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.
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.
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!
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.
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...
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.
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!
While this unit is not cheap, it lets your Garmin computer sync and provide information about cars approaching from the rear. Far enough range and give a bit more peace of mind when on the road. Picks up cars long before I hear them approaching.
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
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!!
It's a great tool to know whether you have traffic sneaking up behind you to remind you to pull to the right. Super useful on roads with light traffic since you will be constantly alerted if you are riding along a busy street. The only improvement I would like to see is a more secure way to mount to the seat post. The rubber band is pretty slim.
For a long time, I didn't think a Varia was necessary. I used a "dumb" rear light for several years. But, given some of the roads that we ride, I decided to try it out.
I'm impressed. The combination of the Varia with my Garmin head unit provides a much better than expected warning of approaching cars. There's an additional measure of awareness that I'm sure that I didn't know I was missing.
I' can't ride without it now.
Wish I had bought this sooner than I did! Held off for years using helmet mounted mirror! That was dumb! This is so much safer...works perfectly with my Edge 830! Only challenge I had was where to mount it as am also using a camera on seat post. Saw where some folks had mounted to seat bag using a home-made bracket! I did this and it works well - movement of the bag does not seem to bother it! Got caught in rain storm which didn't stop it from working but killed the camera! Only suggestion to Garmin is to add provsion for a safety cord as they have on the Edge units!
excellent battery life
great app for battery and warning of approaching vehicles
Garmin computer syncs seamlessly with the light, and you as a rider can get prepared for passing cars with plenty of warning, ~ 1 mile on a straight road, less on curvy roads. Love it! feel naked riding without one now!
I think this is a must have safety item unfortunately these days, with so many distracted drivers and so many large vehicles that approach us way too close for comfort.
The Varia RTL515 has immediately become indispensable for me. I ride mostly country roads and have never been able to get used to a helmet mirror, so the Varia is great. It picks up vehicles at the same time as my riding partners with mirrors. The battery life is fantastic - no problem for 100+ mile rides. Garmin undersells what I think is a great feature - the reactive-blink tail light. I think drivers intuit that increasing blinking to mean you know they're there, and they are less apt to brush you with their side view mirror. The only feature/flaw that I see as a negative is that any vehicle that appears on the radar then matches your speed disappears! Once you realize that, you can adjust your perceptions accordingly, but this characteristic of the radar could be in all caps in the manual. Overall, not inexpensive but worth every penny.
This product to me is a game changer. I bought this because with the pandemic I was mainly riding alone and felt more vulnerable to cars than in a group of 20 riders. This tells you without looking that a car is coming from about 1 1/2 football fields away (I think actually 143 meters). You can see it approaching you and how fast. I know if I happen to be riding side by side to mover over or if by myself to move as far right as I can. Even if there are things in the road like a hole or debris I know if I can just go right around it or if I need to slow down because there is a car. The brightness of the flashing rear light increases as does the frequency when it detects a car. There is also an audible tone if you want and colors of the approaching car to indicate how fast it is approaching. I see people riding with mirrors but this if far superior. I think at $199 it is the deal of the century. Seems more than worth it to avoid getting hit by a car. Battery life is great. Syncs perfectly every time to my Garmin. Easily can be transferred from bike to bike. Takes about 30 seconds.