Review: Garmin Varia RTL515 |

The Garmin Varia RTL515 combines a radar and a rear mild. The sunshine is shiny, whereas the radar provides you an efficient early warning for ‘objects’ overtaking. Each work properly, and made me really feel safer on the highway, however the worth is premium.

My preliminary ideas on this radar system had been the identical as Dave Arthur’s earlier than he reviewed the previous version a few years ago: why do I would like this? I can look over my shoulder, and I can hear vehicles approaching.

Sure, you are able to do each these issues. Or you possibly can add a mirror, which is cheaper. However the Garmin will let you know that an object goes to overhaul you earlier than you possibly can see or hear it, and with out having to take your eyes off the highway in entrance of you.

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When the Garmin detects one thing, it’s going to offer you a definite multi-tone sound that’s loud sufficient to listen to over any wind noise. On a transparent open highway, very often once I hear that sound, I would look over my shoulders and solely simply be capable of make out no matter is arising behind me. The quoted detection distance is 140 metres; in actual life that translated into impressively far-off. On winding roads that distance is clearly shorter, but when the radar cannot see it, likelihood is your eyes will not both.

If, like me, you assume that’s helpful and can make you are feeling safer on the highway, and also you’re ready to spend £169.99, you possibly can cease studying now and simply go and purchase one.

Overtaking objects

You might need observed that I’ve not mentioned ‘vehicles’ overtaking. The radar would not know what’s arising behind you. It simply is aware of that there’s something that’s going quicker than you, closing the gap, and should get round you whether it is persevering with on the identical pace.

May very well be a automotive, might be an artic, might be a tractor. May very well be a fellow bike owner. I do not assume it issues – I need to know one thing’s going to overhaul me first; what’s of secondary significance.

The radar additionally makes an attempt to let you know how briskly the overtake goes to be, by altering the color within the sidebar of no matter you have paired the radar with from amber to pink – extra about that in a minute. I discovered this barely much less helpful; the overtakes do not constantly really feel quicker with the pink color, or much less quick with the amber color.

Additionally, the radar cannot let you know how harmful the overtake goes to be, as that depends upon the highway situations, oncoming site visitors and the way shut the cross shall be – all issues the radar cannot predict. In different phrases, it simply tells you one thing’s arising behind; it isn’t going to cease a crash – you continue to must maintain your wits about you.

Alert reliability

I did not expertise any false negatives with the radar; I am unable to recall a state of affairs the place one thing overtook me with out the radar telling me about it.

Driving in a bunch, I did expertise a small variety of what you may name false positives, the place the radar beeps however there isn’t a hazard, as different cyclists triggered the warning. It did not occur typically sufficient to be annoying, although.

2022 Garmin Varia RTL515 - 4.jpg

What’s additionally helpful is that on this state of affairs you possibly can mute the sound out of your chosen head unit. This additionally turns out to be useful whenever you’re using in site visitors busy sufficient the place ‘object approaching’ is mainly at all times true.

Pairing choices

The RTL515 connects over Bluetooth and Ant+. You possibly can pair it together with your Garmin head unit or watch of alternative, but additionally a Wahoo Elemnt, Hammerhead Karoo or Levels head unit. There is a telephone app, and because of the Bluetooth connectivity, third occasion apps can join too – RideWithGPS, for instance. You can too purchase a separate dedicated head unit for £44.99 in the event you favor using with no telephone or GPS unit, however you do need radar.

Hammerhead’s Karoo 2 is my head unit of alternative, and that is what I used for testing the radar. Setting it up is simple – simply bung the Garmin radar in pairing mode by urgent the (solely) button on the highest for lengthy sufficient for the little sidelight to go purple. The pinnacle unit will detect two sensors: one for the radar and one for the sunshine. And that is you arrange.

On the Karoo, there are not any setup choices for the radar; studying different evaluations, it appears to be like such as you do get some on Garmin head models, comparable to the selection of displaying the sidebar on the left or proper of the display screen, and whether or not you get a single tone or multi-tone alert. For the sunshine, you possibly can select the default mild setting.

