Your commuter ebike is great, allowing you to cover most short trips around the city without having to deal with the hassles of a big car. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that bicycles aren’t the safest way to commute on the same urban roads where fast cars and big trucks ply their route, so you absolutely need all the help you can get. The Garmin Varia eRTL615 does just that by giving your ebike a taillight with a built-in rearview radar.
Designed specifically for electric bicycles, the riding accessory provides rear lighting and radar function without needing to be regularly recharged, as it hooks up to the ebike’s existing battery for power. That’s right, you can add safety functions to your ebike without adding another device to take home and plug in to a wall outlet, making it a much more convenient option.
The Garmin Varia eRTL615 consists of a device that looks like a regular taillight, which you can mount to the seat post or the rear rack of your ebike to give you visibility when riding in low-light conditions. According to the outfit, the taillight will be visible to motorists at distances of up to one mile during daylight, so this should be much more visible when it gets darker. It comes with four settings, namely solid (20 lumens), peloton (8 lumens), night flash (29 lumens), and day flash (65 lumens), with the ability to set the flash patterns to go faster when it detects a nearby driver to make sure they’re alerted.
The integrated rearview radar sends out pulses that can bounce off any vehicles approaching from behind up to 150 yards away. Once those signals bounce back, the device analyzes them to determine each vehicle’s distance and how fast each one is approaching. From there, the rider gets a visual and audible alert about the oncoming vehicles, either via a compatible bike computer, a compatible sports watch, or the companion smartphone app (iOS and Android). The device can pair with the compatible devices either using Bluetooth or ANT+.
The Garmin Varia eRTL615 light has a viewing angle of 220 degrees, so it should be visible from a variety of positions, all while getting an IPX7 rating (which means, it can submerge in 3.3 feet of water for 30 minutes), so you can ride in wet conditions without worry of damaging the electronics. For hooking up to your ebike’s battery, it can be ordered with your choice of a cable for a Bosch battery, a Shimano battery, or a standard USB connector. How much power will it draw from the battery? We’re not sure, but it’s probably worth the juice for the extra safety a proper taillight and radar can bring to your everyday commute, especially if you frequently find yourself plying the city streets at night. Other details include a seat rail mounting kit, a dual-bolt friction flange mount adapter, and a weight of 1.8 ounces.