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Garmin Varia Rearview Radar Tail Light

Garmin Varia Rearview Radar Tail Light

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Item # GRM004V

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Description

A light that thinks for itself.

If you're riding rolling hills on tree-lined country roads, often part of your reason for being there is to take a break from constantly looking over your shoulder for cars. When a vehicle does crest one of those rollers, you're usually much less expected, which where is Garmin's Varia Rearview Radar Tail Light could come in handy.

Aimed at reducing the number of cyclists hit from behind each year, the tail light uses radar to detect approaching cars from up to 140m away and increases in brightness in both steady and flash modes as motorists approach. You can use the tail light independently, with the display unit included in the Varia Rearview Radar Bundle, or with certain models from Garmin's Edge bike computer line.

Independently, it's just a smart light. With a compatible head unit, though, the Varia Rearview Radar Tail Light sends information about how many cars are behind you — as well as each car's proximity — to the computer's display. The light's visibility is also designed for low- or high-light conditions, so it helps to make your rides safer at any time of the day whether used on its own or with a computer.

If you've already got a Garmin Edge or are looking to use the light for visibility only, then this stand-alone light is the option for you. If you'd like to try the display unit without a Garmin Edge, then check out the Varia Rearview Radar Bundle. Current head unit compatibility is limited to the Edge 1000. According to Garmin, the Edge 810, Edge 510, Edge 25, and Edge Touring Plus will also be made compatible with a software update in Q3, 2015.

  • A smart tail light that responds to approaching vehicles
  • Built-in radar covers 140 meters of road
  • Increases in brightness as motorists approach
  • Communicates vehicle positions to some smart computers
  • Compatible with most Garmin Edge series head units

Tech Specs

Power Source:
rechargeable battery
Batteries Included:
yes
Modes:
solid, flashing
Lumens:
[tail light] 24
Burn Time:
4 hours
Mount:
seat-post quarter-turn mount, Universal seat-post quarter-turn mount
Remote Battery:
no
Waterproof:
IPX-7 standard (submerged 1 meter for 30 minutes)
Includes:
tail light, seat-post quarter-turn mount, universal seat-post quarter-turn mount, microUSB cable
Dimensions:
7.3 x 4.4 x 2.3 cm
Claimed Weight:
63.5 g
Recommended Use:
cycling
Manufacturer Warranty:
1 year

Reviews & Community

REVIEWS

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Avg. ride time: 9h 26m per week
  • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

Life saving innovation

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

Getting hit from behind is the leading cause of cycling fatalities in the U.S. The Varia is like having somebody watch from behind to warn you of danger, it is truly amazing. I have used it on narrow shouldered country roads and bustling four lane streets totaling 150 miles or so. You are warned a solid 5-6 seconds before a car going 55mph is at your side. I ride with a handlebar mirror and still get caught distracted and surprised by cars, especially late in rides after grinding out intervals. Even when being overly cautious watching your mirror constantly, the Varia will detect cars before you can.

I occasionally ride with earbuds and could hear the audible, but only when the volume is on low. I like how pairing the device with your Garmin via bluetooth is very simple. It worked almost perfectly with my Garmin 520. The radar detected how fast a car is going and communicates that to the rider by how fast the dot moves on the Garmin screen, displaying multiple dots at once when a line of cars is coming. Once or twice while using the radar it mistakenly dinged a car that passed me going the opposite direction, but only when going very slow (~25mph).

My main criticism is the light’s brightness. My primary tail light is 65 lumens and can be easily seen from over mile away in bright daytime conditions. Until a car is 100 feet behind you, the flash is not super bright.

Everyone I have talked to that has used the radar loves it. It is a must have for those in busy areas concerned about what is coming from behind them. Worth the investment!

