new Garmin Varia | Opinion & Speculation

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Garmin Varia RTL510 Review
RTL510

There are some rumours around that we are due a new Garmin Varia rear-facing bike radar. This recent FCC filing supports those theories if you read it closely, although that particular FCC filing also has dates to release information set for September. So the FCC filing could indicate something now…or in September.

Background

I like the existing Varia RTL510. It works great as a standalone proximity-sensing, rear-facing radar and light. It is EVEN BETTER when paired with a Wahoo, Hammerhead Karoo, Stages Dash or….errr…a Garmin Edge ;-). The on-screen displays on those head units really do give you an accurate view of what is about to hit you (grrr, cars).

Towards the back end of 2019 LOTS of you bought one when Garmin and its resellers sensibly reduced the price to more affordable levels for a few weeks. And I mean LOTS of you did this.

Here is my review from last year if you want to get up-to-speed with the awesomeness that ALREADY EXISTS with the 510.

 

Garmin Varia RTL510 Review (RTL500, UT800)

Varia RTL 515 – for 2020

I guess the new one will be called the Garmin Varia RTL 520 or RTL515 if a minor upgrade, as we’ve already had the 500 and 510. There may also be a regional RTL 521/516 version for Germany where bike lights aren’t allowed to flash.

Here’s what I think the new version NEEDS to do and then some ideas about clever stuff it might also add into the mix.

Must-Haves

  • In my usage, the battery seems to run out too quickly for my liking. Maybe I just ride too much, maybe I should remember to charge it more frequently or maybe the battery life is just not long enough. Whichever of those is the cause, it needs an improved battery life…even for me. I’m normally very forgiving with battery lives but I regularly get battery warning for my 510 (admittedly normally giving me plenty of time to get home with it still working)
  • A smaller casing would be nice as would a slightly improved on/off button. And, for me, the biggest improvements would be better support for more unusual seat post shapes AND less of a reliance on what is after all just a rubber band holding onto your very expensive light/radar.

Improvements

The review link (above) gives some ideas of clever things that could (but won’t!!) happen with product development. These are more likely…

  • We might see the start of communication between Varia lights to alert pack members to upcoming vehicles AND to co-ordinate a group lights response to such vehicles.
  • BLE connectivity to smartphone apps.
  • Perhaps certain Varia events could be recorded into a FIT file, perhaps also along with an estimate of the speed f approach of the offending vehicle. Although such evidence would probably be inadmissible in a court case it might, at least, give the emergency services an idea of what time you were hit. Grrrr.
  • Perhaps also there could be links between such events and the Garmin Incident Detection system that sends your loved one a message. Although I suspect that when your Incident system malfunctions and your loved one receives an alert every 5 minutes of your near misses on the road, you might then never be allowed out again on 2 wheels. So maybe that’s not a good idea 😉

 

Other News & Rumours

There is a Garmin Edge 1030 PLUS version slated for release this year (June 2020). We have seen some significant price drops for the Edge 1030, so maybe that’s a signal of something about to hit the e-shelves?

More rumours here

July 2020: Sports Watch Update: All new & current Bike/Run/Tri/Fitness Models with GPS. Rumors + replacement dates for Garmin, Apple, Polar, Suunto, Wahoo, Samsung, Fitbit

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Will

Mine works super well. Only oddity is that I set it to “random” flash mode, but it’s nearly always then on constant mode by the time I return home. Curios.

My wish. A better mount, like you said.

Guest

I also wish it were easier to attach it to about anything. In my particular case, I’m road riding very little in the winter due to the snow, but would be happy to attach the Varia to my backpack while walking home in the darkness. It’s just a gadget, it will be obsolete in 5 years, so why not be able to use it fully during its lifespan.

Rick

No Cameras?

Dom

A built in camera would be useful and maybe one that will display on your Garmin Edge! now that would be good, like a rear view mirror that briefly displays oncoming car?…

ArT

LOL with camera is a radar that would work 1h: P. And your counter wouldn’t carry him. Fantasy dreams 🙂

Andre Feenstra

Sinds een half jaar varia 511 in bezit en gebruik hem bijna elke rit. Jammer dat de varia constant brand eigenlijk helemaal niet nodig. Het zou wel een aangename aanvulling zijn als de lamp aan gaat wanneer er achterop komend verkeer nadert. Scheelt dan ook in batterij verbruik. Detectie moet blijven werken. Dat werkt bij mij feilloos. Verder een fijn apparaat en een veilig gevoel.

André Feenstra a

Even nog een opmerking; s’avonds moet de varia wel constant branden natuurlijk…

ArT

Cooperation with Wahoo ROAM looks very good and nicer. The sounds and the colored bar are nice. Appearance is bad on garmin. Colors overlap the screen for what. GArmin, see how Wahoo did it nicely.
After the new version awaits 1. Turn off the light during the day. small housing, longer battery. 12h is the minimum.

tfk, the5krunner

+1
in fact i would say Stages, Wahoo and Hammerhead all present the varia information visually better

Koto

Garmin lower the radar price by 50% and you will sell 1000% more. The price is prohibitive.

tfk, the5krunner

🙂
before christmas they did
and they did sell a lot more.

i think you are 100% correct

i think there is a new one out soon in any case.

CyDimitris

What about the Varia UT 800 model? It’s since 2017, isn’t it? Do they plan an upgrade model?