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Radar love

Old 06-12-22, 12:21 PM
  #1  
Pinelander
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Radar love

I started using a mirror several years ago due to disc problems in my neck, as well as hearing loss. I don't wear my hearing aids when riding because the wind noise drowns everything out. Using a mirror made a world of difference, although occasionally I'd be lost in thought or zoning out on the surroundings and that's when an unexpected car would fly by. I found myself constantly glancing in the mirror, always looking for the next threat. I recently got a Garmin Edge 130 Plus and the Varia RVR315 Rear Radar sensor hoping it would increase my safety and allow me to enjoy the ride more.

I will never ride without this setup again.

I'm sure I'm not the first one here to discover this, but I can't get over what a difference it has made. It picks up cars 500 ft away and dots on the display show them as they approach, as well as how many. Up to 8 cars. There are audible beeps too. Some of the roads I ride are a bit rough and the smoothest parts are out in the lane. Before, I'd always be worrying about a car coming up unexpectedly and would be constantly glancing over. Now I get an 8-10 second audible warning. More often than not, I get an alert before I can see them in the mirror. It also works without a computer by downloading a free Garmin Varia phone app.

The only issue I had at first was not always hearing the tone. I solved that with a single earpiece and ran the app on my phone where I could make the tone louder. You would think there would be a volume control, but I haven't found it. Accidents will happen, but along with the mirror, I think the Varia goes far to mitigate the risk.

I haven't been using this too long. Do any long time users have any useful tips or observations?

Stay safe out there!
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Old 06-12-22, 01:47 PM
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Gotta be cool now, gotta take care,........ one more radar lover gone!"
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Old 06-12-22, 01:48 PM
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I'd try one if they weren't so expensive. Given that I've been riding for over 40 yrs and never had a close call it's hard to justify the price.
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Old 06-12-22, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I'd try one if they weren't so expensive. Given that I've been riding for over 40 yrs and never had a close call it's hard to justify the price.
You can get the radar + tail light for $150 at the moment from Garmin and Amazon.
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Old 06-12-22, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I'd try one if they weren't so expensive. Given that I've been riding for over 40 yrs and never had a close call it's hard to justify the price.
Tick, tick, tick...

I started riding in my teens. Never really had a close call until my late 60s when I was struck by a passing car that refused to move over the center line to pass. I was riding on the white line on the right side of the road with no shoulder beyond it, and there was no oncoming traffic.
There are so many more distracted / impaired / just plain stupid drivers on the road today, as compared to 40+ years ago.
You can get a Varia radar unit for $150 or so now. I just upgraded mine to the new unit with the light and camera for a lot more. Reducing my chances of being hit again justifies the price to me, at least.
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Old 06-12-22, 05:59 PM
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I got the Varia for my wife two years ago. She wonít ride without it and concurs with the OPís observations.
We always tour together, and when I follow I see the overtaking traffic give her an even wider berth when the light flashes more frantically if the vehicle is close AND inside the risk cone. The device impressed me on that point alone. I think the detection and signal processing is excellent.
If it werenít for the price Iíd have one too.
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Old 06-12-22, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
You can get the radar + tail light for $150 at the moment from Garmin and Amazon.
That's good news. I was seeing them for at least twice that price.
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Old 06-12-22, 06:48 PM
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It's kinda sad to think that us cyclists need devices such as these to keep us safe but whatever it takes. I'm sure at some point this will just be a standard built in feature with new bikes along with the rest of the electronic gadgets we use today.

I guess us old dudes riding our vintage bike will have to rely on spidey senses to stay safe!
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Old 06-12-22, 07:15 PM
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Congrats on a great thread title. lol
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Old 06-12-22, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
That's good news. I was seeing them for at least twice that price.
???

The list price of the RTL515 (the most expensive model) is $200. The list price of the RTL510 (the prior version released on 2018) was $200.

(Note that these require some sort of head unit or phone.)

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-12-22 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 06-12-22, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by PacificSpray View Post
I got the Varia for my wife two years ago. She wonít ride without it and concurs with the OPís observations.
We always tour together, and when I follow I see the overtaking traffic give her an even wider berth when the light flashes more frantically if the vehicle is close AND inside the risk cone. The device impressed me on that point alone. I think the detection and signal processing is excellent.
If it werenít for the price Iíd have one too.
You and she can simultaneously link hers, so if you ride together, you get 2 for 1.

For $150 I decided to get another one, figuring someone in the family will make use of it.
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Old 06-12-22, 08:23 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
You and she can simultaneously link hers, so if you ride together, you get 2 for 1.
Sharing works OK. You just have to keep in mind that the car positions are relative to the unit (which is a bit weird if you have some distance between you and the unit).

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-12-22 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 06-12-22, 11:28 PM
  #13  
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Have been using Varia for 1.5 years and its a game changer. Many broken roads where the only smooth place to ride is the center of the lane (we are talking 2 lane country roads). The Varia provides ample warning to move over as well as a count of vehicles and an all clear tone when the last has past me. Today I went out to do a 40 mile ride and 2 miles in I received a low battery warning for the Varia. It died with 15 miles to go as I was entering a narrow very twisty 2 lane road (Mercer Island). After having it as a safety net for all this time, and having it off, I really appreciated how good it is.

