Garmin's Varia radar warns cyclists about traffic they can't see

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Aaron Souppouris
July 1, 2015 7:00 AM
Garmin's Varia radar warns cyclists about traffic they can't see

Six months. That's apparently how long it takes to buy a company, retool their product, and sell it under a new name. Garmin's new Varia Rearview Bike Radar is a rear light that scans up to 140m behind a bicycle for traffic. It then hands that data on to either a compatible Garmin Edge system or a standalone handlebar-mounted unit with an array of lights to warn riders of what's behind them and how fast it's approaching. If you're a keen cyclist, this idea may sound a little familiar. Startup iKubu made a little splash last year with Backtracker, which was essentially the same thing but a little rougher around the edges. Garmin bought the company back in January, and apparently wasted no time turning the Backtracker into what you see above.

Gallery: Garmin Varia range | 7 Photos


The radar system is one aspect of Garmin's new Varia range. It's also marketing a set of smart lights that adapt to your speed and weather conditions. If paired with a compatible Edge GPS system, the Varia headlight will project its beam further ahead at faster speeds, and closer at lower speeds. The matching tail light uses the same data to increase its intensity when a cyclist is slowing down in order to warn approaching traffic, and both can automatically adjust their brightness via the GPS unit's ambient light sensor.

All the Varia products go on sale this fall. The complete radar system will cost $199.99 if you just need the sensor, or $299.99 for a bundle including the handlebar display. The smart bike lights will set you back $199.99 for the headlight, $69.99 for the tail light, or $299.99 for a bundle including a remote.

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Bonus points go to Garmin for creating such a terrifying advert. "The threat is real," people.

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Garmin's Varia radar warns cyclists about traffic they can't see