Garmin’s new rear camera watches your back while you ride your bike

Garmin Varia RCT715 Bike Light
(Image credit: Garmin)

Sports tech company Garmin is adding a much-needed camera to its Varia line of bicycle radar and tail lights.

It’s called the Varia RCT715 and houses a 1080p camera that shoots at 30 fps. The device features Automatic Incident Capture that ensures it continues recording “before, during, and after” an accident. So as you can imagine, the RCT715 is a pretty sturdy device.

It has a water resistance rating of IPX7 which means it can survive submerged up to one meter of water for a maximum time of 30 minutes. However, the Varia RCT715 offers no protection against dust or sand.

When turned on, the Varia camera will record continuously and save the footage to the Varia app. You can then transfer that footage to your at-home computer or smartphone. The app will even alert you if the rear camera detects a car getting too close behind you (assuming you have your phone clamped to your bike and viewable while you ride). The RCT715 is also compatible with Garmin’s smartwatches and cycling computers to help keep track of your workouts or send notifications.

Safety first

 While the new camera is the major focus, the other features on the Varia RCT715 are just as important. The camera working properly is dependent on the review radar doing its job.

The Varia’s radar has a viewing angle of 220 degrees and can detect vehicles up to 459 feet away. It's paired with an incredibly bright light that can be seen up to a mile away and has various lighting modes. There’s Solid mode for a continuous light, Peloton mode (part of the system's automated group-riding feature) for a dimmer light that’s easier on the eyes of people behind you, Night Flash for flashing during late-night rides, and Day Flash for mid-day rides. At its brightest, the Varia maxes out at 65 lumens.

Short battery

In a device with this many features, you can expect the battery to drain quickly.

The Varia’s battery life is dependent on which light modes you use and if the camera is recording at 1080p. The shortest lifespan is four hours with either Solid or Night Flash mode turned on. The longest life is six hours with day flash turned on. We asked Garmin if it was possible to extend the battery life further by turning off the camera recording or the radar but it failed to respond.

The Varia RCT715 isn’t cheap either. You can purchase one right now for $399.99 or buy a model with the camera removed for $199.99. If you’re interested in pairing the Varia with a Garmin watch, TechRadar has a guide to help you out.

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.