Being able to see behind you won’t necessarily protect you from being hit, but early warning of approaching traffic could save your life. While a rearview mirror may allow you to see approaching traffic, the Garmin Varia radar provides a more thorough level of detail and information to help you make better choices in real-time. When paired with a compatible head unit, or to a mobile phone with the Garmin Varia app, you’ll be able to detect approaching traffic from up to 153 yards away.
Improving on the previous generation of rear-facing radar, the Garmin Varia RTL515 updates functionality to the tail light, and will now allow pairing with your mobile phone via BTLE to provide vibration, audible, and visual alerts. A new addition to the radar lineup is the Garmin Varia RVR315, which offers the same radar functionality, but without a taillight, and shorter battery life.
The Garmin Varia RTL515 has an integrated tail light with a (claimed) visibility of up to a mile away, in daylight mode. A “peloton” mode allows for dimming so that those riding behind you will be less likely to be blinded, while a pulse mode should draw attention to it. Battery life is estimated to be up to 16 hours in day flash mode, and up to 6 hours in night flash or solid mode.
The Garmin Varia RVR315 has the same 153-yard radar range as the RTL515, but with up to 7 hours of battery life, and no tail light.
Both Varia models can now connect to bike computers — like Garmin and Wahoo — which can accept radar data signal connections via ANT+ so you no longer need a dedicated radar display unit. And both radars can use the Garmin Varia app which displays audio and visual alerts: green means everything is OK, amber means a vehicle is approaching, and red means a vehicle is approaching at high speed (faster than 55mph). The app also has integration with third-party apps like Ride with GPS, so that you can overlay your route map with rearview radar alerts.
The Garmin Varia can be affixed to your bike using the ubiquitous quarter-turn mount.
Pricing for the Garmin Varia is $149.99 for RVR315 and $199.99 for RVR515. Buy now.