Thursday, June 1, 2023
HomeCyclingFirst Impressions: Garmin Varia RCT715 radar with digital camera

First Impressions: Garmin Varia RCT715 radar with digital camera

The freshly up to date Garmin Varia supplies the identical radar and lightweight because the earlier iteration however packs in some up to date and unique options. Probably the most distinguished of those additions is a rear-facing digital camera, just like the one you’d use as a dash-mounted digital camera for accidents and incidents.

Garmin Varia with Camera light and camera

This rear-facing digital camera operates both on command (by way of your Garmin unit or app), everytime the radar senses an oncoming automotive or constantly, so that you don’t have to fret about it in your journey. With the extra tech comes extra battery required to energy all of it, and Garmin up to date its battery life to correlate with the brand new addition. Try the complete tech story for all the main points.

Garmin Varia with Camera

How does it fare in real-life driving conditions, and the way is it to function? Learn on for our first impressions…

Garmin Varia with Camera whats in the box

What’s within the field?

  • Garmin Varia RCT715 radar unit (16G SD Card included-128GB largest supported card)
  • Garmin Kind-C charging cable (new for this mannequin)
  • Up to date Garmin Varia mount and grommets for numerous seat publish shapes at 73°/ 77°
  • Garmin dual-band holder to safe the unit
  • Zip ties to safe the unit (non-obligatory)
  • Instruction booklet

Garmin Varia with Camera weight

Pricing and availability

  • Weight: 148g unit alone
  • Value: $399.99
  • Out there: Now from

Garmin Varia with Camera camera up close

Up to date Varia mount

Once you open the Garmin Varia RCT715 field, the very first thing you’ll discover is the up to date, sturdier mount. The brand new mount is a well-appreciated improve from the earlier model (although KOM biking has a pleasant mount, too).

Garmin Varia with Camera mount locked

The unique mount employed rubber bands that will both be exhausting to connect or too unfastened on an ever-changing panorama of seatposts. The up to date Varia mount makes use of a clasp-style locking piece that secures the unit on a metallic pin within the middle of the mount.

armin Varia with Camera rear of unit compaired

The anchoring piece for the bike attaches with zip ties or up to date bands and one in all many shims that arrive with the unit. The up to date mount is notably extra sturdy and stays put when put in with zip ties and a 4th-hand type instrument.

Garmin Varia with Camera new interior

Garmin Varia RCT715 — set up

Set up of the unit to the seat publish is simple; discover the grommet bumper that corresponds along with your seat publish type, mate it to the mounting bracket and safe it with three zip ties (supplied) or the bands.

Garmin Varia with Camera on KOKO

I do numerous gravel driving and have a tendency to take the gnarly strains when doable, so I opted for the zip tie route.  I used a Park Device BT-2 to get the ties good and safe; the rubber has sufficient give to supply further help and preload.

Garmin Varia with Camera video wide

Varia setup and pairing

Utilizing the brand new Varia app, I paired the Garmin Varia RCT715 to my cellphone after which moved to the Garmin 1080 Plus I’ll use for the assessment. The Varia pairs to your cellphone like most cameras. It asks you to connect with the Varia’s WiFi to view the dwell feed from the digital camera or entry images, whether or not the unit is on or off.

Garmin Varia with Camera SD Card sawp

The Mirco SD-Card comes out simply sufficient if you happen to’d wish to entry the images and video on your private home machine. Merely open the again of the quarter-turn lock and slide the holding clamp upwards, the cardboard will unhinge and launch.

Garmin Varia with Camera SD Card slot

Each the Garmin 1080 plus unit and my cellphone paired shortly. I attempted pairing the unit to our lately reviewed Bryton S500, too, and had zero points. The brand new Varia radar (and former Varia fashions) will work with all computer systems (or smartwatches) that help ANT+ radar items.

Garmin Varia with Camera 1080 interaction


After profitable pairing, the Garmin pc shaped a lightweight community and populated new actions on the settings display screen. These new instructions are just like the display screen you’d see utilizing the Garmin VIRB digital camera. The rider can select the sunshine sample of the Varia, how/when to file or take images, and the battery standing of the unit.

