Bottom line, what do you want from a set of lights? A bright output, good beam dispersion, and multiple functions? Definitely. Linking to your Garmin head unit so that it adapts the beam brightness and positioning relative to your speed? Now, that’s new.
Garmin are best known for their GPS computers, but have recently turned their attention to using their knowhow to improve rider safety through the Varia range. The Varia range includes these lights and also the Rearview Radar (read our review here), which can warn of vehicles approaching from behind.
We’ve put both through their paces, but here let’s take a closer look at the Garmin Varia Smart lights.
Pairable via ANT+ with three of Garmin’s smart-bike-specific computers (the Edge 1000, 520 and 1000 Touring), as well as a the Vivoactive HR multisport watch, the front light is capable of shifting it’s beam further up the road the faster you ride – compensating for reduced reaction times. Slow down, and it points closer to the front wheel.
Additionally, with the Edge 1000, which has a light sensor built in, its power output automatically increases (up to 600 lumens) to compensate for darkening light. Likewise, if you’re an early riser, the light will steadily darken as daylight arrives.
In practice the functionality works well, automatically adjusting to the given conditions of your ride – if you have one of the compatible units – otherwise, you’re left to rely upon the minimal options of full beam or low beam.