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Garmin Varia RTL515 Radar With Tail Light

GarminVaria RTL515 Radar With Tail Light(Return to Product Page)

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(81 customer reviews)
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Reviewed 9/13/2021
by Jim
Pennsylvania
Overall Rating
Nice rear light

The Varia RTL515 is a nice rear light, extremely bright with different blinking modes. Works well with my Garmin EDGE device. Easy to set up with the EDGE device. I would have given 5 stars but the alert sound is at a frequency and volume I cannot hear with no way to increase volume. It doesn't give any feedback on whether it is on or off either when to turn it on or off. You have to guess whether you held the button down 1 and 1/2 seconds to turn it on, or 2 and 1/2 seconds to turn it off.

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Reviewed 9/10/2021
by BGSmitty
Cycling Enthusiast
Sonoma County, CA
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Fantastic product. Great Safety Upgrade!!!!

I was unaware of the product until very recently. On group rides on narrow roads a rider in front of me would call "CAR BACK" without mirrors and without looking back. I thought he had super-human hearing, as I didn't hear the car until much later. He told me about the Varia. It has never had a false-negative (ie NOTdetecting an approaching car) It will show another bike rider if he/she is closing on you ( I think this is a feature!) If other riders behind are at about the same speed, it won't alert. The only false-positives for approaching cars have been when on a frontage road to a highway, when approaching cars on the highway appear to be coming up behind you. This is the FIRST cycling upgrade my wife insisted I buy, as it adds to safety. I'm 61, so neither my hearing nor my flexibility to look back are improving. THIS IS A MUST HAVE for anyone that rides on narrow roads. GET IT, you can't afford not to.

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Reviewed 9/7/2021
by bikenswim
Cycling Enthusiast
Overland Park, KS
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Use with Ride with GPS for audible beeps through BT earbud

This is an amazing device that no one should ride without. I was using an older model of the Varia but with either a Garmin or Wahoo cycling computer I could only see the display of the radar but not hear the audible beep. I read a review that stated the newest Varia works with Ride with GPS and you can get a louder audible beep. It works fantastic. I am using a cheap Blue Tooth earbud with the hook so it doesn't fall out. Probably will move into a MIPS blue tooth helmet over the winter. I get a warning beep when cars are approaching which alerts me to look at the screen. I also get an all clear beep after traffic passes. If you have really good hearing and no wind noise this might not be necessary but was the deal breaker for me. I wish I could say the same for a Wahoo Elemnt which is under reporting my average speed and giving no ride data with the Wahoo livetrack. I hoped to get away from Garmin bugs but no such luck. Just traded two issues for two others. This combination above works with both Garmin and Wahoo. For safety's sake get one of these.

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Reviewed 8/12/2021
by CHT
Cycling Enthusiast
Chappaqua, NY
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Hate to ride without it!

I read all the positive reviews saying this is a device you never thought you needed but can't ride without. It's true!! I upgraded to a Garmin Edge 1030 plus from an old Edge 800, and soon bought the Varia headlight and then the Varia VTL515 tailight. The Edge integration is great, the light if very bright, and the radar feature is truly something that provides some comfort in tricky intersections and small shoulder roads. I also like having it on gravel and backcountry fire roads because I can take my favored line without worrying about looking back on sketchy surfaces for an a ATV, dirt bike or 4WD vehicle coming. It won't prevent you from getting hit, but does let you know how much shoulder you can occupy safely as whether it's clear to make a left turn from the right shoulder. It's by far one of the best cycling devices I've bought (love my Edge 1030 as well as my headlight mount under the Edge). If you are on the fence, I recommend you go for it.

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Reviewed 8/13/2021
by sjc
Cycling Enthusiast
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Excellent safety device

I've used the 515 for a couple months and I think this is a nearly essential piece of safety equipment. Connection to my Edge 830 is seamless and the the amount of information regarding the number of cars, distance, speed, etc is extremely helpful. I haven't attempted to calibrate the detection distance, but the unit alerts me to vehicles long before I usually hear them. I've had a few false positives, but almost no false negatives, which is key. My only complaint is that I rarely get more than 7-8 hours of use before it needs to be recharged and there doesn't appear to be a way to get a quantitative measure of remaining battery life.

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Reviewed 7/29/2021
by jen4choice
Cycling Enthusiast
Albany, NY
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
WATCH OUT!

