Designed for speed and comfort over longer distances, the Avail had long been the staple model of the Liv road bike stable. For 2020 the bike got a major update and as a result it has emerged as one of the lightest bikes I had on test.
Designed specifically for female cyclists, it encompasses a range of features including smaller shifters, narrower handlebars with a shallow drop and a size range that starts at size XS, suitable for riders from 5ft/152cm.
Seriously smooth looks helped by internal routing. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Liv is the sister brand to Giant Bicycles and, rather than opting for unisex geometry, Liv designs its bikes based solely on data from female riders, including body dimensions and biometrics.
The Avail Advanced Pro 2 is based around Giant’s premium, advanced-grade carbon composite frame. This is no doubt part of the reason this Avail comes at 8.01kg for the full build.
A chunky tapered steerer with oversized bearings gives precise, responsive handling with lightning-fast reactions. If you like a bike that responds quickly and feels agile, zippy and exiting to ride, this is it.
While the Avail is designed for longer distances, it still feels very much speed- and race-focused. The stiffness of the frame, with chunky chainstays, down tube and bottom bracket area, aids power transfer and makes acceleration swift and exhilarating. But the trade off is against compliance, making this less plush than the Trek Domane, also on test.
If it’s speed and all-round performance you want, the Liv Avail will happily provide it.
Slightly dropped seatstays alleviate the worst of road chatter Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Narrow and slightly dropped seatstays combined with a carbon seatpost help isolate the saddle and alleviate the worst of the road chatter.
Liv has also opted for an integrated internal seat clamp, which looks neat and tidy, and along with internal cable routing gives the Avail some seriously smooth looks. This isn’t hurt by the striking ‘gloss chameleon blue’ colour-shifting paint job, which is very eye-catching.
Tyre clearance is tight; the 32mm Giant Gavia Fondo 1 tyres are as wide as you’d want to go, particularly if you want to add in a mudguard, but still provide a little extra cushioning against rough road surfaces.
A full Shimano Ultegra groupset is a contributing factor to the low overall weight of this bike, and also provides smooth gear shifting with a wide, 11-34t cassette with 50/34 chainring that gives a range that will provide plenty of low gears for chunky climbs and is on par for endurance-focused bikes, but may leave sprinters wanting more.
Full Ultegra groupset contributes to the low weight. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
One feature that really stands out is the shifters. They’re small with a wide touchpad and short reach, which makes them very comfortable for smaller hands.
On descents, this makes control of the brakes easier, giving a greater degree of confidence and control.
This control and comfort is also due in part to the Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes, which provide reliable, powerful braking that responds to subtle control.
Upmost control with hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano Ultegra Robert Smith / Immediate Media
In terms of fit and on-bike position, the Avail has one of the lowest standovers of the current crop of endurance bikes, at 745mm, and the shortest seat tube at 470mm (medium), so it can be tailored to riders at the lower end of each height range more easily.
A relatively tall head tube of 165mm gives riders a more upright, less aggressive on-bike position, which is comfortable over long distances.
A relatively tall head tube means comfort on long distances. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
While this bike is beautiful, I had reservations about how comfortable the colour-shift bar tape would be. Happily, I can report that the glossy finish belies a good degree of grip and comfort even when wet.
This is a bike that’s best-suited for riders who want something that sits towards the race end of the endurance spectrum: fast, direct and efficient but forgiving enough to keep the power up mile after mile.
It’s also an excellent choice for smaller riders who feel that the usual componentry doesn’t fit them or isn’t comfortable.
A relatively tall head tube of 165mm gives riders a more upright, less aggressive on-bike position, which is comfortable over long distances. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
LIV Avail Advanced Pro 2 geometry
Sizes (* tested): XS, S, M*, L
Seat angle: 74 degrees
Head angle: 72 degrees
Seat tube: 47cm
Top tube: 54cm
Head tube: 16.5cm
Fork offset: 5cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7.3cm
How we tested
This bike was tested against four other bikes that we consider to be some of the best for female riders – some unisex, some women’s specific.
On paper and based on experience, these five bikes are leading lights in their various fields – whether that’s comfort endurance, race endurance, gravel and adventure, or all-rounders – based on price and performance.
Testing took place (pre-lockdown) in the Welsh mountains, Mendip hills and on the flat and fast Somerset Levels (plus the odd gravel path and wooded singletrack).
Other bikes on test: