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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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(123 customer reviews)
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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 8/13/2021
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 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 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 7/9/2021
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 7/5/2021
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 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 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 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 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 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 3/22/2021
by Merlin
Cycling Enthusiast
Portland, OR
Value Rating
Overall Rating
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.
Game changer for safety.

I use this with my new Garmin 1030 Plus. I feel much better now when turning left. Even with a mirror, I like the radar for giving me the added security!

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Reviewed 1/7/2021
by Sooner
Southwest WA state
Overall Rating
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.
Wonderful safety product!

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!

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Reviewed 11/19/2020
by Paul F
Cycling Enthusiast
Franklin Mass
Value Rating
Overall Rating
Great kight for visibility on the rear and radar function

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.

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Reviewed 8/23/2020
by BKane
Competitive Racer
Western Maryland
Value Rating
Overall Rating
3 of 3 customers found this review helpful.
Immediately indispensable

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.

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