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Review: Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 2019 mountain bike

Written by Fiona

December 28 2018

Chatting with Hubby G during a mountain bike outing in the Highlands the other day, I excitedly told him how much I loved my new bike, the Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 2019. I added that I knew I would love her the first time I rode her because she felt “just perfect”. G rolled his eyes and replied: “You knew you would love her the moment you saw her. I could see the joy in your eyes because the bike looked so fancy.”

He is probably right. I do know that you shouldn’t fall for a new gadget or outdoors product because of its looks, rather you should assess the features, functions and fit before making up your mind. Yet, the Intrigue looked so fancy and shiny and I was immediately smitten.

Fortunately, after many miles of riding trails, I am pleased to report the bike performs as well as it looks. Here’s my review of the new Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 mountain bike.

Riding the local trails with my friend Moira, right.

The search for a new mountain bike

I had been keen to upgrade to a full suspension mountain bike after riding a hard tail 29er for years. I have a few friends who now own full suspension bikes and the weight of the bikes did not seem as off-putting as previously. I can recall trying to lift a full suspension bike about five years ago and decided they were not for me.

I don’t weigh a lot myself and riding a heavier bike means you need to have to have more pedal power to get up the hills.

Brilliantly, more modern designs have created full suspension mountain bikes that are much lighter, yet still have a host of great features.

I was also keen to try a bike with 27.5 (650b) wheels. Once upon a time, most mountain bikes had 26-inch wheels, then came 29-inch wheels – and now most new bikes are sold with 27.5-inch size wheels.

Larger wheels are meant to provide greater efficiency, better traction and a smoother ride. I have found this was the case with the 29er but the disadvantage was the wheel size was not so nimble or easy to manoeuvre around corners.

The 29-inch wheels also make the bike quite large and it has always felt like I am riding a bike that resembles a Shire horse. In some environments, this is excellent but when I need to ride in tight places I have struggled (of course, this could be to do with my lack of technical ability but I might as well give a full review as I have found it…)

So, the 27.5-inch wheel size seemed like a good compromise of smoother rolling and manoeuvrability. See Bike Radar’s article: Pros and cons of 27.5in wheel size.

Having tested the Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 for a while now I am very happy with the ride.

Female-specific Liv design

Liv Cycling is the sister company of Giant and another attraction of the Liv Intrigue bike is that it has a female-specific Liv design. This doesn’t just apply to the colour of the bike – a gorgeous gloss teal – but mainly the geometry. I already own a Liv racing bike and so I know that the female geometry suits me.

Liv’s 3F Design Philosophy means that the female design is better suited to the average female physique (longer legs and shorter body, compared to the average guy with shorter legs and a longer body).

There are only a few brands that that design what can be called “true” women’s specific design. All Liv bikes have been designed from scratch for women, with not only women’s specific finishing products but also bespoke frame geometry across mountain and road bikes.

The bike design is based on body dimension data taken from a global database that records up to 289 individual measurements, such as arm, leg, torso length etc and identifies average trends across genders and sizes. Liv also conducts its own research looking at areas such as body position and flexibility and they call for top-level female athletes to test their prototype bikes before making hem for general sale.

Great spec women’s bikes

It used to be that women’s bikes were at entry level or more shopper style bikes. Many brands appeared to believe that women were not so bothered about high-end and high-spec bikes, which does seem ridiculous.

Fortunately, these days many brands now realise that there are women who want high quality bikes with all the same features as the guys’ bikes, including lightweight frames and high quality components.

The Liv Bicycles offer a range of bikes that include those that are as high spec as the men’s versions. Basically, you are not cheated out of features just because you choose to buy a female-specific bike.

Rear suspension.

Other features of Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 2019

Frame: Advanced-Grade Composite front triangle an upper rocker and ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminium rear triangle

What does this mean?: Giant’s raw carbon fibre is used to produce a custom composite material for the main part of the frame at the front. It is lightweight, stiff and compliant.

The rear triangle is made of an aluminium alloy for good strength-to-weight ratios. It’s not carbon fibre but it’s a good alternative.

