Giant Recon HL 1800 and Giant Recon HL 800 Bike Lights Tested

The Giant Recon HL 1800 and 800 bike lights make a great bar mount / helmet mount combo for trail riding at night.

The Giant Recon HL 1800 is a bright bike light at a reasonable price that spreads its beam to the sides well, making it an ideal handlebar floodlight. On the brightest setting, a main column of light shines brightly, blasting detail in the forest and at 200g it just barely slides under the maximum helmet weight mark. The beam is decidedly narrow on the lower settings, and will likely work better mounted to a helmet if riders need to get the maximum run time with fewer lumens.

Giant Recon HL 1800 specs

  • 1800Lm max brightness
  • Weight: 200g
  • Runtimes: 1800Lm 1.5hrs, 900Lm = 3.5hrs, 450Lm = 7hrs, Flash 100Lmm = 65hrs
  • Mounts: Various handlebar diameters and a GoPro clip included, helmet available
  • Price: $157.50 MSRP
  • Buy from Giant dealers

This light stands out from the crowd with its ability to sense ambient light and automatically brighten accordingly. Left in Smart Mode, it will keep the power output lower and save battery until full power is needed, and if you want a particular setting you can easily switch modes. This feature is exceptionally cool when heading out on longer night rides, where the max lumen setting isn’t necessary at the beginning. In Smart Mode, you can just ride without paying attention to the mode.

With roughly 65hrs of run time on the lowest flash setting, the Giant Recon HL 1800 light will work well for urban commuting, where the goal is to be seen more than to see. The long battery life should allow riders to roll back and forth to work on a single weekly charge.

Some other mountain bike lights use permanent mounting hardware that stays with the light, and if it breaks in a crash the light has to be attached to the bars or helmet with duct tape or zip ties. The Giant Recon HL 1800 light uses a removable mount that stays on the bars or helmet and can be replaced if it breaks. You can also purchase several mounts and leave them on the bars or helmet so the light can quickly be clicked into place at any time.

The side cutouts let drivers see you from more angles.

Giant Recon HL 800 bike light specs

  • 800Lm. max brightness
  • Weight: 120g
  • Run times: 800Lm for 1.5hrs, 400Lm = 3.5hrs, 200Lm = 7hrs, Smart 100Lm = 38hrs
  • Mounts: Various handlebar diameters and a GoPro clip included, helmet available
  • Price: $99.95 MSRP

The featherweight companion to the Giant dual-beam model, the Recon HL 800 makes the ideal helmet-mounted complement to the heavier and brighter HL 1800. The two share all of the same mounting hardware and Smart Mode battery-saving technology, though this little unit won’t strain the rider’s neck as much as the HL 1800.

Prior to reviewing these lights the brightest beam I had ever ridden with was a 500Lm helmet-mounted beam from NiteRider. While I can now see that a little more light improves the ride, I still prefer to ride with a single focused beam that’s pointed exactly where my head is. With 3.5hrs run time in the 400Lm setting, this light will shine bright through most winter night rides, clicking into the 800Lm mode for the fast bits.

Bottom line

If you only have the budget for one light, and want something durable, either of the options from Giant feel well made and should last through several seasons.