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cheap Garmin Varia radar entry point?

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cheap Garmin Varia radar entry point?

Old 11-03-20, 03:55 AM
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justslow
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cheap Garmin Varia radar entry point?

I've been reading lots about the Garmin Varia radar units and would like to get started with one.

I see the Garmin Varia RVR315 advertised for $139. I have an old but perfectly functional Samsung Galaxy S5 with an outdated version of Android.

Is this combo sufficient to get started using the radar unit?

Would I need to download RideWithGPS (or similar) just to get the display of cars approaching?
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Old 11-03-20, 08:27 AM
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Pretty sure that a phone won’t work with the Varia, you’ll either need a compatible computer or the dedicated Garmin radar display unit.
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Old 11-03-20, 11:00 AM
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You would need Ride with GPS or the Varia app on your phone. There's also the varia display unit:

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/582636
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Old 11-03-20, 12:04 PM
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I stand corrected, didn’t realize it was compatible with phones.
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Old 11-03-20, 06:00 PM
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The very early models go for $60 used on Ebay and are ANT+ only.
Mid models can be found new for same price as used.
Newer models have BT, so will work with phones, as only a few Android phones have ANT+, no Apples do.
Software for BT on phones may be an issue.
Not sure if the ANT+/BT bridges work with the Varia *, but would add $50.
Too great a demand for discounts and for many used ones to be out there.
Seems folks tend to hang on to them. Hmmm

Edit
DCRainmaker has good review
https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2020/05/...ar-review.html
* Comment in May 2020 says bridge not working with the Varia RTL500

Last edited by bikebikebike; 11-04-20 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 11-03-20, 07:55 PM
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The replies have been most helpful. Thanks to each.

Does anyone use a Varia without RideWithGPS or similar? It seems like overkill just to use the radar functionality. However, it's a no cost solution.

If I start considering a Varia RVR315, bike computer, HRM, cadence and speed sensors and multiple mounts (2 bikes) it quickly adds up to about $600. I can't afford the whole package so I'm looking for a way to get started on a budget. Looks like the RVR315 and using an old phone is the lowest $ entry point. I'm happy with my Cateye devices so I can keep using them.
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Old 11-03-20, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
You would need Ride with GPS or the Varia app on your phone. There's also the varia display unit:

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/582636
Well dang that's a good display unit price at $99. It might be better than trying to keep an old phone/old Android version working.
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Old 11-04-20, 04:07 PM
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The RTL 510 and RTL 515 radars are both offered as a bundle with the display unit. Check to see if the RTL 315 is also offered as a bundle. My riding buddy has the RTL 510 bundle and he really likes the display unit. Kept him from having to buy a compatible GPS computer to replace the Bryton he already has.

As for having to purchase separate mounts for different bikes, take a look at the post on this forum about using the Varia with a DIY saddlebag mount. The mount and radar simply slides into the loop in the rear of the saddlebag while an O-ring keeps it from falling out.
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Old 11-04-20, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
I stand corrected, didnít realize it was compatible with phones.
I have had the radar since version 1 was introduced, and I did not know this either.
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Old 11-04-20, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by justslow View Post
Well dang that's a good display unit price at $99. It might be better than trying to keep an old phone/old Android version working.
I bought an Edge 25 to use as a head unit when I got my radar. I eventually upgraded to a 130. Both of those aren't much more pricey than the display-only unit.
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Old 11-04-20, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by John_V View Post
The RTL 510 and RTL 515 radars are both offered as a bundle with the display unit. Check to see if the RTL 315 is also offered as a bundle. My riding buddy has the RTL 510 bundle and he really likes the display unit. Kept him from having to buy a compatible GPS computer to replace the Bryton he already has.

As for having to purchase separate mounts for different bikes, take a look at the post on this forum about using the Varia with a DIY saddlebag mount. The mount and radar simply slides into the loop in the rear of the saddlebag while an O-ring keeps it from falling out.
Good idea about looking for bundles. I will research.

I found the discussion about the saddlebag mount using the included band and device mount. Since I could use the mounts included in the product that would be perfect. If it works well, I could get another for the other bike. Thanks.
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Old 11-04-20, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I bought an Edge 25 to use as a head unit when I got my radar. I eventually upgraded to a 130. Both of those aren't much more pricey than the display-only unit.
I'm checking on the Edge 25 right now. I sure like the simplicity and form factor. The price is good too!

I don't know if my current Cateye sensors will pair with anything but Cateye head units. I have a full wireless Cateye suite on each bike - HRM, cadence and speed. If my Cateye sensors won't pair with (e.g.) an Edge 25 then the cost grows to include new sensors all around. I'm hoping to find an "upgrade path" whereby my initial outlay is limited but over time I can get to one platform. I can continue to use the Cateye devices until I can afford new sensors, and then get rid of the Cateye entirely. Not that I dislike the Cateye but one ecosystem is enough.