Whenever you begin a journey, the Karoo will now do the sound and present a sidebar when the radar detects one thing. Like I mentioned above, the sidebar shall be amber for what the radar deems a ‘regular pace’ strategy, and pink for a quicker strategy. When the item has overtaken, or is not detected, the sidebar turns inexperienced. There’s a little automotive icon for every object detected within the sidebar too, helpful to know if a couple of object is arising.

The sunshine will change to the default possibility you have chosen in settings, and switches off whenever you cease a journey. You possibly can change the sunshine setting on the top unit whereas using, like you possibly can mute the radar sound whereas using.

The Karoo additionally reveals alerts for connection dropouts, which occurred a handful of instances within the greater than 1,000km I’ve used it. The connection restores itself fairly rapidly with out me having to do something, so no biggie. You additionally get low battery warnings.

In all, the consumer expertise of the entire system feels sorted; there is not something I would need to see modified.

Rear mild

Similar to the radar, the rear mild works very well. I’ve used it totally on what is named ‘quick flash’ within the Karoo settings, which interprets to ‘day flash mode’ in Garmin converse. For me, this flash sample and brightness are excellent and higher than most different devoted back lights. Seen, however not annoying. Vibrant, however not blinding.

Clearly not seen to you because the rider, the flash sample modifications when a automotive (or different car/object) approaches, to attempt to make you much more seen to the motive force.

Whether or not the motive force being conscious of your presence will at all times imply a protected overtake with loads of house is one other factor. Would not that be good.

Battery life and charging

On day flash mode, the quoted battery life is 16 hours. In actual life situations, a latest almost 300km audaxy/consuming contest sort journey confirmed that to be about proper.

Charging is by way of the Micro USB port on the again of the sunshine; it might be good to see USB-C right here, however as the shape issue is strictly the identical because the earlier model, I can form of see why it is not.

2022 Garmin Varia RTL515 - back.jpg

Mounting choices

The radar makes use of Garmin’s quarter-turn mounting interface, and comes with a rubber band-on mount to go on a seatpost. You get three inserts to go on the mount to fit your seatpost form: V for aero, sq. and spherical.

2022 Garmin Varia RTL515 - mount.jpg

There are many different mounts out there from Garmin and third events for attaching it to your saddle, saddle bag, youngster seat and so forth.


Okay, £169.99 is some huge cash, and that’s assuming you have already got a head unit or telephone to pair it with.

Sure, you are able to do with out, and sure, a mirror does an identical factor for much less. Nonetheless, this radar alerts me to vehicles behind me earlier than I can see or hear them; and due to the beep it does so with out me having to regulate something however the highway forward of me. I did not assume I might earlier than I examined this, however I can see myself getting my bank card out when this one goes again to Garmin.

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So far as I do know, there’s nothing else available on the market that does what the Garmin Varia does. You might purchase simply the radar from Garmin, the RVR315, and save your self £40. I do not know why you’d try this, although, because the rear mild on the RTL515 is absolutely good, and it interacts with the radar, and so makes the radar (barely) higher.

It is also price noting that Garmin has stored the worth the identical because the earlier model. 


Earlier than I reviewed the Varia, I did not assume I wanted radar. Now, I am satisfied it makes my using safer, as a result of it alerts me to overtaking objects earlier than I can see or hear them. The rear mild is among the many finest at school by way of flash sample and brightness too.

Though at £169.99 it is costly, it isn’t as expensive as being hit from behind. It is as much as you whether or not you need to spend your hard-earned on making that much less seemingly.


Dependable alert system for being overtaken, with an excellent rear mild

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Make and mannequin: Garmin Varia RTL515

Inform us what the sunshine is for, and who it is geared toward. What do the producers say about it? How does that examine to your individual emotions about it?

Garmin says:

“This rearview radar with tail mild pairs together with your Edge® bike pc or suitable smartphone to warn you of automobiles approaching from behind.

Dependable rearview radar helps you to journey like you understand what’s coming.

One radar. A number of show choices. Pair it together with your suitable Garmin gadget, your telephone or each.

The Varia™ app has you coated in the event you’re utilizing your telephone as a main or backup show.

