The Liv Pique is a plush, comfortable and confidence-inspiring bike that will give you the faith to pedal over pretty much anything, both up and down the trail.
The Liv Pique SX 2 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes visit our Bike of the Year hub.
Liv is the sister brand to Giant Bicycles and takes a female-focussed approach to bike design. Rather than sharing unisex frames between Liv and Giant models, each Liv bike is custom-designed based on body fit data the company has access to to better suit female riders.
Here we’ve tested the Liv Pique SX 2, and while this version of the Pique SX is available in the UK, only the higher-spec Pique SX 1 is available in the US. In Australia there are no SX versions available only the alloy-framed Pique 3 with the 120mm fork or the Pique Advanced with Giant Advanced Grade carbon composite frame.
Liv Pique SX 2 frame
Liv has opted to give a good amount of clearance under the BB making pedalling through sections easier without catching pedals Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
The Liv Pique SX 2 comes with an aluminium frame and a weight just shy of 30lbs for this Shimano SLX and Fox suspension build.
The SX model boosts the front travel up to from 120mm to 140mm with, in this case, a Fox Rhythm 34 fork for better handling on descents
The suspension rocker arm is made from carbon composite rather than an alloy alternative. This is partly because it saves weight, but also because carbon offers improved stiffness and strength when compared. This is the case across the whole Pique range, including all alloy models.
Cables are routed internally, which keeps them protected and the bike looking clean. The matte off-yellow paint job (perhaps more of a mustard) is called ‘blast yellow’ and has highlights of ‘blast green’ and ‘blast blue’. The ‘blast’ refers to the finish which has a grainy texture and the colour isn’t likely to be to everyone’s tastes.
Liv has gone for a relatively high (for a trail bike) bottom bracket. The BB drop (height relative to the axles) is just 18mm, so, when pedalling through technical sections it means there’s less chance of catching a pedal, which is one of the main reasons Liv opted for this design.
However, it does mean that the centre of gravity is raised too, which makes the bike feel less confident and composed when cornering hard and on steep techy descents.
Liv Pique SX 2 spec
While the original Pique is specc’d with 120mm forks, the SX version gets 140mm travel forks Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
The Pique originally made its debut in 2016 as a 120mm suspension (front and rear) trail bike with a cross-country focus. The SX model boosts the front travel up to 140mm with, in this case, a Fox Rhythm 34 fork for better handling on descents.
As well as the increase in travel and capabilities of this bike, the bigger forks also slacken off the head angle to a trail-ready 67 degrees.
The Maestro suspension system with its rocker link helps gives a supple, controlled ride feel Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
The Maestro Suspension system offers a supple and controlled ride quality not dissimilar to much bigger bikes but without the sluggishness of a full-on trail/enduro bike.
The Fox 34 Rhythm 140mm fork and Fox Float Performance rear shock work with the Maestro suspension to give a playful, poppy ride that will have you eeking out fun on rollers and confidently tackling drops.
The Fox Float shock has 120mm of travel Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
While the Pique’s suspension travel, wheel size and weight might not lend itself to cross-country racing, it is a good climber, even giving me a personal best on my local trail centre climb.
This is thanks to the efficient suspension design, as well as rider position on the bike, which while not racy, is comfortable for prolonged climbs. Having a 46t sprocket on the 11-speed SLX drivetrain, and complementary 30t chainring certainly helps on steeper pitches too.
SLX hydraulic brakes provide good stopping power Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
If you upgrade to the Pique SX 1 it comes with SRAM Eagle 12-speed (which gives you one more rear sprocket; a 50t at its largest), and RockShox instead of Fox suspension. This model does however come in at nearly £700 more. The Pique SX 1 is the only available model in the US however, priced at $3,775.
Shimano SLX brakes with 180mm rotors on the front and back provide good, solid braking power.
Liv Pique SX 2 finishing kit
Finishing kit, such as the Connect Trail handlebars, come courtesy of Giant Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
As Liv Cycling is, as mentioned, the sister company of Giant, much of the finishing kit and spec are Giant products.
This includes the Giant XC-1 wheelset, which has a relatively narrow (for modern trail bikes) 23mm rim width, and is fitted with Maxxis Highroller 2 tyres in 2.4mm width at the front and 2.3mm at the back, with the tougher EXO sidewall.
These are as wide as I would want to go with the narrower rims, which don’t quite give as much support to the tyres than a wider rim would and is important in maintaining good tyre feel and shape in higher load corners.
Maxxis Highroller 2 tyres are fitted front and rear in a decent 2.4 width Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
Highrollers are a great, aggressive trail tyre that provide plenty of grip on trails both natural and constructed, but the downside is that they can be a little draggy. They’re spot on for the majority of trail riding, particularly if you like the confidence the grip inspires, but if you’re looking to ride all day you may want to opt for something a little less beefy.
The cockpit consists of an alloy Giant Contact stem and Giant Connect Trail handlebar, both of which are size-specific with the XS and S fitted with a 40mm stem and 750mm bar and the M a 50mm stem and 780mm handlebar.
This is a pleasingly wide set of handlebars and above average for most trail bikes at this price point. The advantage is the more confident handling and control on descents and on rough terrain.
Like pretty much all women’s MTBs, the Pique comes with a female specific saddle Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
Liv Pique SX 2 verdict
The Liv Pique SX 2 has an alloy frame, 27.5 tyres and Shimano SLX groupset Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
With a plush, capable suspension system it will carry you over the wildest of terrain, but may start to feel out of its depth on really technical stuff due to that shorter-travel 120mm rear end.
The price tag sits well among its competitors and it’s nice to see a full SLX groupset, including SLX brakes, and top-notch suspension on what is Liv’s entry-level model.
Where other bikes of a similar spec and suspension travel length showed more conviction through sharp corners and steep, technical terrain, they don’t live up to the Pique’s playful manner, bottomless suspension feel and casual attitude towards rolling over drops and step-ups.
I think this would be a great gateway into a world of big off-road rides and trail centre adventures.
Liv Pique SX 2 prices, sizing and availability
The Pique is a cross-country/trail focussed bike with women’s specific geometry Anna Cipullo / Immediate Media Co
The Pique SX 2 is available in three sizes: XS, S and M, and retails at £2,549.
This version of the Pique isn’t available in the US or Australia, but in the US you can get the Pique SX 1, which is the model up and comes with alloy frame, RockShox Pike SoloAir fork with Super Deluxe RCT shock and SRAM GX Eagle, for $3,775.
The SX model isn’t available in Australia at all, but you can get the Pique 3 with alloy frame, RockShox Recon Gold RL SoloAir 130mm forks with Deluxe R shock and Shimano Deore 2×10 gearing instead for AU$3,299.
If you’re in the market for a bike and want to know what else is on offer, have a look at the following list of tried, tested and reviewed options.
Want more? BikeRadar Women has loads of women’s cycling news, reviews, interviews and advice and more.