These cute cubes are lightweight, user-friendly ‘be-seen’ lights that offer good output for the outlay and for their tiny size. The daytime mode is especially good.
Powerful for their size
On/off switch not the easiest to operate
Knog arguably invented bike lights that were fun as well as functional and now other brands are joining in: the Giant HL 100 and TL 100 combo could easily take their design cues from a pair of casino dice.
Needless to say, there's nothing dicey about their performance – quite the opposite. As 'be-seen' commuter lights they are powerful considering their tiny 3cm cubed dimensions, are great for adding extra visibility to a lightweight road bike and are stashable in a jersey pocket.
The Giant Recon HL and TL 100 come as a combo or individually. At the time of writing you save a fiver if you get them both together. The ‘100’ in the name stands for 100 lumens, which is ideally the minimum you’d use for a main light (as opposed to a backup). They’re Giant’s lowest priced as well as lowest powered lights.
The HL (headlight) and TL (taillight) have five modes that supply run times from 2.5-3 hours on ‘high’ to 18 hours on ‘low flash’. There's a daytime running light mode, where every fourth flash is blinding, that lasts 7-8 hours.
The power status indicator is a small LED surrounding the on/off switch that changes from green to amber then red, with the light at that point automatically reverting to 'low flash' to get you home.
Charging with the supplied micro-USB cable takes around two hours.
Tool-free rubberised mounts are supplied, that stretch easily around handlebars and seatposts (other helmet, saddle rail and under-stem mounts are available separately). The TL’s mount is angled so that it points directly backwards when fixed to a standard round-profiled seatpost at about 73°, whereas the HL’s is parallel with the light casing.
And finally, waterproofing is IXP7, meaning they can be submerged in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes.
The Giant Recon HL 100 and TL 100 are very simple to operate, with no long presses, counting flashes to determine brightness level or anything like that. You just cycle through the five modes by short-pressing the on/off button and it’s the standard long press for on and off.
The switch, however, is a small oblong that needs a direct pressure in exactly the right place. A protruding, rubbery switch would be easier but it would wreck the cube’s symmetry. I can live with form over function this time, but sometimes it takes a couple of attempts to activate it, especially with gloves.
The TL is surprisingly bright – blinding even – for such a small light. It’s really all you’d ever need from a rear light. The HL is fine for streetlit commutes but is not enough for seeing on unlit roads – it is strictly a ‘be-seen’ light, and to be fair Giant does not claim it is any more than this.
I’ve been especially impressed with the daytime mode of these – the very bright single flash every four lower-level flashes definitely increases a rider’s presence on the road and I've felt a lot safer in traffic with it.
The Giant Recon HL 100 and TL 100 combo is more expensive than a set of Beryl Pixels (£35.99 for two) but the Giants have over twice the lumen count. The Giants are cheaper than a set of See.Sense ACE lights (£80), which are more powerful and ‘smart’, reacting to surroundings.
So the Giants are not the cheapest nor the most expensive, but I would say they’re priced well for what they're designed to do, and would recommend them as a lightweight, versatile, good-looking, commuter lightset with a very useful daytime mode.
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