Garmin Just Made Commuting Much Safer—and Strava Even More Addicting

The company's new Edge 520 computer lets you live-chase KOMs, while the Varia bike and radar system lets you know when cars are close—and alerts them to your presence

The Varia system ships with a head-unit to control the radar (which detects cars up to 453 feet behind a cyclist), and a taillight. You can also program a Garmin Edge, including the new 520, as the controller. (Garmin)

On Wednesday, Garmin released two cutting-edge devices that will make riding on the roads safer and more fun for both core athletes and commuters. Here’s what you need to know about each.

Edge 520 Bike Computer

Garmin’s new GPS Edge 520 ($299) is the company’s most high-tech bike computer yet.

Edge

Possibly the coolest feature: it displays live Strava data as you're biking. A quick glance at the screen shows a rider her current pace compared to her best pace, the fastest pace clocked on the segment, or the pace she needs to set to PR. (All these metrics are customizable.)    

Obviously, that allows for better pacing. Because the Edge 520 also shows total segment time and total remaining distance, a rider can decide when she needs to save energy and when she needs to push harder.

This in-segment tracking is also far more accurate than on a smartphone because the unit now uses both GPS and Russia’s GLONASS satellite system.

The 520 connects via Bluetooth to your phone, which lets friends and family track your efforts. You can also instantly upload the Strava segment at the end of any completed segment, even before finishing your ride.

The unit is available for pre-order now, but won’t ship until August. Don’t plan to upgrade to the new computer? Good news: you’ll be able to update an old Edge 1000, 810, or 510 to take advantage of this Strava integration come fall.

Varia Smart Bike Lights and Rearview Radar

Garmin also announced its new Varia Smart Bike Lights and Rearview Radar, a connected light and radar system.  

The system ships with a head-unit that controls both the radar (which detects cars up to 453 feet behind a cyclist), and a taillight. You can also program a Garmin Edge, including the new 520, as the controller—and save $100 in the process.

As a car approaches a bike, the taillight—which packs eight horizontal LEDs side by side—turns on more lights until the whole line lights up, and in flashing mode, flashes more brightly at the oncoming car.

Garmin

The head-unit, meanwhile, depicts cars as yellow lights. As a car approaches a rider, the dot moves toward the top of the display. Once the driver goes by, the display turns green.   

Also nifty: The taillight uses GPS and speed data, so it knows when a rider is slowing down and can warn impending drivers by flashing brighter.

The whole system costs $299.99 and is slated to go on sale this August. If you already have a Garmin Edge 1000, 810, 510, 25, or 520, you can buy just the taillight for $199.99.

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