You Use a Rear Light When Riding Your Bike, Right?
Increasing your visibility while riding a bike is crucial for safety. To achieve this, high-visibility jerseys and bright helmets can be helpful, but nothing beats a blinking light from a visibility perspective. This being said, there is a significant step forward beyond a blinking light when it comes to your awareness of what is going on around you as a rider. Garmin’s Varia radar system came out a few years ago and instantly proved a substantial step forward in rider safety and awareness. If you are not aware of the Varia system, you should be. Here is what we said about the Garmin RLT515.
Garmin recently broadened its Varia options with the addition of the RCT715. The Garmin Varia RCT715 retains all the best-in-class features of the Garmin RLT515 and adds a camera that records as you ride.
Why Would You Want a Camera in the Garmin Varia?
The RCT715 Camera records what happens behind you in three-hour loops during your ride. For example, if you want to report unsafe driving, you will have the recording, and potentially license plate number, to back up your complaint and potentially help locate the driver. The recording gives the authorities a solid piece of evidence rather than a verbal complaint. The recording that the Garmin RCT715 provides is in addition to the flashing rear light and traffic-sensing radar display that the Garmin RCT515 has.
Why Would you not want the RCT715 Camera?
The camera adds some weight to the Varia. The non-camera version of the Varia (RLT515) weighs in at 75 G, about half the weight of the RLT715 at 141 G. While we have a hard time feeling that the safety benefits of the Varia are too much technology for anyone, some people wonder “How much technology is too much”?
The Garmin RLT715 radar with camera is intended to record incidents and not document your trip to share with family and friends. Accessing the video require working within Garmin’s Varia app. The Varia app works to grab a periodic video of an event but it is not an interface that is convenient or designed to video edit regularly. If you want GoPro-style video you should consider a GoPro or Garmin’s own Virb line of cameras. The RLT715 is a safety device.
So, how does the Camera on the Garmin RCT715 work?
The Garmin RCT715 camera offers three programmable modes: Off, Continuous, and Radar-Activated. You can choose based on the traffic patterns and the duration of your ride. The camera records in 1080p/720P with 30 FPS and comes with a 16 GB SD card. The card records in a loop with a viewing angle of 220 degrees. You can save an incident with your Garmin Edge 1040 or a similar device. This video can be given to the police for further investigation. In case of an actual crash, an onboard sensor will lock the footage for future review. All the functions can be controlled via the Garmin Varia app, which is also where you can view the video.
What about the Light on the Garmin RCT715?
The Garmin RCT715 has four light modes: solid, Peloton, Night Flash, and Day Flash. You can choose the best one for you based on the traffic and the length of your ride. The light generates 20 Lumens in solid mode, 8 Lumens in Peloton mode, 21 Lumens in Night Flash mode, and 65 Lumens in Day Flash mode. Depending on the mode selected, the light will last 4-6 hours with the camera recording.
See the Garmin RCT715 in action
Varia App on your Smartphone
Should you not want to use one of the many devices from Garmin or other manufacturers, the Garmin RCT715 can be connected to your smartphone with the Garmin Varia app. Your Apple device needs to be running IOS 14.1 or later. For Android, you need the 5.0 Operating system or higher. Your Android device also must support the Google Play store natively. Additionally, if you want to use the Garmin UT800 headlight, either the Garmin RCT715 or Garmin RLT515, and a Garmin Edge computer head, you can create a network. This will work together to give you additional integrated safety and visibility functions.
Garmin Varia Computer Head Compatibility
Currently, the Garmin RCT715 is compatible with the Garmin Edge 1040, 1030, 100, 840, 830, 820, 810, 540, 530, 520, and 510 head units as well as many Fenix, D2, and other Garmin head units. Also, Garmin made the software open-source. This allows any of the computer head manufacturers to communicate with the Garmin RCT715. For example, Wahoo and Hammerhead are two companies whose computer heads support Varia technology and functionality.
Garmin Varia RCT715 Summary
Garmin has added another arrow to the safety quiver of cyclists with a camera-equipped version of the Varia. By adding the ability to record a ride, the Garmin RCT715 is another tool to help cyclists ride safely. If having a video of what is happening behind you would be helpful get the Garmin Varia RCT715. If not, get the simple and proven RLT515. Regardless, the number one thing we hear from riders after getting a Varia is that they can’t imagine riding without one.
Contact us for more information about the Garmin Varia, to order, or for additional information on our wide array of products and services.