Wahoo Bolt/Roam and Garmin Varia: Together at Last!
I’ve been using a Wahoo Bolt for years now and as I’ve written before, couldn’t be happier with it. I have never once lost a ride, missed an upload, or had any issues of any kind with this thing. It just works. Better and more reliably than my previous Garmin units. The one thing I always wished for though was compatibility with Garmin’s Varia radar device. The Varia is a taillight (headlight model available too) that will relay to the bicycle computer when a vehicle is approaching from behind the rider, as well as show about where the vehicle is in relation to the rider on the computer screen. In the past this was limited to compatibility with only Garmin head units and I was left out from the fun. Well, Wahoo just updated their firmware to be compatible with Varia, so I got one to see how it was!
The functionality of the Wahoo/Varia combo is great, and almost identical to how they interact with Garmin units. The Wahoo (Bolt in my case) will give a warning beep, flash the heads up display lights red, and show a car, or up to five on the left side of the screen. All of the regular screen metrics are still displayed and the car picture portion is a strip that is probably 1/8th of the screen space. As the car moves next to the rider and then passes, the computer gives a happier beep and the lights flash green. I would say the rider gets the first warning when the car is about 1/8th mile away in good conditions (flat, straight road). In addition to the radar alerting the rider, the light begins to pulse brighter and with increasing frequency as the vehicle approaches, increasing the chance of the driver seeing the rider.
My experience has been great so far. Riding side by side with Kelly, I no longer have to constantly check over my shoulder for approaching cars, and can just get behind her when by Wahoo beeps at me. It’s also really nice to have the confidence that the light is flashing irregularly to gain motorist’s attention. The quality and battery life are also excellent.
On solo rides the unit is nice too. It allows me to ride more in the lane than I might otherwise, which is helpful when the sides of the road have worse pavement or debris. Just having the alert and piece of mind that the light changes its pattern when cars approach is very nice. It’s a very bright light, and on the running mode I use most (day flash) it’s putting out 65 lumens according to Garmin, but compared to the Cygolite 150 and several other lights in the shop it edges them out in my non scientific look-at-them-with-sunglasses testing.
We keep them in stock at the shop and are happy to help set them up if you bring your bike computer!