Cycling News

The new Trek CarBack radar and light vs. the Garmin Varia

Trek CarBack radar

I’ve been a radar rider for four years. I like it, especially out of the city, where a car can truly sneak up on you if the wind or acoustics of an area are just right. The devices I’m most familiar with are by Garmin. Since I’m always keen to try something new, I thought it would be fun to compare the new Trek CarBack with the Varia RCT715.

Introducing the new Trek CarBack

Trek CarBack radar and light. Image: Matt Stetson

Trek’s CarBack is the company’s first go at a radar and light. It works with most cycling computers. I connected it without any trouble to a Garmin Edge 540 Solar, Edge 530 and Wahoo Elemnt Roam v1. Later on, I’ll get into the details about how the CarBack behaved with each head unit.

The radar unit comes with a USB-C charging cable and a mounting strap. The mounting strap worked well with round and flat-back seatposts. Trek says it works with aero seatposts, too. I haven’t been able to check that out yet, but I’m not so sure about that claim. The rubber straps don’t seem to have enough stretch for a deep seatpost. There’s also a Blendr mount for connecting the radar to a Bontrager saddle. That’s probably the best way to run the CarBack on your Madone.

It has four light modes: day steady (maximum 25 lumens), day flash (90-lumen bursts), night steady (5 lumens) and night flash (5-lumen bursts).

Like Garmin, Trek has a specific app that lets you get radar alerts on your phone. The Trek app has just been released so I’ll let you know my thoughts on that in the long-term review.

Here are some key specs for the CarBack, as well as the Garmin Varia RCT715 and Varia RTL515. Two things to note: the RCT715 is bigger because it not only has a light and radar, but a camera. Second thing: I verified the light settings, weight and dimensions of the CarBack and the RCT715 because I have those units on-hand. The rest of the figures come from the companies themselves.

Device Trek CarBack Garmin Varia RCT715 Varia RTL515
Height 70 mm 106 mm 99 mm
Width 50 mm 42 mm 40 mm
Depth 31 mm 30 mm 20 mm
Weight 86 g 147 g 71 g
Light settings four four four
Waterproof rating IPX7 IPX7 IPX7
Approaching vehicle detection range 240 m 140 m 140 m
Maximum light visibility 2,000 m 1,600 m 1,600 m
Price $265 $470 $270
Trek CarBack radar
Trek CarBack radar and light. Image: Matt Stetson

Trek CarBack battery life

With the Trek CarBack, I get close to seven hours of battery life. Throughout that time, I don’t stick with one flash setting…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Canadian Cycling Magazine…