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This is my Magene L508 radar with taillight review.
Magene introduced it during the Eurobike 2022 fair (although they didn’t have its booth there).
I already tested Garmin Varia RTL515, so in this article, you also learn how these two radars differ and perform.
In short: I believe Magene L508 is a worthy and cheaper alternative to Varia. You can order it here.
… or continue reading for more info about its pros and cons.
NOTE: I updated this review to reflect the changes brought by the new firmware update.
Magene L508 Summary
Thanks to the popularity of Varia RTL515, it was only a matter of time before other manufacturers introduced their cycling radars with taillights.
Unfortunately for them, Garmin patented the technology, making it harder for others to get a piece of the market share.
Although it remains to be seen how the legal side of things will play out, the Magene L508 is one of the first* direct alternatives to the Varia RTL515.
*Bryton also introduced its radar with a taillight on Eurobike called Gardia R300.
It brings a few new features (more about them below) and seems like a promising newcomer.
Here is what the box includes:
The rubber mount is universal and suitable for rounded, D-shaped, and V-shaped seatposts.
There is also a tether, so you have another layer of security.
Also available at aliexpress.com
Magene L508 Setup
L508 is compatible with most head units that have ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity.
Once you pair it with your bike computer, the following warning will appear:
After this process, you can start using it.
How Does Magene Radar Work?
Magene L508 works on the same principle as Garmin Varia radars.
It transmits and receives radar signals reflected by the moving object.* Then, it shows it on your bike’s computer screen, so you know how far away from you the object is.
*This is why testing both radars side by side is impossible because they interfere with each other.
My Experience with Magene L508
Based on my experience, I summarize Magene L508 as follows.
- It detects cars as quickly as Varia radars but has worse multi-car detection. It struggles with tracking multiple cars at once.
- It gives me more false positives (alerts me to a car that isn’t there) than the Varia.
- The mount ‘lock’ is looser than the Garmin mount but holds securely. It tends to slide on the seatpost, but not as often as Garmin’s.
- The light/flash is
less brightthan Varia RTL515. You can now set higher brightness in exchange for shorter battery life.
- The light modes are more customizable thanks to the smartphone app.
- The light flashes only a few seconds during the overtaking process, not the entire period (see the following video).
I also have full confidence in its IPX7 protection:
4.99 1.99 USD ‘Subscription’
Some people panicked when they learned that the light modes were only available by paying a $
4.99 1.99 subscription fee.
Let me set this myth straight.
In the radar package is the following card:
Its text indicates that after linking the radar to the Magene Utility app and signing up for a Magenius subscription, you can unlock the “Customizable light modes setting.”
This customization allows you to change the light intervals. For example, from 2 to 3 seconds, etc. But newly, you can also set their brightness and turn on/off other features.
The “subscription” is a one-time payment, so it’s not recurring. You can also sign-up for the Magenius newsletter and avoid paying this fee.
The Magene app allows you to turn off certain modes or auto-sleep for free. It can also replace your bike computer because it can display cars after the software update.
Magene L508 vs. Garmin Varia RTL515
There is no doubt the similarity between L508 and Varia RTL515. Garmin clearly inspired Magene.
So how do both radars compare in terms of technical parameters? Check out the following table.
|Feature||Magene L508||Varia RTL515||Bryton Gardia R300|
|Dimensions||94×38×25 mm |
|98.6×19.7×39.6 mm |
|Claimed battery life||6 hours solid|
8 hours peloton
10 hours flash
12 hours pulse mode
|6 hours solid|
8 hours peloton
6 hours night flash
16 hours day flash
|8 hours high solid (20 lumens)
12 hours low solid (5 lumens)
11 hours group ride (peloton)
17 hours night flash (12 lumens)
17 hours day flash (73 lumens)
24 hours radar only
|Real battery life||7 hours and 20 minutes in the flash mode||9 hours and 30 minutes in the day flash mode¹||11 hours and 40 minutes in the day flash mode²|
|Lumens||20 (solid + flashing mode)|
6 (peloton mode)
3-20 (pulse mode)
|20 (solid mode)|
8 (peloton mode)
29 (night flash)
65 (day flash)
|Up to 73|
|Light modes||Solid, peloton, flash, pulse, rotation, quick flash, no light (radar only)||Solid, peloton, night flash, day flash||High/low solid, group ride (peloton), flash, no light (radar only)|
|Customizable light modes||Yes (paid subscription or free for email subscription)||No||No|
|Horizontal detection angle||40°||40°||40°|
|Protocols||Bluetooth, ANT+||Bluetooth, ANT+||Bluetooth, ANT+|
|More info||L508 review||RTL515 review||R300 review|
|Buy||Check Price||Check Price|
Check Price (rei.com)
Check Price (wiggle.co.uk)
|Check Price(Amazon UK)|
¹About two years old unit. The battery depreciation probably influenced the battery life.
