The brand spanking new Liv Langma was released into the wild towards the end of 2017. It’s a pro-level all-round race bike designed to zoom up climbs, power along flats and generally dominate the pro-peloton.
- 6 top winter workouts for cyclists
- Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX Disc 8.0 Team CSR review
- More women's cycling news, reviews, interviews, tips and more on BikeRadar Women
- Best women's road bikes of 2018: 9 of the best
As well as riding a special version of the Langma Advanced SL with all the whistles and bells over a few days in Northern Italy prior to the Giro Rosa, where it made it’s racing debut, I’ve also taken this version for rides on more familiar territory, around Somerset roads and lanes, climbs and descents. The frame is the same, but the spec is a little different to the version I rode then.
- The Liv Langma is one of our key bikes for 2018. We've collated eleven bikes that we believe you should know about in the coming year. Some are super bikes, while others might display great value for money, but they all have one thing in common — they're all important bikes that show how incredibly varied road and mountain biking is today.
- Top-of-the-range race-focussed road bike
- Geometry and design based around female body dimension data, with input and feedback from Liv sponsored athletes including Team Sunweb Women
- Carbon composite frame with aerodynamically designed tubing
- Claimed to be the lightest frame weight of any bike from Liv or Giant; 6.48kg for the size medium tested here.
- Comes with a Quarq SRAM RED DZero power meter
- Giant SLR-0 tubeless wheel system
- SRAM RED eTap electronic groupset
Top of the range, top of the price range
First things first: this is a range-topping bike, and at over £7,000 / $10,000 / AU$1,000 it’s one you'll invest in if you are serious about racing and training, and have the cash to splash.
While it’s pricey, it's great to see more bikes at this end of the price spectrum aimed at women: serious bikes with top-of-the-range, race-ready specs including high-end wheels, electronic shifting and a power meter.
Part of the reason for this is increasing momentum behind and support for pro women's racing, with better coverage in the media and a higher profile overall.
In the case of Liv, who sponsor Team Subweb Women, there is a particular drive to create a bike that gives the team the best chance of success. While the Envie, Liv’s aero and time trial bike, has taken many notable pro riders to victory including Marianne Vos, its narrow focus means it doesn’t fare as well when there's a lot of climbing to be done.
After Liv riders were spotted riding rebadged Giant TCR bikes at the 2016 Olympic games, it was perhaps inevitable that Liv would develop a bike to fill that gap in its range between the Avail and the Envie, which is exactly what it did.
This, the resulting bike, was unveiled just prior to the Giro Rosa which in 2017 featured a course with plenty of ascending.
'Queen of the mountains'
The Langma comes with the strapline ‘fly to the summit’, and is named for Chomolangma, a mountain you may be more familiar with by its English name: Everest.
Designed to be race ready, with a particular focus on climbing though adept enough to handle descents and sprints, it fulfils a similar niche in the Liv range as the TCR does in the Giant range. However, it is most definitely not the Giant TCR with a different paint job.
Liv, sister brand to Giant, is firmly aligned with the view that the average woman and man are sufficiently different that women would benefit from a bespoke frame geometry. So while the purpose of the bike may be the same, the geometry is different and is based around female body dimension data with input from Liv athletes such as Team Sunweb Women.
Advance carbon frame and forks
If you want to race hard and climb well, the weight, geometry and aerodynamic properties of the frame are all important.
When Liv showed me the design for the new Langma at the launch event which sports, it says, its most advanced carbon manufacturing techniques, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of some of the frame sections its engineer had brought along.
The frame is made from a size-specific carbon layup which cuts down on unnecessary frame weight, while the tubing shape is designed again to be efficient as possible in terms of stiffness, compliance and aerodynamics.
The top tube is almost impossibly narrow, and the seat stays, top tube and seat tube are constructed in one piece with the saddle mounted on an integrated seat tube.
The upside of this is a system that’s strong enough, despite the narrow tubing, to support rider weight while allowing enough vertical flex to provide comfort. On the downside, it does mean that you may need to cut the seat tube to achieve the right height, which could affect resale value.
To complement the flexible top tube, the downtube is considerably thicker and combined with the chunky bottom bracket, provides a stiff platform for efficient transfer of power from cranks to chain to forward momentum.
