New for this season, Garmin has introduced the Varia Vision, cyborgesque in-sight display to partner with its Edge range of cycle computers. This clever little device means it’s even easier now to see data on the move.
by Stuart Clapp
Cyclists are a proudly tech savvy bunch, which is why we took the time to show you this latest bit of kit – the first of its kind – from Garmin.
Pairing the Varia Vision to an Edge computer is straightforward. As long as the computer has had the most recent update, there’ll be an option for Varia waiting for you in the sensors section.
The next step is connecting the Varia to the arm of a pair of sunglasses using the supplied mount, and one of the rubber bands that comes in the box. It’s possible to mount the Varia on either side. Work out which way to go by pointing to a static object with both eyes open. Close the left one independently, then the right. Your dominant eye will be the one that keeps your finger pointing on the object… instead of it appearing to point elsewhere.
Seeing is believing
Much has been made of the safety aspect of using the Varia. Instead of being distracted by looking down towards a tiny screen, the data is visible at all times. I was expecting it to be more difficult to get used to than it was, such is the beauty of its canny design.
Using it to train to heart rate zones, an average speed or power zones is straightforward. Get into position and pedal until the end of the interval, also simple, but where the device really comes into its own is in traffic and for navigation (or a combination of the two) and for competing on Strava or one of Garmin’s own segments.
In traffic, it’s easy to be distracted. Even the most rural training routes have sections where there’s a build up of other road users. Most of us won’t feel the urge to look down at the computers display for the obvious fear of bumping into something, but with the Varia, you still can. Using the Garmin device, I noticed my average speed plummet when I came off the back roads and joined slow moving traffic on a busy section of road.
For navigation, an arrow is displayed in the Varia, which is far easier to spot than having to keep checking the display on the approach to a junction (or listening out for an alert).
It’s also possible to flip between screens by swiping a finger along the side of the Varia, which is a far less consuming method than doing it on the computer.
For segments, similar to intervals, its possible to get into position and pedal without taking your eyes off the road ahead. The computer will be sending you, via the Varia, updates on how well (or how badly) you’re doing and how far away from completing the segment you are.
Time trialists ride to power, or to an average speed, so wearing the Varia, there’s no need to glance down at the computer display to see their “numbers”.
Seeing the future
The Varia may feel a little like a glimpse into the future but it’s a future I’m ready for. The benefits are all there. It’s a smart little device that will appeal to the tech savvy cyclist.
Now, where did I put my time trial helmet? The club’s midweek 10 starts this week and I’ve had an idea…
Stuart Clapp is a journalist who writes for titles including Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport and Cyclist magazine. He lives in Essex and was described in the Bradley Wiggins biography, Tour de Force as a “Cultural Expert”. He’s been called worse.@stuartjclapp