Giant's new Recon HL 200 is great for commuting and as backup to a main front light, with good brightness including side-on visibility, a smart design with a rugged clamp, and useful modes.
As the name suggests, the HL 200 is a compact twin-LED design providing 200 lumens output. The lens is designed to focus and disperse the light with 270 degrees of visibility thanks to two strips in the side of the light unit.
It's jolly bright, too: 200 lumens is more than enough to alert other road users to your presence, and just about enough to see where you're going on a dimly lit road, though it is intended as a light to be seen by. If you need a front light for seeing with, Giant offers brighter options – the HL 500 for £39.99, HL 700 for £59.99 and HL 900 for £79.99.
Giant has used the common silicone band and hook clamp method, with a curved and rubber-coated section to fit snugly against the handlebar. I've used it successfully on different bikes with no problems. The orientation can also be flipped to have the light vertical or horizontal as you need. I went vertical as that took up less space.
The only problem arises when trying to detach the light from the clamp to take it indoors for charging. It's a bit bloody difficult, to put it bluntly, and I resorted to whipping the whole clamp and light off as it's much easier. On the plus side, the light is fixed very securely to the bike and doesn't wobble. Giant also offers an out-front handlebar mount using a GoPro-style interface for £6.99.
A power button is located on one end and the USB charge port, under a rubber flap, on the other.
The light has six modes to choose from: two steady, two flashing and two smart modes.
Smart modes aren't a new thing on lights, quite a few brands use sensors to automatically adjust the brightness to suit the conditions. The Recon's two are a daytime running mode and a night-time mode, offering between 6 and 10 hours' run-time. The smart mode will automatically switch from steady to flash at night, and according to Giant allows motorists to see you from as far away as 1km.
Run-time is 3 hours on 200 lumens, and up to 30 hours on the 10-lumen low flash mode. It remembers the last mode you used, when you switch it back on.
The run-times I recorded in testing match up well with the claims, with the light delivering what was expected in the high steady mode. The choice of modes is adequate to ensure the light lasts several days or up to a week, depending on the distances you cycle daily.
Lights need to survive the UK's bad weather, and the HL 200 is waterproof-rated to IPX7 (immersion in 1 metre of water for 30 minutes). My testing has included lots of riding in the rain and a combined test of directing the hosepipe at the light during the daily bike wash as well as dropping it into a bucket of water. It still works fine.
The Recon HL 200 costs £34.99, and it does offer good performance and usability, but you can get better value elsewhere.
It's a fiver more than the Lezyne Mini Drive XL, for example, which offers twice the brightness and is compact and easy to use, although its run-time is a bit limited.
The Infini Tron 300 front light costs the same as the Recon but is brighter with a 300-lumen output, and is similarly compact with good run-times.
Excellent brightness, run-time and overall design, if not the best value
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giant Recon HL 200
Size tested: 200 lumens max
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Giant says: "Ride Safely. Ideal for commuting, the Recon HL200 uses focused and dispersed optics to ensure you a broad field of vision and guarantees that you are seen from up to 1km away. Additionally, the steady with flash combined mode allows oncoming drivers to see you quickly and easily."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Maximum output to 200 lumens
ANSI-Standard certified lumen output and runtime
Water proof to IPX7 standard
Two-lens focused and dispersed optics with side light design for over 270-degrees of visibility
Power status indicator alerts remaining run-time before powering off
Light memory mode
Compatible with Rev Comp, Compel, Roost and Prompt series helmets
Compatible with saddle rail mount, providing optimal angle for visibility
Solid build quality.
A doddle to use.
The rubber band is a cinch to use but the release mechanism to detach the light from the clamp is a bit tricky.
It is very definitely waterproof.
Run-time is very good. Giant doesn't provide a charge time but it returned to full charge after a day being sat at the computer charging off the USB port.
Very bright, small and light, waterproof and sensible modes including a smart mode, it's a top-performing light to be seen by.
So far so good.
It weighs very little.
There are lights that offer more lumens at the same price, and cheaper lights with comparable performance.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Ensures you stand out on dark roads.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Easy to use, compact, looks smart, generous run-times and sensible modes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The clamp is so secure that it's tricky to remove the light for charging.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are lights that offer more brightness for the same money, making the Recon a little overpriced.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Very good performance, it's only the very stiff clamp and being undercut by brighter/cheaper rivals that dims the score. Price aside, I really enjoyed using this.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.