Garmin gave hope to many a floundering tech startup's CEO earlier this year when it purchased Ikubu Ltd in the wake of a crowdfunding campaign that came up short. Though the company failed to capture the imagination of the Dragon Innovation crowdfunding community, Garmin liked the cut of Ikubu's jib, so it snapped the company up with a view to bringing its rear-facing bike radar system to market. Now, the electronics giant has unveiled the finished, more polished product dubbed Varia Radar, which also integrates with Garmin's Edge cycle computer.
In essence, the bike radar hasn't changed dramatically from the pre-production model we reviewed last year. The system consists of two modules, a tail light transmitter that attaches to the seatpost and a radar display unit that is mounted on the handlebars. When a vehicle approaches from behind, the rear-facing radar detects them at distances of up to 140 m (150 yards). This data is transmitted to the display unit with soon-to-be passing vehicles presented as a line of LEDs.
In the earlier model, the 40-lumen tail light begins to flash more rapidly the closer the approaching vehicle gets as a way to make the rider more visible to the driver. The updated model beams at only 15 lumens and retains this flashing feature, though the brightness of the LED scales up as the vehicle comes closer.
The Varia Radar can also be paired with Garmin's Edge cycling computer. This gives it the ability to detect up to eight approaching vehicles, giving an indication of how quickly they are approaching and also offering a threat level rating. Bundled together, the Varia tail light and radar display is priced at £240 (US$375).
You can check out a promotional video for the device below.