Trail geometry: Slacker head tube angle (66.5 degrees) and steeper seat tube angle (74.5 degrees), with longer top tube (22.8 cm for size Small) and shorter stem (50mm across all sizes), make the Intrigue suited to tackle any terrain.

What does this mean?: In simple terms, the geometry of the bike is designed to make it easier, more responsive and more comfortable to ride trails.

The bike feels closer to the ground than I have been used to and the bike length is longer. One thing I have noticed is that the pedals sometimes catch on large rocks (I think because the bike and pedals are lower to the ground) but with improved technique (thanks TrailCoach) I am learning how to ride this style of bike.

I wasn’t sure the slacker geometry would make much difference to my riding ability on trails but I have discovered it’s far easier and far more enjoyable to ride.

Front fork: Fox 34 Rhythm with 150mm travel; GRIP2 Damper

What does this mean?: In layman’s terms you get 150mm of travel – up and down – for great front-end shock absorption. You can adjust the shocker to be fully firm (if riding tarmac) or nice and absorbing (when riding rough trails).

Boost Hub Spacing: Boost 15×110 [F], 12X148 [R] hub spacing.

What does this mean?: This feature is aimed at improving stiffness, trail handling and tyre clearance.

Back Shock:  Maestro Suspension System with 140mm of rear travel, powered with Liv and Giant’s proven trunnion-mounted Maestro Suspension System.

What does this mean?: What feels like an excellent amount of shock absorption from “firm” for riding on harder trails and tarmac, to mid and higher shock absorption for bumpy trails and downhills.

Increased Tyre Clearance: The Liv Intrigue comes with a 2.4-inch tyre at the rear and 2.5-inch tyre at the front, but there is scope to fit slightly larger 2.6-inch tyres.

What does this mean?: The frame allows for you to fit up to 2.6-inch tyres, which can give increased stability and traction, depending on the terrain you plan to ride.

Handlebar: Giant Contact TR35, 780x35mm, 20mm rise

What does this mean?: I think the handlebars feel quite wide compared to my other bikes but this is how modern mountain bikes are designed. They are designed to suit the narrower shoulders of women, too.

A wider set of handlebars offers great leverage for riding winding trails and berms etc. The design is perfect for off-road riding although it does take a bit of getting used to if you are switching from the narrower handlebars of road cycling.

Stem: Giant Contact SL 35, 35mm

What does this mean?: The stem is the part that affixes the handlebars to the frame. A shorter stem can make the turning of the handlebars more responsive. However, this does take a bit of getting used to and I felt like the front end of the bike was a bit twitchy to start with.

Dropper seatpost: Giant Contact Switch dropper post with remote lever (30.9mm)

What does this mean?: You can control he height of the seat very easily by using the lever attached to the handlebars. When riding the flats and uphills, you will want the seat to be in a higher position than if you are riding downhill. Once you get used to using this feature it is absolutely brilliant.

Cassette and shifter: SRAM NX Eagle, 11×50 and SRAM NX Eagle, 1×12

What does this mean?: The cassette includes a set of cogs from 11 to 50 (the number refers to the teeth and 50 teeth on one cog is pretty big!). This gives a range of 12 different speeds (apparently 455 per cent range).

In layman’s terms, that is a great range of gears to choose from and a large dinner plate style cog with 50 teeth to use when you need to go up steep hills.

There is just one sprocket at the front that connects to 12 sprockets of different sizes at the rear to drive 12 different gear sizes. This makes the gears easy to use and there is no need to shift between two front cogs as you normally expect to do on an older style bike.

The gears are so easy to use and the range of perfect for trail riding.

Rear Derailleur: SRAM NX Eagle

What does this mean?: This is the part of the bike that moves the chain (SRAM NX) between the sprockets.

Brakes: SRAM Guide T 180mm hydraulic disc both front and back

What does this mean?: The bike has disc brakes rather than traditional calliper style brake pads. I find them very effective.

Weight: Giant states: “The most accurate way to determine any bike’s weight is to have your local dealer weigh it for you. Many brands strive to list the lowest possible weight, but in reality weight can vary based on size, finish, hardware and accessories. All Giant bikes are designed for best-in-class weight and ride quality.”

