIMBER Without a Route looks at the upcoming segments of road and calculates climbs up to the next major intersections. If the current road name remains consistent and/or you are able to continue essentially “straight” on the road, it will analyze that potential route. If you deviate from that predicted route (eg, turn off of the road when CLIMBER predicted straight), CLIMBER will analyze the new road to the next major intersection.
Concerning ‘Triggers’ for a hill
- Each location on the route can only be part of 1 climb (climbs cannot overlap).
- From each candidate hill’s start location, the algorithm looks ahead over the remaining elevations and finds candidate “climbs” that are above the minimum climb requirements in distance and grade. The algorithm rejects many cases where elevation decreases – since any climb through a location with decreasing elevation relative to the start would either not be part of a climb or be part of a climb that was already considered.
- At each elevation pair (start and end) where the minimum classification is exceeded, a hill score is computed using distance and a power of %grade. If the hill score is higher than a score computed earlier (from the start location to an earlier point on the route) it replaces the prior climb.
Generally, I was happy with what I saw. There are a few UI problems but nothing drastic that can’t be tinkered with.
I found that Climber got the hill start right most times. My longest hill of the day had a flat section after 20m or so of climbing, yet Climber only started the hill after that flat section. A second time was when a hill started immediately after a 90-degree turn off a T-junction. There was no way that it would have guessed I was going that way, so that’s fair enough.
When it came to the top of the hill, Climber seemed to signal the summit 50m before I reached the real summit and/or when there was still a couple of metres of vertical climbing to go. That didn’t especially bother me as I could always see the top, I’m just saying what I found. (Hammerhead confirm this is how it can work when grades are less than 3-degrees)
My position on the hill as shown on the Karoo seemed to be generally good although, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not entirely convinced about the grades shown by the Karoo.
This is a very nice tweak to a feature that I like a lot and it’s a tweak that I will use. I do cycle the Surrey Hills 1-to-3 times a week and when I do group rides I invariably can never quite be sure which hill I’m on so this feature IS of use to me even on hills that I’ve been up many times – I have the memory of a goldfish! In a new area, it would obviously also be useful especially if I was following other peoples’ leads rather than following a route.
I would imagine that Garmin will work to add something similar in short order. I would also imagine that Garmin might tweak the algorithm to anticipate hills better with their popularity data…something that Hammerhead doesn’t have. That said, adding a prediction based on your personal heatmap or the global heatmap wouldn’t add that much to the feature because in most cases the climb screen pops up when it’s pretty obvious you are about to ascend. The only exception is where a hill might fork halfway up.
This type of feature is mostly only ever going to be useful for predicting the next hill rather than for a planned ride where every hill is known in advance and where you can gauge your efforts knowing the full extent of ALL the upcoming climbing rather than just the next climb
For me, the bottom line is that I simply don’t normally follow digital routes of any sort so this automated hill Climber feature meets my needs really well.
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