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