Radar Comes to GPS

Eli Post

Just when you thought you had the latest technology for your biking, a new gadget comes along that cries out to be purchased. The one we report on today feels more like science fiction, but we assure you it is real, it is available, and it will make biking safer for you. Essentially, we speak of a radar device that tells you about overtaking traffic and the speed of approach. Yes indeed, space age technology to support your bike riding.

Ride With GPS and Garmin have teamed up to provide a device and connecting software to make your riding safer. Garmin developed Varia, a rearview bike radar and smart bike lights system, which warns cyclists of vehicles approaching from behind, while also alerting approaching vehicles of a cyclist ahead. Users now have the ability to connect the Garmin Varia rearview radar or the tail light unit with their Ride with GPS mobile app and receive in-app notifications about approaching vehicles in real-time.

During a ride, the app will change colors to indicate when vehicles are approaching and to provide warning of vehicles traveling at high speed. Audio notifications will allow riders to keep their eyes on the road, with different tones to indicate when there are vehicles approaching, to warn of vehicles traveling at higher speeds, and alert when all’s clear. Gray band for all clear, green for cars detected, and red for high-alert cars approaching.

There are two Garmin units available for under $200 from Amazon. Both provide alerts for rear-approaching vehicles, and the higher priced one does so from a shorter distance, and also features a red flasher light..

One of our members, Dom Jorge, purchased a Garmin Varia about a year ago and loves it. He reports that the warnings are reliable, and finds it especially useful on solo rides. If there is a steady stream of traffic you only get one aural warning but you can see how many vehicles are approaching, which Dom finds helpful. Dom is a retired commercial pilot who is familiar with radar applications so his observations have added value.

Bernie Flynn is a former CRW President and has been using a Varia for years. He says "Personally I find mirrors distracting and of limited usefulness so the radar is what I rely on to inform me of approaching vehicles. I can keep my eyes on the road." Bernie also reports that the battery lasts about 5-8 hours depending on what mode you have it on and how many cars are passing. He feels "It could last a century ride depending on how fast you rode." 

This article was intended to alert you to the existence of a radar device for your riding. Unfortunately as of this writing, we have not met anyone who has the newer units that integrate with your RWGPS cell phone app.We hope to have an update for you in the near future, and would like to report on such issues as installation, and use of the various displays. 

For more information:

RWGPS Product Description


RWGPS Product Help


Garmin Product Information


Amazon Product Information
Eli Post is Editor of WheelPeople.