The Suunto & Hammerhead Partnership – What it means to you
When two sports platforms agree to talk to each other it’s usually a case of XYZ links to Strava or Training Peaks and, if I am brutally honest, that’s not a story anymore. Very occasionally, however, something a little unusual happens and that’s what we see today as Hammerhead (SRAM) and Suunto join forces…just a little bit. Don’t get excited by mergers or anything like that, and today’s announcement is of more interest to Karoo 2 owners who get live cycling heatmaps!
In a nutshell: Your completed rides on the Hammerhead Karoo 2 can now be viewed in the Suunto app alongside all your other Moves. There’s more if you own a Karoo bike computer, as it can now display a heatmap of cycling moves created with a Suunto going back many years, the extra bonus is that you can use these Heatmaps to visually understand if you are on a sensible cycling route.
Table of Contents (Click to Expand)
What the link-up means to Hammerhead Karoo Bike Computer Owners
Hmm. Sweet. As of today and for the first time ever, you get a cycle-specific heatmap on your Karoo. You also get an alternative place to look at your post-ride stats (the Suunto app) also with some physiology insights or overall load stats that might be intriguing. You could already get those insights from Training Peaks or your Strava Subscription but the Suunto link-up is free for you and everyone loves a freebie.
Furthermore, if you do sync your ride data to the Suunto app then there are over 200 partner organisations whose tools you might be tempted to explore to add more life to your data such as being able to Relive a ride or dig deep into the wonders of your performances with Runalyze. So you can see the Suunto app as a stepping point to seeing your cycling data ‘somewhere else more interesting’
What the link-up means to Suunto Watch Owners
A: Not so much really.
If you plan to buy a bike computer then getting a Karoo 2 now makes a little more sense than it did before. In the unlikely event you own a Karoo and a Suunto then today you are ‘quids in’, ‘happy as Larry’ or whatever phrase you want to use instead of ‘extremely happy’ as you can now see all your glorious exercises in one place – the Suunto app.
How does Suunto benefit from this?
Suunto benefits from the two-way flow of your data, assuming you give them the appropriate permissions to send routes and receive completed workouts.
Suunto’s heatmap data must historically be skewed towards running-related activities. As we move forward, Suunto’s heatmap will be updated with more rides from Hammerhead thereby adding further value to the cycling part of the heatmap.
Similarly, you are an asset for Suunto to leverage to its 200 or so partners. The more ‘yous’ there are and the more complete information there is about your training then the more valuable the Suunto population data becomes.
Finally, Suunto is effectively becoming another reseller for Hammerhead and you can now buy a Karoo 2 directly from Suunto, I’m sure they’ll get a bigger commission than if you buy a Karoo 2 via my link below 😉
How does Hammerhead benefit from this?
Hammerhead gains a heatmap that will improve over time and a specialist sales channel that gives interesting exposure to Scandinavian and other EU markets. Maybe it sets itself up to eventually be acquired by SRAM but that’s not going to be any time soon even though there might not be many alternative bidders.
OK let’s delve into the details of how to make this work and highlight some limitations.
Setting it all up
This is a two-stage process. First up there is a relatively straightforward link to be made from your Hammerhead dashboard to the Suunto app; just have you have many times between other apps. If you don’t already have a free Hammerhead dashboard then I’d recommend it as it has always been a great place to curate and build a library of routes.
Now you need to get those heatmaps onto your Karoo.
If you’ve completed the previous step you should soon be able to get the additional heatmap for each map region already on your Karoo. Here I already had the offline GB map so I just needed to add the Suunto heatmap for GB. You can see the small green flame icon and that means you have the heatmap. You’re good to go!
Interacting with heatmaps
The heatmaps look great, Hammerhead hit the visual sweetspot
The heatmap can be toggled on the Karoo’s map screen by pressing the flame icon on an unlocked screen.
The following two examples are both in the busy cycling Mecca which is Richmond Park, I show zoomed-in/out maps both with and without the heatmap layer for comparisons of readability. I reckon Hammerhead has got the heat colouring about right.
