For years, I have ridden with a large mirror on my road bike. It has worked fine unless the sun was low behind me or the mirror fogged. In those situations, the mirror was useless. But in those situations (and all others), the Varia works great! Once a vehicle comes within range, you get an audible beep and the blip shows up on your Garmin. Very dependable. It picks up every vehicle. Relative speed and distance is very accurate.
So . . . why not five stars? Three minor nits 1. It occasionally gives you false positives. One cyclist I ride with triggers it as if he were a car - but just one. Nobody else. 2. I wish the light were brighter. 3. I wish the range were 1.5 to 2 times as far as it is. On roads with a 50 mph speed limit or above, by the time the Varia alerts you of the car's presence, it is upon you. I would just like to receive a few seconds more notice.
This is an amazing device for the price. \
I had the original Varia Radar taillight and thought it was a great idea. I ride on rural roads that have high speed limits so I only get 5-6 seconds of warning before a vehicle is on me. So knowing what is approaching from behind dynamically is a huge advantage in safety for me.
The Original Varia Radar was great but it had three serious failings First, the taillight was all but useless and was far too low in power. Second, the form factor was all wrong with it being oriented horizontally and tending to interfere with my legs unless it was positioned perfectly. This unit fixes both of those problems. The Taillight is BRIGHT and works great as a daylight flasher. You can see if from a mile away and, as a driver, your eye is drawn to it. The form factor is vertical which solves the leg interference problem. So that's all good. Third, the head unit (available as a bundle) now includes a beeper so you get an audio warning of an approaching target as well.
The only reason I gave it 4 stars for value is that you really should buy the total package of a head unit plus the taillight. Garmin won't sell the head unit separately and should.
I already had the first generation Varia radar but am very glad I upgraded. The light is significantly brighter and battery lasts much longer. If you don't have a Varia but already have a Garmin that works with it, this is an absolute must purchase. You immediately understand the value after you ride with it for a bit and then for some reason ride without it. Suddenly you feel very different and frankly much less safe without having the Varia alert you to traffic coming up behind you.
I agree with most of the other reviews. It's a great product that works really well. See DC Rainmaker's review to find out more. I completely agree with his assessment.
You can pair it with more than one Garmin at a time. I am using a 520 and my friend has a 520 and it worked on both units at the same time. He got the alerts for cars as soon as I did. I will try more when I get the chance.
In a group paceline of 3 or more, it has some trouble seeing around the cyclists behind you, but once it acquires the car is usually stays locked on.
It also will take a little battery off your head unit. On a 77 mile ride I noticed about a 10% extra battery drop on my 520. But still had plenty in the 520 and the Tail light after I was done.
The light is very bright. Is it the brightest out there? No. My light before this was the excellent Planet Bike Super Flash Turbo. This easily outshines that. Plenty visible on a sunny day.
Garmin does make a clamp style mount that you can by from them or on Amazon. Works great and a lot more secure, although I've never had it fall off with the regular mount.
It's bright and when paired with a Garmin computer Perfection. I have upgraded to the RTL510 from the Garmin Varia Rearview Radar Tail Light. It's much brighter during the day and the battery lasts longer. 15 hours in blinking mode. If you have ever missed seeing a car or motorcycle this is a perfect extra set of eyes. It always detects vehicles.
MUST HAVE FOR ROAD CYCLING.
