Garmin has made a dash cam for your bike – and it's quite literally brilliant

Garmin's bike radar and light can capture number plates to use as evidence – and it's visible from a mile away

Man riding a bike in an urban environment
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you think of the best dash cams, you probably don't imagine any of them on a bike. But cyclists have many good reasons to want to record their rides: dangerous and aggressive drivers are bad enough when you're behind the wheel, and they're even more dangerous when you're on two wheels. So it's good to see Garmin bring its dash cam expertise to cyclists in the form of the Garmin Varia RCT715.

The $399/£349 RCT715 isn't just a camera, although it includes a high definition video one. It's a radar and a taillight too. Why strap three devices to your bike when you can get away with one?

Garmin Varia RCT715 bike light, radar and camera

Garmin Varia RCT715 bike light and camera

(Image credit: Garmin)

Lights, camera, action

The Garmin RCT715 is a rear light that's so bright you can see it up to a mile away, and it contains a 1080p HD camera that records constantly at 30fps. Its built-in Incident Detection feature can recognise when something bad has happened and save the footage from before, during and after any incident so you can use it as evidence should you require to do so. The camera also enables you to overlay data such as speed and location on your footage, and to transfer files via the Varia app for sharing your personal triumphs online.

As with previous Varia models, the RCT715 also includes a radar to detect and alert you to vehicles behind you, and as before its range is 140m. The battery life is slightly shorter than its predecessor's, though: Garmin says you'll get up to four hours with radar and the tail light in its solid or night flash modes, and up to six hours with no radar. The previous model, the RTL515, had just over twice that – but the RTL515 doesn't have a video camera constantly recording inside it. Four hours is still pretty good, and more than enough for even a very long cycle commute – and I think commuters are going to be the key buyers here thanks to its 3-in-1 appeal. 

If you're already sold you'll find the RCT715 on the Garmin website, but you might want to wait for the reviews to come in: here in the UK especially the resolution of a camera isn't the most important bit for bikes; it's whether it can still capture licence plates in terrible weather and poor light. Given the cost of the Varia it might be worth waiting until reviewers give it their green or red lights.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (