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

Garmin RCT715 radar camera on bike
(Image credit: Garmin)

There are plenty of 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 there’s more to it than just recording what happens behind you.

The RCT715 features what Garmin calls ‘Automatic Incident Capture’. That means it can continually record “before, during and after” an accident, so you get a full view of exactly what was happening. The built-in radar feature can play a big part in all this.

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

The camera itself is recording continuously, just as you’d find in a dash cam for your car. Once it detects an incident the RCT715 will automatically save the footage for later, and prevent it being overwritten. Alternatively, you can set it up to be radar-activated, and means recording will kick in when someone gets too close.

However you decide to set it up, the 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 water resistant and functions as a rear light. So the back of your bike won’t end up cluttered with all sorts of accessories. Different lighting modes are available, with a maximum brightness of 65 lumens, including solid light, Night Flash to make you more noticeable in the dark and Day Flash for opposite.

Garmin is even offering a Peloton mode, which offers a dimmer light for any times you’re riding in a group. Because the last thing any of you need is for the person in front to dazzle you with an overly-bright tail light.

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

However, solid high and night flash modes should offer four hours of use, and that’s with radar and 1080p recording switched on.

Unfortunately, none of this comes cheap. The cheapest Varia camera available is the $150 RVR315, which only had radar. Throw light into the mix and you have the $200 RTL515. If you want the camera as well, the RCT715 will set you back a whopping $400 (opens in new tab)— or £350 in the U.K. (opens in new tab)

But that’s the price you pay to get all those features bundled together, and running for several hours at a time. Not even the best action cameras can hit the 6-hour mark. Though whether you need that much battery all depends on just how much cycling you plan on doing. 

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.