Road Bike Garmin Varia RTL510 Radar/Light: It's Much More Than That

Tony Storaro

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I still wear a "Bike Peddler" mirror that mounts to my glasses
Need to look these up. Tried the Selle Italia mirror which is pretty slick but after a while decided I do not want anything mounted on my handlebars so I switched back to the tried and tested "look over your shoulder" method.
 
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Ron

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there's an original, which is a square mirror on a slightly longer arm and a compact which has a smaller more rectangle mirror on a shorter arm. Ive owned both and really like the newer compact version
 

T-Square

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Got a bunch of rides with mine now. I’m impressed, good unit. It spots traffic almost as far as I can see them in my rear view mirror. I like that it gives an indication of the number of cars behind you and an approximate distance to them. I recommend it for the increased safety it can offer if you include it in your forward visual scan pattern.
 
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Ron

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Just a FYI, I recentlly purchased a Garmin 1030plus and was pleased to learn you can have a different alert tone which is more easily heard Also, if you didn’t download the Varia app on your phone, you should! It also emits a tone and vibration on your phone on alerts AND an “all-clear “ alert tone after any traffic has gone by. It’s a nice addition.
 

tch

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So... I'm on the fence here. Guy at bike store wanted to sell me this after I got hit last fall by a pick-up. My response was that I knew he was behind me; I just didn't know he was going to HIT me.
Does this thing bother you when there are multiple cars in a row? And does it indicate speed in any way? Does it really work better than my pretty good ears for detecting approach distance and speed?

After my experience (3 days in hospital, rib fracture and AC joint separation, not to mention all the bruising), I'm game for something that will make my life safer. I just don't know if this is it. I almost always know when I have cars back; I got hit by an inattentive a$$hole on an open stretch of road with an ample shoulder. Obviously, this gadget can't fix incompetent drivers.
 

Jwrags

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So... I'm on the fence here. Guy at bike store wanted to sell me this after I got hit last fall by a pick-up. My response was that I knew he was behind me; I just didn't know he was going to HIT me.
Does this thing bother you when there are multiple cars in a row? And does it indicate speed in any way? Does it really work better than my pretty good ears for detecting approach distance and speed?

After my experience (3 days in hospital, rib fracture and AC joint separation, not to mention all the bruising), I'm game for something that will make my life safer. I just don't know if this is it. I almost always know when I have cars back; I got hit by an inattentive a$$hole on an open stretch of road with an ample shoulder. Obviously, this gadget can't fix incompetent drivers.
Sorry about your accident. It is my greatest fear road riding. It may very well help because while it alerts you to overtaking cars it flashes differently as the car approaches so hopefully attracts attention.
 
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Ron

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So... I'm on the fence here. Guy at bike store wanted to sell me this after I got hit last fall by a pick-up. My response was that I knew he was behind me; I just didn't know he was going to HIT me.
Does this thing bother you when there are multiple cars in a row? And does it indicate speed in any way? Does it really work better than my pretty good ears for detecting approach distance and speed?

After my experience (3 days in hospital, rib fracture and AC joint separation, not to mention all the bruising), I'm game for something that will make my life safer. I just don't know if this is it. I almost always know when I have cars back; I got hit by an inattentive a$$hole on an open stretch of road with an ample shoulder. Obviously, this gadget can't fix incompetent drivers.
Does this thing bother you when there are multiple cars in a row? no, it only alerts you once cars then displays the number of cars on the side. after that, the display turns red (on the sides) and the dots show how close the car is to you.

And does it indicate speed in any way? it shows the advancement of the cars with small dots but not actual speed. if car is going over 50-60, it will alert you to that, speed doesnt really help, showing how its closing in on you does.

Does it really work better than my pretty good ears for detecting approach distance and speed? no doubt, especially in the wind or other noise. its a game changer. I rely on it. I put it on my wife's bike and she loves it. We both use mirrors too but the radar works and has not yet failed to detect a car or a bike that moves in behind you. When I here the alert, a glance up at my mirror to see the vehicle (like you, im most worried about large pickups with big side mirrors) and then just ride on glancing at the display to see its progress. since it detects vehicles at about 150 yards out, the indicator is pretty accurate as to how far they are from you. Once the cars pass, your screen will change from red to green signifying you are clear, with the VARIA app, it will then chime in a different tone that all is clear.
 

Alexzn

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Still loving my unit. It is not a panacea from accidents by any means, but a great addition to my safety arsenal. I don't use the Varia APP, as my phone is always in my back pocket when I ride.
 
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Ron

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I don't use the Varia APP, as my phone is always in my back pocket when I ride.
thats where mine stays as well but it plenty loud and it adds the feature of the "all clear" tone.
 

Tom K.

