The Giant Recon HL 100 is a compact, lightweight, nicely designed front light for being seen rather than seeing.
- Pros: Lightweight, good run-times for its size, five modes, good usability with gloves, USB rechargeable
- Cons: Side visibility could be better, switch looks too similar to side visibility window
If you're after a small but punchy front light for daytime or streetlit riding, the Giant Recon HL 100 is definitely one to consider. Its low weight, diminutive proportions (it's a 3cm cube), good run-times and surprisingly powerful output should make it very appealing for those who want to keep their bikes nimble but want a bit of extra visibility.
It's worth noting that the 100-lumen Recon isn't bright enough for riding on unlit roads (Giant doesn't say it is; the exact wording is 'high-powered visibility at an accessible price'). If your commute includes those, 300 lumens is probably the minimum power you should be looking at.
It is, however, great as a daytime running light. I've noticed that with the Recon flashing, drivers have more readily let our tandem through gaps instead of racing for them themselves.
There are five modes with different run-times: the constant 'high', which uses the full 100 lumens, lasts 2hr 30mins according to Giant. On the unlit night ride with a powerful-light-equipped friend during which I checked its 'seeing' capability, this was accurate. The night flash, which is a pulse rather than a flash, gets you over twice that, but the best mode of all, and the one I always use for daytime, is the low flash, which gives out one full-power flash every fourth low-power flash and lasts eight hours.
LEDs behind the switch change from green to red to indicate battery life and the light will automatically switch to low flash mode before expiring.
USB charging takes a pretty quick two hours, and a short USB cable is supplied.
Although Giant claims 180 degrees of visibility, the opaque slots at the sides don't quite let enough light through to fully justify this. For night-time town riding, especially for passing T-junctions, I would like to see this improved.
In the box you get the basic rubber band and hook clamp. Other mounts are available separately. It's simple to install and uninstall without tools, but, as with the Giant Recon HL 200, it's easier to take the whole thing off rather than take the light out of the clamp and leave the clamp on the bar.
The twin-LED Recon HL 200 uses the same clamp that allows you to position it horizontally or vertically. In the case of the Recon 100, it's a cube with a single LED so it doesn't make any difference which way you put it into the clamp – but the downside of that is that if you stick it in without paying attention to where the switch is, you can end up trying to press the side visibility slots instead, because they look similar until you learn the difference.
The switch is fine to operate with thick-gloved fingers even though it sits flush with the casing. Modes are changed by short presses on the switch – very straightforward.
Finally, waterproofing is very good: I have left the Recon HL 100 and TL 100 on the tandem outside on many rain nights and they still work and charge perfectly.
Price-wise, it is ballpark rather than a bargain, but the Giant doesn't have that many rivals in the sub-£30 category. The Moon Meteor is perhaps its closest rival on price (£26.99) and beats it on lumen count with 400 compared to the Giant's 100. The Cateye Volt 100 XC at £21.99 is also 100 lumens and USB rechargeable, but not as neat and compact as the Giant. However, for an extra £5 you're looking at much more powerful lights such as the 300-lumen Lezyne Mini Drive 300XL (£30), or £34 gets you the 500-lumen Ravemen LR500S.
A little ray of light for safety-conscious weight weenies
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giant Recon HL 100 front light
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 HL100 is easy-to-use, ultra-portable and lightweight. With an integrated power indicator and IPX7 waterproof certification, the Recon HL100 provides high-powered visibility at an accessible price."
This is an accurate description, but it's important to emphasise that it is only for visibility and not powerful enough to use on unlit roads.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
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 helmet
Very tough plastic, all moulded and very neat.
The design is aesthetically great – a minimalist cube. But I did have a couple of problems recognising the switch at first and kept trying to press one of the similar-looking side-visibility slots to switch it on and off.
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.
Full marks for waterproofing. It's seen as much rain as anything this side of Fishlake.
I can't fault it for battery life and charging time. The manual is accurate with these figures and the run-times themselves are impressive for such a small light.
Performance is really good for a lightweight, portable light.
Still looks new after a month of tandem commutes.
Very lightweight; this will make a lot of safety-conscious weight weenies happy.
There are cheaper lights, but 100 lumens at this price is pretty good. Brands such as Knog do cheaper portable lights with less powerful LEDs, though not all are USB rechargeable.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great as a daytime running light or for night riding on streetlit roads.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
I liked the small size and low weight, relative power, USB rechargeability and waterproofing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
I didn't actually dislike anything but I would improve the side visibility and would like it to be easier to get the light out of the clamp.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is ballpark rather than a bargain, but the Giant doesn't have that many rivals in the sub-£30 category. The Moon Meteor is its closest rival on price (£26.99) and beats it on lumen count with 400 compared to the Giant's 100. The Cateye Volt 100 XC at £21.99 is also 100 lumens and USB rechargeable, but not as neat and compact as the Giant. However, for an extra £5 you're looking at much more powerful lights such as the 300-lumen Lezyne Mini Drive 300XL (£30) or £34 gets you the 500-lumen Ravemen LR500S.
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 nicely designed, neat-looking and well-functioning light that is great as a daytime runner or for being seen on streetlit roads at night. Its compact size, light weight and USB rechargeability give it a very broad appeal. It fits any bar without adding weight or clutter and can be stashed in a pocket easily.
About the tester
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).