When you think of the best dash cams, you probably don’t imagine any of them on a bike. But cyclists have plenty of good reasons for wanting 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 bringing 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 does include a high definition video camera. It is also a radar and a rear light. Why strap three devices to your bike when you can get away with just one?
Light, camera, action
The Garmin RCT715 is a tail light so bright you can see it up to a mile away, and it packs a 1080p HD camera that continuously records at 30 fps. Its built-in incident detection feature can recognize when something bad has happened and save footage from before, during and after any incident so you can use it as evidence if you need it. The camera also lets you overlay data like speed and location onto your footage, and transfer files through the Varia app to share your personal triumphs online.
As with previous Varia models, the RCT715 also includes radar to detect and alert you to vehicles behind you, and as before its range is 140m. Battery life is slightly shorter than its predecessor, though: Garmin says you’ll get up to four hours with radar and taillight in steady or night flash mode, and up to six hours without radar. . The previous model, the RTL515, had slightly more than double that – but the RTL515 doesn’t have a constantly recording video camera inside. Four hours is still good enough, and more than enough even for a really long bike ride – and I think commuters will be the main buyers here thanks to its 3-in-1 appeal.
If you’re already sold, you’ll find the RCT715 on Garmin’s website, but you might want to wait for the reviews: here in the UK, especially the resolution of a camera isn’t the most important for bicycles; it’s about whether it can still capture license plates in bad weather and low light. Considering the Varia’s cost, it might be worth the wait for reviewers to give it their green or red lights.