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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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