The Liv Avail Advanced 1 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.
The Avail is the endurance bike in the Liv lineup, complemented by the race-focussed Langma and the aero speed-machine that is the Envie.
Liv is the sister brand to Giant Bicycles and was created by Bonnie Tu who is now global chairperson of Giant Global Group and one of the most influential women in the bike industry.
The brand is entirely female-focussed, with a firm emphasis on designing products for women from the ground up. This means that all its bikes feature women’s specific frame geometry as well as finishing kit, with designs based on data collection from global body dimension databases that is refined through testing and feedback by Liv-sponsored athletes, such as Team Sunweb.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 frame
Constructed from Liv’s premium Advanced Grade carbon composite frame and forks, the size medium I tested has a reach of 377mm and stack of 569mm, which gives an upright ride position for greater comfort over longer distances.
The versatile Liv Avail Advanced 1Immediate Media Co
For reference, the reach on the racier Langma is 384mm with the same stack of 569mm which places the rider in a more stretched out position.
The seatpost is truncated with an integrated seatpost clamp, which looks neat and also cuts weight. The system also allows greater flex which is designed to help soften the ride feel and increase comfort.
It’s effective, but the ride isn’t as plush as other comfort and endurance focussed rides, such as the Trek Domane or Specialized Ruby.
Think steady and secure rather than lively and skittish
Personally, I like a little feedback from the road surface but did find over longer rides of several hours that the road chatter became fatiguing.
Up front, the Avail features an alloy OverDrive steerer. This chunky steerer increases stiffness at the front of the bike, which combined with a broad down tube is designed to provide a stiff and efficient platform for power transfer from pedal stroke to wheel motion.
The bike is not agile but it is responsive. Think steady and secure rather than lively and skittish, which for a lot of long rides is just how I like it.
While the bike comes with 25mm tyres, there is enough clearance in the frame to go up a size. This would help increase the comfort of the ride, so it’s worth considering if you find the experience a little harsh.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 spec
The Shimano Ultegra 2×11 groupset provides a range of gears that runs exceptionally low for a road bike.
The 34/50t crankset with an 11-34t cassette gives such low range that spinning up long, drawn-out climbs or short, punchy hills will become a lot more achievable for even the most hill-hating riders.
The Shimano 2×11 Ultegra groupset offers plenty of low gearsJack Luke / Immediate Media
I felt that I could spin up pretty much any incline the route threw at me, though it’s true that the South West of England doesn’t have much in the way of Alpine ascents to pitch the Avail against.
With a lot of the testing done on wet roads over the winter, and here I have to also confess a fondness for them in general, I was glad to have the additional stopping power provided by the hydraulic disc brakes.
One of the big issues with hydraulic disc brakes, quite literally, is the size of the hoods which tend to be larger to house the fluid reservoir and master cylinder. This can make them uncomfortably bulky, particularly for smaller hands, and it’s something Liv is acutely aware and has been working to encourage the industry to develop a more compact lever design.
And it seems an improvement is on the way with the new R7000 system, which has smaller hoods than the current RS505s, and is likely to start making an appearance on 2019 bikes.
In the meantime, Liv/Giant has an alternative with its Giant Conduct Hydraulic Brakes, which are fitted on the Avail Advanced 1. This system has regular-sized Shimano 105 hoods that are used to trigger a hydraulic braking system based in a unit which sits on the handlebars ahead of the stem.
In all honesty, it’s not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing addition to the frame, but it does the job.
The hydraulic reservoir on the handlebars also has a built in mount for a Garmin or similar computerJack Luke / Immediate Media
The Giant PR 2 Disc wheelset is decent and comes with Giant Gavia AC 1 Tubeless tyres set up, which allows lower pressures to be rub, which is another way of softening the ride.
While the bike comes with 25mm tyres there is clearance enough in the frame to go up a size. This would help increase the comfort of the ride, so it’s worth considering if you find the experience a little harsh.
I’m a big fan of the introduction of thru-axles for road disc wheelsets because it makes getting the wheel and disc seated correctly a lot easier, so annoying rubbing and squeaking is a thing of the past — so long as you keep it clean!
At 8.95kg, the Liv Avail Advanced 1 is the heaviest bike reviewed for the BikeRadar 2018 Bike of the Year test. It’s also the second cheapest though and is comparable in weight to the race-focussed Trek Emonda SL 5 Women’s, which is priced at £1,800 / $1,999.99 / AU$2,499 and weighs in at 8.43kg.
Some of the weight will be due to the hydraulic brake system, and should you want to shift some grams, upgrading the wheels in the future or swapping out the alloy handlebars for carbon ones will certainly help.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 finishing kit
As you’d expect with a company focussed solely on women’s specific products, the finishing kit includes a women’s specific Liv Contact (Forward) saddle.
The Giant Carbon D-Fuse seatpost helps keep the weight down, while alloy Giant Contact handlebars and stem are both size specific. The medium bike tested comes with a 400mm width bars and 90mm stem. The XS size has 360mm handlebars and a 70mm stem.
Liv has opted for a lower-key colour scheme than we’ve seen in previous years, with the majority of the bike in black with white flashes and a few coloured stripes on the frame, which coordinate with matching decals on the wheel — a nice additional touch.
Cables are routed internally, keeping the overall look of the bike neat, tidy and clean.
Liv Avail Advanced 1 impressions
With its precise handling, climbing ability, stability on descents and competency in the corners, the carbon-framed Avail covers all bases and does it well.
On short rides, the stiff frame offers great power transfer, but over longer distances there’s little to protect you from road chatter, which is fatiguing on longer rides.
The range on the Ultegra 2×11 is more geared towards endurance than pure speed with plenty of gears to tackle climbs, but sprinters may miss that extra push.
The bar-mounted Giant Conduct Hydraulic Brake System ain’t pretty, but does mean smaller hoods which in turn means greater comfort and control for smaller hands.
As well as a women’s specific frame, it also comes with a women’s specific saddle and other finishing kitJack Luke / Immediate Media
Liv Avail Advanced 1 price, sizes and availability
The Liv Avail Advanced 1 retails at £1,949 / $2,425 / AU$3,199 and is available in three sizes: XS, S and M, covering a rider height range of 5ft–6ft or 1m 52cm–1m 82cm, according to Liv’s own sizing charts.