COVID-19 has shaken up cycling in many ways. The sport itself is likely going to take quite some time to recover, with sponsors folding and smaller races being canceled. While there’s a compact UCI racing schedule now in place for later in the year that promises to be a festival of cycling for the fans watching on television, and a surprising ray of light in the form of the first-ever Women’s Paris-Roubaix, pro cycling is teetering on the edge of a precipice. Similarly, trade shows and other industry events have also collapsed, with events like The Big Gear Show and the London Bike Show postponing until next year.
On the flip side, cycling participation has risen massively due to gyms being off-limits and people having more free time. Two-thirds of all Karoo owners were riding with their Karoos in March, which is significant for any device manufacturer, especially at that time of year. Indoor cycling is also booming, and many Karoo users have opted to use our recently-introduced training feature to stay fit on their smart trainers while outdoor cycling was prohibited, limited, or simply undesirable.
Although no longer a small team, we’ve remained true to our nimble, start-up roots. Our head office is in Manhattan, and we acted swiftly to close the office, adapt our working practices to remote operations, and push on with the hardware and software development that’s so important to our community. We’ve built what we’d consider a dream team from across the cycling industry, with experts in their fields who are perfectly capable of efficiently and autonomously working on complex projects using remote tools like Slack, Asana, and Jira. As a result, we’ve been able to ensure that the difficult situation has not affected our user experience in any way—in fact, we've delivered some hugely impactful software releases during this period. And we’ve stayed in touch with each other beyond work, with Zoom team lunches and other virtual social activities.
Announcing the Karoo 2 proved to be more difficult. It didn’t feel right to share such exciting news during such a challenging time. All the while, we had potential customers inquiring when the Karoo would be back in stock, and existing customers wondering what we were planning. We normally try to be as transparent as possible, but held off sharing this news until later than planned because, with the uncertainty of current events, we felt it was not quite the right time. Since sharing the announcement of Karoo 2, we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and wish we could’ve made it public even sooner. We’ll be revealing a lot more information about it soon.
There are, of course, other difficulties. From an individual’s perspective, lockdown and remote work can be emotionally draining. We’ve ensured we’ve found time for our whole team to exercise and socialize in difficult circumstances. We also know that these are not issues unique to us, and that many people are in much worse positions.
Hammerhead exists because we believe in the transformative power of cycling for good in this world. Cycling has become a lifeline to normality for many people during this period, offering an escape back to old routes and the mental benefits of training to achieve a goal, especially when the future seems uncertain. We’ve worked flat-out to ensure that the Karoo has not only been a reliable co-pilot on all your rides at this time, but also to ensure that we’ve delivered updates that make your experience even better—features like Strava Live Segments have been eagerly anticipated by our community, and knowing we were improving your riding experience during such a trying time made the satisfaction of delivering these features even more powerful to us.
With no impact on our customer experience or productivity, we have decided to remain remote until the end of the year to ensure the health and wellbeing of our world-class team. Because we felt the effects of the disease in its early stages as it threatened to impact our Karoo 2 production plans in China, we were compelled to treat the situation as seriously as possible, as quickly as we could. Having now brought a few sophisticated hardware products to market, we have learned to plan for uncertainty, build in redundant systems and contingencies, and move nimbly in a crisis. Such planning has served us well. Our 2020 launch of the revolutionary Karoo 2 is shaping up to be an extraordinary moment in the history of our company.