If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Garmin’s Varia range of radar and lights. Where I live, there’s a fairly low density of traffic – however, you still need to be aware of what’s behind you (particularly if it’s massive farm vehicles!) and the Varia does exactly this, especially in windy conditions when it’s difficult to hear approaching traffic.
One problem I’ve had is with mounting the Varia unit on my Gravel bike, a Planet-X Tempest. I’m using the seat post mount, but as you’ll see from the pictures, there’s not much clearance between the saddle bag and the variable unit itself. This means that I sometimes get spurious notifications, particularly when moving off from a stop. On my road bike, a Felt Z3, there’s no problem with spurious warnings – here, the mount sits clear of the saddle bag and the frame’s a bit smaller (probably TOO small, but that’s another story).
With this in mind, I looked at options for mounting the Varia either on the back of the saddle bag, or fixed under the saddle with an extension that places the unit behind the saddle bag. A few options are available, and I settled on this Lichifit one from Amazon that clamps onto the saddle rails. Lichifit make a couple of different models – in particular, there’s one with alloy components that crack easily according to the reviews on Amazon. The one I chose has nylon/acrylic-type components. The unit consists of a two-piece mount that clamps onto the saddle rails and has a GoPro mount, together with a Garmin to two-finger GoPro adaptor to hold the Varia.
I also got a couple of GoPro mount extensions rails to move the position of the Varia mount beyond the position of the saddle bag back. You’ll also need a 16mm M5 bolt or a GoPro thumb screw to fix the mount to the extension rail.
The first step of the installation was to remove the two small bolts holding the Garmin insert into the GoPro adaptor and rotate it 90 degrees to position of the Varia vertically. Fitting the clamp parts were straight-forward, although this may depend on the design of your saddle and how the rails are spaced. The saddle rails for mounting on the seat post are a standard spacing, but I’m not sure how much variation there is in the spacing when the rails mount on the rear of the saddle.
Once the mount was fitted, I used the middle-length GoPro extension to give enough space to clear my saddlebag, and then refitted the GoPro/Garmin adaptor. Once the saddlebag was back in place, the Varia sits just clear, giving the unit a clear view of anything approaching from behind.
Once I’ve had a few rides on it, and I’m happy with the position (it’s slightly squint at the moment), I’ll rebuild it with some Loctite thread lock to hold everything securely. I also want to add some sort of security leash in case the Varia comes loose. I’m surprised that the Varias don’t have an opening to fit one, like the Garmin Edge models.