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Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:58 pm
by Farmer Elvis
I've been thinking of getting a Varia, I have a 520 I can pair with it. What are the thoughts out there, are they any good?
I ride country roads not a lot of traffic, but the traffic that does come up is usually doing around 100km/h. Often because of wind etc I find it hard to hear something coming until they are right behind me, and sometimes not then.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:05 pm
by trailgumby
Could be useful in those circumstances. I've bumped into one guy who had one. He was very pleased with it.

My thoughts were it was a WOFTAM, but if you are not hearing cars approach then that opinion can be discarded.

Option 2 would be the Italian Road Bike Mirror.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:06 pm
by Farmer Elvis
I've ridden with a mirror in the past, ok if your just rolling the legs over, if your going hard they aren't very user friendly. Also I can literally ride for an hour and not come across a vehicle then there might be 10 on the next ride, it's this plus the speed they are travelling that had me looking at the varia. But maybe they aren't that common out there.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:22 pm
by DG1984
https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/10/gar ... eview.html

I suspect that Varia is one of those products that a small number of cyclists will love to hate on. They’ll see it as a useless piece of tech that doesn’t save the cyclist from being hit, and otherwise just a waste of money. But in a Venn diagram those people would likely near completely overlap with those that haven’t actually used it. Interestingly, in watching feedback on my Varia radar preview post from those that have bought and used the product (you) – they’re generally quite happy with it.

Which, is actually what I’d say as well. No, it won’t keep that car from hitting you – but it will keep you aware at a time you’re not paying attention. It’ll snap your focus back when you’re 4 hours into a hard ride on a quiet country rode and a fast moving car approaches from behind. Perhaps you’ve lost focus a bit and are more towards the middle of the lane – this will remind you to get to the edge of the lane or the shoulder. And that tiny reminder just might save your life when some motorist is texting on their phone and doesn’t look up to see you there in their lane.

From a technical standpoint, the unit is well implemented and really nails the experience of what it should be – but especially so when used with a Garmin Edge devices. I personally wouldn’t bother to purchase the bundled version (with the dedicated display that’s $299USD), but rather would only buy the single radar portion ($199USD) and use it with a supported Edge device. I think it’s just way cleaner on the handlebars and beeps too (unlike the dedicated Varia display unit).

I’d also note that I don’t think it’s entirely useful in a city environment since it beeps constantly, but out in the country and on quieter roads? Absolutely – for that it’s great.


Sounds perfect for what you want it for.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:43 pm
by trailgumby
Put in that context, yeah, worth considering.

I'm in an urban environment where there are cars around all the time. Need to have your head on a gimbal. :roll:

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 10:14 pm
by Farmer Elvis
So I finally got one. Sick of being scared out of my wits by a car doing 110km/h passing me that I didn't hear.
I'm impressed, rode with a mate on a 75km ride which included 12km on the newell hwy, the rest on a fairly quiet road, very impressed, it is paired to my Garmin 520, gives an audible beep when it sees a vehicle then a dot follows up my screen to the top when it's passing, a few false calls, but then it only beeped and the dot disappeared, only when a road train or b-double was going the other way.
If you ride in similar situations I'd highly recommend this bit of gear.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:58 am
by Sparx
I have one - I think they are absolutely brilliant - one of the best bits of cycling kit out there. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Obviously it's no substitute for keeping your wits about you but really useful to know when cars are coming, how far away they are and how fast they are moving.

There are some situations where it can get a bit confused but once you get used to riding with it you learn quickly what these are (e.g. one car following close behind the other will only appear as one dot).

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:13 pm
by peterlip
Farmer Elvis wrote:So I finally got one.

Sparx wrote:I have one -

I'm thinking of getting one. What's the battery life like? Garmin's website claims 5 hours.
Mind you, except for the 8 hours that is Around The Bay, all of my other rides are under 2 hours.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:09 pm
by mikgit
peterlip wrote:
Farmer Elvis wrote:So I finally got one.

Sparx wrote:I have one -

I'm thinking of getting one. What's the battery life like? Garmin's website claims 5 hours.
Mind you, except for the 8 hours that is Around The Bay, all of my other rides are under 2 hours.


I did a ride of almost 5 hours and it still had half battery life left.
My normal rides are usually 1-1.5 few a bit over 2 and I charge it up every now and then, so I'd say about 10 hours, maybe (probably drops of faster near the end of the battery...).

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:53 am
by peterlip
mikgit wrote:I did a ride of almost 5 hours and it still had half battery life left.
My normal rides are usually 1-1.5 few a bit over 2 and I charge it up every now and then, so I'd say about 10 hours, maybe (probably drops of faster near the end of the battery...).

Good to know, thanks.
I've just moved out to a regional spot. Most cars pass at a 100, which because it's relatively new to me, I find it a bit unnerving. I know that this won't help me for anything other than a warning, but I think I'll get the Varia.
And by the time I get it, I'll probably be used to my new surroundings, but I always like a new gadget, so I'll enjoy it nonetheless.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:21 pm
by mikgit
yeah I do a bit of rural, on quite contry roads, it's handy to give you heaps of warning, but not comletely necessay,but on my normal largish loop, I do 2 long slight DH stretches that are old bypassed highways, speed limit is 100, and you're doing 40 or so, can't hear a thing and this is wear the varia is really handy and well worth the money paid.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:44 pm
by peterlip
Well, had my Varia now for a week and a bit. It works pretty well. Get the occasional false positives, seems to happen a bit when crossing bridges, but never had a false negative (ie, never not sensed a vehicle coming) at this stage.
Because I'm new to regional rides, I'm still a bit nervous about the 100km/h traffic passing, but the Varia has helped my nerves a bit. Of course I know this is no protection to a in attentive driver taking me out, but at least I'm aware of not only approaching cars, but how many are approaching.
Agree with the previous poster, mikgit, about downhill stretches. For me 50 seems the speed when I don't hear them coming, but the varia does. I'd actually like the beep volume to increase with speed, as above 50km/h I struggle to hear that, not that I spend much time at that speed.
I do have a suspicion that the battery life of my 520 seems to be affected. I think. More Ant comms perhaps?
Saturday's 2.5 hours ride has left me with 53%. I haven't actually ridden that distance for some time, but pretty sure it didn't affect my battery that much.
The Varia's battery life seems very good though. No complaints there.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:18 pm
by Farmer Elvis
So, I've been riding the country roads for 6 weeks now and 2 trips to Sydney where I ride Akuna bay, West Head with a mate who lives there. I'm impressed, I've had a few false positives but it's never missed a vehicle. The pluses are you can ride side by side and have a yarn then just pull into single file when a vehicle is coming. It tells you how many are coming and will give you the all clear when all vehicles have passed. It has around 10hrs battery life, I know as I deliberately ran it flat.
Negatives, out here are none.

Re: Garmin Varia Radar any good?

Posted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:51 pm
by Comedian
trailgumby wrote:Could be useful in those circumstances. I've bumped into one guy who had one. He was very pleased with it.

My thoughts were it was a WOFTAM, but if you are not hearing cars approach then that opinion can be discarded.

Option 2 would be the Italian Road Bike Mirror.

I've never bothered, because I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do about it? Cars pass me all the time? I'm usually pretty aware of it.