Giant / LIV 2018 Range Highlights

Reign Advanced 0 and 1.

The Reign Advanced 0 is savage. 13kg of fury.

Let’s start with the one everybody’s talking about, the new Reign. Already one of the most popular and aggressive 160mm bikes on the market, the new version is positively ferocious. It has a poise that makes you feel like it wants to head butt you – hell, it comes with a Maxxis Shorty front tyre, talk about aggro!

A new trunnion mounted shock with carbon link. While the coil sprung shock mightn’t be quite so convenient in terms of adjusting spring rates, it is plusher than a feather bed. A remote lock out keeps it all stable on the climbs.

Travel is still 160mm, but the move to a trunnion mounted shock means a longer shock and lower leverage ratios, for improved sensitivity and more damping control. Geometry is on the slaaaack side, with a 65 degree head angle, and even longer reach than its predecessor (460mm in a medium).

The Reign Advanced 0 is full SRAM spec, with a Lyrik, Eagle drivetrain and even a RockShox Super Deluxe rear shock. The use of coil shocks in this category of bike has been gaining momentum (Josh Carlson has been using a coil in his Reign for a couple of years now – take a look at our bike check with him here). The addition of a handlebar mounted lockout is wise. It’s kind of a best of both worlds solution – coil-sprung grip on the descents, with a firm lockout for fire road climbs.

Brighter than a radioactive frog, the Reign Advanced 1.

Interestingly, there are no more carbon wheels in the Reign lineup, with the high-end bikes now moving to DT rims. We never had a drama with Giant’s carbon wheels in the past, but in the Enduro race world, alloy rims are still seen as the safe option, so perhaps this is simply a nod towards the race crowd.

There are four models of Reign coming into Australia, two in carbon and two in alloy. Pricing starts at $3799 for the Reign 2 and tops out at $8999 for the Advanced 0. The luminescent Reign Advanced 1, in the picture above, is $6499.


LIV Hail 

LIV are cementing their advantage in this market, with a comprehensive line-up of big travel women’s bikes.

LIV are doubling down on their range of women’s specific trail bikes and Enduro bikes too, clearly determined to put their stamp on the hard-riding women’s market. The women’s specific segment is an interesting place at the moment, with a number of brands discontinuing women’s specific frames, while LIV keeps on growing their offering.

We were grabbed straight away by the Hail Advanced 0, which essentially has all the same intentions and burly spec as you’ll find on the Reign, but with slightly revised geometry and a lighter suspension tune. It’s heartening to see that just as with the Reign, there will be four models of the Hail coming to Australia too – two carbon, two alloy. At $5299, the stunning brushed-alloy Hail 1 is probably the model offering the best bang for the buck in the Hail line up.

 


LIV Pique

The Pique gets more travel up front for 2018. We love this model with its superb suspension and top notch spec.

LIV have given the Pique lineup a bit of curry too, adding 10mm travel up front (130mm front, 120mm rear now), pushing it into the trail bike realm, rather than strictly an XC bike.

We couldn’t walk past the range topping Pique Advanced 0, which has a very cool, slightly 80s inspired ‘fade’ decal kit which we love. It reminds us of 2017 Anthem SX actually, especially with the spec of a piggyback shock and big-bagged Maxxis Forekaster rubber. If you’ve got the budget to stretch to this bike’s $8499 price tag, we don’t think you’ll find many finer women’s specific trail bikes out there.

With the Pique getting slacker and longer-travel, we can’t help but wonder if we’ll see more of a cross-country race bike from LIV in the near future. With the recent release of the new Anthem 29er, you’d have to assume something is on the way. (Though whether or not it’ll be a 29er or 27.5 is anyone’s guess).


Trance 1

Cheers! The Trance 1 is a robust beast, but with money spent in all the sensible areas.

The Trance line up was comprehensively overhauled last year, and so there are no great changes for 2018, but the range does look great. We particularly like the working man’s bling of the Trance 1, which blends a tough and proven alloy frame with some high-end components.

