With an ever-increasing number of aero road frames around, it was only going to be a matter of time before the first women-specific streamlined bike emerged, and the Liv/Giant Envie Advanced 2 perfectly fills the niche (Liv/Giant is Giant’s female-specific brand). The Envie’s carbon frame isn’t just a rebadged men’s Propel, either, but has geometry designed for female riders, featuring a shorter top tube and taller head tube.
To meet this price point with a quality composite frame and fork means there’s a smaller component budget, and though the Shimano 105 compact groupset and own label oversize bar and stem are fine performers, the frame screams for better. The fi'zi:k Arione Donna saddle is no compromise, though: light, comfortable and with plenty of position variation, it’s so good our tester ordered one for herself.
Achieving braking performance and aerodynamics is a compromise. The fully faired Giant Speed Control cantilever brakes, developed with TRP, hide out of the wind behind the fork and seatstays, which is great for drag reduction and looks, but they lack progressive power compared with a regular calliper and make removing a wheel annoying. If callipers are good enough for the likes of Cervélo’s S5 and Scott’s Foil, we’d rather stick with power and convenience.
But where going aero does work is with Giant’s own label P-Elite A wheelset. Despite being an obvious compromise to achieve the price point, the semi-deep profile gives the wheels a surprisingly good ride and a useful aerodynamic benefit. Internally routed cables shave a few extra watts of drag away and the other neat touch is the inbuilt RideSense speed and cadence pod, which pairs easily over Ant+ to any compatible head unit.
While not designed as a climbing bike, the fact that the Envie only weighs 7.78kg, combined with the usefully stiff frame, means it feels very punchy over short, sharp climbs and can easily hold its own over longer drags. Where it really excels, though, is along flat, fast roads where you can feel the aero setup enabling the bike to cut through the air.
The Envie is extremely versatile, and although it’s not aimed at the sportive rider, it’s comfortable enough for a three or four-hour training ride, as well as being stiff and responsive enough for crit racing, time trials and triathlons.