Liv Avail Advanced 1 review
Wide gearing and even wider tyres for a comfortable rideGBP £3,699.00 RRP | EUR €3,700.00 Skip to view deals
The Liv Avail Advanced 1 is the women-specific brand’s endurance road bike, sitting alongside the aero-optimised Liv EnviLiv and race-ready Liv Langma.
While the Avail offers distinct geometry based on women’s-specific fit data, the design is largely equivalent to the award-winning Giant Defy.
A more relaxed geometry for long days in the saddle, a wide gear range for tackling more challenging climbs, chunky semi-slick tyres and hidden mudguard mounts all place the carbon-framed bike as a great choice for everyday riders. It’s a recipe that sees the Avail Advanced 1 make our shortlist for the 2023 Women’s Bike of the Year.
Those looking for a feathery-feeling, reactive road bike platform might find the Avail’s tamer characteristics a little dull, however.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 frame
Like the rest of the Avail range, the Advanced 1 is constructed in-house using Liv’s standard ‘Advanced-grade’ carbon fibre composite.
The Avail adopts some tube shaping from its racier siblings, as well as Liv’s ‘overdrive’ steerer design (which sees an oversized 1 1/4in lower headset bearing paired with a 1 1/8in upper and a tapered carbon steerer).
Cables and hoses are routed internally through the frame, but externally of the stem and handlebar
The proprietary D-shaped seatpost is secured using an internal seatpost clamp.
A separate seatstay bridge is supplied, which enables full mudguards to be fitted.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 geometry
The Liv Avail takes on Giant’s compact frame design, with a slanted top tube resulting in a smaller front triangle, claimed to improve the stiffness-to-weight ratio.
The 71.5-degree head tube angle on my size S test bike is fairly typical for bikes of this ilk, as is the 998mm wheelbase.
The men’s equivalent Giant Defy in a size small has a 5mm longer top tube. It’s kitted out with a stem that’s 10mm longer too, reflecting the different body geometry found between men and women.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 specifications
The Liv Avail Advanced 1 is gets a Shimano 105 Di2 R7100 electronic groupset, though the Shimano RS520 crankset is non-series.
The compact crankset with 50/34-tooth chainrings is paired to a wide-ranging 11-34 tooth cassette, linked with a 12-speed KMC chain.
Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brake calipers are paired with a 160mm rotor at the front and 140mm at the rear.
The Avail rolls on the Giant SLR2 36 Disc WheelSystem, which features a wide, 22mm internal rim width. This means the 700x32c Giant Gavia Fondo 1 tubeless tyres measure 34mm wide when inflated to 50psi/3.4 bar
As the name suggests, the mid-depth carbon rims are 36mm deep.
In total, my size S test bike weighs 8.7kg. All things considered, that isn’t spectacular – it’s a shade heavier than the Liv EnviLiv Advanced 1 aero bike, for example.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 ride impressions
Testing of the Liv Avail took place on my home roads, from the wide, sweeping moorland tarmac on Dartmoor to rolling country lanes in East Devon.
Conditions were very mixed, from grim wet and windy days to bright sunshine with dry roads; classic spring weather in the UK.
In terms of setup, the bike was pretty straightforward, with a standard cockpit and no integrated brake hoses (which I’m a big fan of due to the simplicity). However, the semi-wireless Shimano Di2 groupset took a little configuring.
The groupset was set up in its semi-synchronised shift mode, which moves the chain up or down the cassette a few cogs each time you shift the front derailleur.
I’m not much of a fan of the feature, and I switched it off using the function button on the rear derailleur (after much Googling and scrolling through the Shimano E-Tube app).
The seatpost clamp design means it’s awkward to adjust using a bulky multi-tool on your ride. However, I was able to set it up effectively from the start using a torque wrench Giant provided (available separately), which has a fairly slimline head.
From my first ride, I was surprised by the fit of the Avail. I’ve tested two Liv Langmas and the EnviLiv to date, and always found the sizing to be spot-on, really making the case for women’s-specific geometry.