For a little over $5000, you get an Eagle drivetrain, carbon wheels, and a great FOX Elite suspension setup, with the new DPX2 shock. The money is clearly being spent in the areas where it’ll have the most impact.


Anthem 29er 2

We’ve already had an in-depth look at the new Anthem 29er in our launch piece, but we were impressed to see that you can get rolling on the platform for less than $3500, with the alloy Anthem 29 2. A no-fuss SLX 1×11 drivetrain keeps the cost down without sacrificing performance (read our SLX review here), allowing money to spent on high-quality suspension, including a FOX 32 Step Cast fork. If you’re after a bike that’s race-friendly without spending a tonne, then this is a good contender.

It’s cool to see a lightweight Step Cast fork at this price point.

Revised dropper post, more tubeless out of the box

A new under-bar dropper lever.

Some welcome tweaks have been made to Giant’s in-house dropper post, which has a greatly improved under-the-bar lever now. This was one item we whinged about in our recent Trance Advanced review, so it’s cool to see this feedback taken on board. Apparently, the sealing is improved too.

More bikes in the range are now coming setup for tubeless too, which will be welcomed by bike shops. Rims are largely pre-taped now, with tubeless valves installed, so all that is required is a splash of sealant, and you’re set.


Fresh trail and downhill footwear

The Shuttle is a robust looking shoe, with a high cuff on the inside of the ankle to protect you from banging against the bike.

Giant have added two new shoes to their growing range of footwear, with the Line and Shuttle ($189 and $169). The Line is aimed at trail riders and the Enduro market and has been on the leg-ends of Josh Carlson a lot this EWS season. The Shuttle is more of a downhill shoe with extra ankle protection, but we can see its popularity crossing over into the trail market too.

Both shoes have a nylon sole and a pretty chunky tread too, for clambering about. While Giant weren’t keen for us to chuck them in the pool, apparently the material is highly resistant to absorbing water, so even when sopping wet they only weigh 30g more.


GPS units

Hello! At $299, the Neos Track is superb value.

Giving you more information at a glance than the NSA, Giant’s new Neos Track computer is going to rattle the cage of some of the bigger GPS brands. At $350, it’s crammed with features, including turn by turn navigation, Di2 integration, plus of course power and just about every other metric under the sun. Battery life is over 30hrs, so you can DOMINATE Strava next weekend, and the weekend after, and the one after that too.

Flow’s First Bite: Liv Hail 1

The Liv Hail 1 is a female specific enduro weapon.
Despite there being many passionate female mountain bikers, from beginners to professionals, female specific models are few and far between. Liv Cycling is attempting to change that.

Apart from the fact that there’s a whole heap of absolute shredders out there who also happen to be women, more and more women are getting into mountain biking every year, which is awesome to see.

Kath Bicknell recently wrote an article on the importance of women to the cycling industry as a whole.
Kath Bicknell’s recent article on the importance of women to the cycling industry as a whole is a great read.

It’s also great to see bike companies starting to put more resources behind female specific models, and in the case of Giant Bicycles, an entirely separate company for women’s bicycles, components and apparel- Liv Cycling.

Liv Cycling is a separate brand to Giant Bicycles, and produces solely female specific products.
Liv Cycling is a separate brand to Giant Bicycles, and produces solely female specific products.

We’ve got a Liv Hail 1 on test, a 160mm enduro race bike, but before we jump into the First Bite, let’s learn a little bit more about Liv, and what makes them unique in the women’s market.


I haven’t heard of Liv, what’s it all about?

Liv Cycling was launched in 2014 as a standalone brand to Giant Bicycles focusing entirely on women’s specific bikes, equipment and apparel. Rather topically, the first ever Liv specific store is about to open in Vancouver!

Liv also offer the Pique, a 120mm trail bike.
Liv’s 120mm trail bike, the Pique.