A lot pricier than your average tail light...but then again, your average tail light doesn't sync up to your Garmin head unit to alert you when cars are coming. I really like how it displays the cars as dots on the screen, and then goes green / clear after they pass.

Also picks up cyclists too, which can be a tad confusing at times. But overall, glad I made the investment in extra safety on the road.

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Reviewed 7/12/2021
by David
Moreland Hills
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
Amazing product

A must have. The updates 515 has Bluetooth so you can connect to a phone app that gives super loud alerts. Battery life is better too. It has never been wrong and will ALWAYS let you know that a car is there. You occasionally get false positives but that is okay. Just makes you more careful.

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Reviewed 7/16/2021
by Brent
Casual Cyclist
Gallatin, TN
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Great little safety device

Great little device for warning you about approaching traffic from behind. I have mine paired to my 520 Plus computer up front but I cannot hear the beeps due to high frequency hearing loss. I also have it paired to my iPhone and connected to the Varia app. This allows me to start up the app, run the phone volume all the way up and then put my phone in one of my rear jersey pockets - now I have enough volume to hear the audible tones and be alert to approaching traffic. The ability to connect it to multiple Bluetooth devices is a great feature. I love it!

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Reviewed 7/5/2021
by Jim Shannon
Cycling Enthusiast
Knoxville, TN
Value Rating
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
Safety is Important

The RTL515 works great and connects easily to my Garmin 520 Plus. I like that when the battery is low a message appears on the computer. To get the most out of the battery I always use the flashing mode. Regardless of the mode the light is plenty bright. You can use this with the phone app, but it is sometimes flaky, but I think it is the app. Sometimes the pairing drops for no apparent reason, but generally reconnects. Never a connection issue with the computer, however. I found connecting works best when you first turn on the unit. After it pairs, then change to a different mode. If you use any other Bluetooth/Ant+ devices, turn on after the Varia is all set. I use earbuds as the warning sound from the app is much louder than coming off the computer without them, but it still is sufficient. I've never had a false negative meaning it not picking up a vehicle when it was actually there. Occasionally, there will be a false positive, i.e. other riders if farther back in a group. Up & down hills it will lose a vehicle if detected at one time, but will pick it up again when the road flattens. It would be nice if Garmin would tweak the unit for more vertical detection for consistency.

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Reviewed 7/5/2021
by Anonymous
Cycling Enthusiast
Rural / suburban Texas
Value Rating
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
Better than expected.

Since I use a mirror, I wasn't sure this would add a lot of safety to my riding, however, I've been pleasantly surprised that I'm often alerted to the presence of an approaching car well before I notice it in my mirror. I don't use the function that allows you to watch an approaching vehicle on your smartphone. This seemed like more of a distraction than a benefit, so I never entertained using it. I do ride on backroads where cars can appear from a driveway or crossroad with little warning, so I have been very pleased with the Varia keeping me aware of vehicles. The audible tone is transmitted (Bluetooth) to my hearing aids without bothering nearby riders. Besides, several of them have their own Varia, which I hadn't noticed until I got mine. By the way, I think it picks up vehicles at a greater distance than 140 meters, but I haven't actually measured it. This does everything as advertised, which is kind of a new experience!

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Reviewed 7/9/2021
by Desert Dave
Cycling Enthusiast
Southwest USA
Value Rating
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
Changed my perception!

It was on sale. I thought it was a gimmick. I gave it a try. Changed my awareness on the bike. Added safety. Like many other reviews here, I didn't think this idea had much merit before using it. But, it gives me a 360 degree sense while on the bike that I never had before. It sees anything that is approaching from behind -- cars, trucks, other bicycles -- as long as their speed exceeds my own. Fabulous. I am really glad I got this device and would recommend it highly. Integrates perfectly with my 530. Like all Garmin stuff it's just a bit too expensive, but works as advertised.

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Reviewed 7/9/2021
by Blackbird
Cycling Enthusiast
North Carolina
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Excellent technology to improve on bike awareness and overall safety

Truly amazing technology when package with Garmin's computer's. How do you place a value on safety. This truly adds to overall cycling safety and awareness of your surroundings. Sync's easily and great battery life. Whether you ride on roads, trails or other...the sensitivity is impressive. The only potential negative for road riders in significant traffic, I suspect you'll grow weary of the constant signals. However for infrequent traffic, country roads or simply worrying about the occasional rider coming-up behind you, truly impressive safety tool! Will never ride without it...

