by Kate Heckman
One of my favourite routes near Toronto includes a road called Twyn Rivers Drive. It descends into Scarborough’s Rouge Valley fiercely: a 30-degree drop with a twist that feels, not surprisingly, like a roller-coaster. Usually, I am tentative; there is a narrow bridge at the bottom, after a blind corner, where there is often traffic. The new EnviLiv Advanced Pro 0 Disc handled it like the bike was on rails, feeling tight and controlled, and really, really fast.
The EnviLiv Advanced Pro 0 Disc is the newest iteration of Liv’s aero bike for women. It’s tricked out to the max: Ultegra Di2, deep-section carbon rims with supple tubeless tires and a handlebar/brake setup that just feels right in my hands. Usually, I bend the hoods inwards so I can reach the levers in the drops comfortably, but that adjustment wasn’t necessary on the EnviLiv.
The whole cockpit is integrated, a major difference from the previous Liv Envie Advanced Pro, which the EnviLiv is replacing at the top of the brand’s lineup. The cables are hidden from view, and from the wind. The top of the bar slices through the air (even though it could have used a bit more tape across the top, but that’s a personal preference).
I’m skeptical about the concept of “women’s” bikes. At 179-cm tall, I’ve always figured such bikes were for smaller people. That the EnviLiv maxes out at a size “M” reinforces that notion. If I have one criticism, it’s that I’d like the reach to extend a little farther, even though my custom setup has it out pretty far. Not all women are petite.
Fit aside, the EnviLiv Advanced Pro 0 Disc is stiff in all the areas you want it to be. As a racer whose strength is powering away on flats, I find it responds snappily to my efforts. But on a ride over cobbled bricks, it flexed enough to smooth out the bumps.
Liv achieves these ride features by designing the bike using its 3F model, which is short for “fit, form and function.” For the fit on road bikes, the company uses a geometry that keeps women riders from becoming too stretched out and bent over when on the bikes, using data on the muscle groups that women use when putting power to the pedals. Apparently, we use our front thigh muscles (rectus femoris) more than men. So the geometry on the EnviLiv Advanced Pro 0 Disc reflects this finding. While the form and function seem to work for me, it feels like the bike’s designers are trying to steer me away from an aggressive riding position. For many women, however, I suspect this setup is fine.
I have never ridden a bike that can carry speed like the EnviLiv. When it comes to getting up rollers, I’m used to slingshotting off other riders’ drafts. On this bike, I want to shoo them out of my way. The way the bike carries forward momentum even helps you on steep climbs: it’s as if the bike is trying to get up the hills. A 30-tooth sprocket on the cassette definitely helps, too.
Like a lot of women, I’m super picky about saddles. I expected to switch out the stock seat within 5 km. But, surprisingly, the Liv Contact SL felt pretty good. The Di2 shifting means I don’t miss a pedal stroke as I change gears. The 140-mm-diameter hydraulic rotors ensure that I can shed speed or come to a quick stop with confidence.
The bike comes with smooth rolling Giant SLR 1 Aero Disc wheels, a deep 65-mm rim in the back and a 42-mm in the front. The combination feels perfect and adds to the way the bike carries momentum so well. They’re married to tubeless 25c Giant Gavia AC 1 tires, which roll smoothly and offer excellent grip. I was able to dig into corners without fear of washing out.
Components Shimano Ultegra Di2, Giant Power Pro power meter
Wheels Giant SLR-1 Aero
Sizes XS, S, M
The Advanced Pro 0 Disc has an integrated, dual-sided power meter, that feeds data from both the Ultegra crank- arms to an integrated Giant head unit, which clearly displays metrics such as power, cadence and speed.
Oh, and there’s the bike’s looks. I’m usually a black-on-black sort of girl, but the shimmering metallic logo on the matte finish is spectacular. Coupled with the aggressively aerodynamic lines, seat-tube cutaway and sweeping curves in the carbon on the top and down tubes, this bike looks as fast and muscular as it feels.