This was not immediately the case with the Avail. While I anticipated a more relaxed, upright position from this endurance women’s road bike, I found myself feeling more stretched out over the front, reaching further for the handlebars with straight arms.
As a result, I found my natural hand placement to be further back from the hoods than ideal (being able to comfortably reach the brake levers is, of course, crucial for safe riding).
I often struggle with reach on unisex bikes, because on average, women have shorter torsos in comparison to leg length than men. However, this was certainly the first time I’d encountered such an issue on a Liv.
Usually, my first port of call in this situation is to shuffle the saddle forwards a little, and then, if that’s not working, switch out a layback seatpost for an inline one. Unfortunately, the saddle was already pushed as far forwards as the saddle rail markings allowed.
Salvation was found in Giant’s proprietary D-shaped carbon seatpost, which was set up initially with a -15mm offset. The two pieces of the alloy saddle clamp can be rotated 180 degrees, turning that into a +5mm offset. Tidy.
With this quick and easy adjustment, a disappointing fit was turned into a much better one, and more in keeping with my prior experience of Liv bikes.
Road bikes of my size usually feature a 38cm-wide handlebar, though the Avail has a wider 40cm bar.
I encountered this before when testing the Cube Axial WS Race, and I assume the intention is to provide a more stable cockpit (narrower handlebars tend to speed up steering slightly).
With 34mm-wide tyres, inflated to 50psi, the Avail feels more of an all-road bike, than a pure road bike. If you’d have told me five years back (when I was running 25mm-wide slicks) that road bike tyres would overtake the size of cyclocross tyres, I’d have laughed.
With such wide tyres and low tyre pressures, as well as the low-profile file tread, rougher roads and back lanes are smoothed out wonderfully on the Avail. No need for complex frame suspension designs or weighty shock-absorbing components.
The tyres also offered a good level of grip, inspiring some more aggressive cornering and confidence on both wet and dry roads.
On the flipside, though, I feel the tyres may be lacking a little in terms of rolling resistance, because they didn’t feel quite as snappy on smoother roads as some of the best road bike tyres available.
The weight of the Avail also contributes to this sensation. The non-series Shimano RS520 cranks, which save around £100 on the price point (according to Liv), may be partly responsible.
At 298g, the alloy clamp-topped carbon seatpost isn’t the lightest either.
One of the main contributors, though, is the tyres. Giant quotes a hefty 445g per tyre for the 32c Gavia Fondo 1s specced on this model. Those alone are contributing nearly 900g to the Avail’s overall weight.
As a point of comparison, Bontrager’s highly rated R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR weighs just 310g per tyre in the same size. Switching to a set of these would save 270g in one fell swoop, and potentially provide lower rolling resistance and improved ride feel too.
Likewise, if you’re keen to get a full Shimano 105 Di2 R7100 groupset, you can upgrade to the Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2 for an extra £300/€700, though Liv doesn’t specify the weight difference.
At 8.7kg, the Avail is nearly 10 per cent heavier than the Liv Langma Advanced Disc 1+ at a similar price point.
As well as the wider tyres (the Langma is specced with lighter, 700x25c tyres), part of that difference will also be due to the wider range of gearing, which was much appreciated on the steeper climbs of Dartmoor, and a real plus point of the Avail.
The braking performance was also good, though I struggled initially with the brake lever reach, especially on longer descents with my hands positioned in the drops and with gloves on.
Thankfully, you can adjust this on the Shimano 105 Di2 levers, dialling in the reach to suit smaller hands better.
The Avail is a comfortable ride, and a stable one at that. This is arguably hitting the brief for an endurance road bike, but it doesn’t inspire me to really push on the pedals and sprint up to the crest of the hill as Liv’s more race-focused models do.
How does the Liv Avail Advanced 1 compare to the Liv Langma Advanced Disc 1+?
