<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=915327909015523&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1" target="_blank"> Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Man in a high-visibility shirt on a bicycle

Can technology make cycling safer?

The riding season is soon upon us, and it doesn't matter whether you have been riding the trainer or the couch this winter, the first ride always comes with some trepidation. Will the roads be in rougher shape — with gravel strewn where I want to be riding? How bad am I going to suffer on the flattest route from my house? And lastly, will cars be paying less attention — as they are not yet back in tune with cyclists on the road?

The first two are pretty much a given: The roads will be a mess, and no matter how much training I have done, the first ride out is always harder than expected. But the third concern can be partially mitigated with technology.

As our world becomes more connected, so has the interface between bikes and cars. Cars are beginning to put technology into pedestrian and cyclist collision avoidance. And now cyclists have access to technology that detects where cars are in reference to the cyclist — and if they are exceeding local speed limits.

The product I am talking about is the Varia Radar from Garmin. The Garmin Varia Radar and Tail Light is a cycling accessory that offers numerous benefits to riders. It is designed to provide enhanced visibility and safety on the road, and it achieves this by utilizing advanced technology. In this article, we will take a closer look at the benefits of the Varia and why it is a must-have for any active cyclist.

Increased visibility

The first benefit of the Varia is increased visibility, achieved through the use of a powerful tail light visible from up to a mile away. The tail light uses a series of bright, high-intensity LED lights to ensure that you are visible to motorists and other cyclists. This is particularly important when riding in low-light conditions or when it is dark outside. The tail light has several different modes, including a solid mode and a flashing mode, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Rearview radar

The Varia also features rearview radar. This radar system is designed to detect cars that are approaching from behind and alert you to their presence. The radar works by detecting the movement of objects behind you and displaying a visual representation of them on your bike computer or compatible smartphone. This is particularly useful when riding on busy roads or in heavy traffic, as it allows you to anticipate the movements of cars and take appropriate action to avoid potential accidents. I find it quite useful when riding on back roads where I like to ride side-by-side. It gives me plenty of warning so I can fall back into a single file line, making it safer for the cars to pass.

And for those that want the additional safety of video, there is a version that records what's behind you and — in the case of an incident — will capture and record before, during, and after the event, as proof of what happened.


The Varia Radar is compatible with a range of devices, including bike computers and smartphones. This allows you to receive alerts and notifications directly to your device, keeping you informed of important information while on the road. For example, you can receive alerts when a car is approaching from behind or when you need to turn left or right. This smart connectivity also allows you to control the settings of the tail light, such as the brightness and flashing mode, directly from your device.

Long battery

The Varia Radar also boasts a long battery life and is super easy to install. The radar tail light can be easily mounted to the back of your bike, either to your seat or to the seat post. The Varia is packaged in a lightweight and compact shell, meaning it won't add any unnecessary weight to your bike. The tail light and radar system also feature quick-release mechanisms, allowing you to easily remove it when not in use. This amazing little safety device can be had for $199.99, or $399 for the camera feature. There is a more affordable option of $149 which has no light. These can be purchased from your local bike shop in-store or online. It always helps to have a pro help you set it up, you can check it out here.

While we cannot control the road conditions or the awkwardness of our first ride, we can control a bit of the safety aspect. This is one of those products that comes along that you didn't know you needed until you use it. I have become so reliant on it that when I do not have it I equate it to driving without a seatbelt. I truly believe the Varia Radar is an essential accessory for any cyclist that wants to add a simple device to make all future cycling trips safer. The Garmin Varia provides the safety and peace of mind I need to enjoy my ride.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.