²Demo unit - I am not sure if this influenced the battery life.
Updated on 13.03.2023.
Magene L508 looks sleeker but similar to Varia RTL515. However, I don’t think its glossy finish was a wise choice. It will probably scratch easily when cleaning off the dirt.
L508 is incompatible with Garmin mounts (if you mount it in, it will be rotated sideways).
6 7 light modes:
- Quick flash (new)
- Radar only
All modes are the same as on RTL515, except the ‘Pulse mode,’ which is new. It only changes the brightness of the light from dimmer to brighter.
I like that L508 comes with USB-C charging port like RCT715. RTL515 uses a MicroUSB port.
L508 can detect if you slow down. If you do, it increases the brightness of the light to warn those behind you.
The last feature I want to highlight is auto-sleep. The radar can automatically go into sleep mode after detecting your bike in a stationary position for longer than 5 minutes (you can set the interval in the app to as low as 1 minute) and automatically turns on once you start riding. Remember, this feature has to be enabled using the Magene smartphone app.
Also available at aliexpress.com
Also available at rei.com, performancebike.com, and trekbikes.com
Things to Consider Before Buying a Bike Radar
Garmin Varia RTL515 proved to be highly reliable. Sometimes, it gives you a false positive (shows a car that’s not there) but never misses one (i.e., false negative).
Magene L508 also well (no false negatives) and also has a few benefits over Varia (light modes customizability). But several times per ride, it gives false positives.
You can watch the following video review from GP Lama.
Remember, if you buy a device like this cycling radar, you should have zero tolerance for false negatives*. But you also shouldn’t 100% rely on radars and you should use your other senses while cycling.
*Here is the explanation of the possible scenarios:
True positive = there is a car and radar alerts you.
True negative = there is no car, so the radar won’t alert you.
False positive = there is no car, but radar alerts you.
False negative = there is a car, but the radar won’t alert you.
Magene L508 FAQ
It’s great to see some competition for Garmin Varia radars finally.
The competition is good for the consumer. Hopefully, it will force manufacturers to innovate and improve their products or reduce prices.
L508 performs as it should. It offers more light modes and has a few extra features (like smart brake sensing or light customization in the app).
I only have a few complaints:
- The radar should give fewer false positives.
- The battery life longer.
- The light pattern change when overtaking should last the entire time, not just a few seconds.
- The light could be brighter*.
*The app now allows increasing the brightness in exchange for shorter battery life.
Except for these details, I can recommend it.
Also available at aliexpress.com
What do you think about the new Magene L508 radar with taillight? Let me know in the comments.
The product for this review was kindly provided by the manufacturer. This did not influence my overall verdict or my opinion about the product.
4 thoughts on “Magene L508 Radar Review: A Worthy Alternative to Varia”
Again, this device will not work with a phone because there is no phone app. Their supposed phone app is only for setting the flash timing. This device must have a dedicated bike computer. Whereas the Garmin radar does have a phone app and will work with either a phone or bike computer. The lower price is misleading because of this.
Yes, you are right. Their app is only for adjusting the timing.
Theoretically, L508 should work with 3rd party apps like Cadence because it has Bluetooth connectivity. I contacted the developer of Cadence because it doesn’t work. He is working on a fix.
It would be interesting to see how many people use Varia radar with a phone. I guess, maybe 10 % of all customers?
Bad news: it’s not yet compatible with smartphone apps. The L508 only broadcasts radar data over ANT+, though they say they plan to support apps in May 2023. I posted a support doc at https://getcadence.app/support/is-cadence-compatible-with-the-magene-l508-radar/
Great, thank you for the update, Ryan.