What does this mean?: Giant (and Liv) is tired of answering the question: “But how much does the bike weigh?” Lots of people get caught up in this and in many cases if you lose a bit of weight yourself you’ll make the cycling easier.

However, I was put off buying a full suspension bike in previous years because the bikes felt very heavy with dual suspension. I was pleasantly surprised by the Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 mountain bike because it feels quite light for a bike with rear end suspension. It’s all relative though and the best way to find out if the bike is right for you is to visit a dealer and try one for size and ride.

Other components of Liv Intrigue Advanced 2

If you are looking for all the small details here are the rest:

  • Brake Levers: SRAM Guide T
  • Crankset: TruVativ Descendent 6k Eagle Dub, 30
  • Bottom bracket: SRAM GXP Dub Press Fit
  • Saddle: Female-specific Liv Contact
  • Spokes: Sapim
  • Hubs: Giant Tracker Boost 15x110mm, sealed bearing Giant Tracker Boost 12×148, sealed bearing, non XD Driver Body
  • Tyres: The bike can be fitted with a variety of tyres including traditional tyre and inner tube or tubeless and different widths, from 2.4 to 2.6

Price: The bike’s RRP is £2,999. There is also a Liv Intrigue Advanced 1 at RRP £3,999.

The blurb: Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 mountain bike

You have to love the over-written blurb that brands come up with! Giant/Liv states: “Rip through backcountry single track, blaze new lines and feel fearless on any terrain with the playfully agile Intrigue.”

And: “Intrigue is a corner carving, descent dominating, composite frame that leads the charge with Liv’s 3F design and uses Advanced Composite material.”

Another sunny day for a bike ride.

On test: Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 mountain bike

Let me state first off that I am not a highly skilled mountain biker. I enjoy riding cross country trails and some rockier ups and downs. I was keen to own a bike that might give me a bit of an advantage in terms of handling ability, including fatter tyres, greater suspension (front and back) and an easier riding, female-specific geometry.

I have found all this, and more, to be the case. I have ridden the bike many miles in daylight and at night-time.

The more I ride, the more confident I feel and I am most pleased with the smoothness of the ride as well as the traction. I am nervous on wet rocks and tree roots yet I have managed to competently ride both on this bike. I think I will get better and better thanks to this bike and also because of some excellent coaching from Ramsay at TrailCoach.

For example, I had no idea that switching on the full suspension would make it easier to ride uphill over rocks. And I didn’t realise that by simply letting go of the brakes and rolling downhill over rocky slabs, without touching the brakes, would be so effective.

Also, I have been riding flat pedals (rather than clip-in) and I think this has helped to improve my confidence, too. I can easily put a foot down when I need to and then ride off again. I recommend you use flat pedals if you are nervous or lacking confidence, although this does mean you lose a bit of upward pedal power.

I have greatly enjoyed riding a range of trails on the Giant Intrigue Advanced 2 mountain bike.

The handlebars are wide and the handlebar stem is short but I have quickly got used to this. It feels responsive and positive at the front end.

I love that I can easily adjust the firmness of both the front and rear suspension without having to get off the bike.

And while the dropper seatpost seemed like a luxurious extra to begin with I find I am now using it a great deal. Being able to drop the seat so quickly allows for better confidence and balance while riding downhill. I can’t imagine owning a bike without a dropper seat post now.

There have been a few tricky things to get used to, for example, the lower profile of the bike and the pedals sometimes hitting larger rocks, as well as the wider handlebars, but this is mostly to do with my lack of riding skills rather than the bike.

At the start of this post I said I quickly fell in love with the looks of the Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 mountain bike. The love affair continues ­– and grows – thanks to the superb performance. Over the last few years I had not been enjoying my mountain biking but now I have rediscovered my MTB mojo.

It doesn’t matter what age you are (I am 50), it’s great to find a new love for a sport.

I know that £3,000 is not cheap for a new bike but the Intrigue does come with a great range of high quality components and the bike is as light as I could ever imagine for a full suss mountain bike.

See Liv Intrigue Advanced 2 2019 mountain bike for more details.

 

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