The do-it-all trail bike. The one-bike quiver. For those who don’t want the fuss, expense or maybe just don’t need a whole load of bikes cluttering up the house, finding one bike that’s well suited to the majority of riding they do can be quite the quest.
Enter the Liv Intrigue Advanced.
The Intrigue has been part of the Liv range since the early days of the brand and was historically one of its most popular models. It was re-released after an extensive redesign in 2018 and is Liv’s 140/150mm, 27.5-inch wheel trail-slayer, both in terms of what Liv claims and in terms of my experience on the bike.
The geometry is modern but not cutting edge for a modern trail bike, featuring a 66.5-degree head angle and 74.5-degree seat angle with a 432mm reach on the size medium I tested. It’s a blend that leads to a confident yet lively handling feel.
A steeper seat angle would have been nice, although it is steeper than previous models, giving a more comfortable climbing position.
There are three models in the carbon-framed Intrigue Advanced range, and it’s the range topping Intrigue Advanced 0 ($8,400) which is my long-termer. For those looking for something a little less pricey, Liv released an aluminium-framed version of the bike in early 2019.
Not all the models are available in all territories however, and the Advanced 0 tested here is only on sale in the US,
I personally err on the side of having one good bike that performs well on a range of terrains; one I can set up to suit my riding style, tweak to get just right, then get out and ride, and the Intrigue Advanced, with it’s ‘play the trail’ strap, sounds like it might be just the ticket.
Liv Intrigue Advanced 0 — update one
Since my original update, which you can read if you scroll down a wee bit further, I’ve mostly been taking the Intrigue Advanced 0 on a tour of my favourite UK riding spots and doing the kind of riding I love.
My ideal kind of riding involves long days out on the bike, riding natural trails. I’m not sure what discipline that technically comes under, but I see it as just having a bit of an adventure and exploring somewhere new.
And if you’re into exploring and riding beautiful, wild places then it’s hard to go wrong with North West Scotland. Specifically, Torridon and the mountains near it.
It’s an area I love to ride and have been several times before. There’s a popular route that heads up one valley alongside a river, then up over a pass into the valley next door, which offers a long descent all the way back down again to sea level. The path is rocky, involves pushes and hike-a-bikes, and has some technical sections on the descent.
To make things more interesting, I decided to wild camp at the top so I could ride the descent in the morning light, which meant strapping luggage to the Intrigue as well as riding with a heavy rucksack.
The additional weight meant adding a fair bit of air to both the shock and forks to stiffen them up, plus more rebound damping to compensate. While this was a fairly easy process, I’m also glad I remembered to note down the settings I had before I started to adjust it, otherwise another round of uplifts and tweaking to return it to the regular setup would have been required.
Being able to switch the DVO Topaz shock to climb mode and have several adjustments in easy reach on the forks meant a relatively efficient climb, and when it came to the hike-a-bike section I was extremely glad of the Intrigue Advanced 0’s low overall weight (12.9kg, excluding luggage) not least because the ground was loose and unstable.
On the descents, the additional weight of the luggage combined with a fear of pinch flats curtailed any thoughts I had of attempting to jump over the drainage channels built into the path — which had square edge rocks running at right angles across the path, sometimes with a rollable gap and sometimes with one big enough to swallow a wheel. Get it wrong, and you’re looking at burping or ripping a tyre or, worse case, dinging a rim.
The downside of this was that my descent wasn’t as flowing or fast as I would have liked because I had many sudden stops and dismounts. Thankfully, the brakes were more than up to the job of reliably stopping me, the bike and the heavy luggage.
Liv Intrigue Advanced 0 specification and details — original post
The ‘Advanced’ part of the name indicates that this version is constructed from Giant’s ‘Advanced grade’ carbon composite, although the bike has an alloy rear triangle.
If you’re wondering about the appearance of Giant Bicycles in this review that’s because Liv is the sister brand to Giant. It was developed by Giant Global Chairperson Bonnie Tu who founded the brand in 2008 after finding it hard to get bicycles and kit that worked for her.
Though Liv shares a lot of technology and engineering expertise with Giant, such as composites engineering and the Maestro suspension platform, the bikes themselves are developed from the ground up for female riders and have a bespoke geometry. So while there may be bikes in the Giant range that sit in the same cycling niche in terms of purpose and travel, the geometry is different.
Yes, there are similarities but these aren’t shrunken Giant bicycles, they’re a new take designed for female riders.
This model boasts DVO suspension in the form of a Topaz 2 T3 shock plus 150mm Diamond forks with a custom tune developed with DVO to work with the suspension system and with the lighter-on-average weight of female riders.
