Aluminium has been making a renaissance, and after heading out on the road on the Liv Avail 1, it’s a prime example as to why.
It’s been a while since I’ve dabbled with an alloy frame, I tend to be apprehensive about the feel of the ride. I’m still conditioned to think it’s going to rattle my teeth out like the days of yore versions we all put up with. But when researching for the Women’s bike of the Year, I came across Giant’s good looking Liv range, and with it’s exceptional value for money, I was tempted to cock a leg over an aluminium bike again. And I am very pleased I did.
It was the specification of the Liv 1 that first drew my attention. The 6061 alloy frame is paired with carbon composite forks and comes with smooth shifting Shimano Sora drivetrain and Tektro R312 dual pivot brakes. Although this only gives you 18 gears (higher end drivetrains come with up to 22), the compact 34/50 chainset and 11×32 cassette combo means there’s more than sufficient ratios to get up any hill, although more experienced riders may notice ‘gaps’ in the block.
The women’s specific Liv Connect Forward saddle is comfortable and Woman’s specific bars come with a shallow drop, which along with the cross top leavers, means it’s easy to reach for the brakes from any position.
The Giant SR 2 wheelset are a bit of an unknown, but they performed really well over my testing miles and coming with the Giant logo, you expect and get a good level of quality. They come fitted with Giant’s own SR4 25c tyres, which performed well, but it’s worth noting that there’s more than enough room for 28c’s – which it might be worth investing in to further enhance the rider comfort and confidence.
Out on the road the bike performed excellently. Its geometry is aimed at providing comfort over distance, rather than a slammed sprinter style. That’s not to say it’s not agile or responsive, realistically it’s as fast as the rider can make go, just think endurance over race bike. There’s also the option of removing the top cross brake leavers should you so wish, giving it a slightly more racey feel should you so wish.
This geometry, and according to Liv – Giant’s oversized fork steerer-tube technology, makes the bike predicable and stable, giving it great handing when descending or cornering.
Any apprehension I had over the Tecktro brakes were swiftly put to bed as they consistently performed a reliable stopping service, without the requirement to yank hard on (any of) the leavers.
The composite fork with alloy steerer really helps to minimise road buzz, making it feel a million miles away from any previous eyesight hindering vibration alloy experiences I have had in the pass.
All in all, it adds up to a very comprehensive bike, that’s comfortable and very enjoyable to ride – to get a carbon bike on a par performance wise would be at least double the price.
For many riders, the Avail 1 will be a perfect transition from a flat bar bike, thanks to the extra set of cross top brakes. For the price it’s a brilliant build, with lots of known quality and reliable elements. With mudguard eyelets, and room for big comfy tyres, it’ll happily take you through all the seasons.
The Liv Avail 1 is a great ride, managing to balance responsiveness with compliance, as well as being predicable and reliable. It’s an excellent bike that delivers great all round performance and value for money.