Garmin Varia bike radar alerts riders to approaching cars

After buying iKubu, Garmin releases Varia radar tail light/transmitter unit

Garmin today announced its new Varia tail-light-based bike radar, which alerts riders to cars coming up from behind and adapts the output of the lights to attract the attention of drivers.

In January, Garmin bought the South African company iKubu, which was developing this bike radar system.

Garmin claims that, in the US at least, 40 percent of cyclists injured in traffic are hit from behind.

The Varia system consists of a radar tail light transmitter and a display unit. The radar detects approaching vehicles from a distance of up to 140m and increases in brightness and flashing intensity as they approach, making the cyclist more visible to the driver. The display unit alerts the cyclist to the presence of approaching vehicles.

The rearview radar can be linked to compatible Edge computers, allowing up to 8 approaching vehicles to be tracked, and ranked according to relative risk using an LED interface or an overlay on the data screen.

The garmin varia bike radar bundle detects vehicles approaching from behind:
The garmin varia bike radar bundle detects vehicles approaching from behind:

The Varia head unit indicates where cars are in relation to the rider, while the tail light adjusts its intensity to the proximity of the vehicles

When linked with a compatible Garmin Edge computer, the Varia lights will adapt to your speed and conditions, automatically turning off when not in motion to prevent battery drain. When paired with the Edge 1000, the Varia light system can also adjust their brightness depending on ambient light levels.

The Varia headlight beam will project further ahead when traveling at faster speeds, drawing the beam closer as the cyclist decelerates. It also produces a focused beam to light the road rather than dispersing the light around, with 100 lux at 10m. A high-beam cut-off reduces the chance of blinding drivers of oncoming vehicles, Garmin says.

As with other rear lights, the Varia tail light can run at steady or flashing settings. As the bike decelerates, the intensity of the light increases. Add a second tail light and users gain the ability to signal turns, either via a linked Edge computer or through the Varia remote, which also controls the light itself.

The radar and the lights can be used independently of each other, or can be integrated and combined with certain Edge computers.

The Varia radar tail light will be available this summer for US$199 / UK£159.99 or for US$299 / UK£239.99 with the display unit. The Varia smart bike lights are available as a bundle including the remote for US$299 / UK£239.99 or separate at US$199 / UK£159.99 for the front light and US$69 / UK£59.99 for the tail light. Australian pricing is yet to be confirmed.

Aoife Glass

BikeRadar Women Contributor, UK
A mountain biker at heart, also drawn to the open road. Likes big long adventures in the mountains. Usually to be found in the Mendip Hills or the Somerset Levels in the UK. Passionate about women's cycling at all levels.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Rocky, rough and a long way from anywhere.
  • Current Bikes: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2015, Juliana Furtado 2013, Canyon Roadlite AL
  • Dream Bike: Juliana Roubion, Liv Avail Advanced SL
  • Beer of Choice: Red wine for the win!
  • Location: Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK

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