Hail the Queen, the new Liv (sister company of Giant) Hail is aiming to be the one bike to rule them all, the only bike you need for everything from Enduro World Series events to riding with your family. We had an opportunity to have a closer look and a ride to learn more about Liv and the new flagship of the world’s first completely women’s only brand.
The Concept of the Liv Hail Range
Life would be much easier for clothing, bikes and a myriad of other products and facilities if humans came in two sizes, man-size and woman-size but, thankfully that’s not the case and we are more varied than axle standards. We are all somewhere floating around on the sliding scale of masculinity, from the girlie girls to those uninclined to pedicures, but we are all just as much ‘woman’. This goes for our physicality too, we vary from the buxom to the slender with very little which could be defined as universal amongst us, although, I do find that a love of cake is as near to a constant as exists.
So while we differ wildly, we also have a lot in common physically. Although not universal, wider hips, less musculature through the shoulders and shorter arms are female features that can affect a bike fit, but simply riding smaller bikes might not hack it, women, as we well know, are not small men!
This is the problem that Liv set out to tackle, they want to produce a serious bike just for women, not a mans bike with narrower handlebars and a different colour scheme. With greater comfort comes greater confidence, speed and enjoyment, and so we meet the Liv Hail.
How are they doing it?
We all know the saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, but Liv believe that it is broke and it needs fixing. The best way to do that is to start afresh, rip up the designs and start from scratch. Literally back at the drawing board, the team of female designers and technicians started out with the most important measurements involved in the design process – female body measurements. With a sample of around 250 from a global database of women’s anatomical measurements the team started drawing and creating a bike they believe is the pinnacle of design for women.
The next step in the development chain is to get feedback from women in the know, women of a range of abilities were asked to ride the prototype bike and feedback to the designers. These women included Leigh Donovan, a star of downhilling when the sport was at its most experimental and progressive. The ability to articulate what needs to change on a prototype bike to make it the best it can be is an underrated skill and one that Leigh has had ample practice in. With her input the bike has grown and adapted until we have the Hail in front of us.
Technology and Geometry of the Liv Hail
Liv don’t want to describe the Hail in terms of comparisons with men’s bikes, the premise of this being a different bike and not just a feminised version of the Giant Reign remains strong. The frame seems well proportioned for a woman’s body and, with the size range including an XS and a Large frame, it isn’t designed only for smaller women.
The bike comes equipped with Rockshox Lyrik RTC3 dual position forks, allowing the rider to change between 130 and 160 mm of front suspension, designed to increase the versatility and agility of the bike. This works in conjunction with the Rockshox RC3 Deluxe 160mm rear suspension equipped with the ability to change between open, pedal and lock making the suspension highly adjustable across the bike. The RC3 has the Trunnion mount, connecting to the mount through the body of the shock and allowing a longer shock to be fitted as well as lowering the rider’s centre of gravity and allowing for the chainstays to be shortened.
The ‘Maestro’ suspension system uses a floating pivot point, increasing pedal efficiency and keeping the ride more active, efficient and independent under heavy braking and pedalling forces. The Upper rocker arm is built from an advanced forged composite carbon material, multi directional carbon layers are laid, cut, molded and heated to make a super strong and super light component at the heart of the bike.
The 66 degree head angle fits in perfectly with its remit as an enduro/all mountain bike and, accompanied with a steep and efficient 74 degree seat angle, the geometry is aggressive and modern.
The Liv Hail comes in a range of colours depending on the model number you choose, whatever we may tell ourselves, colour schemes are important to everyone when they are spending a lot of money on a bike. Liv have been clever with the designs, slightly feminine without being girly, attractive without succumbing to the lure of butterflies and flowers.
|Seat tube angle
|Top tube length
|Head tube length
Riding the Liv Hail Advanced 0
We got the opportunity to ride the Hail on the dusty trails of Sedona, Arizona, a terrain that could not be more different from the trails of Northern Europe. At 170 cm tall our tester rode the size medium which was the right size, and was a comfortable fit. In the limited time we rode the bike, we were completely comfortable and the riding position felt active and dynamic.
The first thing that we noticed riding the Hail was the incredible climbing abilities, with lots of rocky ‘up and over’ sections and longer section of climbing the steep seat tube angle (74 degrees) put us in a great position for getting the power down and popping over everything the trail could throw at us. We utilised the dual position of the front shock, changing the head angle and putting us more over the front. Although useful in some situations like longer climbs, the Hail climbs so well we would question how much this dual position feature would be used.
With the 50 tooth cassette of the SRAM Eagle, there really is enough range to get up any climb and we are glad to see that Liv have not chosen to fit a double.
On the rocky descents and swooping corners the bike handled well sucking up the lumps and bumps and tracking well throughout bumpy terrain, the shorter rear triangle made for nimble and agile descending. The suspension dealt well with repeated hits and didn’t pack up although we would have liked to try it on more sustained rocky descents to really see what the suspension could do for us.
The supplied Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres gripped well on the dry dusty trails and the razor sharp SRAM guide brakes with 180mm discs were powerful and efficient in the desert heat
The Liv Hail comes equipped with 800mm handlebars ready to be cut down for the optimum fit, this is definitely admirable, giving women more options as to how wide to ride their bars. Our only concern is that this forces everyone to cut down their bars or ride with bars too wide for their frame. Very few men ride with bars so wide, let alone us narrower shouldered ladies, and not everyone has the confidence and equipment to saw off their bars.
The Hail range includes the Hail Advanced 0 (6,999.90€) and Hail Advanced 1 (4,499.90€) (Carbon Composite Frames) and the Hail 1 (3,499.90€) and Hail 2 (3,199.90€) (ALUXX SL grade aluminium frames). We had the pleasure of riding the top of the range Liv Hail Advanced 0 with it’s top of the range, wish-for-nothing-more componentry. Not all models will be available in all countries so please refer to giant-bicycles.com.
The Liv Hail Advanced 0 is a light and efficient pedalling machine, Liv have put a lot of thought into making this bike a desirable beast with high quality components and a pedaling platform that makes it as enjoyable to ride on the climbs as on the descents. We are looking forward to having a longer term test and checking the bike out on European winter trails, the shortened back end and reduced clearance between the back wheel and the seat tube may cause some mud accumulation issues. Liv are pitching this as an ‘Enduro World Series ready’ bike, so we look forward to seeing how it deals with sustained descents with repeated hits.
For more information about Liv bikes – check out the Liv website
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Words: Photos: Sterling Lorence