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Garmin Varia Useful in Suburbia?

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Southern California Southern California
View Poll Results: Garmin Varia Useful in Surburbia
Useful
7
63.64%
Useful but Annoying
3
27.27%
Useless
1
9.09%
Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

Garmin Varia Useful in Suburbia?

Old 04-05-23, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Tycho Brahe
One day, my Garmin wearable asked me if I wanted to connect with the Varia. Sure, why not. Quickly disabled it since while it might be easy to ignore on a head unit, it is way more difficult when on your wrist.
for me, I cycle with earbuds in at all times. It helps keep me aware when I'm lost in the music.
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Old 04-24-23, 03:30 PM
  #27  
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Just got my RTL515. This thing is huge!
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Old 04-24-23, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Just got my RTL515. This thing is huge!
It'll handily conceal all that unsightly exposed seatpost.
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Old 04-24-23, 11:50 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR
I do not have one or any interest at this time.
Out of curiosity, if you have good hearing, do not ride in heavy traffic, and usually do not cross lanes to hang a left turn without giving a long full head turn look, what does it offer to you that is worth the investment?
In other words, would ordinary cautious road skills do the same thing?
as mentioned here and there, it comes in handy with registering multiple vehicles vs just the one you hear/can see with a quick head turn. wind, time of day, fatigue all come in to/into play.
in the area you frequent, it's more of a cycling impediment ahead *untrimmed branches-bushes, mudslide/rockfall from recent rains, inappropriately parked car/truck/construction vehicle,
pothole/bleepy pavement/broken glass, usps truck/garbage truck, pedestrian/loose dog/puddle/stream* thing vs a constant stream of traffic like riding on harbor, colima, hacienda or the like.
have come across a multitude of cya situations (some reffed above) during my all too infrequent excursions into the whittier/la habra/chino hills areas. personally ride everywhere like there's a
few cars right behind me because there usually are in socal. went on a 40 mile today with roughly 10 miles in a lower density area. didn't bring the varia (was on another bike) and didn't
feel like it was needed today but you never know. vast majority of the cars/motorcycles i've come across in approx 12 rides (in a decade) in your neck of the woods have been respectful.
only come across two situations there (one car/one motorcycle-both weekday, one am one pm) on the smaller/non-arterial roads that were wtf and inappropriate. however you protect yourself
(time of day/night riding, blinkers and or lights/reflective clothing, certain routes/roads), it's another potential tool in the toolbox.

and yes, have been "surprised" (while riding in the la habra hills before the garmin varia purchase) by multiple, identical gardening trucks following each other closely when doing the listening/head turn test.
obviously survived but thankfully wasn't looking to cut behind the first truck to access a street to the left at the time. had i been, mighta been a different story.

Last edited by diphthong; 04-25-23 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 04-28-23, 09:23 PM
  #30  
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First ride with my Varia RTL515 today, paired with my iPhone.

My first impressions were largely favorable. On Day Flash mode the Varia is bright enough that I did not have to also mount my Cygolite 90 on the left seat stay; I guess the latter is mostly staying home from now on. I rode a different route than the usual few today (to avoid schools letting out) and this route has a few roads where the paved shoulder was not a bike lane, and so there were a few parked cars which I had to avoid by moving into the traffic lane. The Varia gave me much better situational awareness of what was behind me than I could achieve by looking back at and listening for approaching traffic. The constant alerts were not as annoying as what I have read. In the iOS app, the chime only sounds for the first approaching vehicles; additional vehicles show up in the visual indicator without the chime sounding again. The only annoyance is that I have to swipe back and forth between the Varia app and the Waze app, but that was only because I was taking a new route today.

I like the Varia enough to look for more sturdy mounts.
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Old 05-13-23, 10:54 PM
  #31  
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Update re: Ride with GPS

Paired my Varia with the Ride with GPS iOS app, the only third party app which supports Garmin Varia. Works well but drains iPhone battery rather quickly.
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Old 05-14-23, 04:18 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Paired my Varia with the Ride with GPS iOS app, the only third party app which supports Garmin Varia. Works well but drains iPhone battery rather quickly.
battery on iphone or garmin head unit seems to drain rather quickly when linked to the varia when riding in suburbia and/or/mixed civilization. if riding in the sammos (santa monica mtns) with the varia and a garmin head unit (both fully charged at start) and both on the entire time, get 7.5/8 hrs on the garmin head unit. plenty of rides where i've turned the varia both on and off multiple times for difficult stretches to save battery life along with relevance.
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Old 05-14-23, 12:22 PM
  #33  
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diphthong Going to run the RTL515 with the Varia IOS app from now on, with Strava running in the background, to prolong battery life.
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Old 05-14-23, 11:51 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
diphthong Going to run the RTL515 with the Varia IOS app from now on, with Strava running in the background, to prolong battery life.
if you're riding less than 6 hours at a time, shouldn't be an issue whatsoever. really comes into play doing centuries or jump and cut long days.
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Old 05-16-24, 10:25 PM
  #35  
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Works Less Well When Paired with Edge 540

I have now happily used my Varia RTL-515 for over a year, paired with Varia iOS app (on my iPhone 14 Pro Max).

I recently joined a riding group to train for a charity ride in October and need a GPS head unit for turn-by-turn directions. I tried RideWithGPS again and the battery drain rate was over 15% per half hour. So, I bought a Garmin Edge 540 and added the Varia as a sensor. IMHO, the Varia functions are worse on the Edge 540 than the iOS app because:

1. Multi-tone alert is annoying because Garmin would not let you set the volume! (I have changed it to single tone for my next ride but am concerned than I might miss an alert.) Whereas, with the iOS app, I can change the volume depending on my riding environment.
2. I don't know if it is the smaller screen size or the (presumably) lower display refresh rate of the Edge 540, but the vehicle tracking is much smoother on the iOS app. This makes it harder to time when to change lanes to make a left turn.
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