Garmin Varia Computer

According to the smooth voice over narration in Garmin’s latest product video, 40% of cycling fatalities occur when riders are struck from behind by a car or truck. In order to create a safer cycling environment, the new Varia Rearview Radar system is designed to warn cyclists that vehicles are approaching from behind.

This technology was developed by a South African startup named iKuba, which Garmin purchased earlier this year. The basic package has since been refined and is now able to work independently or wirelessly integrate with compatible Garmin Edge computers.

Garmin Varia tail lightThe radar detector is capable of notifying cyclist that a vehicle is approaching from behind at a range of 153 yards or 140m. It can also detect multiple vehicles (up to eight), their relative speed, and threat level.

Garmin Edge 1000 Varia Notification system

There are several different ways of taking advantage of this technology. The most cost effective if you already own an Edge 100o is purchasing the rear tail light for $199. This unit houses the radar system and as traffic approaches, can be set to flash with increasing intensity as help notify oncoming vehicles of your presence.Garmin Varia Radar Bundle

If you don’t have a Garmin Computer already, you can order a Radar Bundle that includes a head unit and tail light for $299.

Later this year, a headlight will also be introduced that will pair with the headunit or Edge computers via ANT +. This will allow both lights to automatically adjust to conditions depending on speed and and ambient light.

For more info, visit Garmin

28 COMMENTS

  1. Neat.
    Personally, I can’t wait till more cars are equipped with bike detection and crash avoidance systems – basically preventing the driver from hitting cyclist due to inattention or something else.

  2. Sony ActionCam mounted on seatpost and pointed back with Live View attachment mounted on handlebar works just fine.

  3. Personally I’m appalled at Garmin’s use of “scare-tactic” advertising in the product video. Heavy breathing…melodramatic music…an oversized truck creeping up on an unknowin cyclist as if it’s out TO run him over! Way to encourage cyclists to get out and enjoy their ride Garmin…

  4. What’s the actionability of the information this device provides? Is this for nervous riders looking for something to tell them when to jump into the ditch?

  5. What b said. How does staring at a device improve your reaction time? God forbid you use your senses and pay attention. I’ll teach you how to do both in a nice little bundle for $289.

  6. b, my gf rides a recumbent and it limits your ability to turn and see behind and the mirror isn’t steady enough a lot of times to see. For that situation it will give you more awareness that you can’t get due to the bike.

  7. What are you supposed to do with this info? Jump out of the road and into a bush when a car approaches?

    This seems like a great way to make people have carphobia and get anxiety every time a car approaches.

  8. Oh, there is a car behind me, oh there is another car behind me, oh there is a third car behind me…car 4, car 5, 6, 7….257, 258….worthless.

  9. There is no way he would not hear that big diesel engine. Cheaper to get some cat ears to block wind noise and hear better.

  10. I can see its usefulness the flashing rear light with vairable intensity will attract attention but i urge caution here dont rely 100% on technology stay alert and focused, personally i cant wait till the google type car is upon us with its crash avoidance mitigation system if humans habit doesnt change then the technolgy of the car must make the right decisions for them!

  11. Some of these negative posts are ridiculous. From the video it seems the device pulsates a stronger, brighter signal when the vehicle may be in direct line with the cyclist’s current path. On the flipside, the cyclist is warned when the path of the vehicle is in line with his bike. Depending on the shoulder width, there may be an opportunity for the cyclist to take additonal action to get out of the way. It depends. If someone feels more comfortable with this early warning detection for both the cyclist and the oncoming vehicle, what’s the harm? I really don’t see a downside here.

  12. Awareness of what’s approaching is a “nice to have”, but the tail light response that increases the riders visibility to the approaching vehicle is a significant improvement.

  13. Clever idea but I fail to see how this device will actually make cycling safer. Assuming you don’t ride with ear buds and music, which is just a stupid idea, you should be able to hear *most* approaching vehicles.

    Yes, I know there are cars that are very quiet and on windy days it is a challenge to hear anything but a constant reminder from an electronic nanny will soon be ignored.

  14. I’m with Doug since my $15 ‘Take a Look’ mirror proves invaluable on road rides. In fact, my cycling club requires every rider to have some type of mirror when participating in group rides. Amazing how many roadies won’t use them…too self-conscious about their appearance/image I guess.

  15. unfortunately, it wouldn’t always help…this week in Sacramento a driver very deliberately ran down three cyclists on a popular local route. Two of the victims are teenagers and one is in a coma. The driver has been charged with 18 counts, including 3 counts of attempted murder. This story has devastated northern CA’s large cycling community…
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article25982410.html
    be careful out there

  16. +1 to mirrors. They detect even silent electric cars (unlike ears, sometimes), they tell you whether or not the cars appear to give you enough room (unlike this gadget), they allow you to keep forwards traffic in your peripheral vision at the same time as you’re looking backwards, it’s much faster than turning your head, the resolution is higher than any camera, no charging is needed, and they’re dead cheap.

  17. Combine this with a rear facing camera (something like the Fly6) and I’m in.

    @Efrain: “Compatible with Edge 1000; compatibility with Edge Touring Plus/810/510/25 coming via a software update in Q3”. As well as the new Edge 520.

  18. The beginning of some interesting technology. I have been using a small mirror attached to my sunglasses for years despite my cycling buddies relentless teasing. Its all about situational awareness especially when riding in an urban area like I do. The radar looks promising, however I like to see whats coming up on me. Stay safe out there guys.

  19. I agree that in an urban, or high traffic area this probably wouldn’t be all that useful. There’s ALWAYS a car (or many) behind you. But in the rural/semi-rural ares where I ride, the two lane 45-50mph road with no shoulder dominates. In this case, there’s plenty of time where there’s nothing behind you for minutes to 10’s of minutes at a time. When a car approaches at 50mph+ you can’t often hear it until it’s too close to do anything about. With 140m range @ 50mph, that gives you 6+ seconds to see there’s something there, check your mirror and decide if it’s a threat or not. For $200 it’s a no brainer.

    Now the pathetic 16 lumen light, that needs some work. That’s not going to get the attention of a texter with only 1/2 of one eye on the road, sometimes. My Flare R blinks at 65 lumens, and that’s pretty attention getting.

  20. I agree with Tims comment, I recently moved to a lower population state and county and I do a lot of group riding and some solo on roads and gravel roads.
    Like Tim said, one could go for miles w/o seeing a car, then have 2 or 3 in a row,

    This is not a great solution For city only riders, but I think it has great potential.

    And it’s not just a scare tactic. Cyclists do get hit from behind.

  21. Is there any radiation risk? I only ask because of the cancer police officers got from putting the radar gun between their legs when chasing a speeder.

  22. A fantastic first stab at the potential here. Can’t wait to see where this will go! In the interim I will def be hooking one of these up to my Edge1000.

  23. I just ordered one. I always use a mirror and will not ride without it. We ride rural and high traffic areas. My friend will not wear a mirror and has difficulty turning her neck so hoping it will help her. In rural mountain areas here in Santa Cruz, I have actually had my knee brushed by a car even though I have excellent hearing. Sometimes I tend to zone out or get tired on the bike so hoping it will assist in those cases. As my friend says you can’t have too much information. you can always choose to ignore it. The Lumen’s seem very low so not sure how effective the light is at getting attention. I may keep my Light and Motion Vis 180 on board as it’s great.

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