The identical sort of instructions and programming is obtainable by way of the Garmin Varia app in your cellphone if you happen to don’t wish to journey with a head unit or don’t have a appropriate mannequin.

Preliminary journey impressions

I’ve ridden with a Garmin Varia because it first got here to market, so including the brand new Garmin Varia RCT715 to my bike wasn’t exhausting.  Garmin claims you possibly can run the brand new Varia as much as 4 hours with radar and tail mild on stable excessive whereas recording at 1080 — I discovered this to be 100% true. The additional weight is unnoticeable, however I did really feel a slight rise in safety realizing that I had a digital camera onboard out on public streets. And the improved battery life gave me peace of thoughts it’s good for all however the very longest rides.

I spent most of my preliminary rides on shorter routes, by no means maxing out the battery. I did file a bunch, each knowingly and unknowingly. It takes some time to totally perceive whenever you’re recording and dialing the unit into your most well-liked settings. It’s not an enormous deal, although; if you happen to file an excessive amount of, you possibly can completely delete the footage by way of the Varia app and begin recent.

On the fly (by way of the Varia app or your Garmin head unit) you possibly can change the way you’d just like the Varia to file; constantly, solely when the radar senses a automobile or when an incident happens. It’s very simple to alter on the bike and simply as easy to take images or movies on demand.

Garmin Varia with Camera mount

The sunshine output from the Varia is vibrant and supplies a really noticeable “warning” to drivers {that a} bike owner is on the highway forward. The sunshine has low, medium, and excessive fixed mild settings and a disrupted sample for max notation to oncoming drivers. The radar sensor within the Varia can detect a automobile from as much as 153 yards away, evening or day, and the rider is alerted by an audible and loud “beep” from the pc or the paired cellphone.

Garmin Varia with Camera compaired to pervious unit

Outdated and new Varia items

Just like the earlier generations of the Varia, the Achilles heel is driving via thick flinging mud or rain saturated gravel. The mud, gravel, or no matter you journey via can dry on the digital camera display screen and over the radar. A mud-covered sensor makes every part much less efficient and makes me surprise in regards to the long-term readability of the digital camera lens. The lens is crafted from glass, whereas the rest of the unit is plastic. I’m guessing the glass will maintain up properly, however solely time will inform, and in contrast to the Garmin Virb digital camera, the lens doesn’t seem to swap out simply for an additional.

Garmin Varia with Camera batter low

Incident detection

What if the digital camera isn’t recording whenever you get in an accident? If an incident is detected and the recording mode is ready to off, the RCT715 will change the digital camera to steady recording mode as quickly because the incident is detected. The unit will lock footage for the following 60 seconds. There is not going to be a 30-second clip earlier than the incident for the reason that digital camera was disabled on the time of the incident. The one technique to stop the digital camera from switching to the continual recording following an incident is to disable incident recording on the Varia Cell App.


All images and video captured on the Varia are time and date stamped together with the GPS coordinates.

Recording and picture output

The video, picture, and audio (sure, audio too!) are wonderful from my preliminary makes use of. The unit information at 1080p or 720p/30fps, you possibly can change the recording high quality on the fly by way of head unit or Varia app. I’ve recorded utilizing the 1080p/30fps setting more often than not, the footage is crisp however not hyper sharp like the most recent HD motion cams in the marketplace.

It’ll certainly catch at a driver’s license plate or an incident. The audio is an efficient instrument as properly, one that may seize the context of any altercation or accident. Our preliminary recordings are mild of content material however present how the unit can be an asset for anybody driving on the highway.

Feeling optimistic on the highway

My temporary time with the Varia RCT715 has left me very optimistic in regards to the product. I hope that I by no means should make use of the complete good thing about video proof for a lawsuit or one thing of that nature, but it surely does ease my thoughts to have the choice on the prepared. The up to date options like battery run time and the brand new Varia App have been a superb addition to a unit that I exploit each day — particularly the battery life. Subsequent month, lookout for a full assessment after placing the Varia via the race paces and commute.

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