First, I want to say Bike Tires Direct is great! I bought this for myself for Christmas present and it was lost in shipping. Bike Tires Direct immediately sent me a replacement second day mail. Great company! Now to the Radar. I have been eyeing this for some time. I was going to buy it last year but didn't have a head unit that would work with it. I had a Garmin 200 and for last Christmas got myself a Garmin 520. This year to my happiness they upgraded the Varia to the RTL520 and the light is so much better than the older model. I have ridden with people that have the older radar and liked it but the light was weak but not this one. It is bright even during the day. In my opinion it is on par with the Cygolight Hot Shot that as for brightness. It is supper easy to install. I ride with a minimal bike seat pack from Leyzyne and this mounts on the seat post under the pack without any problems. Some people have reservations with the Garmin setup but I find it similar to the handle bar mount for the Garmin computers which have held my computers for years without any problems. To test the longevity of the battery, I charged it before my first ride and have not charged it since. My first ride was 2 hours, then 1.5 hour, 3 hour, 3 hour, 0.5 hour, 1 hour, 1 hour and finally 1 hour ride that it died at the end of. Adding all these ride times together, it lasted for 13 hours. Again this is strictly using the flashing mode. I am very happy with the run time and usually not out for more than 13 hours. How well does it the radar work? Again, I am extremely happy with that too. I ride mostly in the country side and did a little riding in the city. In the city you can look down and see how many cars are behind you. It has been accurate every time I have checked. You will get false positives if there is a parallel road running next to you. Usually there isn't but there was one where I was riding and the unit would register some of those cars at times. This is a minor issue in my opinion. When riding in a group, if you are in the front of people in a peloton, it will have a harder time seeing a car come up behind you. I do not fault the unit. It is just physics of not seeing through solid objects. If you are not in a peloton and people are not riding right behind you, then it will see the cars just fine. Will it see other cyclists? The answer is yes and no. If you are going the same speed, no it will not. But if a cyclist is coming up on you, it will register that person. I really like this because there are times that I will be riding and someone will sneak up on me but this unit lets me know they are coming. I count this a plus. Yes, it will also see motorcycles. If a car matches your pace, then it will disappear from the scre
Got this with the goal of keeping better track of cars during rides, particularly when riding double. Read generally good reviews about its function. Was easy to install, seems adequately secure, using it with a Garmin Edge 820. Works as advertised - registers vehicles (and sometimes cyclists) approaching from the rear with a beep and a dot on a bar on the right side of the GPS. Shows progress of cars toward me to give an idea of how quickly to adjust riding location, if necessary. Light works adequately - not as bright as the previous light I used, but seems adequate. Used up battery quicker on the 820 - got down to 20% on a 4.5 hour ride. If radar is turned on before the GPS, the radar did not register as present. I'll keep using it, except for longer rides (because of the battery use) - helpful to know when to get to single-file during a group ride.
A wonderful device that keeps you from being surprised from unseen autos or ones that you dont hear. It makes riding less stressful because you dont have to constantly turn your head looking for autos.
The bright flashing read light is also a wonderful safety feature.
I figure if I was going to have a flashing light anyway, it might as well have radar to detect autos.
The new version improves upon what the first was lacking, brighter light and better battery. Having both I noticed it does one thing worse, it generates a lot more false positives when people or bikes are behind me. The original version almost never did that. Still a gepteat product, hope they can fix this with a software update.
I've quickly gotten to really appreciate the radar, especially when riding alone. I've never liked riding with a mirror and sometimes less noisy vehicles would be passing me by the time I realized they were there. I don't get those surprises anymore. It reliably alerts me to vehicles approaching from behind and gives an idea of how fast they're going. Even works pretty well when riding in a group. One thing I learned quickly is that since it relies on speed differential to identify approaching vehicles, a vehicle that stays behind you and matches your speed for a short time will disappear off the radar until they start going faster than you again. So you do have to pay attention to cars that disappear off the radar without passing you- they may have turned off, or they may just be sitting there in stealth mode. The light is unremarkable but adequate and fairly bright (three modes). As with most Garmin products it seems a little pricey but not terrible if you find it on sale- and it's the only product of this type as far as I know.
Yes, the information this sends to my Garmin 820 and Varia Vision about approaching cars is accurate, reliable, and extremely helpful for safety. The only time it got it wrong was when it thought a tractor trailer was 2 cars. Big deal. Woulnd't ride alone without this.
I had the prior version of the Varia Radar. This new unit the RTL510 is much better. Longer battery life, the light is extremely bright and the radar notification is much more reliable. Just a great unit.
While installing the mount, I discovered that the device did not fit the aero seat post of may Cannondale Synapse. The end result is that it has a tendency to rotate with the Varia attached to it. Since the moi t is fastened with a rubber band, Im also concerned about losing the device during a ride. The inclusion of a tether would remedy that concern. Otherwise, it performs very well. Im get a visual notification of traffic approaching from the rear and separate blips on my Edge 1000. Its a great add on for my cycling computer!