LIV Intrigue Advanced 1

LIV Intrigue Advanced 1
Price: $5,565
Sizes: XS, S, M (tested), L
Online: liv-cycling.com

Tester: Carolyne Whelan
Age: 36
Weight: 145 lbs.
Height: 5’ 5.5”
Inseam: 32”

Reach: 17”
Stack: 23.1”
Top Tube: 23.4”
Head Tube: 66.5°
Seat Tube: 74.5°
BB Height: 14”
BB Drop: .6”
Chainstays: 17.2”
Weight: 27.9 lbs. without pedals, specs based on size tested in High BB setting

Giant launched Liv in 2008 but set Liv sailing as it’s own brand starting with its 2015 bikes. Giant wanted Liv to be a stand-alone company, not just the women’s line of their own label. By bringing in a team of women designers, testers and marketers, Liv became not just a brand but a lifestyle. For many women, especially in mountain biking, Liv has come to be associated with camaraderie, skill clinics, sessioning technical trail features, and showcasing women who can ride. Before Liv, most catalogs had photos of women “mountain biking” on flower-deco’ed, entry-level bikes through wildflower fields. Now, Liv celebrates women mountain-goating up rock faces and spitting out dust in a pack of helmet-clad banshees on high-desert trails. And the company’s bikes, like the ruby and black Intrigue Advanced 1 I tested, have bad-ass paint jobs.

The Bike

Rather than shrinking and pinking (ew), Liv uses a 3F (Fit, Form and Function) design program to build bikes based on the average anthropometric measurements of women, taking into account thousands of data points that are organized into three sections: Body Dimensions, Muscular Activity and Strength Patterns. This addresses issues like the average woman having a longer inseam-to-torso ratio compared to men, which affects reach versus height, and a different source of power and muscular activity, which affects weight distribution on a bike and how to best utilize our strong lower body muscles. I also noticed the difference in smaller details, though, such as the brake levers coming stock at a comfortable reach for maximum power and comfort out of the box, and a saddle I didn’t immediately remove and throw across the shop floor.

Liv uses Giant’s proprietary carbon on the front triangle and aluminum for the rear triangle for its Intrigue Advanced line. This creates a sturdy, stiff, lightweight bike that dispelled my apprehensions of riding full-suspension bikes. Matched with the well-fitted geometry, this bike almost immediately felt natural, and I needed to make a point to think critically and focused, and not get lost in the experience of riding; this is exactly what I look for in a mountain bike.

Another component of that dreamy, bike-disappearing-under-me-and-not-because-I-endo’ed feeling is the Fox Float DPS2 Performance shock with 140 mm suspension travel. This rear shock has three modes: Open, Medium and Firm. And while this bike wasn’t designed to be a climbing machine (that’s what shuttles and lifts are for, right?), it is certainly capable of charging steadily upwards, regardless of what mode the shock is set in. Its compact design and 27.5 inch wheels with Maxxis Highroller II 2.5 inch front and 2.4 inch rear made it nimble for tight turns with roots, rocks and logs on an incline, which is typically my most challenging terrain dynamic. For those of you wary of turning back from the plushness of plus tires, Giant claims this bike will fit 2.6 inch front and rear.

The fork is a Fox 36 Float Performance Elite with 150 mm travel. This fork has the FIT4 three-position lever for adjustability, as well as the patent-pending Variable Valve Control high- and low-speed rebound adjuster. All this adjustability makes this fork able to ride just about any trail you want to take it on, and tackle any trail feature, confident the bike can take whatever hit you point it towards without being too much bike to take away the fun of riding. The SRAM GX Eagle group and 180 mm SRAM Guide RS brakes are solid components.

The Ride

The most downhill I typically enjoy is the fast whoop-dee sections of flow trails, and no amount of travel would have gotten me through the insanity of some of the gnarlier sections of Windrock (i.e., almost all of it). That said, the sections that would have felt terrible (or impossible) on my hardtails were white-knuckled joy on the Intrigue Advanced 1, and I found myself taking more risks than I would have dreamed of taking on my regular fleet.

At the flow bike park, this bike really shined. I felt completely in control and confident going through fast turns and caught some air on tabletops. Riding similar features on other bikes has always felt to me a bit twitchy with awkward landings, but after a couple tries on the Intrigue Advanced 1, I found myself pushing my personal limits and had a great time seeing how much air I could get and not riding my brakes nearly as much. It didn’t take long for the yips to leave my lips in between laughter and the occasional “oof” when I thought I was going to careen off the trail but managed to stay rubber side down. Climbing was pretty easy as well, especially when switching the rear shock into Firm, but even when Open it didn’t pogo as much as I expected. 

Conclusion

Anything I aimed this bike at, it took like a champion. Anything I pushed it down, it wanted to go faster. It typically takes me a few runs to feel comfortable on a bike, and the first thing I did with the Liv Intrigue Advanced 1 was ride it down flights of stairs. Not only was it incredibly smooth, it felt like I was attending the college I was riding around, floating down the same staircase I’ve ridden a thousand times while late for class or bored at 3 a.m. I could have been anywhere; it was the bike that felt like home. A bike doesn’t make the rider, but it can help make some technical trail features more sesh-able. Confidence is key, and this bike is a huge confidence booster but it won’t solve the problem of going cross-eyed at the sight of the rock you flew off five years ago and have avoided ever since. The Liv Intrigue Advanced 1 is a bike you can trust to take on some gnarly trails and still have fun in your local network. And hell, maybe it will solve that existential rock problem; there’s only one way to find out.