Six months. It seems that’s how long it takes to buy a company, reconfigure its production, and start selling under a new name. The new Garmin Varia bike radar is a rear taillight that scans the space behind the bike up to 140 meters away, detecting the presence of cars. The data is transmitted either to a compatible Garmin Edge system or to a separate handlebar device that alerts the cyclist to what is behind and how fast it is approaching. If you’re familiar with the startup iKubu and its Backtracker radar from last year, this idea may sound familiar to you: Garmin acquired the company in January of this year and turned the Backtracker into Varia.
The radar system is just one aspect covered by the new Garmin Varia lineup. The company also offers a set of smart lights that adapt to the bike’s speed and weather conditions. When connected to a compatible GPS system like the Edge, the Varia front light will shine further when the speed increases, and when slowing down, the light will be projected closer to the bike. The included rear light uses the same data to increase brightness during braking, warning cars behind. Additionally, both lights can adjust their brightness based on external lighting sensor readings.
The entire Varia gadget lineup will be available for sale this fall. The radar system kit will cost $199.99 (if you only need the sensor) or $299.99 (sensor and handlebar display). The smart light system will cost you $199.99 for the front light and $69.99 for the rear light. The kit (including the remote control) is priced at $299.99.
Thank you very much to Garmin for this advertisement. The threat is indeed real.