The Intrigue is a women's specific trail bike by Liv, the women's specific sister brand to Giant. Liv bikes in general benefit greatly from a wealth of engineering and design know-how from Giant, coupled with a recognised dedication to providing women with bikes that ride and perform to the highest level. The Intrigue is no different; it's ideal for getting rough and ready on technical terrain, climbing mountains and shredding back down.
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There are two models of the Intrigue available; the Intrigue 1 which prices up at £2,199 / US$2,825 / AU$2,799 and the Intrigue 2, tested here, which comes in at £1,499 / US$3,200 / AU$3,599. While the Intrigue 2 may be the cheaper of the two models, it’s built around the same aluminium frame as the Intrigue 1 and features some better than average componentry for the price.
Both Intrigues have a unique women’s specific geometry (no repurposed ‘unisex’ frames here) with a wonderfully low standover. I tried the size M bike, which had a comfortable reach for my 5’8”/176cm height. The range has three sizes: XS, S and M – great for shorter riders, not so much for taller ones. That said, I found the medium framed bike fitted well.
The RockShox Sektor Gold RL Solo Air forks provide 140mm of reliable front suspension, and the RockShox Monarch R shock works with the Giant Maestro suspension linkage system giving excellent traction on climbs and a smooth but lively feel on technical terrain.
One gripe is the lack of dropper post, (yes, the fancier Intrigue 1 has one) and in fact, the lack of even a quick release seat clamp! Instead you have to break out the Allen keys to adjust your saddle. Messing about with multi-tools to drop the saddle mid-ride is not a lot of fun, and a decent dropper post would be the first upgrade we'd make here. However, not many mountain bikes have dropper posts at this price point, so it's perhaps not outside the norm that it doesn't have one as sold.
We’re also not massive fans of the Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance tyres, which give far less grip than the more expensive Trailstar and Pacestar versions. The harder rubber compound used here may resist wear, but the tyres slip and slide easily in wet or slippery conditions – the norm for the UK. This is another area that's ripe for an upgrade.
The Shimano Deore 20-speed gearing and Shimano M395 hydraulic discs aren’t the lightest or flashiest, but do their job effectively and well. Bike weight is 13.14kg/28.9lb.
I appreciated the handling and control the wide 730mm bars gave, as all too often women’s bikes are spec’d with very narrow handlebars. On the flipside, the 80mm stem was a touch on the long side and I’d want to switch it for something shorter which would give more responsive steering.
Overall, the Intrigue 2 has a lively, fun feel, climbs well and is agile enough to handle tight corners, pop off drops and roll through rock gardens without losing traction. It knocks the socks off a number of other women's specific bikes at this price point in terms of performance and ride feel — and to be honest, it beats a few pricier bikes too. I loved riding it, and it gets the BikeRadar seal of approval.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.