Garmin’s Varia rearview radar family expands its options for cyclists looking to improve ride safety by alerting them to cars approaching from behind. And now you don’t need a Garmin GPS computer or dedicated Varia head unit – a mobile phone can display the alerts as you ride over Bluetooth. Plus, the core RTL515 radar sensor+taillight combination gets updated functionality, while the new radar-only sensor RVR315 delivers the same ride safety at a more affordable price without the integrated blinkie light.
Garmin Varia App now brings radar alerts to mobile phones
The whole idea of Garmin’s Varia rearview radar is simple: alert cyclists of cars approaching quickly from behind via a display on your handlebar so you don’t need to turn around. At first it may seem like technological overkill (you could get a bar end or helmet mirror, or just turn your head). But for cyclists who spend a lot of time out riding solo or training on the road, the simple Varia function and its added security is hard to argue with.
But until now, on top of the price of the $200 that the Varia RTL510 cost, you had to buy a dedicated Varia display for another $100 is you didn’t already have a Garmin Edge GPS head unit.
Now, a new Varia App for iOS or Android means you can connect the Varia radar directly to your mobile phone to display alerts while riding.
Color coded alerts signal proximity: green means all is clear, yellow is a car approaching, red Is a car approaching at high speed.
And third-party communication with mobile apps like Ride with GPS, means you get the ability to see the oncoming car alerts overtop or ride tracking maps.
Garmin Varia RTL515 rearview radar & taillight combo
The updated combo RTL515 looks essentially unchanged from the previous generation RTL510, packing the Varia rearview radar into a high visibility taillight. Inside though, there are a number of functional improvements – most notably new Bluetooth LE added to ANT+ to connect to more devices.
Light output is the same, topping out at 65 lumens in daytime flash for up to 1mi/1600m visibility, 29 lumens in night flash, and 20 lumens on solid. Daytime flash run time increases an hour to 16h, while 6hr remains the same for night flash & solid modes. The new Varia combo also gets a new peloton mode to drop down to a low-intensity 8 lumen flash when you are riding in a group, so as to not blind other cyclists (for 8hrs). Radar runtime is as long as the light is running.
The new tech fits into the same 71g 99x40x20mm tall casing, and the updated Varia RTL515 sells for the same $200 price as the previous generation.
Garmin Varia RVR315 standalone rearview radar
All new though, is the even more affordable Varia RVR315. Pared back to just the review radar tech itself, the sensor-only device gets the same BLE & ANT+ connectivity to transmit to the display of your choice on the handlebar.
The radar-only RVR315 is a bit smaller & lighter at 51g and 72x40x20mm, but has a decreased battery life of just 7 hours, meaning it will require more frequent recharging.
But at $150 (and without the need to buy a secondary display), the all-new Varia RVR315 is likely to open up rearview radar to more cyclists out riding & training amongst the cars.
Both new Varia devices mount with Garmin 1/4 turn adapters and provide both visible, vibrate & audible alerts when paired with capable Garmin displays or a phone running the app, warning of approaching vehicles up to 140m/ 460′ behind the rider. You can even setup you Varia to pair with both a head unit & phone to use the mobile device as a backup if the other runs out of power.
Varia review radar is available now.