Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Giant Recon HL1100



Nice balance of output and impressive run-times along with some clever technology
Smart Mode is clever
Impressive burn times
Having to scroll through flash to get to full power

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

What the scores mean

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

For a light that can chuck out 1,100 lumens with decent burn times, the Giant Recon HL1100 is very compact, taking up very little room on the handlebar. The Smart Mode technology is a nice touch too, especially on a £79.99 light. The only real downside is that if you want to scroll from a lower output to full power you'll have to go through flash mode.

At just 103mm long and 30mm in height and width, it's hard to believe that the Recon HL1100 is capable of chucking out full power for a stonking 90 minutes. The other modes are just as impressive, too: the 500 lumen setting lasts 3.5 hours, and the 275 lumens 7 hours. The only flash mode throws out 100 lumens for 33 hours.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Battery life is shown via the LED that shines around the outside of the button, which also helps you to find the button in the dark. Green is 100-70%, orange 70-40%, red 40-20%, and red flash means less than 20%.

2020 Giant Recon HL1100 - top.jpg

I found these times to be achievable once the light had been fully charged a couple of times; a neat bonus is that the Recon can be connected to your computer via ANT+ to show remaining battery life. A full charge via USB will take around 4 hours.

As I said, the Recon has three static modes, high, mid and low plus a flash mode.

You scroll through the modes by pushing the button and travel though low-mid-high-flash, so if you are in high and want to get to low because you are in town then you have to scroll through flash first. That's not too bad if you have ambient light but if you are wanting to use the mid mode out in the sticks after being in high mode you'll have to go through flash and then low, which isn't ideal.

Saying that, at least Giant has got the order the right way round, starting with low and working up to high rather than the other way round like a lot of light companies. That way, if you are in low to save battery life and want high just before a descent you don't have to go through a disco phase at the start of the downhill which can be a bit scary.

The HL1100 has a little trick up its sleeve, too. In between flash and low you'll see that the LED under the button will flash blue – this means you are in Smart Mode.

Small sensors on the rear of the light detect the brightness levels surrounding it, so if you are riding in daylight the Recon flashes, a pattern of 100 lumen and 250 lumen. Should the light levels drop, it switches to the static mid mode of 500 lumens, which to be honest, unless you are riding technical downhills at speed, is the only mode you'll really need. The bright white spot-like beam is quite focused and picks up everything that is going on on the road's surface, with just enough peripheral light to illuminate the verge and give you a sense of where you are in relation to the side of road.

2020 Giant Recon HL1100 2.jpg

Artificial light affects the Smart Mode so even if it is dark, if the streetlights are bright enough it will go into flash mode, but you have enough ambient light to see by so it's not an issue.

My only real concern was if I was passing the mouth of a junction – would a car sat waiting, shining its headlights on the sensors as I rode past, cause the Recon to start flashing? No, basically. Before the HL1100 switches from static flashing there's a good few seconds' delay, so you'll be past the light source before it switches over, so no issues there.

In the box you get a few extras compared with the norm. Obviously, there is a handlebar mount, but it's one that tightens to the bar rather than the o-ring designs commonly found at this price point. You get two straps that work with it, allowing you to use the Recon with either round or aero bars, which is a nice touch. You also get a 3mm hex key for tightening the clamp, and an adjustable GoPro mount.

2020 Giant Recon HL1100 - mount.jpg

Another good thing to see is an aluminium casing – many lights at this price are plastic. The use of alloy keeps the Giant from being damaged should you drop it, and will help it expel heat.

There is an opening either side to let a bit of light out to help you be seen at junctions too.

2020 Giant Recon HL1100 - side.jpg

An IPX6 rating for waterproofing means no worries with using it in the heaviest of downpours. The only real way for any water to get in is via the charging port but that is tucked away underneath and sealed with a rubber cover. I gave it a blast with a power shower just to be on the safe side and had no problems.

2020 Giant Recon HL1100 - USB port.jpg

The £79.99 price tag is good for this light, especially considering that last year you were paying the same for the Recon HL900, so an extra 200 lumens for no extra cost.

Ash did pose the question, though, that for an extra 20 quid why would you not buy the more powerful Recon HL1600?

At the same time as using the HL1100 I was also testing the latest version of Moon's Vortex Pro which costs the same money. For this year it has been upgraded to 1,300 lumens, which gives it a bit more punch than the Recon, as you can see in our light beam comparison engine, above.

It matches the HL1100 for burn-times and has the clever VLS system where you can control the output of various static modes, which makes it very versatile.

It doesn't come without its niggles, though. I wasn't a fan of the rubber band mount which slipped on rough terrain, and the button isn't lit which makes changing modes in the dark difficult.

The Ravemen CR1000 is also the same money; it isn't quite as powerful as the Giant, but run-times are pretty similar and you do get a remote in the box, a welcome addition if you ask me.

> Buyer’s Guide: The best 2020/21 front lights for cycling

There are plenty of other options too, like the Lezyne Lite Drive 1000XL (£70) or the excellent Magicshine Allty 1000 at £69.99.

In fact, there are a lot of lights at this sort of money with similar outputs, and they all have their good and bad points, so it really just comes down to your needs, to be honest.

Overall, if you do choose the HL1100, I don't think you'll be disappointed. It's a well-made unit that offers a good balance of power output versus battery life for a good price.


Nice balance of output and impressive run-times along with some clever technology test report

Make and model: Giant Recon HL1100

Size tested: 1100 lumens

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, "Aside from outstanding lumen capacity and industry-leading usage time, the Recon HL1100 monitors ambient light to change output accordingly, helping to save battery power for when you need it. Shine brighter, run longer and work smarter."

It's ideal for the urban commuter right through to those who like to head out in to the dark countryside for a training ride.

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

Giant lists:

Smart Mode light sensor monitors ambient light to adjust light output accordingly

ANSI certified lumens and run time

Focused optics with side light design for over 270-degrees of visibility

Heat-dissipating CNC-machined aluminum casing

Power status indicator alerts remaining run-time before powering off

Includes adjustable GoPro mount

Size: 103x30x29 mm

Weight: 107g without mount

Colors: Black

Output: 1100 lumens

Runtime: High (1100LM) 1.5hrs, Middle 3.5hrs (500LM), Low 7hrs (275LM), Smart (100LM>275 LM with flash output in Day) 36hrs; (500LM with steady output at Night) 3.5hrs, Flash (100 LM) 33hrs

Battery: Li-Ion polymer battery (3500mAh)

Water resistance: IPX6

Certifications: ANSI-Standard FL-1

Rate the light for quality of construction:
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
Rate the light for performance:
Rate the light for durability:
Rate the light for weight:
Rate the light for value:

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

It's a powerful light for not a lot of money.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

The smart mode makes it ideal for commuting.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Scrolling through flash to change modes.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

This is a very crowded part of the marketplace but the Recon HL1100 compares well with the likes of Moon's Vortex Pro, and others from Magicshine, Ravemen and Lezyne.

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

It's a small unit that packs a big punch. Plenty of light, good battery life, loads of accessories and it's well built, especially for the money. Having to scroll through flash to locate static modes is a bit of a pain, but the Recon isn't alone here. This is a good light and easy to recommend.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

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

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for, and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Latest Comments