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Verdict: 
Lightweight, bright, well designed and good value
Weight: 
39g

The Giant Recon TL 100 is a compact, lightweight, good value rear light that offers plenty of performance despite its bijou size and 100-lumen output.

  • Pros: Lightweight, bright, good run-times for its size, five modes, USB rechargeable
  • Cons: Side visibility could be better, switch looks too similar to side visibility window

Even though it's Giant's lowest-priced rear light, the Recon TL 100 is powerful enough to use as a daytime running light as well as a night-time light. With its low weight, neat proportions (it's a 3cm cube), good run-times and intuitive functionality, it will appeal especially to riders who want to keep their bikes light but who also want to stay visible.

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Giant's description is the same for the Recon TL as for the HL – high-powered visibility at an accessible price – but whereas the companion HL front light is limited to daytime or streetlit riding only, 100 lumens at the back is enough to make the TL the only rear light you need.

I've used it for school runs on the tandem and also during a solo night ride with a friend to check whether the HL might be bright enough to work as a 'seeing' light (it isn't – full review to come). However, the verdict on the TL was that it was very bright, almost blinding to ride behind on full constant mode at night. Fortunately, it has five modes including a lower constant which is great for group riding. For solo riding there are three flash modes, including a daytime-specific one to match the front, whereby on every fourth low-power flash it emits a full power one. This one is good for waking drivers up on the morning commute, and it seems to remind them to pass us with enough space on the road.

> Buyer’s Guide: 17 of the best rear lights for cycling

Run-times are good for a light with its diminutive size: 3 hours on constant full power and 18 hours on low flash. LEDs behind the switch change from green to red to indicate battery life, and the light will automatically switch itself to low flash mode before expiring.

Giant Recon TL 100 top.jpg

USB charging takes a pretty quick two hours and a short USB cable is supplied.

Giant Recon TL 100 - USB charging port.jpg

Although Giant claims 180 degrees of visibility, both this one and the HL front have opaque slots at the sides that don't quite let enough light through to fully justify this. For night-time town riding, especially for passing T-junctions, this could be better.

In the box you get the basic rubber band and hook clamp with a rubber wedge insert to ensure it's pointing directly backwards from a 73-degree seatpost but it's easier to take the whole thing off rather than fiddle the light out of the clamp – into which it fits very tightly – and leave the clamp on the seatpost.

Giant Recon TL 100 - mount.jpg

It uses the same clamp as the twin-LED Recon HL 200, which can be positioned horizontally or vertically. However, as the Recon 100 lights are cubes with single bulbs it doesn't make any difference which way you put them into the clamp – but if you put it in without paying attention to which face the switch is, you can end up trying to press a side visibility slot instead, because – probably for the sake of aesthetics – they look similar.

The switch is easy to operate with thick gloves despite sitting flush with the casing. Modes are changed by short presses on the switch – generally, everything is intuitive.

Giant Recon TL 100 - top.jpg

Waterproofing is great, too: I have left it on the tandem outside in the rain overnight many times in the last month and it still works and charges perfectly.

Value

The ETC Mira is smaller and cheaper at £16 but Shaun's test concluded that it's only bright enough to be a backup light. The Infini Olley is slightly cheaper at £21.99 but again offers only 20 lumens. The Giant is a penny less than the 75-lumen Lezyne KTV Pro Drive. To conclude, it's good value. After that, you're jumping up to something like the Lezyne Strip Drive 150, which costs £35.

Verdict

Lightweight, bright, well designed and good value

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Giant Recon TL 100

Size tested: 31x31x32mm

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: "The Recon TL100 is easy-to-use, ultra-portable and lightweight. With an integrated power indicator and IPX7 waterproof certification, the Recon TL100 provides high-powered visibility at an accessible price."

That's an accurate description.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

From Giant:

Maximum output to 100 lumens

ANSI-Standard certified lumen output and runtime

Waterproof to IPX7 standard

Disperse optics with side light design for over 180-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

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Nicely moulded, tough plastic that's well made and works smoothly.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
8/10

I love the look – a minimalist cube that's like a cool kid's toy. But I did find it a bit tricky to identify the switch at first and kept trying to press one of the similar-looking side-visibility slots to switch it on and off.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
7/10

The clamp holds the light to the bar very well and is easy to attach and detach, but the light itself sits very firmly in the clamp and pulls out of the clamp in the same direction as your thumb holding down the release button, making it a bit awkward. It's easier to take the whole clamp and light off the bar each time.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
10/10

Full marks. It's still singing in the rain.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
9/10

Impressive run-times for such a small, lightweight light, and two hours to recharge it is good too.

Rate the light for performance:
 
9/10

Excellent considering its size, weight and lumen count.

Rate the light for durability:
 
9/10

It's still looking as good as new after a month of commuting in all weathers.

Rate the light for weight:
 
9/10

This light is great news for safety-conscious weight weenies.

Rate the light for value:
 
7/10

The ETC Mira is smaller and cheaper at £16 but we think it's only bright enough to be a backup light. The Infini Olley is slightly cheaper at £21.99 but again offers only 20 lumens. The Giant is a penny less than the 75-lumen Lezyne KTV Pro Drive. To conclude, it's good value.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It performed perfectly as a daytime running light and for night-time riding.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

I liked the low weight, small size, neat design, good functionality and cute, Wall-E looks.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Nothing serious – the side visibility could be brighter and maybe the clip easier to use, but otherwise it's an excellent product.

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

The Recon 100 TL is very small and light but impressively bright, charges in two hours, run-times are good and the price is low. It doesn't really supply the claimed 180-degree visibility because the side slots are too dim to be useful, but overall it is excellent.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 178cm  Weight: 68kg

I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu  My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, school run on a tandem

Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.

As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.

He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).