Note: Shown are some of the world’s busiest pieces of cycling tarmac
So that’s it, I think there are 5 other levels of zoom but once you’re zoomed out too far it’s not so useful. A final thing to note is that you can show the heatmaps live as you cycle or on the Karoo as you plan a route. However, at least for now you can’t automatically create a route from A to B based on heatmap popularity, it’s just a visual thing with zero heatmap intelligence in the routing side of things.
One downside that I wasn’t expecting was that Suunto’s heatmap is not visible for route planning on the Hammerhead dashboard. Bummer, that’s where I plan a fair few of my routes as it’s a good interface.
Sharing Routes To The Hammerhead Dashboard From The Suunto Watch
Routes created in the Suunto watch or app are synced to Hammerhead’s web dashboard and to the Karoo itself. Here, on the dashboard, I’ve favourited 4 different routes from four different sources.
I couldn’t get the route sync to work the other way, ie No routes created in the Hammerhead ecosystem or imported from elsewhere would sync to the Suunto app. There must be a button somewhere I hadn’t pressed. Surely that’s the whole point of this? (A: Nope)
Saving Completed Workouts to the Suunto app
One of Karoo’s nicer features has always been how you can very easily control where your workouts are sent. The ability to withhold a workout from Strava has now been extended to include Suunto as, by default, rides will always be sent to every connected account. Like this…
Uncheck the Suunto app, press the Tick button and Suunto won’t get that last workout. You can go back into the Hammerhead Dashboard and manually re-send it later if you change your mind…aka you made a mistake 😉
OAQs – Occasionally Asked Questions
These are not frequently asked questions but hopefully will cover the questions some of you are thinking but were too afraid to ask in the comments below.
Q: Can I see the Suunto heatmaps on the web-based Hammerhead Dashboard
A: No. It’s a Karoo-only feature. Hopefully, that can be added in the future as I only plan routes on a PC using a web platform, although you might do it on your Karoo.
Q: That’s a lot of new routes, how can I organise them all?
A: As of today, Hammerhead’s dashboard has a new ‘Collections’ feature for just that purpose.
Q: Will this work for Karoo 1?
A: Yes. In fact, you don’t need the Karoo at all nor a Suunto watch come to think of it! This is a link between two software platforms both of which are free.
Q: Will this be used to increase the predictions that can be made by the recent hill climb feature?.
A: No, (was the answer I got)!
Q: If I only cycle with my Suunto watch should I link to the Hammerhead platform?
A: Yes. You won’t regret it and it’s free.
Q: If I only have a Hammerhead Karoo and only use Strava should I try the Suunto app?
A: Sure, go for it. It’s free and the Suunto app is pretty decent these days.
Q: I don’t have either a Karoo or a Suunto. Is the app worth the download?
A: Probably not. But the Hammerhead dashboard is a good place to capture & curate a large collection of routes providing you know how to send them to some other device or app that you use.
Q: I already have both a Karoo 2 and a new Suunto. Why haven’t I exploded with excitement yet?
A: I don’t know. Quantum physics works in strange ways sometimes. You will. It’s inevitable. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news about your impending explosion, I’ll miss you.
Q: Are Suunto workouts synced to the Hammerhead Dashboard
Q: Are all routes on the Hammerhead dashboard synced to the Suunto app
A: No. So you can’t directly get them onto your watch. I also believe that routes you edit on Hammerhead’s dashboard are not synced back either
Q: If I change the route on the Suunto app, how is it synced?
A: It’s fully automatic. However, AFAIK, if you edit the route on the Hammerhead Dashboard that change will not sync back (I need to check)
Q: Does the Suunto heatmap contain all activities?
A: No. What you see on the Karoo is only for cycling activities.
Q: Can I create a route over the most popular roads?
A: Yes! but you have to do it manually ‘by eye’, ie following the most used roads. So the answer really is: no, you cannot automatically route over the heatmaps.
Q: When I choose road or gravel rides on my Karoo will I see an appropriate heat map for those sub-sports that are part of overall cycling?
