Dash cam

Garmin’s new Varia camera is like a dash cam for your bike – and it has radar

There are many benefits to having one of the best dash cams in your car, but have you ever considered installing one on your bike? Garmin thinks you should and has launched the Varia RCT715 rear camera to add to your bike. But just recording what’s happening behind you isn’t enough.

The RCT715 features what Garmin calls “automatic incident capture”. This means it can continuously record ‘before, during and after’ an accident, so you get a full view of exactly what happened. The built-in radar function can play a big role in all of this.

The radar system has a viewing angle of 220 degrees and is capable of detecting cars up to 459 feet away. When the radar detects that a vehicle is approaching too close, it can alert you to this fact. The RCT715 is compatible with Garmin smartwatches and cycle computers, but it can also send these alerts to you via the Garmin app.

The camera itself records continuously, like you would find in a dash cam for your car. Once it detects an incident, the RCT715 automatically saves the footage for later and prevents it from being overwritten. Alternatively, you can set it to be radar-activated, which means recording will trigger when someone gets too close.

Whichever way you decide to set it up, footage is saved to the 16GB SD card and can be accessed in the Garmin Varia app.

garmin rct715 radar camera on blue background

(Image credit: Garmin)

If all that wasn’t enough, the Varia RCT715 camera is IPX7 waterproof and functions as a taillight. Thus, the back of your bike will not be cluttered with all kinds of accessories. Different lighting modes are available, with a maximum brightness of 65 lumens, including continuous light, Night Flash to make you more visible in the dark and Day Flash for the opposite.

Garmin even offers a Peloton mode, which offers a dimmer switch whenever you’re riding in a group. Because the last thing you need is for the person in front of you to dazzle you with an overly bright taillight.

Battery life isn’t the best, but what you’ll get is entirely up to the mods you’re using. Garmin says you can get up to six hours of battery life, provided the light is set to daytime flash.

However, the solid high and night flash modes should deliver four hours of use, and that’s with radar and 1080p recording enabled.

Unfortunately, none of this comes cheap. The cheapest Varia camera available is the $150 RVR315, which only had radar. Throw some light into the mix and you have the $200 RTL515. If you also want the camera, the RCT715 will cost you $400 – or £350 in the UK.

But that’s the price you pay to get all these features bundled together and running for several hours at a time. Not even the best action cameras can reach the 6 hour mark. Although you need that much battery, it all depends on how much cycling you plan to do.