Feel free to reach out with any questions!
Michael Walker - Customer Account Manager
801-204-4687.
mwalker@backcountry.com

Great Garmin Accessory

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

My wife is always concerned about my bike rides out in the country on my own, and rightly so. Cars can come up fast and heavy on your tail end and it may be too late to react. I just received this unit, and I'm already impressed, as is my wife! It paired easily with my Garmin 520, and the visible and audible alerts integrated with the bike computer are really cool. I know I can relax when the screen is green and empty, but will be on my best defense as soon as the radar triggers a vehicle approaching. I can't wait to get out this weekend for a ride and put it to the test, but so far, so good!

Avg. ride time: 17h 8m per week
  • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

I can't leave home without it

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've ridden with a mirror on my helmet/glasses for years now and I've felt safer for it, but this device (coupled with my Garmin Edge 1000), is even better. I love that it detects Teslas and other EVs which sometimes sneak up on me due to the lack of engine noise. If you're a gadget fiend like me, add in a Varia Vision HUD and you will get a little buzz at the temple as well as a visual flash.

The 130m range, multiple-target tracking, and color-coded warnings (yellow for slightly faster than you, red for way faster than you) all add to the utility.

Battery life is good (around 5-6 hours), although I'd like it to be better. In fact, that little 'flaw' takes a star off my review, probably unfairly.

Highly recommended.

Avg. ride time: 1h 43m per week
  • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

Excellent safety device!

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

It works as advertised. Highly recommend it to anyone riding in any traffic. As an FYI, if you ride with lots of saddle setback your legs may brush against the light. A half inch spacer would solve that minor problem.

Varia Rearview Radar

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

I purchased this product which I have paired with the Garmin 820 head unit. Overall, I'd say this is a cool product. What I love is that it gives me a great heads up for what's happening behind me. I can usually hear cars, but never know if it's one... or more and exactly how close it is. The Varia takes most of the guess work out of it. I certainly won't rely ONLY on this device to know what's behind me, but I def. like that it gives me a cue so I can better try to manage exit paths if needed.

The other thing I like is that the blink pattern intensity and size varies by how close a car gets to me... while there a lot of distracted drivers on the road I would think that there is some incremental risk mitigation with having something that changes to better grab someones attention.

Overall, pleased with the purchase.

Best Cycling Purchase yet

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

I am intentionally returning to the BC website to offer a review of this item, as it is likely the best bike accessory purchase I have made. I am finding it flawless, which amazes me. Even with a mirror of some sort, vehicles will come up that I had not seen and as important, how many were behind the first one is hard to figure out at times. This device is feeding me this information completely accurately making my whole ride better. Connection to my garmin has been 100% each time, no techie issues thus far. Highly recommended. Can't protect you from the what the driver does, but it does let you know they are there and then you can watch'em

Fantastic!

    This device truly is a life saver. It works exactly as advertised and after riding with it a few times you begin to wonder how you ever rode without it. Setup is easy, the only issue I had was similar to another review in that the main bracket with the screw broke but Garmin replaced it immediately. I have it paired with the Edge 1000 Explore and much of my riding is out on country roads where you can't ride the shoulder easily. This detects cars sooo well and gives you both an audible and visual notice on the device. I agree with others that the out front mount is best for this device as you tend to look down more frequently. The only slight negative is that the audible tone is not quite loud enough and if the wind is heavy you may miss it. When I was on with Garmin ordering the new mount I asked if it can be increased and they said they never envisioned launching a radar device when they launched even the most recent Edge devices so the speakers aren't that big but that it is something they've heard and may account for on future devices. This device has a great range and is well worth the money, especially if you ride in areas with little traffic as it faithfully gives you a heads up when cars are approaching. Invaluable and I hope Garmin continues to improve and expand the line. Notes to Garmin, please improve the screw portion of the mount and add louder speakers to future Edge devices for use with radar and make the tone adjustable! If that can be done on existing Edge devices via a software update please do so!

    EVEN WORKS IN A PACE LINE!

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    This device works quite well, whether riding solo or in a pace line. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the Varia does NOT detect cyclists and works well regardless of your position in a group of riders (to be fair, I've only used the Varia when riding with 1 and 2 other cyclists).

