Liv unveils brand new line of women's mountain bikes

It's out with the old and in with the brand new at Liv

Liv, the sister brand to global cycling Giant, has released a whole new and updated range of full-suspension mountain bikes for women. Designed from the ground up to suit the geometry needs of women and how they ride, according to Liv, these are serious, top-of-the-range bikes for technical terrain, fast racing, and all-mountain adventuring — with no compromise on componentry or the fun factor. 

Say goodbye to the Lust and Intrigue

While the names may have been a little risqué, there’s no denying that both the Liv Lust and the Liv Intrigue were very popular bikes. So popular in fact that the Liv Lust Advanced, the top-of-the-range model, outsold every other model of mountain bike that Liv and brother-brand Giant produced in 2015. Yes, every model, men's/unisex bikes included. However, for 2017 these bikes are no more, having been replaced by brand new, updated models. 

Say hello to the Hail, Pique and Embolden

First things first — the names are a definite improvement! But there’s a lot more to be interested in here than simply revamped brand nomenclature. These full-suspension offerings are designed to be serious, rip-ready bikes, and Liv states it has spent a lot of time and research getting these right.

The Hail is a 160mm-travel all-mountain bike designed with enduro racing in mind. The Pique is an aggressive XC bike and the Embolden is a trail-ready bike with 120mm of travel and a single-pivot rear suspension system. 

Women’s specific geometry

Liv has long been the champion of women’s specific bikes, with its entire range featuring bikes with a geometry designed for female riders. 

Within mountain biking, the trend over the last couple of years has been for bike brands to move towards a unisex frame for both male and female riders, with women’s specific finishing kit and contact points. Specialized and Scott have both made that move on at least some of their women’s mountain bike lines for 2017. However, Liv is bucking that trend with the Liv, Hail and Embolden all featuring women’s specific geometry. 

Liv is keen to emphasise that these aren’t the women’s version of its men's or unisex bikes. The company has designed these bikes from the ground up specifically for women, based on data taken from the Global Body Dimension Database and rider feedback rather than tweaking an existing design. So while the new Pique, for example, has some of the same elements as the Lust, this is not the Lust updated — it's a completely new bike. 

The company has come to the conclusion that, based on the data, there are certain anatomical features of the female body that mean many women would benefit from a specifically designed geometry. One such element is the centre of gravity, which is typically lower in women. Another is upper body strength, with women on average having comparatively more power in the lower body and less in the upper body than men, according to the data Liv has used. 

The Hail and the Pique are the flagship bikes in the range and across these there are some noteworthy design features. 

1. Steeper head angle

Liv has opted for a slightly steeper head angle on the Pique and Hail, around 0.5 degrees more than bikes in the Giant range. Combined with the geometry this creates a front that’s easier to lift and manoeuvre over rough terrain, such as technical climbs, says Liv. 

2. Raised bottom bracket

This is an interesting one. Partly based on the body dimension data and partly based on new technology, Liv has opted to raise the bottom bracket on both the Hail and the Pique. 

At first sight this goes against the current conventional wisdom in mountain bike design, where a lower bottom bracket means a lower centre of gravity and in turn means a more planted, stable feel. 

But since, according to Liv, women carry their weight lower in the body than men, they already have a lower centre of gravity. Add to this the new trunnion shock design, which means it’s possible to get the same volume of shock but in a shorter package, and you can also lower the centre of gravity within the frame design without dropping the bottom bracket. 

And one of the big advantages to the raised bottom bracket is that pedal strikes are much less likely, so it’s significantly easier to pedal through uneven, rocky terrain without hitting rocks or having to ratchet. Having put this to the test in rocky Arizona, this pedal-through theory does seem to bear out, but we'll need to put the bikes through their paces on our local trails to see how this stands up over more testing. 

Both the Liv Hail and Pique feature the Advanced Forged Composite Link on all models, aluminium as well as carbon
Both the Liv Hail and Pique feature the Advanced Forged Composite Link on all models, aluminium as well as carbon

3. Trunnion mounted shock

As mentioned, the new Liv and Hail both feature the new trunnion-mounted RockShox shocks. This attaches at the top of the shock body, rather than through a mount at one end, which means the shock is shorter (typically around 25mm) and has allowed for a number of design alterations as mentioned. It also means you can have a larger volume shock where previously there would have been a size limitation and therefore run it at a lower pressure giving a lower leverage ratio — the amount the rear wheels moves compared to how much the shock moves. 

In practice, along with the updated Maestro suspension system mentioned below this translates to better rebound control, better pedal efficiency and improved braking independence — your suspension is less impacted if you’re applying your brakes, say when checking your speed on technical descents, according to Liv. 

4. Updated Maestro suspension system 

Maestro is the name Liv and Giant give to their rear suspension system, which consists of four pivot points around the shock producing a rear virtual pivot point. The result is a suspension system that is known for producing excellent tracking and impact absorption, with minimal activation while pedalling. 

5. Advanced Forged Composite Link

This link is an integral part of the Maestro suspension system and, like the system overall, has had a major upgrade. New manufacturing techniques mean that this part can now be made of carbon composite, which gives the same strength and stiffness of the previous model for significantly lower weight and size. 

Produced by layering carbon composite in a mould, the new link features on all models of the new Hail and Pique, including the aluminium models. 

