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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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(114 customer reviews)
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Reviewed 5/9/2022
by Ben in Tacoma
Cycling Enthusiast
Tacoma WA
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Excellent product for every road

The Garmin Varia RTL515 has improved my overall feeling of safety on the road ever since I turned it on. It has a very bright light that is easily seen by motorists. The radar is great at picking up traffic coming up from behind and it will notify you on your had unit and start blinking to make motorists aware of your position. I would 100% buy this product again based on how helpful it is in ensuring safety.

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Reviewed 5/24/2022
by USA1169
Cycling Enthusiast
Hood River, Oregon
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Essential kit in rural areas, I now feel naked without it!

Four years ago I got the RTL510 version of this (no bluetooth) and paired it with a Wahoo Bolt. That combo has been the single best bit of kit that I have added in ten years. If you ride in urban areas I would probably skip it as the radar will go off constantly, but in suburban and rural areas it is absolutely worth every penny. My first unit worked perfectly, the only reason I upgraded tp the RTL 515 is that after about fifteen thousand miles the battery life degraded from just over four hours to just over three (with the light on solid... if you use the flasher it has much longer life). Just finishing a month in France riding almost every day and the newer RTL 515 has been every bit as solid, with battery life exceeding 4.5 hours on solid. The few times I have gone out without it I feel naked. This from a guy that never used a tail light because it seemed like just one more think to complicate my life.

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Reviewed 6/4/2022
by scottf
Cycling Enthusiast
east coast
Value Rating
Overall Rating
game changer

I'm not the guy to be nervous or fear the traffic but this brings a whole new level of comfort. While this thing isn't cheap, I can't help but think what a bargain it is for what it does. I agree with some others about using it in urban or high traffic areas, the thing will just be flashing and beeping the whole time but other than that I can see this thing being standard equipment in the future.

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Reviewed 4/4/2022
by GR
Cycling Enthusiast
Crescent City, CA
Value Rating
Overall Rating
An extra measure for safety while riding.

This device makes a wonderful addition to my cycling experience. I get notified as traffic approaches and how many vehicles there are within 253 feet behind me. I can see the speed of their approach and I am notified when all is clear. Also, the light flashes more intensely and quickly while traffic is approaching and so it provides better information to the drivers behind me about my presence. The only downside experience I had was a with the Garmin 830 controlling the light, type of flash and turning it off. Now, I could intervene on the head unit and reselect the flash type I wanted, but turning the Varia off that became a problem, surprisingly. It turns off the light when the Varia is switched off but leaves the Varia's Bluetooth on which runs down the battery. I did find the command in the settings to turn this feature off which works better for me.

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Reviewed 5/26/2022
by Snowtracker X
Cycling Enthusiast
Boyne Falls Mi.
Value Rating
Overall Rating
After a couple rides with the Garmin RTL 515 Radar light. I can not ride without it.

I purchased the Garmin radar light to use on my new Diverge gravel bike. It really gives me a good feeling of knowing what is going on around me when traveling on a road to the trailhead, dirt and gravel roads.

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Reviewed 3/10/2022
by Tom
Cycling Enthusiast
Santa Cruz, CA
Value Rating
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
All the other reviews are true!

All the reviews raving about how good this product is are true. I feel naked riding along a public road without this gadget. Now with that said, in true Garmin fashion it is grossly overpriced for what it is, but I think as a safety device it still delivers enough value to be a good buy. Just don't pay full price for one.

Battery life has been fine for me as long as I remember to charge it every couple of rides. (I ride almost every day)

The mount is crap. Buy a proper seat mount and you will be much happier and your device will be much more secure. I strongly recommend the BUP Labs mounts. They are excellent.

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Reviewed 2/6/2022
by Gary
Cycling Enthusiast
Palm Desert
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Great Item fffor on coming traffic cofirmation

I just came back from a 3.5 hour ride. The radar worked great and helps on the left turns.

