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Garmin Varia RTL515 Review: Your Guide To The Best Bike Tail Light in Cycling

It’s not every day I get to review a bike accessory that I know will save lives. This Garmin Varia RTL515 review will cover the advanced features riders need to stay safe on the road. Radar tail lights that actually work effectively will be the best tool on your bike to keep you safe. Helmets are important, but accident avoidance with proper lighting is equally important.

I’ve used many different tail lights over the years. None of them with the same $200 price tag the Varia RTL515 comes with. Several have been in excess of $100 but none of them have been worth their price tag the way the Garmin Varia is.

Does The Garmin Varia RTL515 Work With Wahoo Computers?

Two of the most popular brands of cycling computer are Garmin and Wahoo. The Edge series from Garmin has been a smash hit and all of them work seamlessly with the Varia RTL515. A safety feature as amazing as the Varia should not be kept from Wahoo users. Thankfully, its not.

Wahoo Elemnt and Bolt computers are compatible with the Varia RTL515 tail light. Cross compatibility is rare in the cycling industry. Most companies make their products proprietary to guarantee performance. (More on that in my Serfas True 600 C Headlight review where I talk about mounting compatibility not working with Bontrager lights.)

It is great to see companies working together when it comes to products affecting rider safety.

Does The Garmin Varia Work Without A Cycling Computer?

Even though I have the Garmin Edge 1030 there have been times I let the battery die and still want to use my tail light. As long as I have my smartphone the Varia taillight will work just fine. Simply download the Garmin Varia app and adjust the taillight settings however you see fit.

Because my phone screen is larger than my computer screen there are times where I will sync the Varia with only my phone. The display is clearer and the settings can be adjusted on the fly with the app open. Just make sure you have a solid phone mount on your bike.

The best part of this amazing taillight is how great it looks. Even on my SLR 7 race Domane the tail light looks great. If you already use your phone for Strava or any other cycling apps adding the Varia to your arsenal will be easy.

Is the Garmin Varia RTL515 Worth It?

The price tag is steep at $200 for a light. If you’ve never ridden with a radar tail light, you don’t know what you are missing. I committed to a 21 day trial and now I won’t ride without it. In Peloton or Group Ride Mode the tail light only lets you know about the riders that are advancing to pass you.

The performance has been amazing. I have never seen the radar confuse a cyclist and a car. I have never seen the tail light “miss” or not notify me of a car that passes. This tail light really has worked with near 100% accuracy. The only time the radar was wrong was in a situation where it gave a false positive of a vehicle that was actually on the other side of a median.

How Durable Is The Garmin Varia Mount?

The weakest point on this tail light is the mounting hardware. It uses a rubber O-Ring system that feels like it could fall apart at any moment. I am happy to report, after 900+ miles of gravel trail, this taillight hasn’t moved at all.

Looks are deceiving here because I’ve taken a few spills and the mounting bracket stays in place. The tail light itself connects to the mount the same way most computers mount. Its a quarter turn locking mount that virtually guarantees your tail light is not falling off the mount. So far so good on the mount staying connected to the bike.

If you enjoyed this Garmin Varia RTL515 review and want to buy the tail light for yourself or a love one you can do so from your local bike shop, or directly from the Garmin Website Here.

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