Garmin's car-detecting Varia Radar device gets a crash-logging camera
It was seven years ago that we first heard about Garmin's Varia Radar tail light, which warns cyclists of vehicles approaching from behind. After adding smartphone compatibility in 2020, Garmin has now put a camera in the device.
The new Varia RCT715 Radar Camera Tail Light takes the form of a rear-facing seatpost-mounted module that's wirelessly linked to a handlebar-mounted Garmin Edge cycling computer, a smartwatch, or a bar-mounted smartphone running the Varia app.
Like the original version, the device sends out radar pulses which are reflected off vehicles approaching from a distance of up to 495 ft (140 m). As the module receives those reflected signals, it notifies the rider via a beeping sound and a color-coded display on their cyclometer/watch/phone – green means that everything's OK, amber indicates that a vehicle is approaching, and red warns that a vehicle is closing in at high speed.
Additionally, the device's LED tail light automatically starts flashing more rapidly when a vehicle is detected, in order to better capture the driver's attention.
The 1080p/30fps camera continuously buffers footage of the road behind the bike. If the integrated accelerometer detects that a crash has occurred, footage from shortly before, during and after the incident will be recorded onto an included 16GB SD memory card. That video can subsequently be accessed via the app, for use in legal proceedings (if necessary).
It should be noted that unlike the case with some other products, users of the Varia RCT715 can't view a real-time video feed from the device on their handlebar-mounted phone – in other words, it can't be used as a digital rearview mirror.
The device weighs 5.2 oz (147 g), is IPX7 water-resistant (it can be submerged up to 1 m/3.3 ft for 30 minutes), and can be set to four different tail light modes. These range from a 20-lumen Steady mode – in which one battery-charge should be good for four hours of use, while also recording video – up to a 65-lumen/6-hour Day Flash mode.
The Varia RCT715 Radar Camera Tail Light is available now via the Garmin website, and is priced at US$399.99.