How would you classify yourself as a rider? Are you a roadie, weekend warrior, commuter or just a general cycling enthusiast? Well, it doesn’t really matter because the Garmin Varia Radar is the tail light we’ve been waiting for
Simply put, it’s brilliant. The Varia brightens as cars approach from behind and alerts the rider of the oncoming traffic. Got a Garmin Edge or Forerunner? All the better- Varia will pair with them and show you how close the vehicle(s) is/are on their screen.
I know what you’re thinking- radar…on a bike? Unnecessary, silly, overkill, the list goes on. But at a time where distracted driving is at an all-time high and accidents are occurring almost daily, personally, I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to being safe on my bike.
Sporting a stealth- black housing, the radar mounts up easily to all shapes and sizes of seatposts. Installation takes less than a minute and features Garmin’s trademark quarter-turn mount for quick attachment and removal.
Out and about, the Varia is pretty slick. Flash and steady on modes are available and can be used as a stand alone unit. But once paired with my Edge it immediately sensed traffic approaching before even rolling off the sidewalk, flashing brighter as the car closed in. Pairing is done the same way as standard speed/cadence sensor and displays waves in the upper right corner of Edge’s screen to let you know it’s connected. There is even a slick light bar that appears when cars are behind you approximating their distance away and closing rate in real time.
On a recent group ride we created a ‘network’ of Edge computers connect linked to my light. My fellow riders then received the same beep and flashing notifications I did; even those without an Edge could hear the noise and be alerted to the “CAR BACK”. To top it off the Varia is smart enough to turn off post-ride when the head unit is powered down. All in all, pretty cool stuff.
Now obviously the Varia Radar is not a substitute for being an attentive rider. But it’s fairly safe to say that at some point you’ve been on a ride and suddenly caught by surprise when a car comes up quickly behind you. If this device saves you once, the Varia has justified its purchase. Be safe, be seen and be smart- stop by the shop to check one out.
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