Review: The Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2 is perfect for long, mixed-surface weekend rides

The versatile bike features wide tires and precise handling

May 18th, 2020 by | Posted in Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

I was skeptical of a bike that’s made to do everything. Just like two-in-one shampoo/conditioner, swiss army knife scissors or a washer/dryer, I find that products with multiple uses often fail to compare to their more specialized counterparts. I tend to gravitate towards things that do one thing, and do it well. That being said, I was open to letting this not-exactly-road-specific-but-also-not-gravel-bike surprise me, and that’s exactly what happened.

First impressions

The Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2 is built for long, all-day rides, and exploring a variety of surfaces. This bike is Liv’s women’s version of the Giant Defy Advanced, a fast bike made for comfort and endurance rides.

The first thing that struck me about the Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2 is its glistening ‘chameleon blue’ paint job. The colour looks different in every light—sometimes it seems to be a shining teal but in other conditions it edges more towards an aubergine purple. It’s not overtly flashy, but it’s definitely eye catching and fun.

The geometry of the bike is slightly more relaxed than that of the race-oriented Liv Langma. Like all Liv bikes, it’s built for women’s bodies. Liv takes into account women’s weight distribution and physiology when designing the frame.

The Avail has a modern look—dropped seat stays and a slightly sloping top tube. One of the most salient features of the Advanced-Grade composite carbon layup frame is the generous tire clearance it accommodates. The frame’s entire geometry was adjusted to compensate for bigger tires. Compared to earlier Avail models, Liv has lowered the bottom bracket, shortened the headtube and lengthened the fork—design changes that result in a ride that handles like a road bike should, but also accommodates wider tires.

The 2020 Avail models come equipped with carbon Giant SLR 1 Disc 30 wheels wrapped in 32mm tubeless Giant Gavia Fondo tires. The decision to go with such wide stock tires really emphasises the point that Liv has designed this bike to be used on multiple types of road surfaces.

The bike’s ultra lightweight carbon fibre D-Fuse SL seatpost is designed to allow flex and dampen the effect of any bumps. It has a concealed seat post clamp which makes it look sleek and clean.

Endurance

The Avail is extremely comfortable to ride. Doing a short loop on local roads for my first ride, the wide tires rolled so smoothly and securely along the pavement that I made the immediate decision to increase the tire width on my personal road bike.

Riding the Avail Advanced Pro early in the season, I expected to experience some lower back discomfort as I wasn’t used to riding off the trainer. Surprisingly, the pain never came. Even on six hour rides, the bike didn’t leave me feeling uncomfortable in any way (other than the standard post-ride leg fatigue).

Road

The Avail Advanced Pro handles corners impressively well and feels extremely stable and steady. Despite descending being a personal weakness for me as a rider, I felt very confident riding downhill on this bike. The stock handlebar tape looks great, but it gets slippery when wet and grasped with sweaty, gloveless hands (a factor I had to remember when descending after a long climb.)

The Shimano Ultegra R8000 hydraulic disc brakes are super powerful and I was sure they could safely bring me to a stop in any conditions, which added to my confidence taking on steep, winding descents.

The Avail Advanced Pro’s compact (50/34) gearing and 11-34 cassette made for great climbing on any road surface.

The carbon fork comes with the OverDrive steerer which uses oversized headset bearings to offer precise steering and a sturdy base during hard efforts.

Although I was able to accelerate easily and felt consistently strong and fast, I never had that “I just killed a personal best on a segment” moment on the bike. I initially found this a bit frustrating, and I suspect the wide tires, comfortable as they were, may have been a factor. In an attempt to reach that max speed, which I felt was just within reach on the bike, I made some positioning adjustments, but didn’t see a big difference.

It was when I accepted that the bike wasn’t built to shave one second off a segment that I really started to appreciate what the Avail Advanced Pro had to offer.

All-road

Every road cyclist has a personal preference, but when I think about my favourite rides I always come back to long, rambling weekend rides.They start early in the morning, go longer than expected, wind through beautiful mixed-surface roads in the middle of nowhere and end at your doorstep, late in the afternoon leaving you feeling as though you’ve been around the world and back.

The Avail Advanced Pro is perfect for these rides. It’s at home riding on gravel roads, handling loose surfaces with ease and precise steering. Unlike gravel specific bikes, the transition back onto the road is natural—it doesn’t feel like you’re at a disadvantage riding with others on traditional bikes.

On one of those extended weekend rides, I ended up on what my map had told me was a bike path, but in reality looked like a long stretch of sandy beach. I figured it could be a fun way to put the Avail to the test, so I tossed my chain into the lowest gear and started pedalling. To my surprise, with a little concentration, I was able to ride the length of the beach and hop right back on to the gravel path to continue my ride.

Contrary to my initial thoughts, the Avail Advanced Pro does specialize. Its strength is the type of riding many road cyclists will say is their favourite—long hours in the saddle, exploring new routes and going down unexpected roads. Responsive enough to take on the town line sprint, but comfortable enough to ride all day (on any kind of road), the Avail Advanced Pro’s versatility is its strength.

The Avail Advanced Pro 2 comes with mechanical Ultegra components, and costs $3,900 CAD. The Avail Advanced Pro 1 Force is also available with SRAM Force eTap AXS for $5,600 CAD.