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.
You'll need a bike computer or Garmin watch, but assuming you have one (or both), this is a very worthwhile piece of safety equipment. It's quite reliable and easily understood. It pairs with your computer like any other sensor. I used to rely on listening for cars and looking over my shoulder before moving out into a lane. I still do both, but there are many times when I hear nothing and the Vario beeps to let me know someone is there.
I've had one of these for over a year and put it through some cold temps. Battery life has been great so far, as advertised even down into the upper 30's. The system itself can track multiple cars and has a nice beep warning when they are coming up on you. In an urban area, this can be pretty often, but it keeps you from veering into a car you wouldn't have seen otherwise.
It only comes with a mount to attach to a seat post, so cannot mount to a bag without some modifications. I poked a couple holes into my bag to get the screws in an it works great. Only other downside is no strap like the GPS's have to catch the unit if it falls off, so far it has not fallen off.
I ride mostly rural roads and use a small mirror but have cars still surprise me occasionally. Having this effective warning really gives me more confidence to enjoy my rides and feel a little safer. I recommend it highly.
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.
This radar with the tail light is a must have for anyone who rides on any roads. The tail light is great for getting the attention of the cars coming your way and the radar helps the rider know when a car is coming. I had the radar only version previously with a separate tail light but the integration of them in one unit is much better. All I can say is, this thing works and works very well!!!
I rode with the original and now I got this one. Both are great but the new one won't fit the short seat post on one of my bikes, so I use both. I wish there was a camera that would display at the bottom of my Garmin but this is close enough.
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.
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.
I read others reviews before purchasing and until you try it you will not know just how much you will be saying "Wow they were right. How did I do without it? The light on this is very bright and the radar has worked flawlessly. On a tour I was on there were some stretches with little to no shoulder and it helped to give me an alert way in advance of approaching vehicles. ??
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
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.
I mostly ride bike paths but due need to cross busy streets along with street riding between paths.
During these rides I encounter cars behind me.
Now thanks to my new Varia RTL515 Radar With Tail Light I am always aware of traffic and type of speed they are coming up behind me.
This is a fantastic device.
I highly recommend to all cyclists.
I'm pairing this with a Garmin 530 computer and it works quite well. The added visibility into traffic coming from behind is a much-appreciated addition for safety. For the cost, this is well worth it in my mind.
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.
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.