Garmin announced the Varia UT800 Bike Headlight, which basically is a smaller, lighter, brighter, and smarter version of the original Varia Headlight. They have a lot of fancy talk for how the UT800 is better and worth paying $150 for, however, it’s really all about two things. Firstly, the UT800 is much smaller than the original…much smaller. Also, while the original Varia headlight will adjust the beam distance based on a cyclist’s speed, the UT800 actually alters the beam intensity based on your speed—that is when it’s paired with a compatible Edge cycling computer. Both are fully water resistant (IPX7 certified).
The UT800 does work independently of a cycling computer, however, to justify the price you definitely should use it in tandem with a Garmin Edge bike computer. It’s compatible with the Edge 1000, Edge Explore 1000, Edge 820, Edge Explore 820, and Edge 520 as well as a variety of Garmin GPS watches (fenix 5, Forerunner 935, etc.). It also has five light modes (high, medium, low, night flash, and day flash) whereas the original had just three modes (high, low, and auto). Battery life and max beam intensity have also been updated. The UT800 projects—you guessed it—800 lumens while the original was up to 600 lumens, which means you now have further coverage and noticeably more light. At max intensity, the UT800 has stated battery life of up to 1.5 hours (2.5 hours for the original), however, as the brightness decreases the battery life increases up to 6 hours in low beam mode.
The UT800 attaches to the handlebar of your bike with an out-front mount or to a helmet with a friction mount. If you purchase the Urban Edition you get the out-front mount or if you get the Trail Edition it comes with a helmet mount. You can check out the UT800 on Garmin’s website.
My opinion is that, clearly, the new UT800 is better. It’s smarter, brighter, smaller, and lighter with decent battery life and a couple of new light settings. The ability to automatically change the beam intensity based on lighting conditions and speed is for sure a really neat, useful feature.
Here’s Garmin’s official video for the UT800.