Shine brighter. Daylight visibility lets approaching automobiles see you from as much as a mile away.

It is small, it is easy to mount, and it really works with nearly any bike.

Get extra life out of your radar with as much as 16 hours of battery life in day flash mode.”

Inform us some extra concerning the technical elements of the sunshine?

Garmin lists these particulars:


Varia™ RTL515 rearview radar offers visible and audible alerts for automobiles approaching from behind as much as 140 metres away.


This radar works seamlessly together with your Edge bike pc or suitable smartphone in addition to choose Garmin wearables or the optionally available radar show unit.


This smartphone app helps you enhance your consciousness by offering graphics ” plus tone and vibration alerts ” that point out the place and pace of approaching vehicles.


When used with a suitable smartphone, Varia radar integrates together with your favorite apps, comparable to Experience with GPS to overlay your maps with rearview radar alerts.


Alert motorists to your presence as quickly as potential with daylight visibility as much as 1 mile.


Simply mount this modern, compact gadget on the seatpost of just about any road-use bicycle. The vertical design permits for higher leg clearance and a superbly snug journey.


Varia™ RTL515 options a number of modes, together with peloton mode, which offers a low-intensity flash that’s sort to different cyclists’ eyes when using in a bunch.


Time spent charging is not so good as time spent using. Stand up to 16 hours of battery life in day flash mode and as much as 6 hours in strong mode.

Bodily specs:

Dimensions: 98.6 x 19.7 x 39.6 mm

Weight: 71.0 g

Modes: strong, peloton, night time flash, day flash

Lumens: 20 strong, 8 peloton, 29 night time flash, 65 day flash

Battery life: 6 hours strong, 8 hours peloton, 6 hours night time flash, 16 hours day flash

ANT+®: Sure

BLE: Sure

Water ranking: IPX7

Viewing angle: 220 levels

Fee the sunshine for high quality of development:


Fee the sunshine for design and ease of use. How easy was the sunshine to make use of?


Fee the sunshine for the design and usefulness of the clamping system/s


Fee the sunshine for waterproofing. How did it stand as much as the weather?


Fee the sunshine for battery life. How lengthy did it final? How lengthy did it take to recharge?


Fee the sunshine for efficiency:


Fee the sunshine for sturdiness:


Fee the sunshine for weight:


Fee the sunshine for worth:


So far as I do know, there are not any different merchandise available on the market that do what the Garmin Varia does, so it is unattainable to say whether or not it is good or dangerous worth as compared.

As as to whether it is well worth the cash – on the one hand, £169.99 is an enormous wodge of money; on the opposite, I genuinely consider it makes using safer so I would say it is price it.

Inform us how the sunshine carried out general when used for its designed goal

It constantly warns you about objects closing in on you and the sunshine works very well too.

Inform us what you notably preferred concerning the mild

The sunshine and the radar work very well.

Inform us what you notably disliked concerning the mild

There’s the occasional connection niggle, and the radar often will get a bit confused with different riders behind you. The amber vs pink warning on display screen would not at all times correspond to how harmful I really feel the overtake is. I would not name these dislikes; they’re extra minor niggles.

How does the worth examine to that of comparable merchandise out there, together with ones lately examined on

So far as I do know, there are not any different merchandise available on the market that do what the Varia does. You should buy simply the radar gadget from Garmin with out the rear mild for £129.99, although I’ve to say I do not know why you’d as a result of the rear mild is absolutely good, and it makes the radar higher.

Did you get pleasure from utilizing the sunshine? Sure

Would you take into account shopping for the sunshine? Sure

Would you suggest the sunshine to a pal? Sure

Use this field to clarify your general rating

The radar alert works reliably, and the sunshine is absolutely good too. I believe this is a superb product however it’s costly, so general it is a ‘superb’ 8.

Age: 44  Peak: 1.78m  Weight: 77kg

I normally journey: All of them!  My finest bike is: Ribble Endurance SL disc

I have been using for: Over 20 years  I journey: Most days  I might class myself as: Professional

I often do the next sorts of using: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, membership rides, mtb, Zwift

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Review: Garmin Varia RTL515 |

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