I used a mirror for years and there is no comparison. No affiliation to Garmin.
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Old 06-13-22, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
???

The list price of the RTL515 (the most expensive model) is $200. The list price of the RTL510 (the prior version released on 2018) was $200.

(Note that these require some sort of head unit or phone.)
Apparently, I was looking at a different model. My bad. Thanks.
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Old 06-13-22, 04:02 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
Apparently, I was looking at a different model. My bad. Thanks.
There is/was no model that cost $300.

The most expensive one is/was $200.

There was a bundle with a head unit (of sorts).

There is also the camera that also has radar, which is $400 but it’s very new. Given that it costs two RTL515, it’s more of a camera than a radar.

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-13-22 at 04:07 AM.
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Old 06-13-22, 05:31 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
There is/was no model that cost $300.

The most expensive one is/was $200.

There was a bundle with a head unit (of sorts).

There is also the camera that also has radar, which is $400 but itís very new. Given that it costs two RTL515, itís more of a camera than a radar.
Correct and the one with the camera is the one that came up when I did a search.
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Old 06-13-22, 07:43 AM
  #17  
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I wear a Coolmax Headsweats skull cap to cover my hearing aids. Does a good job blocking wind noise.
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Old 06-13-22, 09:20 AM
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Riding for over 40 years and never had a close call...

I've been riding for over 35-years and have had 4 bike/car collisions and countless close calls. I've been using a mirror for the vast majority of those >35-years and it's great for preventing close calls from becoming more than that.
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Old 06-13-22, 09:56 AM
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I've been riding for over forty years without a mirror and never had any issues.

I just don't see where what's behind you is more important than what is in front or to your left or right. If you ride a predictable line, then those behind you will know what to expect and will avoid you.

For those behind you that have mal intent or are oblivious to you I doubt you'll recognize that in your mirror in time to save you.

I do like my varia radar though. I don't like other cyclist with mirrors that behave weirdly and unpredictably when I approach from behind on my bike.
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Old 06-13-22, 11:41 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
I'm sure at some point this will just be a standard built in feature with new bikes along with the rest of the electronic gadgets we use today.
Now imagine if instead of making that a standard built in feature on new bikes, there was a standard built in feature on new cars that prevented the driver from plowing into cyclists.
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Old 06-13-22, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I've been riding for over forty years without a mirror and never had any issues.

I just don't see where what's behind you is more important than what is in front or to your left or right. If you ride a predictable line, then those behind you will know what to expect and will avoid you.

For those behind you that have mal intent or are oblivious to you I doubt you'll recognize that in your mirror in time to save you.

I do like my varia radar though. I don't like other cyclist with mirrors that behave weirdly and unpredictably when I approach from behind on my bike.
Counterpoint -- I won't ride without a mirror, which I find extremely valuable for checking traffic patterns and watching for things like impending right hooks, and also to help me with politely assertive lateral lane positioning. If I want or need to merge or change lanes, I use the mirror first to identify a gap in traffic, before looking back to verify the gap.
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Old 06-13-22, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
If I want or need to merge or change lanes, I use the mirror first to identify a gap in traffic, before looking back to verify the gap.
This is super important and I imagine is not something the radar would help you with. On one of my road bikes I have this little mirror disguised as the drop bar end plug, which swings down to reflect what's behind me. Seemed like a good idea when I saw it online but the mirror is so small it's near useless. Cranking my head around to see if I can switch across lanes to make a left is getting uncomfortable and dangerous. I think I need to get a better mirror but I would like it to be something very discreet. Nothing says I'm an old man on a bike more than a big ass mirror on the handlebar ha ha. (I know, give in and except the inevitable)
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Old 06-13-22, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
... I think I need to get a better mirror but I would like it to be something very discreet. Nothing says I'm an old man on a bike more than a big ass mirror on the handlebar ha ha. (I know, give in and except the inevitable)
CyclAware helmet-mounted mirror!

CycleAware mirror on my Giro XEN helmet.


Works particularly well for those with N+1 bikes.
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Old 06-13-22, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Have been using Varia for 1.5 years and its a game changer. Many broken roads where the only smooth place to ride is the center of the lane (we are talking 2 lane country roads). The Varia provides ample warning to move over as well as a count of vehicles and an all clear tone when the last has past me. Today I went out to do a 40 mile ride and 2 miles in I received a low battery warning for the Varia. It died with 15 miles to go as I was entering a narrow very twisty 2 lane road (Mercer Island). After having it as a safety net for all this time, and having it off, I really appreciated how good it is.

I used a mirror for years and there is no comparison. No affiliation to Garmin.
On Garmin Connect IQ app there is a free download - Varia Radar Battery - you can add the Varia's battery monitor to the screen on your computer.
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Old 06-13-22, 03:47 PM
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Does riding in a group or having others riders on your wheel affect the performance of the radar?
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