The similarly priced Liv Langma Advanced Disc 1+ was included in last year’s Bike of the Year test. The brand’s lightweight race bike with some aero features retailed then at £3,149 (now £3,599).
With a racier focus, the Langma lacks the mudguard mounts the Avail boasts, and is also kitted out with a narrower range of gearing that’s better suited to pushing harder on the pedals.
While the 105 Di2 Avail offers the futuristic, reliable feel of electronic gearing, I’d take the lighter Ultegra R8000 mechanical shifting for a similar price.
Both bikes use the same Giant SLR-2 36 wheelset, though the tyres differ in width. The Langma is shod with 700x25c Giant Course 1 tyres, which measure up at 28mm on the wide rims, while the Avail’s 700x32c Giant Gavia Fondo 1 tyres measure up 6mm wider when inflated.
The most noticeable difference between the two bikes is the weight. The Langma weighs just under 8kg, while the Avail is considerably heavier at 8.7kg, and this is certainly felt while riding.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 bottom line
Having had such positive experiences both with the Liv Langma and EnviLiv, I had high hopes for the Avail, especially because it’s kitted out with wide-ranging gears and mudguard mounts, which are essential when you live in the hilly and wet South West of England.
In general, the bike seemed to lack the finesse I’d encountered with other bikes from the brand, even at a similar (or slightly lower) price point.
A few cost-saving measures, such as the non-series crankset, as well as a hefty seatpost and tyres, have led to a heavier build that dulls the ride quality.
Super-wide 34mm tyres will be a real plus for riders who prefer added stability, as well as the sized-up bars, though the models specced here feel lacking in terms of speed when you really push on the pedals. Luckily, tyres are an easy switch should you wish to run something lighter and faster.
While the Shimano 105 Di2 electronic shifting is a joy to use, I feel the extra cost it entails would have been much better spent on improved components, to reduce the weight a little and offer a more sprightly ride.
Women’s Road Bike of the Year 2023 | How we tested
Three endurance road bikes were put to the test in this year’s Women’s Road Bike of the Year category, ranging from builds with women’s-specific geometry to unisex frames built up with women’s-specific components.
The tarmac of Dartmoor National Park formed the testing grounds for the Women’s Road Bike of the Year.
Steep climbs, rough lanes and sweeping moorland tarmac all gave a spectacular backdrop for pushing the bikes to their limits.
Smoother main roads were contrasted with gritty back lanes, enabling us to test how these bikes performed over a wide range of terrain.
We selected bikes at the Shimano 105 or Shimano 105 Di2 level, with a resulting range of price points from £2,499 to £4,489.
In our quest to find the best women’s road bike in today’s market, we sought a mile-munching, hill-crunching machine that would not only bring us joy to push on the pedals, but also offer good value for money.
Our 2023 Women’s Road Bike of the Year contenders
- Scott Contessa Addict 25
- Liv Avail Advanced 1
- Ribble CGR Ti Enthusiast
Thanks to our sponsors, Lazer, FACOM tools and Band Of Climbers for their support in making Bike of the Year happen.
|Price||EUR €3700.00GBP £3699.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M|
|Bottom bracket||Shimano press-fit|
|Brakes||Shimano 105 R7100 hydraulic disc brakes with 160/140mm rotors|
|Cassette||Shimano 105 R7100 11-34 teeth|
|Cranks||Shimano RS520, 34/50 teeth, 170mm cranks|
|Front derailleur||Shimano 105 Di2 R7100|
|Grips/Tape||Liv All Condition|
|Handlebar||Liv Contact SL D-Fuse|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano 105 Di2 R7100|
|Seatpost||Giant D-Fuse composite|
|Shifter||Shimano 105 Di2 R7100 2x12-speed|
|Tyres||Giant Gavia Fondo 1 Tubeless, 700 x 32c, (effective width 34mm)|
|Wheels||Giant SLR-2 36 Disc WheelSystem|