Garmin Varia RTL515 Review: the radar that monitors your back on a bike

The Garmin Varia RTL515 is a small gadget that measures lower than 10 cm excessive and 4 cm vast, for about 2 cm thick, excluding mounting. The rear mild is simple to establish on the higher half. The decrease half which appears empty really hides the radar.

A compact and well finished case.

A compact and nicely completed case.

General, the finishes of the RTL515 are excellent. The plastics used give confidence in its robustness and the meeting doesn’t reveal any flaws. A small rubber cowl positioned on the again offers entry to a micro-USB port to recharge the battery – not detachable. This cowl ensures IPX7 certification which ensures enough sealing to be used even within the rain.

A single button is present on the Varia.

A single button is current on the Varia.

The only button positioned on the field means that you can flip the radar on and off with an extended press. When on, brief presses will toggle between the completely different tail mild illumination modes. It’s potential to decide on fastened lighting (20 lumens), an evening flash mode which reaches 29 lumens, or a day flash mode which climbs to 65 lumens. Lastly, a “peloton” place reduces the facility of the crimson mild to eight lumens in order to not dazzle different cyclists.

The clamp holds securely in place on most seatposts.

The clamp holds securely in place on most seatposts.

Weighing simply 71 grams, the Varia RTL515 will not be felt when put in on a motorbike. The mounting system chosen by Garmin is each easy and sensible. A plastic help is related to a smooth plastic finish piece to finest match the upright on which it’s fastened, with out damaging it. A small rubber band retains every part in place. A number of sizes of suggestions and elastics are provided within the field to adapt to the completely different uprights (seatpost, baggage rack, and so on.). Set up and dismantling are very quick. Garmin provides an non-compulsory screw-on help, in all probability to keep away from having the help stolen.

In our assessments, whether or not mounted on a seat put up or a rack put up, the Garmin Varia all the time stayed completely in place, even on paths that nonetheless rocked the bike and its pilot.

The attachment can be installed on the luggage rack.

The attachment may be put in on the bags rack.

This fixing accommodates the radar field which is fastened to it with 1 / 4 flip. Once more, easy, sensible and efficient. Becoming and eradicating the RTL515 is a snap. The gadget stays in place on its help with out transferring.

Nonetheless, understand that the radar’s field of regard should stay as clear as potential. Thus, on a motorbike whose saddle doesn’t go up very excessive and which is provided with a baggage rack, the attachment to the seat put up will not be very best. It’s typically sufficient to repair the gadget barely at an angle to treatment this.

Fastening the Varia RTL515 in a quarter turn.

Fastening the Varia RTL515 in 1 / 4 flip.

The Garmin Varia RTL515 incorporates Bluetooth connectivity that enables it to be paired with a smartphone, a Garmin watch or an Edge bike pc from the model. We carried out our Review utilizing the Varia software on a smartphone.

Consumer expertise

As soon as sensible well being related to the smartphone, the radar works so long as it’s switched on and the Varia software is open on the cell. The operation of the latter is minimalist. The smartphone display shows a inexperienced band marked with a pictogram representing a bicycle owner overhanging two lengthy vertical white bands which symbolize the highway.

The Garmin Varia app and, on the far right, the Ride with GPS app, compatible with the Varia.

The Garmin Varia app and, on the far proper, the Journey with GPS app, suitable with the Varia.

When a automotive is detected approaching from behind, the colour of the strip modifications. It’s displayed in orange when the pace of the oncoming automobile is reasonable and in crimson when the automobile is arriving notably quick. This visible sign is coupled with an audible sign which additionally varies in accordance with the pace of the approaching automobile. Lastly, additionally it is proposed to activate vibrations to point the arrival of a automotive. As soon as the bicycle owner is handed, a sign signifies that no automobile is detected and the bar is once more displayed in inexperienced on the high of the display.

The rear light allows you to be seen from afar.

The rear mild means that you can be seen from afar.

A noticed automotive is indicated on the display and its icon strikes nearer to the highest of the display because it will get nearer to the bike. This lets you have a good suggestion of ​​the space that separates our rear wheel from the automobile in query. The Varia RTL515 is meant to have the ability to alert on the presence of a number of autos, as much as 8 at a time. In observe, we not often had greater than 2 accurately positioned autos. Alternatively, the succession is nicely detected, even when a automobile is near the next one.

Garmin considered not indicating an alert for autos driving behind the bike on the similar pace. This avoids being overwhelmed with alerts, particularly on the town, the place you usually end up on the similar pace as vehicles in the midst of visitors. One other good thought, the flashing of the sunshine accelerates after we are overtaken by one other automobile, which will increase our visibility vis-à-vis it.

Mounting on the luggage rack is possible.

Mounting on the bags rack is feasible.

So long as its area of view is obvious, the Garmin Varia RTL515 is ready to detect autos as much as 140 m away. A distance that we couldn’t measure exactly, however which is actually higher than 100 m. That is sufficient on the town, the place autos are usually not imagined to drive greater than 50 km/h. On departmental roads, autos driving notably quick typically give the impression of being detected on the final second. However we will not blame Garmin’s radar right here.

Among the many regrets that we will have, we observe that the radar detects that one thing is occurring, however that it’s unable to distinguish between a bicycle owner, a automotive, a bike or a truck. Nonetheless, realizing what doubles us can have an significance on the angle to undertake.

Several lighting modes are available.

A number of lighting modes can be found.

It additionally appears that the applying shouldn’t be systematically acknowledged as a GPS licensed to run within the background. Throughout our Review, when the applying was not displayed on the display, it occurred that the smartphone misplaced the reference to the Varia.

Robust factors

  • Easy to put in and take away.

  • Environment friendly.

  • Clear show on the app.

  • Autonomy.

Weak factors

  • Could not match some seatposts.

  • No automobile differentiation.

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