High performance and expert input

Liv is at pains to state that these are serious bikes aimed at serious riders. They feature top of the range componentry and parts, for example the new SRAM Eagle on the Hail Advanced 0 and Pique Advanced 0. They’re designed for riders who want quality equipment designed for them with no compromises, and for women who ride to the highest level.

Multiple World Champion Leigh Donovan demonstrated just what the Pique is capable of
Multiple World Champion Leigh Donovan demonstrated just what the Pique is capable of

The designs and component choices were further refined by pro-rider input, and when it comes to women who know bikes and women's mountain biking you'd be hard pressed to think of many people more qualified than Lindsey Voreis and Leigh Donovan. Voreis has participated in just about every discipline of mountain bike racing from cross-country to enduro, and is 'Director of Inspiration' at Ladies AllRide, a women's coaching and clinic company based in North America. 

Donovan is something of a legend of the sport. With a long list of palmarés in downhill and dual slalom mountain biking including multiple World Championships, she's an inductee into both the BMX and downhill halls of fame, and now runs ichoosebikes, a women's mountain bike coaching company based in North America. 

Both Voreis and Donovan are Liv Ambassadors and were integral to the design and development process. "I’m very proud of this bike," Donovan said about the Hail during the recent launch event in Sedona, Arizona. "I’ve been in the bike industry for a long time — 24 years — and I’ve developed a ton of product in the market. I’m very proud to say that women’s specific bikes do make a difference."

The new Hail, Pique and Embolden

Liv Hail 

Designed with enduro racers in mind, the Liv Hail has 160mm of travel front and rear for taking on big terrain
Designed with enduro racers in mind, the Liv Hail has 160mm of travel front and rear for taking on big terrain

The all-new Liv Hail, with the tagline "Hail to the Queen", is a "truly women's specific 160mm aggressive trail bike", according to Liv. With the trend growing for rougher riding and more aggressive trails, and the increase in women participating in events such as the Enduro World Series, Liv decided create a bike that was designed for that type of terrain and riding. Donovan was a huge driving force behind bringing this bike to market. "[I said] where's the high-performance big bike for women? Lets make this bike happen!" she comments. 

The aforementioned raised bottom bracket has more clearance than the majority of other 160mm bikes, giving a clearer through-stroke when pedalling in rough terrain. 

There are four bikes in the global line up:

  • Two carbon-framed Advanced models — the Hail Advanced 0 and the Hail Advanced 1
  • Two aluminium-framed models — the Hail 1 and Hail 2

Other features across the line include: 

  • Boost hub spacing
  • 100mm dropper seatpost on all models
  • Maestro suspension system
  • Shorter chainstays for more agile and manoeuvrable handling
  • Schwalbe Magic Mary front and Hans Dampf rear tyres
  • 1x drivetrain (SRAM Eagle on the Advanced 0, Shimano SLX/XT on Advanced 1)
  • Dual-position 160mm forks that can be locked to 130mm travel, altering the geometry of the bike for easier and more efficient climbing

Liv Hail pricing

  • Liv Hail Advanced 0: Not available in the UK / $5,350 / AU$7,999
  • Liv Hail Advanced 1: £3,749 / $5,350 / AU$5,699
  • Liv Hail 1: £3,099 / $4,200 / AU$4,499
  • Liv Hail 2: £2,499 / $3,250 / Not available in Australia

Liv Pique

The 120mm-travel Liv Pique is an aggressive XC bike
The 120mm-travel Liv Pique is an aggressive XC bike

With the trend in the world of cross-country moving towards increasingly technical trails, a parallel move in mountain bike design has seen the rise of the aggressive XC bike — designed to go fast up and handle technical descents. This is good news for your regular trail rider because these bike are perfect for riders whose local trails aren't crazy mountain descents or bike park riding. 

The Pique is a full-suspension XC bike with 120mm of travel front and rear and 27.5 wheels.

There are three models of Pique available:

  • The carbon-framed Pique Advanced 0, 1 and 2
  • The aluminium framed Pique 2 and 3
  • The Pique Advanced SX with 140mm forks and 120mm rear suspension

Other features across the line include: 

  • Boost hub spacing
  • 100mm dropper seatpost on all models
  • Maestro suspension system
  • Lower standover and shorter chain stays than the Liv Lust

Liv Pique pricing

  • Liv Pique Advanced 0: Not available in the UK / $8,975 / AU$9,799
  • Liv Pique Advanced 1: Not available in the UK / $4,950 / AU$5,799
  • Liv Pique Advanced 2: £2,899 / $3,300 / Not available in Australia
  • Liv Pique Advanced SX: £2,499 / $4,125 / Not available in Australia
  • Liv Pique  2: £2,499 / $3,150 / AU$4,999
  • Liv Pique  3: £1,899 / $2,375 / AU$2,999

Liv Embolden

The Liv Embolden trail bike
The Liv Embolden trail bike

The Embolden is the new entry-level, alloy-framed, full suspension mountain bike in the Liv off-road range. It's a trail-focussed bike with 120mm of suspension front and rear, single pivot point suspension system, 27.5 wheels and low standover. Designed to be a confidence-inspiring ride with plenty of traction and stopping power, Liv describes it as "nimble and playful while providing a stable, trustworthy feel."
The top-of-the-line Embolden 1 features a SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain with Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes, Fox 34 Rhythm forks with Boost spacing and a Fox Float rear shock. 

Liv Embolden pricing

  • Liv Embolden 1: Not available in the UK / $2,100 / Not available in Australia
  • Liv Embolden 2: £1,099 / $1,365 / Not available in Australia

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