Combined, these elements produce a ride that feels remarkably comfortable on long climbs: no fatiguing road buzz, but also no noticeable energy sapping overflexing of the frame. Meanwhile the stiffness and efficiency noticeably drives the bike onwards and upwards whether you’re spinning in an easy gear or dancing on the pedals in a higher gear — and of course the incredible light weight of the bike doesn’t hurt! It comes in at an impressive 6.48kg for the size Medium I was riding.
For descents, flats and sprints, the aerodynamic features are designed to add those marginal gains.
As well as the bladed seat tube and the downtube which widens as it approaches the bottom bracket, there’s the chunky looking Giant Contact SLR Flux stem. The majority of the parts and finishing kit on the Langma are provided by Giant, and the chunkiness of this element which is also found on the TCR is to streamline the flow of air over the handlebars and over the bike.
Even the spacers around the headtube contribute, with an angled profile that sweeps up underneath or down from on top to curve neatly around the stem.
One minor downside is the fact that attaching a rear light to the bladed seatpost, or finding one that fits, can be tricky.
Blending aerodynamics and aesthetics are the cables, routed internally for the most part or encased in a textured housing where they lie outside the frame. The result is something rather beautiful, a description that could be used for the bike as a whole.
In fact the whole bike, from its black gloss finish with ghost-like flushes of colour to the colour-coordinated magenta, purple and black bar tape, looks absolutely stunning. The competition between the Langma and the Canyon Ultimate WMN for best looking and best performing bike is fierce and close.
Liv and Giant like to shout about their OverDrive steerer system with its chunky bearings and tapered steerer tube, but what it means in practice is a bike with very responsive steering that turns almost before you’ve thought of it.
It’s great for dancing through obstacles, yet also — combined with a balanced body position — makes for a bike that feels stable on long fast descents. The one thing I did miss on descents — and here I must admit to being a fan of disc brakes — was the smooth and responsive action hydraulic discs provide.
While the SRAM Red eTap brakes are powerful and responsive, on long descents I found my hands fatiguing. Right now there isn’t a disc brake version of the Langma at this spec but there is at the Advanced SL level, so it may be that the future holds a higher spec disc brake Langma.
Power meter included
For those riders who are all about efficient training, racing and measuring those gains, power meters are the tech to invest in.
Given that the Quarq SRAM RED DZero power meter chassis currently retails at $1,079 if you want to fit it yourself, it represents a significant chunk of the cost of the bike. Linking it up to your Garmin or Wahoo allows you to monitor your power output as you ride, plus the RideSense chainstay integrated wireless data transmitter that’s ANT+ compatible provides your wheel speed and cadence info.
The rest of the groupset is made up with SRAM Red eTap electronic shifting, with a 34/50t chainring and 11-28t cassette. As you’d expect, shifting is smooth and effortless, so long as you remember to charge the battery.
Rolling stock comprises the highly regarded Giant SLR-0 wheelset plus Giant Gavia AC 0 tubeless 700x25 tyres. There might just be enough room to go up a little on the tyre size but not much, as there isn’t a lot of clearance to spare in the frame.
If you’re after a bike you’ll actively enjoy climbing with, and want something that you can flick around obstacles and dance down descents on, then the Langma has this to offer and more.
The size range is more limited than its closest rival the Canyon Ultimate WMN, and the Ultimate WMN trumps it with stability on descents, but the Langma climbs so supremely well and the responsiveness of its steering is impressive.
Rapid accelerations are rewardingly immediate - it feels fast as well as actually being fast.
Finally, for a bike that’s designed for aggressive racing, it’s comfortable enough to sustain several hours in the saddle for several days riding back to back.
Liv Langma range overview, price, size and availability
If you want to get your hands on the Liv Langma Advanced SL 0 you’ll need to have £7,749 / $10,000 / AU$10,999 in your bank account.
The good news for people who don’t have quite that high a budget available is that there are plenty of models in the range. For example, the entry-level Liv Langma Advanced 3 has the slightly lower Advanced-grade carbon frame, plus a carbon seat post, carbon forks and tubeless setup for £1,200 / AU$2,199. This model isn’t available in the US but the Langma Advanced 2 is and that retails at $1,735.
There is also, as mentioned, a disc brake version - the Langma Advanced Pro Disc which retails at £2,999 / $3,315 / AU$4,699.
The Langma comes in 3 sizes; small, medium and large, covering a height range from 160cm to 180cm or 5’2” to 5’9”. This does mean that women at the tall and short end may not find a Langma to fit them, as the sizing doesn’t go as small as the Canyon Ultimate WMN and Canyon Endurace WMN, for example.