by: Molly Hurford
As a longtime bike reviewer, I know I shouldn’t be sucked in by how good a bike looks. Paint colours don’t mean any thing when it comes to performance. But I admit, I do love a bike that looks as good as it rides; the Liv Brava Advanced Pro 0 seriously delivers a one-two punch of Batmobile-like appearance with performance that felt like flawlessly navigating Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.
I’ve been racing cyclocross and writing about it for a long time, so I’ve seen the evolution of CX bikes designed for women. Almost 10 years ago, I tested Liv’s first attempt at a cyclocross bike for women: the “comfort-oriented” geometry and floral white-and-teal patterns left much to be desired. This sleek black iridescent carbon-fibre frame with all the bells and whistles that are normally included on high-end men’s ’cross bikes wasn’t just a welcome surprise, it was a complete 180 from their original attempt.
The geometry has been dialled in to leave enough space in the frame’s triangle for the bike to be shouldered without sacrificing agility or adding bulk. The reach – 363 mm on the XS frame – was just right for this 5’3″ tester, compared with many other women’s models that tend to shorten the reach and create more of an upright posture as a result. This bike isn’t shy about wanting to be ridden in the drops.
It’s nimble enough for the circle-of-death corners so frequently found in local cyclocross courses, as well as more awkward off-cambers. It’s light enough to dismount easily and carry over non-bunny-hop-able obstacles. A dropper seatpost can be swapped in, though I shudder to think of CX getting so XC-ish. The D-Fuse seatpost that comes stock with the bike manages bumps, and more important, didn’t slip down during a botched remount.
Of course, the Advanced Pro 0 model doesn’t skimp on componentry. Like most high-end cyclocross bikes, it uses 1-by, electronic shifting and hydraulic brakes – SRAM Force eTap AXS across the board – and the top-of-the-line Giant SLR-1 42 wheels come set up tubeless with 33-mm Maxxis All-Terrane tires, optimal for most regular cyclocross conditions.
All of that said, I know right now most people aren’t looking for bikes that will solely operate as lean, mean ’cross-racing machines. Budgets are tight. If you’re spending the cash on a high-end bike, you likely want it to be usable for more than one thing. So, in addition to testing on the ’cross course, I loaded up the Liv and took it on a bikepacking adventure with two back-to-back 180-km days. And it was fantastic: the bike is designed to hold tires as wide as 45 mm, so it can double as a gravel bike or a cushier ’cross ride. With water bottle bosses (not a guarantee on a higher-end cyclocross bike), it’s easy to make the shift from all-out riding to cruising comfortably. The race-y geometry also translated to being comfortable for a long ride as well as aggressive in a sand pit. If you are looking for a bike that can handle most things, I’m surprised to say that this cyclocross bike might be your best bet for managing road, gravel and a mudfest.
The Liv Brava Advanced Pro 0 comes in XS, S and M, available for $6, 399 at liv-cycling.com/ca