by Tara Nolan

On a sunny Thursday evening, I took the 2018 Liv Pique Advanced 1 out for her first spin with my mountain biking club on fast and flowy trails with some rooty ups and downs. Many of my riding buddies immediately noticed my change in ride – the paint job is not stealthy. It’s all baby blue in the back with red over a deep purple at the front end. The top tube has a geometric pattern on the purple that feels etched in. It’s a smart colour combo. And red grips had been added for more flash. I’ve been admiring Liv’s consistently interesting paint jobs these past few years. Despite a penchant for fuchsia, I appreciate how the colours are not all “I’m a women’s bike, therefore I’m pink.”

I was wondering if I’d miss my 29er on the punchy climbs, but the Pique, part of Liv’s off-road performance XC line, nimbly popped me up and over the hills – and the roots – with its carbon 27.5″ rims running Maxxis Forekaster tires. This climbing prowess came from the SRAM GX Eagle, 1 x 12 speed drivetrain, which has that extra gear for climbing.

I’m really intrigued by the research that’s gone into these women-specific bikes by Giant’s sister company. Some bike brands merely change components and colours, and offer smaller frame sizes, but Liv uses what its refers to as data-driven design. The company has branded it as 3F for fit, form and function, measuring women’s body dimensions, muscular activity and strength patterns. Anthropometric differences between men and women are also examined to create frames that will seat women in a way that will promote proper form and pedalling efficiency and allow for easy reach to the levers. Feedback from athletes also plays into the design process.

A few women-specific elements that I appreciated include the standover height. I didn’t really think of this feature when I purchased the current bike I’m riding, but a few recent, ahem, pelvic-area bashes have made me miss the standover height from my former frame. I had no issues with the comfort of the Liv Contact SL saddle that comes on the bike.

I did find the handlebar width (Giant Contact SL Trail) to be a bit aggressively wide, even though it’s touted as a feature. The wide bar is super stable for descents, but a bit broad for my comfort on some of the cross country trails I commonly ride. At a certain set of trees, which I usually ride through, I had to stop and shimmy by. I would cut down the bar on each side by at least an inch.

Speaking of descents, I’m pretty hooked on having a dropper post for downhill riding, so I was happy to see that the Giant Contact SL Switch dropper post was included. It reacted quickly and efficiently when I needed it.

I waited until after I’d ridden a few times to ask Liv ambassador Jenn Kennedy – a mountain biking friend who rides in the Wild Bettys club with me – what she thought of the bike. Kennedy had the opportunity to ride the Liv Pique Advanced 1 on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast while she was attending Liv’s camp for ambassadors. “I think that the bike felt very easy to control and comfortable and did feel quite light underneath me,” she said. “I felt that it dug in with great grip and turned smoothly, and had some solid travel to do any kind of descending with good clearance. The shifting was smooth, too.”

I found the bike to be pretty zippy and light. When riding, friends would ask how I liked it. My common answer was, “It’s a peppy little thing.”

Components SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, 10–50 tooth, 12-speed cassette, Giant Contact Switch seatpost with 100 mm of travel, Liv Contact SL saddle

Suspension Fox 34 Float Performance Elite fork with 130 mm of travel, Fox Float DPS Performance Elite shock with 120 mm of travel

Wheels Giant P-TRX 1C Composite 27.5″

Sizes XS, S, M

Price $5,199

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