A smarter headlight.
On some levels, all headlights are the same: they illuminate the road ahead of you. The Garmin Varia Headlight’s 600-lumen beam has both high and low settings, runs for 2.5 hours, and is easy to recharge using the included microUSB cable, so it meets that criterion. On another level, the Varia is totally different, because it’s a true smart light that’s able to sense its surroundings and adjust its beam accordingly. Pair it with the Garmin Edge 1000 computer, and the Varia will adjust its beam depending on your speed, stretching it out for better long-range visibility when you’re moving quickly and focusing closer to your wheel when you slow down.
The Varia can also adjust its beam depending on light conditions during your ride and has an automatic high-beam cutoff so you don’t blind oncoming traffic and other cyclists when you’re truly riding in the dark. Of course, it’s also waterproof and easy to use—it can be controlled remotely when paired with other Edge models—and comes with a solid out-front mount that minimizes fiddling when you’re getting set up.
- A cycling headlight that adapts to changing conditions
- Adjusts beam when paired with a compatible head unit
- High-beam cutoff for courtesy to other road users
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I was a bit nervous about shelling out this kind of dough on a light, but I ride before work in the morning in the dark several times a week and a light is a big deal to me. I'm glad I sprung for it. First off, and this may seem like a small thing, it is nice not having another thing affixed to my bars. Just a quarter turn on the underside of the Garmin computer mount is all it take to pop this thing on and off for charging. You simply pop it on, hold down the button for a few seconds, and it pairs with your computer. It has a nice beam that not only shoots out ahead of you but nicely illuminates the area directly in front of your bike and to the sides a bit no matter what speed you are travelling. The speed sensing works really well, as it shines farther out ahead the faster one rides. It also keeps the light from shining into other folks' eyes, and when the sun starts coming up or you ride into a very well lit area, the light shifts automatically to a flashing mode for more visibility. It charges relatively quickly and hasn't given me any problems. The only negative is that it is a heavy little thing, but I don't think anyone is using a light when racing a crit or laying down a KOM effort. If nothing else, it will make you train harder!