Could the Garmin Varia be the ultimate riding accessory for you this season? During the 2020 season, the cycling industry saw an increased amount of people purchasing a bike to get into the outdoors amid the pandemic. Safety is arguably the number one thing new and avid cyclists keep top of mind when setting out for a ride. That being said, why not keep yourself fully alert when on the road with a premier radar unit?
The Garmin Varia radar system is easily the best accessory you can purchase for your cycling journeys this season! Garmin released 2 rearview radar models, the RTL515 and the RVR315 in the Spring of 2020 to accommodate a wide range of users from hand to road cyclists. Our team tested the Varia models and knew we had to share the outstanding capabilities of the radar system, and how they can bring a more alert and confident ride for our family of cyclists out on the roads.
While both models provide visual and audible alerts to the rider for vehicles approaching from behind up to 153 yards, their biggest comparison is the rear tail light that comes with the RTL515 and the battery life.
Now Lets Dive Into The Features
The Garmin RTL515’s rear taillight offers 4 variable modes that can be easily changed from the single button on top of the radar. Your settings include solid mode at a (20) Lumen output, peloton (8) lumens, a night flash mode (29) lumens, and a day flash of (65) lumens. While making you visible to drive up to 1 mile away and a 220˚ visibility angle! As for battery life for the Garmin RTL515, you will get 6 hours out of a solid light mode and up to 16 hours on a day flash mode. Charing the drive is as easy as charing your cell phone with any USB charging plug for the wall or your vehicle.
While that is excellent for drivers to be alert to you, what about the radar sense of it all? To use the radar features you must first pair this via Bluetooth with a Garmin Edge head unit. Don’t own a Garmin unit? No Problem, simply download the free Varia Mobile App to utilize all the same great radar features over compatible 3rd party GPS apps such as “Ride With GPS.”
The reliable Varia radar will detect vehicles approaching from behind you (up to153yds), keeping you alert before you can even hear them coming up. Riders will get full alerts with pulse tones and vibrant display overlays on the GPS keeping you informed where and when cards will be passing you from behind.
As for the Varia RVR315 which is the non-tail light version of the radar, you will receive all the same great features listed above with connectivity, alerts, and GPS overlays minus the light. Garmin has tailored this light to cyclists that may already have a rear tail light they ride with and want to save a little money over the RTL515. Shockingly, battery life is only 7 hours on a single charge with this model.
This is still an extensive amount of time between charging intervals but you would assume a unit without a tail light would get more battery life. No? The RVR is smaller in dimension than the RTL so we can only assume less space for a larger internal battery.
For many of our handcycle and recumbent cyclists, the Varia is a game-changer for your cycling experience! No more trying to turn your head or position your mirror perfectly to stay alert to approaching vehicles. Keep your eyes on the road ahead and let Garmin Varia do the work for you!
One final great feature these radar units hold is that if you are someone that enjoys riding with a friend or joins a group ride, only one person will need a radar to display alerts and distance notifications to everyone’s Garmin Edge device or phone if they use the Mobile App. The ability to multi connect across various devices with a single rearview radar to keep the entire group safe while enjoying the ride is pretty awesome!
This is our top-rated accessory that ALL cyclists should own that are sharing the road with motorists. Want to check out a full demo for yourself? She by our shop and see how Garmin can provide a safer and more comfortable cycling experience for you! We will set you up on any of our demo hand bikes or trikes and let you get the full Varia experience.