Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Review at 200 miles with the Garmin Varia RTL515

Rear radar device lets you ride like you know what’s coming.

I purchased the device to add additional visibility to my riding. I have been using a helmet mirror for decades.  But now, after a few recent close 'surprises', I decided to add a Garmin Radar activated blinking - flashing rear light and sound notification device to my touring bike. 


  • Maybe it is the increase traffic,
  • Maybe it is the drivers using cell phones
  • Maybe it is the less noisy vehicles.

I started the installation and testing process in the post HERE 

After daily riding in various traffic and road conditions, I now can say I DO NOT FEEL SAFE riding without this device.   The warning beeps notify me of rear coming vehicles way before I can hear them or see them in my helmet mirror.   

NO more surprises.   

It works well with the Garmin 530 device in showing approaching vehicles with colors and speed indications.  I also use the Varia iPhone app but that is more for the sound the radar Varia gives. Although the iPhone screen could be used as a visual clue if displayed on the handlebar,  I store the iPhone in my Acorn bag and a bluetooth connection is made to the Varia RTL515.  The iPhone also has a bluetooth connection to a small speaker that is attached to the outside of the Acorn bag.   

The Varia tail light is BRIGHT and I usually keep it in the 'blinking' mode.  The light intensity increases as vehicles approach from the rear.  it may just be me, but I have noticed vehicles now seem to give me a bit more room when passing then they did before. 

I have the device mounted on the rear rack and that seems to work well.  The panniers do not interfere with the operation of the device. 

The testing thus far has my thinking this is surprisingly one of the BEST items for riding that I have experienced.  .. right up there with click shifting over fiction shifting decades ago.😶 

MY ADVICE... get one for safety

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