Did you have other sensors paired with the Edge 25?

Anyone every pair Cateye sensors with other head units?

Thanks for the reply.
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Old 11-04-20, 08:11 PM
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I've never paired either my 25 (RIP, went through the laundry) or 130 with anything other than the radar, but I think you can pair them with speed and cadence sensors, heart monitor, etc. So they might work. The 25 I seem to recall only uses the speed/cadence sensors when you are on a trainer, which is kind of an idiotic limitation.

There is a HUGELY useful resource for this stuff, if you haven't come across it: DC Rainmaker

Here is his review of the Edge 25

also, the Radar

I think the Edge 25 is at the end of its lifetime. My main complaint is the battery lifetime.
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Old 11-06-20, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I have had the radar since version 1 was introduced, and I did not know this either.
The newer RTL 515 and RVR 315 are compatible with cell phones since they now have Bluetooth. Earlier versions of the radar are not phone compatible.
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Old 11-08-20, 09:32 AM
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I’d recommend the 515 as it’s also a rear light. Since you don’t mention a head unit, I assume you have a mount of some sort for your phone. That way, you can run Varia app, or ridewithgps. I agree 315 might get you going for less, but 515 has a very good light that also goes into a different flash mode when it detects a vehicle behind.
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Old 11-08-20, 10:50 AM
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The Edge 25 seems too small to me, not enough real estate to capture my attention for radar notification.
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Old 11-09-20, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by kissTheApex View Post
Iíd recommend the 515 as itís also a rear light. Since you donít mention a head unit, I assume you have a mount of some sort for your phone. That way, you can run Varia app, or ridewithgps. I agree 315 might get you going for less, but 515 has a very good light that also goes into a different flash mode when it detects a vehicle behind.
As I learn more, my choices are changing. The current plan is to wait a bit and get a Wahoo Bolt head unit and a Varia RTL515 radar and tail light. For speed and cadence, the Wahoo Blue SC unit looks good. I will need 2 of these because I have 2 bikes. Add in a Wahoo HRM and I'll have a good "starter" system.

All this comes to just about $650. Santa may help with some of the sensors. I ride on the road and I think the warning sensor will help me stay safe.
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Old 11-10-20, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by justslow View Post
As I learn more, my choices are changing. The current plan is to wait a bit and get a Wahoo Bolt head unit and a Varia RTL515 radar and tail light. For speed and cadence, the Wahoo Blue SC unit looks good. I will need 2 of these because I have 2 bikes. Add in a Wahoo HRM and I'll have a good "starter" system.

All this comes to just about $650. Santa may help with some of the sensors. I ride on the road and I think the warning sensor will help me stay safe.
If you plan on using the radar with a Wahoo Bolt, I would suggest that you look around for an RTL 510 instead. They should still be available and the only difference is the Bluetooth and one extra light mode (for group rides). If you don't need either of those options on the RTL515, the 510 will save you a few bucks.
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Old 11-10-20, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by John_V View Post
If you plan on using the radar with a Wahoo Bolt, I would suggest that you look around for an RTL 510 instead. They should still be available and the only difference is the Bluetooth and one extra light mode (for group rides). If you don't need either of those options on the RTL515, the 510 will save you a few bucks.
The advantage of being on a tight budget is that one can(must) go slowly with purchases. I continue to waffle and weave on my decisions which is fine for now. Your suggestion of getting the 510 over the 515 is duly noted. Thanks.
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Old 11-10-20, 05:28 PM
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I have every version of the Varia radar that's been available going back to the original.

Here are your answers:
  1. The original and Varia 2 only work on ANT+. So unless you have specific cell phones that support ANT+, it won't work with a cell phone.
  2. You can still find the Varia 2 taillight around for $129-149. You can also find units with the head unit so you don't need a phone or bike computer at all.
  3. The new Varia 315 (no light) and the 515 with light have both ANT+ and BT connectivity. Garmin supplies a phone app for both iOS and Android that gives you a display, audio and vibration warning. This works pretty well.
Paraphrasing Ray Maker (DCRainmaker): "There are two kinds of people when it comes to Garmn's Varia Radar- those that love it and those that haven't tried it." He nailed it with that one.

Garmin, Wahoo, Hammerhead, and somebody else now are supporting the Varia directly to the head unit of the bike computer.
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Old 11-13-20, 03:27 PM
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OP. REI has a 20% off sale going on, which brings rtl515 down to $160. “Gearup2020” if I’m remembering correctly.
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