For 2017, Liv have signed Kiwi shredder Raewyn Morrison to race the EWS aboard the Liv Hail Advanced, which is the only female specific 160mm bike currently on the market.


What makes the Hail 1 female specific, or is it just the fancy colour scheme?

Thankfully, the entire Liv range shows a real attention to detail through bikes with genuine differences to their Giant counterparts- you won’t simply see colour changes with different grips and saddles here! For a bit more of an overview of the entire Liv range, check out our 2017 range highlights piece.

Liv Bicycles might be made by Giant, but the finished product is very different.
Liv Bicycles might be made by Giant, but the finished product is very different.

All Liv products follow their ‘3F’ principal, which encompasses fit, form and function. We think that all bikes should follow these principals, regardless of the gender they’re designed for, but the video below goes into Liv’s ‘3F’ mission and its centrality to all of their products in a bit more detail.

Another aspect that makes Liv Bicycles truly female specific is their use of the Global Body Dimension Database.


What’s the Global Body Dimension Database- is my head going to start hurting?

Thankfully, despite the fancy name the Global Body Dimension Database is pretty simple.

The database provides Liv with information on the average body dimensions of women around the world. Average arm, torso and leg lengths give Liv essential measurements to consider when designing new bikes.

Data from the Global Body Dimensions Database indicates that men and women have very different body positions on the bike.
Data from the Global Body Dimensions Database indicates that men and women have very different body positions on the bike.

Where does the Global Body Dimension Database information come from?

We must admit that initially reading about the Global Body Dimension Database we were a bit sceptical about the data, but Liv’s website gives a clear explanation of where they source the information, its relevance in their bike designs and its limitations. Read below for the summarised version of what the data encompasses.

The Global Body Dimension Database includes over 250 individual body measurements from men and women of nine different nationalities. From this data set, Liv can gather information on things like stature, inseam, torso length, shoulder breadth, arm length, hand length, hip breadth, ischia (sit bone) distance, weight, and strength that allow them to uncover fundamental differences between men’s and women’s bodies.

Liv’s ‘function’ design principal is also an interesting point of difference to their Giant parent company. From the data Liv have collected, they’ve changed the material layup of Liv bikes compared to comparable Giant models to make the bike stronger and stiffer where it needs to be, and lighter where possible. These changes are made relevant to where women are putting forces through the frame and where they aren’t. Interesting stuff indeed!

Liv use different tubing thicknesses in their frames to account for the different forces women put through their bikes compared to men.
Liv use different tubing thicknesses in their frames to account for the different forces women put through their bikes compared to men.

Getting back to the Hail 1 we’ve got on review, the obvious comparative model in the Giant range is the Reign, however there’s some key differences that demonstrates the Hail 1 is an entirely different product designed specifically for women.

The Hail also comes two carbon variants, including the Advanced 1 model pictured.
The Hail also comes two carbon variants, including the Advanced 1 model pictured.

What are some differences between the Liv Hail and the Giant Reign then?

The Giant Reign has a head angle of 65 degrees, in comparison with the Hail’s 66-degree head angle. Liv say that their data indicates that by making the bike slightly steeper in the front end, it will be easier for women to manoeuvre the Hail up and over obstacles due to their generally shorter upper torsos.

The Liv Hail has a one degree steeper head angle than the Giant Reign.
The Liv Hail has a one degree steeper head angle than the Giant Reign.

Another point of difference in comparison to the Reign is the higher bottom bracket height. Liv say that  their data has indicated that the benefit of a higher bottom bracket in allowing a female rider to pedal over rough terrain with more ease is an attribute they wanted to incorporate on the Hail.

The Hail's bottom bracket height is slightly higher than a comparable Giant Reign.
The Hail’s bottom bracket height is slightly higher than a comparable Giant Reign.

The Hail also has more standover clearance than Reign models in the same size, and yes, female specific finishing touches are present such as the Liv Contact Upright saddle.

The Liv Contact Upright saddle is a female specific model.
The Liv Contact Upright saddle is a female specific model.

