Garmin & Wahoo Work Together With Varia

Posted by Alder Martz on 20th Feb 2020

Garmin & Wahoo Work Together With Varia

Does the Garmin Varia work with a Wahoo computer? In short, yes.

It is rare when the two competitors in a market decide to play nice and allow cross compatibility between devices. It’s also a sign of listening to the consumer. So when Wahoo announced in 2019 that, through a software update, their cycling computers would now work with the Garmin Varia RTL510, it was all of us who benefited.

Let’s face it: these are turbulent times. It feels as though riding on the open road has become more dangerous in the last couple of years. Regardless of if it's the increase of distracted driving from cell phones or more cars on the roads, it’s reassuring to have a device that puts a little more control back in our hands.

The Varia increases rider safety in two ways. Not only does it act as an incredibly bright, 65 lumens strong, rear tail light, but the Varia uses radar to detect vehicles behind you up to 153 yards (139 meters) away. This information is relayed to your cycling computer which audibly alerts and visually represents how far (or close) the vehicle is behind you, as well as how quickly it is approaching.

On top of this, both the Garmin and Wahoo computers use colors to indicate speed. Green means all clear, yellow signals a car’s presence, and red shows a vehicle approaching at high speeds. The Varia can pick up on multiple cars behind you, even though it is possible for a car to ‘hide’ behind another.

One drawback to the Varia is that it’s not great in heavy traffic, unless you don’t mind your computer chirping and seeing constant lights flash across your screen. The good news is that this is NOT what happens when riding with other cyclists. The Varia is programmed to ignore your riding partners (those moving at similar speeds) while picking up vehicles (objects moving towards you at much higher speeds).

In my experience, the Varia is perfect on rides where you find yourself in the country and quieter backroads. Maybe a road that locals zip through. Perhaps you wander towards the middle of the lane, enjoying the peaceful scenery. Midthought, a buzz, a flash alerts you to the vehicle approaching and in turn, they spot your blinking tail light. In a sense, the Varia acts like a smarter rearview mirror that bicycles lack.

These methods, while imperfect, go a long way to alerting you and the driver behind you to each other’s presence. And now that it can sync with Wahoo computers like the Element, Roam, and Bolt, there’s not much of an excuse to pass it up. To quote DC Rainmaker from his review: There are two types of people when it comes to the Garmin Varia:

  1. Those who have tried it and freaking love it.
  2. Those who haven’t.

It wasn’t so much that Garmin increased the Varia’s compatibility to work with other computers. Wahoo simply added ANT+ support for radar devices. Following this extension of an olive branch, for the safety of us all, hopefully other computer companies like Karoo, Bryton, and Cat Eye follow suit.

Pairing the Varia to the Wahoo is as easy as holding down the left button > Add Sensor > Other > select the radar device that pops up. Within the Wahoo app, you can further configure notifications, sounds, etc., through Settings. The Varia is compatible with all Wahoo computers, including the Element, the Bolt, and the Roam.

Similarly you pair the Garmin with the Varia by going from the home screen > Settings > Sensors > Add Sensor > select the Varia > Add. Remember to make sure the Varia is on when attempting to pair! The Varia is compatible with all Garmin Edge devices and some Garmin watches, like the Vivoactive 3, Fenix and Forerunner models.

You can find the VariaGarmin Edge, and Wahoo devices at GloryCycles. If you have any questions, send us an email cycling@glorycycles.com. We would be happy to help you.