A: No. All the cycling sub-sports are added together
Q: How do I use the Suunto app sideloaded onto the Karoo 2?
I was going to write this post with an angle on how Suunto now has its own bike computer…kinda! But decided against it. This is highly techy…read on at your peril.
How to sideload an Android app onto a Hammerhead Karoo – an example using the Suunto app.
As an interesting aside and for lovers of the Suunto app, it is possible for the Suunto app to ‘take over’ and run the Karoo. ‘Simply’ use the Suunto Android app from Google Play to record a ride on the Karoo 2 by following these techy instructions that have been pared to the bare minimum.
- Karoo>settings> About>Build Number> Repeatedly tap ‘Build Number’ to enable Developer options (check there is a success message on completion)
- Karoo>settings> Developer Options>USB Debugging>On
- Extract the Android Platform Tools to a new PC folder called “c:\hammerhead\Suunto“
- Attach to your Karoo to your PC via a USB cable
- On Karoo choose MTP from settings> Developer Options>Select USB Configuration>MTP
- Open the Windows command prompt (cmd.exe on your PC) and navigate to your chosen directory “cd c:\hammerhead\Suunto“
- Type and run “adb.exe devices” on your PC and it will prompt you on the Karoo for further permissions which you should grant.
- Get the Suunto APK Zip file from https://apkpure.com/suunto/com.stt.android.suunto and unpack the contents into the folder “c:\hammerhead\Suunto”. The latest zip/apk file will be called something like “Suunto_v4.52.2_apkpure.com.apk” but with a newer version number.
- Check you are still in the correct folder “cd c:\hammerhead\Suunto“
- Then type and run “adb install Suunto_v4.52.2_apkpure.com.apk“
Don’t try it unless you are tech-savvy as it can break your Karoo. Give it a go, it seems to work. You could equally sideload RwGPS (I have) or Strava (I have) or any Android app. I’m not sure how they get updates though, you might have to do that manually.
The eventual experience is almost like running the Suunto app on an Android smartphone; the reason being that the Karoo is effectively an Android smartphone! Personally, I think this is the key reason why Karoo might eventually challenge the Garmin Hegemony, namely, apps in their widest sense are what sets Garmin apart from the competition at the moment.
More details on Macs and other apps here
Note: Not got a Suunto watch? When setting up the app say that your watch hasn’t yet arrived. Then you just need a BLE HRM to use the Suunto app for free to record workout and to get access to all of Suunto’s awesomeness.
Everything here seems like a nice idea on the surface but I’m not totally convinced that the hoped-for benefits for each company will be achieved. Still, it’s early days.
Whilst Karoo owners do now have a snazzy heatmap that genuinely adds some value, any excitement should be tempered with the understanding that Suunto does not have a deep cycling heritage when compared to Strava, RwGPS, Wahoo or Garmin. It doesn’t have the same depth of cycling data even though what it does have has been captured for over a decade. So I just don’t know how useful that heatmap is going to be in your area. That said, as more and more completed Karoo workouts gradually find their way into the Suunto heatmap, the heatmap will improve in quality over time.
In reverse, I would question just how many Karoo owners there are out there wanting a new sports analysis platform for their data and even if there were, I’m not sure many would choose the Suunto app (as much as I have grown to like it). Sure, for any Karoo owner who just so happens to already own a Suunto 9 Peak Pro then this announcement may well already have caused them to explode with excitement. There won’t be many explosions though and the reality must be that most Karoo owners who also have a 3rd party watch are likely instead to be Garmin or Polar sports watch owners. More likely, in fact, they will probably be Apple Watch smartwatch owners and perhaps a link there would have been wiser. Conversely, keen, wannabe triathletes are much more likely to be Garmin or, maybe even, Wahoo owners.
So that’s me being Mr/Miss Grumpy. On the flipside is my misquoted phrase “If you build it, they will come” and there are ever-more new runners and cyclists each year. So let’s be positive and hopeful that this partnership will morph into something great for both companies and, more importantly, for you, their customers.
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