Technology and cycling are having an interesting time at the moment. With companies keen to exploit an affluent market, innovation is everywhere. The new Garmin Varia is yet another gadget you never knew you needed. Or do you?
I have to admit it. When I first saw the promo video for the Garmin Varia I actually thought it was some kind of April fool joke.
Having seen the slick Garmin Edge videos with their cool After-Effects style graphic overlays, the Valeria ad feels much more low budget.
The commentary seems deliberately menacing, as though they are trying to frighten us into thinking we need this new product. As the truck advances towards the rider, the only thing missing is the theme music from JAWS, and the tagline “just when you thought it was safe to go back out on the road…”
This ad made me laugh out loud, for all the wrong reasons.
Dreadful video aside, anything that promotes safety on the roads is a good thing, right?
Yes, if it actually makes any difference to people’s behaviour.
It almost reminds me of the Volvo/POC system that was announced in early 2015. There’s a fine line between technology that enables and technology that almost blinds us to our own natural senses.
You can almost hear the pathetic cries of the car driver in court who complains that he only hit the cyclist because the Volvo/POC cloud server was down. No gadget relieves us of our personal responsibility, and arguably is only a distraction from using the best equipment we already have to perceive risks – our own eyes and ears.
Garmin Varia also integrates with some new Garmin front and rear lights, which change their behaviour according to the presence of other traffic, so it’s not just about the rider receiving a warning of approaching traffic. It’s two-way, so the approaching cars are subject to brighter lights, flashing at greater frequencies as they get closer to the cyclist.
Garmin Varia release date – when is it coming out?
The Garmin Varia will be released in Q3 of 2015, so maybe that means in time for Christmas. Handy.
You’ll be able to buy the base radar unit by itself if you have an Edge 1000 bike GPS unit, as the software in the Edge 1000 has been updated to display data from the Varia. Clever stuff, and it keeps your dashboard uncrowded. Without a compatible Edge unit, you can optionally purchase the Varia display unit, which will attach to your bar with the same quarter turn mount common to Edge GPS devices.
DC Rainmaker produced this nice little video preview of the Varia in action:
Will the Garmin Varia actually achieve anything?
As someone who is excited by technological advances, one half of my brain thinks this is an interesting development. It’s the first time there’s been a commercial bike radar system to alert riders of traffic approaching from the rear.
But I have ears for that, and my musculoskeletal system has evolved to enable me to look over my shoulder.
Hell, somebody even invented elbow mirrors already! Check this out –
RearViz – the poor man’s Garmin Varia?
Here’s some blurb from the product listing for the RearViz:
The Rearviz cycling mirror is a great way to make sure you can see what’s going on around you when you’re out on the road, in fact it’s almost as good as having eyes in the back of your head! By attaching to your arms, instead of your handlebars, the Rearviz mirror offers a clear, unobstructed view of the world behind you.
The RearViz can be purchased from Gizoo, £34.95
I’m not sure if they’re supplied with earplugs, to drown out the sound of other cyclists laughing at you.