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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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Game Changer - Almost perfect
by Anonymous
Cycling Enthusiast
Altanta
6 of 6 customers found this review helpful.

Safety on the road has always been a concern. As a result I often am twisting my neck to see if there are cars behind. This is especially true when I ride 2 abreast with a friend (I choose to change to single file if I know a car is behind). Yes I have tried every mirror option available (helmet, bike handlebars, etc...) none of them consistently gave me the confidence that I knew what was behind me.

But the Vario does what it says. An audible as well as visual warning, well before I can hear a car coming. It was 100% accurate-I was quite impressed. What happens when 1 car passes you? Well, the noise of the 1st car makes it impossible to be certain if there is another car or now, so you have to turn your neck, which invariably means you sway a bit (even if just a little) in your lane. The Vario addresses this too. The red warning lights stay on if there is a 2nd or 3rd car until all cars have passed-genius.

I am a Wahoo user and it paired just fine with my Elemnt Bolt, full functionality.

Why almost perfect? One of my concerns is the poor driver who may drift out of their lane and hit me (much more of a problem with Cell Phones). My preference would be to have a camera that would show me that a car was getting dangerously close so I could head to the ditch and have some control of the outcome. Radar can't do that. So it is not all I could want but it is a massive improvement.

Had I realized how well it works I would have bought it sooner. Game changer!

Reviewed 5/26/2020
TriSports.com Comments
Thank you for such a well crafted review.
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It actually works
by Go dog go
hell road east

Up to 5 cars displayed each look like a lady bug crawling up the side of display . Typically picks a car up at 6 seconds back and triggers a beep on rural roads . Battery life is 2 ea 50 mile rides but should be longer . Weight and aero drag are minimal .

Reviewed 5/15/2022
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Excellent product for every road
by Ben in Tacoma
Cycling Enthusiast
Tacoma WA
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.

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.

Reviewed 5/9/2022
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Worthwhile safety feature
by MSPBiker
Daily Commuter
Saint Paul, MN

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.

Reviewed 8/5/2022
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Works great, wish the mounting system was better
by Alex
Boston, MA

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.

Reviewed 8/5/2022
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Won't road ride without it!
by Peggo
Cycling Enthusiast
Front Range Colorado

This is a great device for making me aware of vehicles behind me. I used the Varia app on my smartphone and strapped the phone to the bar. I was constantly amazed by how far away the radar sensed vehicles behind me. Both the graphic and audible alert on the phone are great! However, I do not like the large phone on the bars so have purchased a Garmin Edge 830 to use instead and hope the alerts on the Edge will help as much as the phone app did ! I was more relaxed riding having this one more tool in the box (besides listening, looking behind me and using a mirror). The radar picked up vehicles often before I could see any detail in my mirror or hear it so it helped me stay alert and avoided those last minute surprises that can happen when a fast vehicle suddenly shoots around you.

Reviewed 7/20/2022
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Gives some peace of mind
by Bill
Oxford, Georgia

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.

Reviewed 9/1/2022
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Essential kit in rural areas, I now feel naked without it!
by USA1169
Cycling Enthusiast
Hood River, Oregon
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.

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.

Reviewed 5/24/2022
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Must Have
by Brian
Mill Creek, WA

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!!!

Reviewed 8/8/2022
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I wouldn't ride without it....
by Garp
Cycling Enthusiast
Denver

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.

Reviewed 8/4/2022
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Wouldn't ride without it!
by HerbP
montclair, NJ

Another on-line review said there are two kinds of people: those who don't have a Varia and don't see the need for one and those who have one and wouldn't ride without it. I moved from the first group to the second.

Easy interface with Wahoo computer. I turned off the audible alerts: TMI and annoying. But glancing down from time to time I see what's coming well before I hear it. I've tried to catch it making errors but so far have not been able to. Even tells you how many cars are coming. The LED alerts are usually washed out in daylight so are not that helpful.

Reviewed 4/28/2022
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Amazing piece of safety gear
by Dave O
Cycling Enthusiast
Anacortes, WA
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.

I have my Varia RTL515 mounted on the back of my seat bag so the radar unit is positioned high for maximum distance and no interference from the rear tire. Although I like using it on small group rides it seems to be most beneficial on solo rides, keeping me aware of all rear approaching vehicles in plenty of time. The unit works as advertised and is living up to my expectations although I would have liked longer battery life. Isn't that always the case.

Reviewed 4/11/2022
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An extra measure for safety while riding.
by GR
Cycling Enthusiast
Crescent City, CA

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.