Are there any other differences other than the geometry?

There sure are! The front and rear suspension on the Hail runs a different tune to a Reign or Trance, to specifically accommodate female riders. We’re very interested to see how noticeable the different suspension tune is during testing.

The Hail's suspension is tuned specifically for female riders.
The Hail’s suspension is tuned specifically for female riders.

How much does the Hail 1 cost, and what do you get for your dollars?

The Liv Hail 1 retails for $4499, putting it squarely in the budget price point as far as enduro bikes go.

There's three Hail models brought into Australia, ranging from $4499 to $7999.
There’s three Hail models brought into Australia, ranging from $4499 to $7999.

For your cash, you’re getting an aluminium frame (except for the carbon rocker link which comes as standard across all Hail models), RockShox suspension front and rear with a Lyrik RC dual position (130-160mm) fork and Deluxe R shock, and the full SRAM package in the form of an X1 drivetrain and Guide RS brakes.

SRAM's X1 drivetrain is about as hassle free as it gets.
SRAM’s X1 drivetrain is about as hassle free as it gets.

Giant provide the handlebar and grips, which are a standout item, offering tackiness and a nice profile. The Truvativ Holzfeller stem is a nice touch, and so is the MRP chainguide, something we see as a must for any bike with more than 150mm of travel.

The Liv branded grips are impressive.
The Liv branded grips are impressive.

The bashguard is another welcome inclusion, especially on a bike with 160mm of travel, saving your chainring from a walloping should you get a little eager out on the trails.

A chainguide and bash guard as standard is always a welcome inclusion on a 160mm bike.
A chainguide and bash guard as standard is always a welcome inclusion on a 160mm bike.

The Giant dropper post is simple and very mechanic friendly, but we would like to see a 125mm drop specced over the 100mm drop model that comes on the medium sized model we have on test.

We feel that a 100mm dropper post on our Medium sized test bike is a bit short.
We feel that a 100mm dropper post on our Medium sized test bike is a bit short.

The wheels are a nondescript aluminium offering from Giant called the PAM-2, however the tubeless conversion with the Schwalbe tyres was simple and the slightly wider rim width than you see on some house brand wheelsets gives the Schwalbe rubber great shape, so our initial impressions are positive.

Giant's PAM-2 wheelset converted to tubeless easily and gives a solid tyre profile, it's a thumbs up performance so far!
Giant’s PAM-2 wheelset converted to tubeless easily and gives a solid tyre profile, it’s a thumbs up performance so far!

Speaking of the tyres, it’s good to see Giant going with the beefier Magic Mary up front paired with the slightly less chunky Hans Dampf out the back to offer predictable traction up front paired with something faster rolling in the rear.

A Magic Mary up front offers oodles of traction.
A Magic Mary up front offers oodles of traction.

Women’s bikes are often more expensive that a comparable unisex model, does the Liv Hail 1 represent good value?

For under $5000 the Liv Hail 1 packs a fair amount of value and is a bike that can be ridden out of the box with no real weak spots in the components.

The Hail 1 packs alot of value for under $5000.
The Hail 1 packs alot of value for under $5000.

Our only complaint would be the lack of piggyback reservoir on the Deluxe R shock, but considering the price and the other nice touches such as the chainguide and bashguard we’ll wait until we get some trail time on the bike before making any hasty judgements.

We're interested to gauge the performance of the Deluxe R shock.
We’re interested to see how the Deluxe R performs against a piggyback equipped rear shock.

Where will we be riding the Liv Hail 1?

Everywhere we would normally shred a 160mm bike! Just because the Hail 1 has a lovely colour scheme doesn’t mean it’ll be subjected to anything but the most brutal trails we reserve for testing 160mm bikes.

We're excited to get the tyres dirty on the Hail 1!
We’re excited to get the tyres dirty on the Liv Hail 1!

Stay tuned for our detailed thoughts in a full review soon!