There’s a huge amount of adjustability on both, which means you can tweak the suspension to your heart’s content. The forks have the option to tweak high- and low-speed compression, and also has what DVO terms its OTT or ‘Off The Top’ feature. This allows you to tune how the fork reacts in the initial part of its stroke (e.g. when you’re hitting smaller lumps, bumps and general trail chatter) without affecting how the rest of the fork performs.
Another nice feature of the forks is the integrated mudguard. As a UK rider, who spends about 80 percent of my time riding in the wet, I really appreciate this. It’s not super long so the coverage isn’t as extensive as aftermarket guards, but it certainly helps.
The components include top-line SRAM X01 Eagle gears and Guide RSC brakes with 180mm rotors. The 10-50t range on the cassette is huge, and in combination with the 30t chainring, the drivetrain provides a low enough gear to lightly spin your way up some pretty steep inclines.
Finishing kit is a mixture of carbon and alloy bling, including nicely wide 780mm carbon TruVativ handlebars and a TruVativ AKA 50mm stem.
Giant supplies the seatpost in the form of a Giant Contact Switch S dropper post with 100mm of travel, and also the wheelset which has carbon Giant TRX 0 30mm rims with Level 1 Boost hubs and Sapim spokes. Maxxis High Roller II tyres with EXO casings provide the traction with a decently wide 2.5in front width and 2.4in rear width.
There’s also a good amount of clearance around the rear wheel, which is more good news for riders in mucky conditions.
A women’s specific Liv Contact Forward SL saddle completes the setup.
Liv offers this bike in sizes XS to L which opens the bike up to a wide range of riders. I’d say from personal experience that if you sit towards the top-end of a size range, you might want to consider trying a size up to see if it suits your riding style better because the reach on this bike is pretty short. Riders sitting towards the middle and lower-end are likely to find this bike fits them well.
Liv Intrigue Advanced 0 full specification
- Sizes (*tested): XS, S, M*, L (not all sizes available in all territories)
Weight: 12.9kg, size M (NOTE: due to a broken spoke, the bike was weighed with a different rear wheel. The specced carbon wheel weighs 0.88kg.)
- Frame: Advanced-Grade Composite front triangle, ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminum rear triangle, 150mm / 5.9in travel
- Shock: DVO custom-tuned Topaz 2 T3
- Fork: DVO custom-tuned Diamond, 150mm / 5.9in travel
- Shifters: SRAM X01 Eagle, 1×12
- Derailleurs: SRAM X01 Eagle
- Cranks: SRAM X01 Eagle Dub, 30
- Wheelset: Giant TRX 0, 30mm inner width, 27.5 hookless carbon WheelSystem with Level 1 hubs, XD Driver body
- Tyres: Maxxis High Roller II 27.5×2.5 WT, 60tpi, 3C, EXO, TR, tubeless (f), Maxxis high Roller II 27.5 x 2.4, 60tpi, EXO, TR tubeless (f)
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC with 180mm rotors
- Bar: TruVativ carbon, 780mm
- Stem: TruVativ Aka, 50mm
Seatpost: Giant Contact Switch S dropper post with remote lever, 100mm
Saddle: Liv Contact Forward SL
Liv Intrigue Advanced 0 geometry
For size medium:
- Head angle: 66.5 degrees
- Seat angle: 74.5 degrees
- Chainstay: 438mm / 17.2in
- Seat tube: 445cm / 17.5in
- Top tube: 595mm / 23.4in
- Head tube: 105mm / 4.1in
- Bottom bracket drop: 15mm / 0.6in
- Wheelbase: 1,167mm / 45.9in
- Stack: 587mm / 23.1in
- Reach: 432cm / 17in
Why did I choose this bike?
I first encountered the Intrigue on the bike’s launch event in Squamish, then took it on for a longer ride on my current favourite trail of all time, Lord of the Squirrels in Whistler, which has a huge climb leading to a huge descent.
Won over by its handling in both locations, and keen to see what it could do on more familiar terrain, I’ve now ridden it on my local trails as well as downhill trails, BikePark Wales and even taken it for a bikepacking mission up a Scottish mountain with bags attached.
Its purpose is exactly the kind of riding I like to do. I like to have one bike that I can set up just right and enjoy riding the hell out of. I enjoy long days out exploring wild terrain, but also want something that’s still fun on my local, flatter trails. I also want to be able to ride uphill and roar downhill, and feel confident that the bike I’m on can handle rocks, roots and rough stuff.
I’ve ridden both the Pique and the Hail, and although I found they performed well, they weren’t the kind of bike I’d necessarily choose to ride all the time. I’m happy to compromise on climbing and descending so long as the bike can do more than averagely well at both.
I was also intrigued (excuse the pun) by the tune-ability of the DVO suspension. I like to fiddle around with my set-up, so having something that allowed me to really play around on repeated rides and uplifts really appealed.