Reviewed 4/4/2022
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A game-changer, but a few limitations
by Anonymous
Cycling Enthusiast
SE CT
5 of 6 customers found this review helpful.

Have been using an RTL510 for 6-8 months, now won't ride without it. Useful in ways I hadn't imagined: (a) on fast descents when it's too dangerous to look back, it tells you if traffic is coming up behind you, (b) tells you if it's safe to move left to avoid bad pavement, (c) if you need to turn left, it helps you tell if a clot of traffic is approaching from behind, (d) while it doesn't display the lateral position of a vehicle passing you, you should expect a close pass if it shows that a pass is happening close to a blind corner or crest, or oncoming traffic. Also, I was unaware that its flash rate increases when traffic is approaching from behind until one day in my car I came up behind a RTL-equipped cyclist - quite a light show!

Limitations: (a) in high-traffic areas it will alert continuously (I avoid areas like that anyway), (b) if you are cycling along a secondary road paralleling an expressway, it may pick up traffic on the highway, (c) on curvy or rolling roads, terrain may block the radar beam long enough for a contact to be temporarily lost, reappearing as it gets closer. You should double-check with a head turn when it's important, because the RTL gives a low rate of false positives (not critical) and a lower rate of false negatives (critical!) in certain specific situations. The false positives seem to be triggered by motion-detecting lights or cameras (I routinely get false alerts when passing certain facilities). Occasionally it may temporarily show multiple dots when there is only a single vehicle, or "miss" a vehicle following closely behind another. False negatives happen when an upcoming vehicle slows to wait for a safe opportunity to pass me, so that it is going at my speed, no longer approaching me. If that situation persists long enough, that vehicle may vanish from my screen, making an abrupt left turn risky. Have gotten these false negs a number of times.

All in all, the RTL is a huge plus, greatly reducing the amount of shoulder-checking I have to do, so I wobble less and scan the road ahead more closely.

Reviewed 8/13/2020
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All the other reviews are true!
by Tom
Cycling Enthusiast
Santa Cruz, CA
2 of 2 customers found this review helpful.

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.

Reviewed 3/10/2022
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I simply wouldn't ride without it
by Eugene Kriegsmann
Cycling Enthusiast
Bonney Lake, WA
9 of 9 customers found this review helpful.

I have been using the earlier version of Varia Radar 2 for a bit over two years. I have been told by drivers, among them two FedEX drivers, that it is the most effective tail light they have ever seen. It was visible at a distance of more than a mile. It begins flashing as soon as a car comes within the radar range. I ride just about every day and I have never been surprised by a vehicle coming up behind me. My computer beeps and the display of the vehicle or vehicles approaching shows along the right side of my Edge 1030. I can judge the speed and distance of the approaching vehicle from the display. It really is a remarkable piece of equipment, and it sounds like they have made it even better. My unit will start giving me a low battery warning after about 4 hours on a ride. I have never run out of battery, but my rides don't usually last longer than 4 hours. The longer life battery is certainly not a waste. To give some idea of the sensitivity of the radar, I was once standing by the side of the road taking a break when a runner I had passed earlier approached. The computer beeped, and the display showed the runner approaching. That is pretty amazing. Yet, at the same time, when I have ridden with another rider, his presence is not noticed by the radar, only cars approaching us. The stimulus for the radar is something approaching, not something keeping pace with you. Recharge time is about an hour or less. It is, in my opinion, a necessity if you ride on the road. It will pair with most Edge computers and, also, with Wahoo computers.

Reviewed 5/19/2020
TriSports.com Comments
Very informative review.
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Great product
by Robert
Holly Ridge

This product was exactly what i was looking for and needed. I feel more comfortable riding on the road now knowing when cars are approaching from the rear. Everyone i bike with also enjoys it because they also know when a car is coming. The light is bright and battery lasts for several rides. Great product would highly recommend to anyone.

Reviewed 7/15/2022
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A must have
by Rob
KS

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. ??

Reviewed 7/8/2022
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Most Valuable Investment
by aerodienamic
Competitive Racer
Portland, OR

It might be an illusion of safety, or just something to make you more aware of what is happening behind you. I for one have been hit by a car, and this little device has made me feel more confident with being out on the road alone. I would recommend this to anyone who ride a lot outdoors. I would say that riding in an area with higher density of population (ie City with a lot of cars) its starts to lose it value, I found that its better out on an open road in a suburban or rural area.

Reviewed 2/14/2022
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Great Item fffor on coming traffic cofirmation
by Gary
Cycling Enthusiast
Palm Desert
1 of 1 customers found this review helpful.

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

Reviewed 2/6/2022
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