In yet another move beyond GPS units, Garmin just announced the Varia UT800, an 800-lumen light designed for both urban and trail use. While lights in this brightness range are widely available from countless brands (and even non-brands), the Varia UT800 is unique in that it can be paired with a Garmin Edge GPS to help conserve battery life.
As anyone who has ridden a mountain bike at night knows, the faster one rides, the more light is needed to see further down the trail. With this in mind, Garmin designed the Varia UT800 to automatically adjust the light’s brightness based on the rider’s speed. In theory, the UT800 will conserve battery life when the rider is riding slowly or stopped, and will only pump out maximum brightness when it’s necessary. (Of course, sometimes mountain bikers are riding slowly because the trail is very technical, in which case having a bright light helps.)
In addition to using the rider’s speed to determine brightness, the Varia UT800 also features an ambient light meter to adjust brightness based on surrounding light conditions. Brightness can even be controlled manually, the old-fashioned way, with 5 pre-set brightness modes.
Buyers can choose either a helmet mount or bar mount with their purchase, and each mount is offered individually for those who need both. Pricing is set at $149.95 USD and the lights should be available in 3-5 weeks.
Love Garmin for GPS. That’s where it ends. This light is a shade dumber than Garmin jumping into the action camera arena.
My first thought was this was a desperate attempt to shore up a declining GPS business. But props to them for figuring out a way to add value to “regular” bike lights by integrating the GPS data stream.