    Other riders can hear the beep and can see the rear lights expanding - so I don't always have to inform them there's a "car back". When I'm leading the pace line and ready to pull out, I don't have to look back unless the Varia senses the coast is clear.

    PROS
    1. Works well - whether riding solo or in a group
    2. Very accurate - almost never misses a car
    3. Detects multiple cars
    4. Long battery life (multiple 40 mile rides)
    5. Flawless interaction with Garmin 520 computer

    CONS
    1. Car detection beep (on Garmin 520) should be louder
    2. Car detection display (on 520) could be brighter and bigger
    3. Rear lights could be brighter.

    Avg. ride time: 1h 53m per week
    • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

    It works! The da*n thing works!

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    I was a little leary of this being as good as everyone said it was, but I must say it does the job. I am unbelievably impressed at how it detects the number of cars behind you. Suggestion for the user: Buy a K Edge or some type of mount that gets your Garmin out in front of the bars as you tend to look at your Garmin more (queue the Varia Vision plug here). Suggestion for Garmin: the rubber band that comes with the piece seemed to stretch out right away. It still works however; I liked the feel and grip better the first time I put it on my bike.

    anybody used this with edge 810 as your head unit ?

    Yes it is, per garmin site (compatible devices tab): https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/into-sports/cycling/edge-820/prod543199.html

    as of this date , will this work with my edge810?

    The Garmin website does include the Edge 810 on their list of compatible devices.

    tried multiple times . updated both 810/varia to latest version . still will read "error ". will return

    Avg. ride time: 1h 53m per week
    • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

    It works! The damn thing works!

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    Used it on 4 rides and it works great. love it.

    The Best Christmas Present!

      After putting off setting up the Garmin Radar Taillight with my Edge 1000 because of the hectic season, I finally took time and went thru the process, which was easy by the way... I am totally sold on this tail light! It's a real safety accessory. I feel better on the country roads I ride on. When I stand up on a hill, I could not see my mirror, but now, the Garmin Varia "beeps" to warn me of traffic from behind! I feel more comfortable and happy! That makes me warmer on these frosty mornings!

      Excellent Garmin radar

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      This device work excellent with my 1000, give you a constant Alert of a Car aproaching behind you, and remember you should take the edge of the line, is expensive but if this give you a Safety for ride is excellent

      Avg. ride time: 6m per week
      • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

      Well done Garmin

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      Works flawlessly with the Edge 520. The tones are very useful as well. The on screen light bands could be a little less obstructive, but they're not obnoxious. This is the kind of device that, in my opinion, basically becomes a safety necessity once you use it and realize just how generally helpful it is. As another reviewer notes, you will occasionally get a false positive; and sometimes the radar won't "re-register" a car that you might pass at an intersection, but you'll already know it's there. The significant upside to all this is that the device firmware can be updated via Garmin Connect, just like updates to the Edge, so it will continue to improve. I did have one bizarre issue: the main mount (with the screw) broke immediately, but hopefully Garmin will replace soon. The other mount (with the band) is okay, but not very tight. But I guess I'll ultimately know if the radar falls off....

      Revolutionary!

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      This product is revolutionary. If you have a Garmin 1000, this is a must. In my first ride it paid for itself, warning me of a car approaching from behind that would have clipped me. As the car accelerated to get ahead of me to make a right turn, the Varia let me know exactly where he was and I was ready to slam the brakes as this knucklehead passed, turned right and cut me off as I got to the intersection. Throughout your ride the Varia shows you cars as they approach relieving you of those constant head turns to see what's coming. You know those situations where there is a big pothole a few yards ahead and you do the quick look back to see if you have time to swerve left to avoid it? No more. The Varia lets you know what's coming from behind and as you get comfortable with the visual indicator on your 1000, you know how much time you have to make a move. I love the fact that the Varia increases the number of lights visible and flashes as cars approach and close in on you. Occasionally you will get a "false positive" by passing a parked car, but these are easy to deal with. If you don't have a Garmin, it is still a great product as the radar based intelligent flashing takes standard bike lights to a higher safety level.