220 Triathlon


£349.99 Small device offering many benefits


We last saw the Varia in issue 398 with the earlier RTL515 version (still available at £169.99). But for those new to this little gadget, it acts as a radar and light, linking with your Garmin bike computer or smart phone and notifying you of cars behind you as they approach with a series of lights relating to the number of cars behind and how close they are.

This top-end version differs as it includes a camera function, much like the dash cam in your car, which will film the traffic behind as well and download it to the Garmin Varia app, should you need it.

The last time we saw this device our tester noted that it was pricey and the multitude of flashing in urban areas made it less useful than you might think. However, in this test period we were mainly out on sweeping country roads and passing through small villages, where the additional insight into the traffic was helpful. We should also note that this year’s tester suffers a hearing loss, so having that extra reassuranc­e of knowing what’s happening around us was invaluable, although we’d note that it shouldn’t be used at the expense of traffic awareness.

Pairing was simple and quick with both our 1030 and 1040 head units and the technology in the most part worked well. We did find that if a car stayed behind us at the same speed for a while it dropped off the screen, though, so you still needed to keep an eye out over your shoulder. It would also pick up other cyclists, which in a sportive we tried it in was very handy!

On the whole, a really nice extra bit of safety kit. Gavin Parish garmin.com

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