SRAM Acquires Hammerhead, a Head Unit Maker

SRAM is clearly not done adding to its toolbox through acquisition. The latest such pick-up is Hammerhead, a GPS Head Unit maker. Here is what SRAM said of the purchase, completed at the end of 2021: “SRAM saw tremendous potential in Hammerhead after the award-winning cycling GPS computer (the Karoo 2) hit the market in late 2020 and landed on the handlebars of many of the world’s top athletes. In just the last year, Hammerhead achieved 7x revenue growth and their community of riders have clocked over a million hours of gravel, concrete, and trails covered.”

As with certain of SRAM’s other acquisitions, Hammerhead “will remain a stand-alone brand within the SRAM portfolio,” which presumably means like Zipp and RockShox the Hammerhead brand will retain its name. (In other acquisitions, like Sachs-Huret, the brand disappeared and the tech was absorbed into the SRAM brand.)

SRAM has a particular talent among those in its competitive set: its ability to absorb acquisitions. Sachs-Huret was the most important, because it gave SRAM the capacity to compete as a full groupset maker at a world class level. Avid gave SRAM hydraulic disc brake expertise; Rockshox made SRAM a fully vested maker of offroad parts; and the Zipp acquisition rounded out the portfolio.

What SRAM does quite well via its acquisitions is onboard knowledge. It doesn’t buy bikes; it buys brains. The engineering at the SRAM Schweinfurt Factory in Germany is from Sachs. The best integration, beyond Sachs-Huret, may have been Quarq, because the engineering behind that power meter company has spilled over into all the AXS product line, and one could argue the future of AXS – which is largely the future of SRAM – is largely the purview of those who came to SRAM from Quarq.

The moves SRAM did not counter were e-bikes, stationary and head units. Shimano focused on e-bike parts, which was a prescient decision. Wahoo Fitness has not only dominated the stationary business in North America, it has built itself a strong second-place position in GPS head units. Wahoo was a further thorn in SRAM’s side by escaping with a prize SRAM coveted: Speedplay. (SRAM recently salved that wound by acquiring Time Pedals.) In truth, no component maker has yet made a move into stationary, so it may be unfair to single out SRAM for criticism. In any case, scooping up Hammerhead fills a hole in SRAM's portfolio.

SRAM has a long row to hoe with Hammerhead, at least with the audience reading this. As of 2019, 90 percent of Slowtwitchers intended to purchase a GPS head unit, either for the first time or as a subsequent purchase. Of these, three-quarters of our readers named Garmin as their intended supplier of that product, and more than 20 percent chose a product in the Wahoo ELEMNT family. Only 4.5 percent said it would be another brand. But as the release of today mentioned, the Hammerhead brand is fast-growing.