Tested – Garmin Varia

The Garmin Varia stands out as a tool that will surely increase your awareness and safety on the open road.

Adding a Garmin Varia to your bike will change your experience and safety out on the road –

Front and rear lights that can be seen from a mile off are more common now than ever, but this small $200 light can enhance your riding awareness and safety with a simple radar system. On top of the standard bright blinking light modes it packs a rear facing radar with smart system that notifies you of any vehicle approaching from up to 460 feet away. 

What does that mean for real world riding situations?

Garmin Varia light

1. Quiet backroads can leave you forgetting about vehicles, perhaps drifting to the center of the road, and rarely looking over your shoulder to check for cars approaching. 

This is where the Varia shines by picking up your slack with a visual and audible alert on your computer as soon as a car is within range. It gives you time to move right, listen a little closer to the approaching vehicle, and not be caught off guard by someone honking their horn or worse buzzing by you. 

2. The Varia system gives you a visual on your computer as vehicles get closer to you, changes it’s light flash pattern based on the car distance,  then flashes green back on your computer when it is clear in the rear.

It’s seamless, it’s been extremely accurate over hundreds of miles, and helped my road awareness countless times. And when riding new terrain you are unfamiliar with it’s of huge value to have the extra heads up. 

3. If you are riding alert it generally means you are listening for cars, turning your head back occasionally, and letting your group know there is a car approaching from behind.

But what happens when there is a stiff wind limiting what you can hear, or road conditions where it’s not safe to look back, or got chatting about the latest gossip? This device solves that with a quick notification prompting a glance down to your screen and a better sense of how far away the vehicle (or multiple vehicles) are from you.

Garmin edge screen shot

Ultimately your safety and courtesy out on the road starts with your own good judgment and awareness. But given our experience and testing with the Varia it’s clear this is one tool that can greatly improve everyone’s safety. However, if you tend to ignore passing vehicles and don’t typically move right when they pass, this device likely won’t be of much use.  

We’ve ridden extensively with the Varia in a variety of situations using a Garmin Edge computer interface. Get in touch if you want to chat more about the Varia or would like to take one for a demo.