Questions on the new Garmin Varia Radar 515/516


515 specs from
Lumens: 20 solid, 8 peloton, 29 night flash, 65 day flash
Battery life: 6 hours solid, 8 hours peloton, 6 hours night flash, 16 hours day flash

516 specs (just solid light mode) from
Lumens: 20
Battery life: 9 hours

Why is the battery life of night flash with reduced lumens so much shorter than day flash with high lumens?
Is it that night mode flashes so much more often?

Why is the solid mode of the 516 version 3 hours longer with same lumens compared to 515 assumed that battery is identical (or is it not?)?

How is the battery life using it just as radar (so besides pairing as radar also pairing as a light and then switching the light of while still using as radar)?
(I read that this wouldn’t make a difference…really?)

Sadly there seems to be no easy “just use as radar without light” option or even better “just radar and blinking for approaching vehicles, otherwise no light”…

@dcrainmaker or anyone’s input much appreciated.

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Does the 315 not meet your needs? It doesn’t have a light.

No, I’d want a light just in case and want the best battery life. The funny thing is that the 315 has even shorter battery life.

Since I already have the Cycliq taillight I didn’t want a 2nd light on my bike but now that they offer just the radar I think I might pick one of these RVR315 sans light up. Would be really useful on many of the roads in my area.

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I have the version 2 510 varia. It has a mode where you can disable the light while still having the radar on.

Night mode pulses the light. So the light is always on but at varying lumens. Day mode blinks on and off.

I don’t run mine with light off. So I have no clue on battery life in that mode. But it would have to be substantially longer.

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Buy the 515 and disable the light? Seems pretty easy to me.

From Garmin website:

  • Battery life: 6 hours solid, 8 hours peloton, 6 hours night flash, 16 hours day flash

Best battery life should be from disabling the light, and then using day flash.

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That’s my thought also and if so it would be perfect but somewhere I read that battery life doesn’t change (don’t find the source or comment in the DCR post).

As I understand when disabling light there is no light or flashing mode any longer. But as long as radar would still work and battery would last longer that would be my main option.

Day flash would always flash (not just approaching vehicles). Besides that this mode is not allowed in Germany. So I’m not sure if I need to pick the 516 or nevertheless go the 515 route if I can get it somewhere.

I have the gen1 model 500, and it has two modes IIRC:

  • lights off
  • lights on

The gen1 radar LEDs are dim so I have a separate rear taillight. I turn the radar lights off, and get 7+ hours of battery.

From reading Ray’s review I guess you can’t turn off the lights on the 515? No manuals yet. Going to watch Ray’s video…

This seems to make a lot of confusion, especially for those without a Garmin device. It seems that you have to use a Garmin device to additionally pair the Varia as a light source and then you can switch it off in the light configuration (I hope that radar still works then). There even seems to be a handy Garmin app for this

What I don’t know is if and how much longer battery lasts then.

nope. Just watched Ray’s video:

Go to 8 minute mark of the video. You can turn off light and go radar only just with pressing the button. Just like with my gen1 radar, and just like with my Bontrager Flare RT.

That implies you can disable 515 lights using a Garmin head unit and the app.


Not sure if that was a mistake in the video (does the radar really stay on or is the unit switched off completely)…

Read in the comment section (starting comment is 61 at the moment):



On my Varia gen1 RTL500 the light can be off and the radar stays on and active. Saves massive amount of battery life.

On my Bontrager Flare RT the light can be turned off and the light stays on and connected to head unit.

Guess I’m more demanding :man_shrugging::wink:…was hoping for > 20 hours.

Why is the German 516 longer in steady?
I think the StVZO has the wrong lumens - It’s not 20lm, it’s probably 7lm (10lm is the limit of STvzo)
RTL510 LED luminous flux

20 lm (solid mode)

29 lm (night flash mode)

65 lm (day flash mode)

RTL511 LED luminous flux

7 lm (solid mode only)

Ok, if so, that would go in line with the peloton mode of the 515 and explain the battery life for 516. Thanks.

I’ve had the Gen 1 radar for 3+ years. Longest ride this year was 8 hours and I didn’t receive any warnings. I don’t know how long it will go with lights off.

Longest ride with my gen1 radar was a double century, the radar+light was on for 16 or 17 hours and so I had a lipstick Anker battery pack in jersey pocket and cable charging the radar while riding. Battery life has never been a problem :man_shrugging:

Wish you would have found out the overall duration by not recharging after ride :slightly_smiling_face:.
Side note: That’s why I like the Tickr Fit HR band over other brands. 30 hour battery life. Don’t like to charge all items after each ride.

Nice hack. But not sure if that’s for me :wink:. Anyway thanks for all your input.

What? I replace batteries in Garmin and TickrX HR straps maybe once a year? Maybe once every 18 months?


Yep. I also prefer little CR2032 batteries instead of charging. Unfortunately there was no option for the arm band (which I prefer over the breast strips).

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