Varia Radar Light

It’s been on my wish list for a while, but I finally purchased a Varia Radar Light (Varia RTL515) recently from Amazon, as it was on offer.

However, I didn’t keep it very long and it was used for a day before returning.

Perhaps I was expecting too much of it or that my use case wasn’t the best example of it.


The light uses radar to detect cars behind you and alert you to the fact on your head unit. In my case, I was using the Garmin Edge 530, which supports it natively, though I did download the My Bike Radar app via Connect IQ store.

Once the device is connected, it alerts you to cars coming up behind you with a sound notification and a graphic on the right hand side of the head unit showing the car getting closer to you. Ray at DC Rainmaker has an excellent review of if here.

Use Case

My use case was to use it when cycling to work. My route is a mix of bike path and roads, with the majority being road.

The device worked - I would get a notification of the car behind me. However, there were occasions where the car wasn’t detected until quite late and I could already see the car out the corner of my eye. This is obviously not great and I’m not sure if the positioning was wrong, as this doesn’t appear to be the view of everyone else that has used the device.

The other major issue I had with the device was getting false positives when cycling on a segregated cycle path - the device is smart (from a radar point of view) but it doesn’t differentiate from traffic that is directly behind and traffic that is 3-4m off to the side, as I was picking up cars driving down the road that were of no danger to me.

As I bought primarily for commuting, this wasn’t that helpful, as there are a number of paths like this on my route.

In the end, I returned the device, and ended up purchasing a mirror instead…

Significantly cheaper, the mirror has been been working well enough for me that I can see behind me and provide me with some warning of the cars behind me.

Perhaps if I was to put the Varia on my weekend bike and use that for rides, but at the minute, that isn’t something that I’m doing a lot of, so that would be a lot of money for not a lot of benefit at this point in time.