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Reviewed 9/9/2021
by Hal
Cycling Enthusiast
Georgia
Value Rating
Overall Rating
This light is a game changer for safety!

I love knowing when cars are approaching fro so far back. I have an Italian racing mirror but with the wind and road noise you don't always know something is back. The combination of mirror and radar is fabulous and I don't feel comfortable without them. I don't particularly like the rubber band mount. A fixed mount would be better but with so many seat posts designs I can see how it would be difficult.

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Reviewed 6/25/2021
by DVP_Mich
Daily Commuter
Kalamazoo MI
Value Rating
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
Better than I expected for alerting me.

I never expected the multiple cars to be shown so accurately. I have it paired with EDGE 1000. The Coloring Alert displays well no matter what the underlying screen is, even the temporary direction guidance or lap notifications. Always pairs automatically !! The ONLY Draw back is the rubber band mounts, I did buy the permanent screw on mount. I have also paired it with my VioActive 3 [non-music] I do not find that to be helpful, on the screen on the handlebars is where this device shines. I commute regularly so am often in low light conditions that cars should have lights on but don't. This supplemented with a good mirror to verify cars are moving over is the way to go. BTW I love the EVT Safe Zone Mirror Large surface and out from eyeball can see quite a bit.

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Reviewed 6/14/2021
by kaltech NJ
Cycling Enthusiast
New Jersey
Value Rating
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
Much needed safety device

At first I thought this was a gimmick and didn't need it, but after using it now after 5 rides this is one of the best upgrades to you cycling safety. It just works in telling you cars are approaching, great for making left turns across traffic, could never look that far around. You must watch when going over hills the cars are hidden until you are in line of site. works the best out in the country. I even got my wife one because at events she bikes solo!

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Reviewed 8/28/2021
by Anonymous
Cycling Enthusiast
NY
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Will never ride without it again!

I love it. I used to right with just a tail light and thought it was a little overkill for radar. But after a few months with it, I can easily say I'd never ride without it. Can't count how many times it's alerted me to oncoming cars that I didn't hear, or 2 cars approaching together that I would have missed thee second car. Really invaluable tool for safety. Gives me a little more peace of mind out on thee roads. Definitely recommend.

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Reviewed 5/13/2021
by Low Country Biker
Cycling Enthusiast
Charleston SC/ Chicago Il
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
This REALLY works!!!!

I have bee using a Garmin 510 for at least six years. After a recent software update I noticed this radar unit listed in the menu. Upon a little research I found that with the update this unit was compatible with older Garmin units. I purchased this rear light/ radar unit and have been using it for the past month. I've been impressed with its performance and ease of use. I ride mostly on paved county/ farm type roads and average about 700 miles month. The unit warns me when traffic appears about 400 ft behind and graphically shows the progression toward me. I have found it very helpful when I have to merge into a traffic lane. I always look before moving but this shows the gaps in traffic and lets me know when to look back. Good product

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Reviewed 5/5/2021
by Bill B
Cycling Enthusiast
Massachusetts
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Must Have Safety Component!

This product has made my rides a lot less stressful. I love getting a warning that a car is approaching before I can hear it. When I'm flying down a hill it's comforting to glance down at my Wahoo Element Roam, and see a nice green line, letting me know that the road is all mine. I would have bought one sooner had I soon it was compatible with my Wahoo device. I was proud to say goodbye to the little mirror on my sunglasses. This is much better, and I like a little cooler!!

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Reviewed 8/12/2021
by Anonymous
Overall Rating
Love it

Can't say enough about how much more peace of mind the radar gives me while riding. It almost always spots cars before I hear them, beeps loudly enough to be noticed, and gives a clear sense for whether they're coming in particularly hot. I now own two of these and bought a third as a birthday present for my sister in law. Would recommend without hesitation.

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Reviewed 8/13/2021
by Anonymous
Cincinnati Ohio
Overall Rating
It's easy to use and frankly love it

The setup on it was simple and easy to pair wirh my wahoo edge. I feel a lot more comfortable on the road knowing more about where cars are relative to me. I'm also impressed with it's ability to detect speeds and change color on my screen.

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