I did 90km today, first ride with the Varia. Admittedly, quite a lot of today’s ride was on relatively busy roads where cars were a given, so perhaps it wasn’t given a chance to do what it does best.
So, the positives:
I think that it took me a while to get used to making the most of the device on quieter roads, by moving into the middle of the road and using the best of the road surface, then moving back in when alerted. When I did that, it did make for a more fun ride, but it will need some work on changing habits. It was useful when travelling at reasonable speed and potholed sections appeared; I knew the road behind was clear so could just move out/around them. As to the automatic changes to the light, obviously I couldn’t see that, but with the exception of 1 (I suspect deliberate) close pass, it did seem like drivers gave me a bit more room. Finally, I liked how when making right turns (UK rider, so we ride on the left), I knew the road behind was clear so I could just concentrate on the maneouvre.
The Varia can ‘lose’ following cars around twisty lanes. That can be confusing, as I was sometimes unsure whether the car had turned off or not. I also noticed that on these type of roads, unless you’re descending quickly, you’ll hear a car before the Varia senses it. Next, as noted above, it does need a definite effort to change your riding habits. That’s not a negative, really, but it’s worth noting. Finally, the beeps do get a bit annoying at times, but they do get your attention, at least.
It’s certainly a nice to have, but a game changer? I think the jury is still out. I suspect it’s one of those bits of tech that actually needs a bit of work to make the best of.