Hammerhead tells cyclists where they can go


October 11, 2013

The Hammerhead is a bicycle navigation device that uses LEDs to indicate where riders should turn

The Hammerhead is a bicycle navigation device that uses LEDs to indicate where riders should turn

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It's becoming more and more common for cyclists to find their way around using navigation apps on bike-mounted smartphones ... but it's not a perfect setup. For one thing, those phones get shaken around a lot. Additionally, it's risky for cyclists to keep glancing down at the screen, plus keeping that screen constantly awake uses up a lot of battery life. The Hammerhead offers an alternative. It's a water- and shock-proof bar-mounted device that relays simple navigational cues via easy-to-see LEDs.

To use the Hammerhead, riders start by using the accompanying iOS or Android app to select their destination – at this point, they also indicate their riding preferences. The app will respond with a suggested route, although riders can also manually program in a route of their own choice.

"The routes are recommended based on existing bicycle paths in databases such as Google Maps and OpenCycleMap," Hammerhead Navigation co-founder Laurence Wattrus explained to us. "As users grow we can add routes of friends or the community, making much richer recommendations and allowing the best local rides to be ranked for bikers."

The phone then gets safely tucked away in a backpack or pocket, although it still communicates with the Hammerhead via Bluetooth Smart. As the ride commences, an array of LEDs on the device light up sequentially to the let the user know when and where to turn left or right. It also lets them know things like how soon a turn is coming up, and how far they are into the trip. According to the designers, the LEDs are visible in the rider's peripheral vision, day or night, so there's no need to look right down at the device.

Additional features include a compass setting, an integrated headlight, and the ability to compete against other cyclists' best times on given rides.

The integrated lithium-polymer battery should provide about 20 hours of use per charge.

Wattrus and the rest of the team are now in the process of raising production funds for the Hammerhead, on new crowd-funding site Dragon Innovation. A pledge of US$68 will get you a device of your own, when and if they're ready to go. The estimated retail price is "over 100 dollars."

Sources: Hammerhead, Dragon Innovation

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Serious? There's a far cheaper and simpler solution today at no extra cost: use a single earbud and listen to the directions from the phone in your pocket or bag. Whether you wear a full bike kit or skinny jeans and a messenger bag, this works best. It costs nothing and a single earbud creates no safety issues. Done. Stop all the kickstarting and 3d modeling now.

Bill Gallagher

Hey Bill, what's to be so angry about. Some of us like to keep our ears free when we ride. If some of us want to spend a few bucks to ride safer what's the problem? I think this is great and I can't wait to get one.

Morgan James

I can see where Morgan is coming from - With so much crap on your bike from monitors, cameras, batteries, controllers etc. How about spending your time aware of your surroundings instead of looking at all your gadgets? I mean seriously, $100. for turn signals? $179. for a rear view camera instead of a mirror? $150. for a GPS? When do we get Anti Lock Brakes, Stability control, Tire Pressure Monitoring and of course I want a Radar Detector.

Glen Aldridge

I agree with Morgan ... I have no problems with this device for helping me take directions. I certainly do not want something stuck into my ear when I supposed to be using that to listen for big TRUCKS or horns or buses or other dangers.

Greg P

Good grief ,plan your trip before hand and then watch where your going!


Bill, seriously. I think a lot of you are unhappy you didn't come up with this yourselves. nice guys

Ismail Ihraan

Only folks who don't cycle much - or at all - will dismiss this product as redundant.

I don't own a car, so I either walk, cycle or use public transit to get where I'm going.

During summer time I tend to cycle the most and wouldn't you know it's also the busiest time to do road maintenance work and other construction work which tend to wreaks havoc on established cycle routes.

It's merely a nuisance for drivers: it's just a matter of alternating between gas and brake pedals. For cyclists it's a never ending stop-and-go show that saps energy that is limited as it is.

A gadget like Hammerhead combined with a regularly updated route info, would be nothing less than a god sent provided that it works as advertised.

I don't like listen to music, radio etc. when I ride for obvious reasons. I like to keep my eyes on the road as much a possible.

When I cycle in areas I'm not too familiar with - or at all - I need to constantly refer to a map (be that a phone app or a regular printed map). Even when I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track. Just to make sure, you know.

There are days that I still need to pedal back home for some 40 kms AFTER a day spent walking, swimming, biking, whatever.

On such rides I usually prefer getting home the fastest (which is not always the shortest route).

Every detour, every wrong turn, every unnecessary stop that I could avoid to make would mean that I'd be home faster and with less energy wasted.

The way I see it, the more we get people using products like Hammerhead, the better bang for buck it will be for everyone. It will make cycling both safer and quicker.

What's not to love? $100 price tag? Is that it? Dudes, if you'd cycle as much as I do, you wouldn't be complaining about having to depart with one lousy Benjamin.

It's a steal if anyone asks for my opinion.

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