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Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts?
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Hello

Garmin released new version of it's Varia tail light/radar (review).

I am wondering what are the members of this community and owners of the device (of this or previous version) think of this light/radar on the spectrum from "tried it once, it's nice but kind of useless" to "absolutely worth the money I paid, I can't imagine riding without it and use it all the time" ?

I am debating whether I should buy it: on one hand it's pricey ($200), on the other hand seems like it might add to the safety of the rides.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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it's an amazing useful device for me...had it since release of v1
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I bought the old version when they put it on sale. It is freakin’ awesome. If you do any riding on open roads, it is highly useful.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I will reiterate what they said. It works well. Very useful.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I travel for work and bike on most longer trips, with the Garmin head unit the Varia is the first thing I pack. It just simply gives you eyes in the back of your head. You get used to the timing and you know when the vehicle will pass. I often hold my line at first alert for vehicle to see me and then start to make more room as I know it is about to pass. It works very well.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [ktm520] [ In reply to ]
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I used to make fun a friend that used the varia. Then I used it. I feel naked without it. The situational awareness you have with varia is underappreciated. 200 bucks is nothing if it avoids a potentially fatal interaction with a car. I have version 1 and the new version. Get the new version due to the extended battery life.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I'm in complete agreement with the previous posters. I absolutely love to after riding with a guy who had one, and previously thinking it was a gimmick. Now I cannot stand to be without it. Knowing where case are around me and how fast they are coming up puts the onus on me and makes ring so much more enjoyable. I also have noticed that since I have it the cars give me more room when passing. I also feel that because I see one coming on the screen I move over the drivers are more appreciative. Anything to be more aware and also keep the peace between car and cyclist is all good with me.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I had the old version and I just received the new one this weekend. As the other owners in this thread pointed out it gives you visibility, awareness and peace of mind. I feel naked without it. Best use scenario is riding alone in secondary roads. New version has some improvements such as more aero-friendly profile, decent power as daylight, almost doubled battery life, and a functional standby mode with automatic power on-off in sync with the head unit. If those are not important, the older version is on sale and the radar part is functionally identical.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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The 2nd gen is better than the original in both size and the brightness of the light. When I was using the original, I actually have to use another brighter tail light, now I don't have to. Along with the new shape, my seatpost is much less busy.

In terms of usefulness, it really depends, as other have said. I remember being startled many a time when a car whizzing by on the country roads. With the radar, you can see/hear it coming. That, to me, is the mostly useful application. I also commute on less busy roads, and it's also quite useful to see how many cars coming up so you can re-act to it depending on the situation. All in all, the radar adds to your situational awareness which leads to safety, I am more than glad to pay $200 for that.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I went with the Bontrager Flare and have loved it. The new Varia finally has the strength of the Flare. The Flare is substantially cheaper and works fine. The high beams stay on for 6-7 hours and you can see it, in daylight, over 1/2 mile away.

Inside The Big Ring Podcast, Interviews with Ironman Champions, Kona Qualifiers, and Training Tips


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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [Brandes] [ In reply to ]
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Brandes wrote:
I went with the Bontrager Flare and have loved it. The new Varia finally has the strength of the Flare. The Flare is substantially cheaper and works fine.
The Flare does not do radar, though. It is a different product category. (It is much better as a light than the first gen Varia radar.)
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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They are both rear lights and at the end of the day the main purpose is to provide visibility for an approaching car. I understand that the Varia alerts the rider of a car approaching and the flare doesn't.

What i'm getting at is the Flare is a very solid alternative for those not wanting to drop that much money on the Varia.

Inside The Big Ring Podcast, Interviews with Ironman Champions, Kona Qualifiers, and Training Tips


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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I have the original and although in concept it's a great product, the execution is terrible. The new version doesn't change this either.

My complaint: The audio alerts are worthless over 15mph. You simply can't hear them with any reliability. This leaves you in a situation where you have to be staring at your head unit all of the time or you are still going to be surprised by passing cars. It gives you about a 5 second warning with one tiny weak-ass "chirp" in the beginning. If you don't hear this almost useless "chirp" because of wind noise, and you don't look at the head unit for a few seconds, it's too late to see that a car is running up on you.

The radar detection works very well, but like I said, the weak-ass alerts make it almost worthless to me.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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I have the first version of the Varia radar and really like it. It's particularly useful on back roads where there is not a lot of traffic.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [Brandes] [ In reply to ]
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You are missing the big point of the thread - the usefulness of the radar. Having a tail light along with it is just a bonus. We all know the usefulness of the tail light and which is better has been discuseed many times before.

Brandes wrote:
They are both rear lights and at the end of the day the main purpose is to provide visibility for an approaching car. I understand that the Varia alerts the rider of a car approaching and the flare doesn't.

