The faster you're going, the farther ahead you should be looking. With that in mind, Garmin has designed its new Varia bicycle headlight to automatically focus its beam farther up the road when you're at speed, while broadening it to give wider but less intense illumination as you slow down.
Announced at the same time as the company's Varia Rearview Bike Radar car-detecting system, the Varia "smart bike light" headlight and its accompanying tail light are designed to communicate with the user's existing GPS-equipped Garmin Edge cycle computer via the ANT+ wireless protocol.
By analyzing changes in the rider's GPS coordinates, the system is able to determine their speed, and focuses or broadens the headlight beam accordingly. When it detects that they're rapidly decelerating, it also gives the tail light a boost in intensity, turning it into a brake light.
Using their computer or the optional bar-mounted Varia remote unit, users can control the blink pattern and brightness settings of the lights, turn them on and off, or control two of the tail lights to work as turn indicators (not unlike Bontrager's Transmitr system). Depending on which Edge device is being used, riders can also set the lights to automatically adjust their brightness based on ambient light conditions, or to turn themselves on and off when the bike is being ridden at night.
The headlight puts out up to 600 lumens, while the tail light is rated at 22. They respectively manage 2.5 and 4 hours of use per charge of their batteries, in high-power mode.
Garmin's Varia smart bike lights should begin shipping in the third quarter of the year. They're priced at US$300 for a headlight/tail light/remote package, $200 for the headlight only, or $70 for the tail light.