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So... I'm on the fence here. Guy at bike store wanted to sell me this after I got hit last fall by a pick-up. My response was that I knew he was behind me; I just didn't know he was going to HIT me.
Does this thing bother you when there are multiple cars in a row? And does it indicate speed in any way? Does it really work better than my pretty good ears for detecting approach distance and speed?

After my experience (3 days in hospital, rib fracture and AC joint separation, not to mention all the bruising), I'm game for something that will make my life safer. I just don't know if this is it. I almost always know when I have cars back; I got hit by an inattentive a$$hole on an open stretch of road with an ample shoulder. Obviously, this gadget can't fix incompetent drivers.
I'm a strong non-owning fan of the Varia, but......I hardly ever ride on the road, and hate gadgets that require charging, etc., etc., so I never quite get around to buying one.

That said, I do ride in (somewhat hokey looking) cat ears. I did it to protect my ears on long, searingly-fast downhills, but the side benefit that I've noticed is that I hear cars behind me a LOT better.


And, no charging!
 

scott43

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I'm a strong non-owning fan of the Varia, but......I hardly ever ride on the road, and hate gadgets that require charging, etc., etc., so I never quite get around to buying one.

That said, I do ride in (somewhat hokey looking) cat ears. I did it to protect my ears on long, searingly-fast downhills, but the side benefit that I've noticed is that I hear cars behind me a LOT better.


And, no charging!
That's interesting..my wife complains of sore ears when we ride in windy cold conditions..and not like cold ear lobes..but inner ear pain. Have to check this out. Thanks!
 

Tom K.

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That's interesting..my wife complains of sore ears when we ride in windy cold conditions..and not like cold ear lobes..but inner ear pain. Have to check this out. Thanks!
Exactly the same here. They really help. Now if I forget them, I really notice how long, fast downhills bug my inner ears. Almost like an itchy feeling.
 

François Pugh

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That's interesting..my wife complains of sore ears when we ride in windy cold conditions..and not like cold ear lobes..but inner ear pain. Have to check this out. Thanks!
Wind bugs my ears too, ever since an ear-ache back in ~1980. If it's windy I need to cover them. This sounds like a good idea if you're ears are covered. However, I don't know how much good it does you to know a car is there when your riding next to the curb and the driver hits you anyway.
 

François Pugh

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So... I'm on the fence here. Guy at bike store wanted to sell me this after I got hit last fall by a pick-up. My response was that I knew he was behind me; I just didn't know he was going to HIT me.
Does this thing bother you when there are multiple cars in a row? And does it indicate speed in any way? Does it really work better than my pretty good ears for detecting approach distance and speed?

After my experience (3 days in hospital, rib fracture and AC joint separation, not to mention all the bruising), I'm game for something that will make my life safer. I just don't know if this is it. I almost always know when I have cars back; I got hit by an inattentive a$$hole on an open stretch of road with an ample shoulder. Obviously, this gadget can't fix incompetent drivers.
3 days in hospital :geek:. Did you puncture a lung?
 

tch

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Francois, no, just a lot of internal bleeding related to the bruising on my hip and shoulder.
I got a transfusion and they wanted to see my RBC come up.

Anyway -- on topic: I'm a new believer. Based on this thread (and doing some more research), I bought a Varia515. First ride today, and I'm impressed. I was out over 2 hours and had plenty of time to get experience. The radar picked up cars well before my pretty attuned ears caught them. The alert, plus the distance indicator, was helpful and I liked the fact that the light began blinking more vigorously as cars approached. I don't know if it was the Varia or just coincidence, but a lot more cars gave me a lot more room than usual.

As I said, obviously the gadget can't fix incompetent drivers...but I did feel a bit more knowledge-empowered today.
$200 for a tail-light seemed expensive at first blush, but in the overall context of my riding, it's nothing.
 
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Ron

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Francois, no, just a lot of internal bleeding related to the bruising on my hip and shoulder.
I got a transfusion and they wanted to see my RBC come up.

Anyway -- on topic: I'm a new believer. Based on this thread (and doing some more research), I bought a Varia515. First ride today, and I'm impressed. I was out over 2 hours and had plenty of time to get experience. The radar picked up cars well before my pretty attuned ears caught them. The alert, plus the distance indicator, was helpful and I liked the fact that the light began blinking more vigorously as cars approached. I don't know if it was the Varia or just coincidence, but a lot more cars gave me a lot more room than usual.

As I said, obviously the gadget can't fix incompetent drivers...but I did feel a bit more knowledge-empowered today.
$200 for a tail-light seemed expensive at first blush, but in the overall context of my riding, it's nothing.
Glad you like it! did you set it up for Auto flash and such after pairing the radar and lights? I think the random blinking pattern is what makes it effective as light. Its really 2 devices in one, hence the need to pair the lights and the radar.
 
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