I have a back neck therefore my neck twisting is limited. This is an added safety feature for me along with a good rear view mirror.

The drawback is that I only had a 3% charge left in my edge 520 when I got home.

A longer ride and it may stop functioning due to the edge battery being drained.

My back up is the "Ride with GPS" app on my phone

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Reviewed 1/31/2022
by Anonymous
Cycling Enthusiast
Santa Cruz, CA
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Really Really Useful. Better than I had hoped

Adequate as a tail light goes, but there are brighter out there for that. However the radar integration with the Edge is really first rate. My one gripe, and it is only one, is that i wish there were a quick easy way to temporarily mute alerts for a short period time. Think "Mute for 5min" or "mute for 1/2mile" kind of thing. Riding along frontages that parallel a highway is maddening with the alerts, but on the country roads this is really a terrific gadget. I don't think it will still a car from hitting me, but it will sure help me avoid pulling out in front of one accidentally.

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Reviewed 1/14/2022
by Anonymous
Cycling Enthusiast
Austin, TX
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Worth it to have better situational awareness on the road. And the light is nice and bright as well

I ride about 150 miles per week on mixed city and country roads. The varia really helps prevent surprises when you can't hear cars behind you. A friend of mine is looking to replace his old RTL 500 with the new 515, just because the light is so much better.

The only negatives have to do with battery life. By default it is set up in daylight-always-on mode which only gets you 5-6 hours of runtime. The configuration setting are more complex than they should be, but you can eventually get it to a flashing mode where it is only active when the ride timer is running. That should get 10-12 hours.

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Reviewed 12/15/2021
by Pai2ul
San Jose, CA
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Improves awareness!

Using it with a Garmin 530 and paired to my iPhone running the Varia app. I ride with one bluetooth earbud to hear directions and alerts, the variations app relays all the visualization with tones so I don't need to look at the screen.

Used it in a group ride scenario on quiet and busy roads and it works really well, only alerts to other cyclists when the speed differential is large.

It definitely builds my awareness of the surrounding road users.

I docked it one star for the seat post attachment, the rubber band has worked for me in the past for things like cadence and shell sensors, but using it for something that is removed all the time to charge is not very viable in the long term. Fortunately there are plenty of places offering 3d prints of replacement mounts now and will give on a try.

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Reviewed 4/15/2022
by Moe
Cycling Enthusiast
Arizona
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Don't leave home without it.

This is one of the best safety upgrades one can put on a bike. I'm 65yrs young and have a bit of trouble looking back to see any upcoming vehicles this light let's me know when upcoming traffic is coming but it is a good habit to still look just to be sure.

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Reviewed 5/20/2022
by Ted
Portland, OR
Overall Rating
Life saver

I bought this from REI and it works great with my Wahoo Roam. This is one of my best safety devices - worth every penny.

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Reviewed 11/19/2021
by michael
Competitive Racer
Portland, OR
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Gives you peace of mind and changes your perceptions of what roads you think are busy

The first thing I noticed was the underlying nagging anxiety you have about approaching cars on challenging roads goes away pretty quickly. You may find yourself using the better pavement parts of the road instead of the gravel strewn shoulder. You still should always check behind you.

Next I noticed that some of the roads I used to ride white knuckled really only had very few cars per mile and it's changed my ideas of what roads I'm more willing to ride.

Double edged sword of constantly reminding you there are cars behind you on busy roads.

The mount is kinda slick but I don't like that it's held on by a glorified rubber band, you can double them up or buy the fixed mount, but the fixed mount rubbed my legs.

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Reviewed 3/7/2022
by velodvm
Competitive Racer
Tucson and Iowa
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Best safety device available

I love being able to see when cars are approaching. On bad roads I can ride in the better pavement but move over to the edge when cars are passing. When riding with a friend we will ride 2 abreast on county roads but one of us goes up and one goes back when cars are approaching. Sometimes there is no better place to be but even then it is good to know when there are no cars approaching.

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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 9/7/2021
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 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 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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