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Giant Recon HL1800 front bike light review

6 Jan 2021
Verdict:

Simply set up and blindingly bright front light with added smart tech

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£120
For 
Very good battery life • Automatically adjusts according to ambient light • Easily fitted and operated • Not unreasonable price • Robust construction • Inspires confidence to ride for longer
Against 
Road vibrations and button use cause it to slip • Would benefit from angle adjustment • Pointlessly short USB cable

Nuclear-strength front lights used to be the cycling equivalent of the 1980s mobile telephone – you couldn’t benefit from them unless you carried a cumbersome external battery pack. This being the tail end of 2020, though, the Giant Recon HL1800 front light is a shining example of just how compact you can make a bike light that’s almost as bright as the sun.

It benefits not only from a five brightness modes but also from a satisfyingly lightweight construction which doesn’t sacrifice sturdiness, and an ‘even a child could operate it’ simplicity.

 

Fitted to suit

Either my technical ability is on the up or bike accessories are getting easier to understand. The fitment of the Giant Recon HL1800 front light took me less than two minutes.

Opting to fit it to the aero-profile bar tops of a Cannondale SystemSix, the only adaptation required is to swap out the standard rubberised strap and replace it with the supplied longer strap.

Buy the Giant Recon HL1800 front light from Rutland Cycling now

Popping it out of the plastic mount’s housing and unscrewing is child’s play, while slotting in the new strap and replacing the tiny cam into which the 3mm tightening bolt screws – while a little more fiddly – is still easy enough.

Wrap the whole arrangement around the bar tops, screw tight, slide and clip the Giant Recon HL1800 front light to the mount and you’re good to go.

 

Battery will get you anywhere

The ridiculously short length of some USB cables never fails to astound me, and the item included with the Giant Recon HL1800 front light is a joke, designed to just about slot into a computer keyboard’s USB port in order to charge the light.

If you opt to use a wall plug to charge it, you’ll find your £120 light dangles between the socket and skirting board. Charged within hours, however, once in use the battery lasts pretty much as suggested (and as you’d expect).

I’ve seen around three hours of use from it on ‘mid’ 900 lumens output, with only the odd moment when I’ve had to switch to 1,800 lumens ‘high’ (or what I’d call ‘full beam’) mode.

 

But the real talent of the Giant Recon HL1800 is its smart mode. Using effectively the same amount of battery power as ‘mid’ mode, its ambient light sensors adjust the beam of the Recon HL1800 accordingly.

Buy the Giant Recon HL1800 front light from Rutland Cycling now

In simple terms, the beam gets stronger as it gets darker, lengthening the usefulness of the battery – the life of which is displayed with colour-coded lights on top of the unit (believe me, you don’t want to get to the sphincter-tightening ‘flashing red’ light).

 

Practicalities

When do use lights most? It’s not a trick question, the answer’s winter. It does make you wonder why a bigger button couldn’t have been employed in order to make the Giant Recon HL1800 front light truly useable when you’re wearing gloves.

This aside, the fact that the rubberised on/off/mode button is at the front end of the unit means you will encounter slip as pressure forces the whole thing to rotate on the bar top, even when fully tightened.

Useful if you need to dip the beam to avoid blinding another road user, not so when you find yourself having to adjust it back to where you’d set it up in the first place.

On the flipside, I am a fan of the side lights, which add a little useful illumination to the edges of the main beam. And the 190g weight of the light unit isn’t a big deal.

The price, however, might be for some; although, for the rider who’s looking for spectacular brightness and maximum miles between recharges, the Giant Recon HL1800 front light does present a decent, simple, fairly smart option for riders who value the ability to be seen from space.

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

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