First Ride Impressions – Giant Recon HL1600
I must admit, when it comes to new bike parts I get all geeked up about them. Stuff like power meters, latest aero carbon wheels and even gloves make me jumpy with excitement. In this case, it is all about a headlight.
For those of us who plan to ride during the winter, there are several options when it comes to training. A very popular way of training lately has become riding indoor trainers. This is very effective but can be mentally draining since sweating in a basement while sitting on a stationary bike is only fun for so long. Smart trainers, like the Wahoo Kickr and the Tacx Neo, can make indoor training more interesting but it still isn’t the real deal.
Lights are an important component to everybody’s winter training equipment. In the past, I have used several lights with no issue. If you bought a light with enough battery capacity, you could ride 2-3 hours in the darkest of nights, however, there were always a few things I wished my previous lights had that the new Recon addresses. One of them was a good mount that would place the headlight where it wouldn’t clutter my cockpit. The other was being able to know exactly how much battery life my headlight had left in case I wanted to keep riding (yeah, riding in 35-degree weather in pitch black darkness). The new Giant Recon HL1600 worked out both issues.
Before I bought the Recon headlight, I had been using Cygolite, Nightrider and Serfas headlights. All of them were good and still are, I just wanted a bit more. They come standard with a handlebar and helmet mount (most) and would last 2-3 hours on low to mid settings, providing fair to good visibility at night. The new Recon ups the game when it comes to mounts. Here are the mounts that come with the new Giant Recon HL1600 and 900.
- Standard handlebar clamp – this is what most of the other manufacturer’s lights come with. The problem I had with this setup was the fact that it would sit above the cycling computer, which would cast a partial shadow on the road from interference with the computer. Angle adjustments were also limited if you had a large computer.
- Under the bar and forward, clamped to the left side of your bar – this one is new to me. I could see this mount as a good option if you were to use the basic rubber band computer mounts that you can place on either the stem or at either side of your bars, enabling this mount to clamp at the other side with the light out of the way.
- Go-Pro mount – this is my favorite! I have a Garmin 1030 and it sits flush on a K-Edge XL mount, so it is as aero as it could possibly be. I also bought the K-Edge Go Pro adaptor that sits underneath the cycling computer and mount. With this Go Pro mount, I can put the light underneath the Cycling computer and it looks like the light was built to be part of the bike, not just an add-on.
These mounts are very useful considering they already come standard when you purchase the headlight. The Go-Pro mount has effectively addressed a big nuisance of mine, having too much clutter on the cockpit. Now it looks PRO!
CONNECTIVITY / BATTERY LIFE
Lights with big enough battery capacity typically have enough juice to get you through an average night ride without having to worry about it running out. For most, a winter night ride is no more than 2 hours, however, there are a few dedicated people who like to do 3-4-hour long rides and a simple “charge and go” might not provide enough peace of mind. The Giant Recon headlight has several features that make it very convenient for those 3-4-hour winter rides. Here are some:
- Connect Recon to your Garmin, displaying battery life – Via a “light network” you can connect your Recon light to your Garmin and have it display how much battery is left on it. Other companies use different color indicators (the recon has those too!) to let you know how much juice you have left, usually in intervals of 20% – 40%. This is OK but a little unpredictable at times. A red indicator could mean that you have 20% or 5% left, not a good sign if you are 10 miles away from home and arguing whether you should take a shortcut or not.
- SpeedBeam technology – SpeedBeam basically adjusts the luminosity of the headlight based on the speed you are travelling. It will be at 1600 lumen if it notices that you are speeding at 35mph down a pitch-black country road or might come down to its lowest setting if you are just riding along through a well-lit neighborhood. It helps you save a good amount of battery using the higher output settings only when needed.
- Smart mode – A new feature that surprised me while riding was accidentally having the “auto” or “smart” mode on and coming home after 3 hours just to notice that the headlight still had 60% battery remaining. The Recon light basically determines what kind of lumen output is most adequate for your current riding conditions. Efficiency at its best.
Giant Recon Battery Life vs Competitors
Bottom line; I am very impressed with this light. It does what very little equipment does for me during these dark sinister months of the year, makes me want to ride outside. There are several other factors that make this light a must for every rider who intends to ride November through February. One of them is pricing. The Giant Recon HL1600, at $126, is less expensive than many lights that do not come standard with the Recon’s awesome features and a similar lumen output. Garmin produces an 800 lumen Varia Light that retails for $150 and is half the lumen output for $25 more! The Recon HL900 is $95 and includes all the good features as well! All that matched with Giant’s return policy make it of a no-brainer if you are looking to try a light this winter.
This review was based on my first ride impressions. I believe it is a solid product at a great price. While it might not be the sleekest looking or lightest head light on the market it certainly looks like it is high quality, the battery life is very good, and the standard mounts and features elevate your night riding to a different level. Two thumbs up, I highly recommend this light for those looking to keep their training strong during the winter months.
Luis Berrios aka. Pedro Sagan
Cat 2 / Giovanni’s Tile Cycling Team President
Bikes: Giant TCR Advanced Pro / Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29er