What i'm getting at is the Flare is a very solid alternative for those not wanting to drop that much money on the Varia.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [RZ] [ In reply to ]
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That's not the problem of the radar... it's the head unit, e.g. Edge 520, that doesn't have louder speaker.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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Ditto above about the loudness of the head unit. Though, I have never had a problem hearing my 520 beep in any circumstances at any speed.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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Key words in original post. LIGHT and RADAR.



Again, I understand the purpose. I'm giving an alternative because the original poster does seem to be concerned with the cost investment, he also mentioned that at the bottom of his post... so i am providing an alternative.



I am wondering what are the members of this community and owners of the device (of this or previous version) think of this light/radar on the spectrum from "tried it once, it's nice but kind of useless" to "absolutely worth the money I paid, I can't imagine riding without it and use it all the time" ?

Inside The Big Ring Podcast, Interviews with Ironman Champions, Kona Qualifiers, and Training Tips


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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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For those only hear Laurel, they don't hear the beep ;)
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [Brandes] [ In reply to ]
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I will NOT ride without it now that I've used for more than a year. The first gen's battery wasn't great and it will run out in less than 3 hours if I had both the radar and tai light on. And when that happens, I feel totally naked. As I mentioned before, the 2nd gen is much better in that regard as well.

So for me, I am definitely in the camp of "absolutely worth the money I paid, I can't imagine riding without it and use it all the time".
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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dalava wrote:
For those only hear Laurel, they don't hear the beep ;)
Haha, well done!
Brandes wrote:
I am wondering what are the members of this community and owners of the device (of this or previous version) think of this light/radar on the spectrum from "tried it once, it's nice but kind of useless" to "absolutely worth the money I paid, I can't imagine riding without it and use it all the time?"
I was in the camp that the radar was a frivolous expense. However, I needed a light anyway, and when Garmin put the original Vaira on sale for $150, it seemed like a worthwhile experiment. Anyway, I fell in love after my first ride. It is now one of those products I will never be without. I love it so much that I am thinking about buying the new version just to get the better light. I will never ride on open roads again without radar. The safety factor from the situational awareness is priceless.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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exxxviii wrote:
dalava wrote:
For those only hear Laurel, they don't hear the beep ;)

Haha, well done!
Brandes wrote:
I am wondering what are the members of this community and owners of the device (of this or previous version) think of this light/radar on the spectrum from "tried it once, it's nice but kind of useless" to "absolutely worth the money I paid, I can't imagine riding without it and use it all the time?"

I was in the camp that the radar was a frivolous expense. However, I needed a light anyway, and when Garmin put the original Vaira on sale for $150, it seemed like a worthwhile experiment. Anyway, I fell in love after my first ride. It is now one of those products I will never be without. I love it so much that I am thinking about buying the new version just to get the better light. I will never ride on open roads again without radar. The safety factor from the situational awareness is priceless.

This^^^^

How one can put $150 as a cost too high to know a car is approaching is surprising to me.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [ggeiger] [ In reply to ]
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The Varia radar is one of those products that, on the surface, seems frivolous. But as soon as you use it, you wonder how you ever ride without it. I've personally got more than a dozen of my friends to buy it after they experienced it themselves.

The Varia broadcasts its info to any Edge unit with a range. So on the next group ride, if you have an Edge device and any one of the rider has the Varia, connect to it, and see for yourself how you find it to be useful or not.
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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I agree. I rode with a buddy here on the IMWI bike course and he had one. When I saw how effective it was and how only 1 person needs one for all to be notified, I was sold. Bought one the next week, and have told countless of people about them, and they have bought. I also love the fact that when I travel and ride with my bike, usually I ride in areas where I don't know traffic patterns, but the Varia tells me when one approaches. The only case where I've heard it is NOT useful is from the same buddy who lives in downtown Chicago. Too many cars for it to work well for him, but here on the country roads I'll not be without mine. Having been ht by cars twice wheel riding, I prefer to know where they are.....
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Re: Garmin Varia Radar/Cycling Light thoughts? [gkartashov] [ In reply to ]
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My wife bought me one for Christmas as the annual "you are worth more alive than dead" gift (the other year was a Kickr).

I could not imagine riding without it at this point, as the others have stared multiple times. The situational awareness is key, as the alerts happen far before I can hear a car. In fact, I was out riding in an aero helmet on a TT bike the other morning to shake out gear in advance of a race, and the difference in timing between the Varia warning and hearing a car/truck is significant. And don't get me started on the !@#!@# Teslas - those are incredibly quiet, but now I actually get some warning before they race by me.

Regarding the lack of noise from the 520, I also have started to use the 935 at the same time as the 520 as it will buzz as well as chirp. The combination of the flashing color on the 520 and the buzzing on my wrist is sufficient notice, I find.

Note: I was looking at the Varia front light, but decided that there was not much added value to connecting to the head unit to control the distance the light shines.

Cheers,
Sam
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