Liv Intrigue Advanced 0 initial setup
The suspension does take a fair bit of work to set up. If you’re a rider that likes playing around with your settings to get them just right, and then likes to tune it for different conditions, weights, set-ups etc, then you’ll LOVE this. If that’s not really your thing, then not so much.
There’s a lot more to the DVO suspension setup than just the usual sag, compression and rebound. On the Topaz shock there’s a separate air compartment that also needs to be pumped up and pressurized.
This compartment, or air bladder, is designed to reduce stiction within the system, making for a smoother transition between the rebound and compression. This in turn, DVO claims, gives the shock better small bump sensitivity and better reactivity overall.
It took me a few days of uplifts to get it just how I like it, but it really was worth it when I got it dialed.
While the suspension set-up was pretty involved, once it was in place the various controls meant I could adjust it here and there to suit the trail without changing the base pressure too much. So, for example, I could stiffen the forks up by a few clicks and switch the shock to the mid setting for undulating, flatter trails. I ended up using the shock in the mid-setting for a lot of the riding I did on local trails.
One area I found tricky with set-up was the saddle height. In my opinion that 100mm-travel dropper seatpost is just far too little for a bike designed for this purpose, and for a rider of my height (5’8″ or 174cm).
This situation isn’t helped by a relatively tall seat tube length of 445mm, which is taller than that on the equivalent men’s bike (the Giant Trance).
When the saddle was in the right position for climbing it didn’t drop out of the way far enough for my liking on descents. If I dropped it for downhills it then wasn’t high enough for climbing.
I spoke to Liv about this and was able to try a 150mm dropper post instead. This did fit, despite some concerns about the kinked seatpost, which affects how long a dropper you can fit.
Going forward, with more brands producing droppers with shorter insertion lengths, this is hopefully a problem that can be solved in future versions of the bike, but I have to say I was quite disappointed with the dropper that was specced.
Liv Intrigue Advanced 0 ride impressions
I’ve been seriously impressed with the performance and handling of the Intrigue, which is perhaps not surprising given the top-of-the-line componentry, but that doesn’t explain the full picture.
The geometry places the rider in a perfectly balanced position; I feel like I’m nicely centred in the bike, rather than perched on the bike, making the handling responsive but not twitchy.
The seat tube angle combined with a light build weight and short reach makes short work of uphill switchbacks, which are traditionally my nemesis, and the suspension system never feels like it loses any of the power you put into it.
Granted, it doesn’t climb as well as a more cross-country focussed bike but then it’s not designed to, and it certainly climbs better than many bikes with similar geometry and travel, thanks in part to the efficiency of the suspension.
On fast, rough descents, the suspension on the Intrigue gives a reassuringly composed feeling, which seems to compensate for the shortness in reach and results in a sense of confidence in handling.
While it’s definitely more at home on the downhills, I also found the Intrigue a lot of fun on the more undulating trails that I spend most of my time on.
I like a bike to feel lively. I like to be able to pump the terrain, get a certain amount of feedback from the trail surface, and hop and pop around the place. The adjustments afforded by the suspension, and in particular the OTT (Off The Top) controls, meant I could get just the right level of feedback to make trail riding fun, without having to then tweak the suspension when I wanted to head off onto the natural-feeling downhill tracks.
Because of that short reach – 432mm on the size medium – I did find that on really technical or steep descents, the bike started to feel too short. I’d like to have a little more reach to play with because I felt it was too easy to shift body position slightly and get my weight wrong. It’s the flip side of the manoeuvrability that reach offers on less intense terrain.
Sizing up could be an option but the seat tube length would, I feel, compromise standover and fit on the size large. The medium already has a fairly tall 445mm seatpost, while the large is 482mm.
Does the Intrigue Advanced live up to it’s ‘one bike to rule them all’ claims? I’d say yes, with the disclaimer that I can’t give it full marks because of some of the previously mentioned flaws.
Do I still enjoy riding it despite them? Hell yes!
Liv Intrigue Advanced 0 upgrades
Apart from the seatpost swap, the only other thing I’ve changed on the Intrigue is the saddle.
Saddles are, as has been commented on many times before, a very personal choice. Everyone has a different undercarriage, and what suits one rider may not suit another. And, sadly, the Liv saddle didn’t suit me on longer rides.
I’ve been testing a range of saddles on the Intrigue so in the near future you’ll be able to not only get the lowdown on the best ones I’ve ridden, but I’ll also pick one from the pack to adorn the Liv on a more permanent basis.
Otherwise, there’s really not much that would need changing on the Intrigue Advanced 0 since it is, after all, a range-topper.
That said, with the use it’s been getting the chances are the wheels are going to need some fresh rubber in the not-too-distant future, and I’ve got some interesting adventures planned, so stand by for the next instalment.