Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1 Review

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Full disclosure- I am a brand ambassador for Liv Cycling. I get some free product from the company because of my ambassadorship, but I did purchase this particular bike. I was not given the bike for free and my thoughts on the bike are honest and transparent. That being said, you can form your own opinion on what I have to say.

Road bikes have come a long way in a very short amount of time. Gone are the days of worrying about brittle carbon, threaded stems, friction shifters, and ultra skinny tires.

The carbon of today is extremely strong, even stronger than some aluminum tubing. Bikes are now lighter, faster, and much more comfortable. The Liv Avail is no exception.

The Avail model is an endurance road machine. It’s designed for long days in the saddle and will gobble up any pothole riddled roads you throw at it.  It also shines as a road model with less aggressive geometry, creating a comfortable platform for the enthusiast rider.

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My Avail Advanced Pro lovingly named Firefly.

The advanced models of the Liv Avail are made with the brand’s highest quality carbon fiber weave. Liv’s models are designed by and for women, creating carbon layups to offer a balanced ride. The major differences between the brother and sister brands Liv & Giant is the consideration of how men and women carry their weight. The differences in balance points as well as limb length, flexibility, leg length, torso length, and weight are also considered in design.

Liv’s women specific design may not be for every lady, but they are a great option to consider if you’ve struggled to find a comfortable fit on other brands.

The Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1 is a model that was released in 2017. There is currently no exact  updated 2018 model. A similarly spec’d model for 2018 is the Avail Advanced 1 with the biggest differences being an alloy wheel set and Shimano 105 level shifters instead of Ultegra level shifters.

The other option would be to go with the Avail Advanced Pro with Ultegra Di2 shifters and carbon SLR tubeless compatible wheels. The price jump between the models is pretty significant, but I personally think going with carbon wheels to drop significant weight and increase ride quality is worth the investment.

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Maiden Voyage

 

The 2017 Avail Advanced Pro 1 came somewhere in between the 2018 model options at a retail price of $3250. When price comparing against other major manufacturers, the Avail Advanced Pro 1 was the best bang for the buck. Similarly spec’d models came in at anywhere from $4200-5000 MSRP, that’s not even considering the hydraulic disc brakes that the Avail offered. If shopping off of price alone when looking at the spec’s, there’s no contest that the Avail Advanced lineup is a great option.

The thing that I think surprised me most about the Avail Advanced Pro 1 was the out of the box fit. Each previous road bike I have owned needed quite a bit of tweaking of components to get them the bike to fit comfortably. Major changes to the saddles, stems, and handlebars were necessary to enjoy riding long distances.

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From the bike path to gravel to country roads, the Avail Advanced Pro 1 can handle them all!

When building the bike up from out of the box, the only thing I did was flip the step to have a slightly taller rise and swapped the saddle out for one that had a cutout in the center of it. That’s not to say the stock saddle wasn’t comfortable, Liv does a fantastic job. I just know that I have a very particular saddle width I like to ride and know that a center cutout is also something I need in a road saddle. (Off topic, but the Liv contact SL forward saddle that is spec’d on their mountain bikes is one of the most comfortable MTB saddles I have ever ridden!)

I dialed in my seat height, using my old road bike measurements as well as the fore-aft position and I was set! I honestly couldn’t believe I haven’t had to make any changes beyond that to get dialed in.

The ride quality of the bike is easy on the body. The full carbon frame set paired with a carbon seat post and carbon SLR wheels makes for a light, smooth ride. Road noise is very minimal. The wheels are tubeless compatible, which I did initially set them up tubeless as the bike comes with the Giant Gavia tubeless road tires. I did have an unfortunate run in with a piece of glass that ended up creating a pretty large hole in the rear tire and caused the tubeless sealant to spew out onto my seat bag. I have since swapped in a tube for my rear tire, but have maintained the front tire as tubeless with sealant. For reference, I usually run anywhere from 90-100psi in my tires. I prefer the slightly wider 25mm tires with a lower pressure for good ride quality.

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The disc brakes make it easy to service the bike or change out a flat.

I do not participate in road racing, nor is it my goal to always attempt to get a Strava QOM, so ride comfort reigns supreme when dialing in my ride.

The handling of the bike is excellent. It tracks predictably, cornering is smooth as butter. I was a bit concerned with how the bike would would climb, but with the weight of the bike being light with the carbon SLR wheels, it can definitely gear up quickly and is quite responsive. I’d be curious to see how it compares with the new 2018 Liv Langma model, a road machine geared for climbing and performance.

One of my favorite features of the Avail Advanced Pro 1 is the hydraulic disc brakes. I’ve never felt so confident stopping on a road bike. I can ride in rain and cruddy weather without worrying about destroying my rims or  brake pads. The Shimano Ultegra hydraulic levers feel great in hand. My hands get much less fatigued with breaking on steep downhills as the actuation of the braking is absolutely smooth.

The new 11-speed Ultegra road gruppo also performs quickly and reliably. Even in the age of electronic shifters, I still prefer the functionality and performance of a mechanical group set. The shifts are snappy and reliable every time, even when shifting chain rings. I can go from shifting into an easy gear combo for ripping up a hill, to a heavy mashing gear for when I want to pick up speed on a downhill to gain momentum for the next climb.

I’ve really appreciated Liv’s attention to detail with spec-ing out the bike. It gives me no hesitation of recommending the model to anyone from the novice road rider to someone who has been a long time road enthusiast. The bike is worth every penny of its cost. The Avail Advanced Pro is a model option that anyone could enjoy and a new rider purchasing it would not feel the buyer’s remorse of not investing in a model with higher end components. The Advanced models are set up to be bikes that can grow with you as a rider and offer a quality of ride that is comfortable and reliable.

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Enjoying a rainy ride on Firefly through the Arboretum.

I would highly recommend trying an Avail model whether it be Advanced or otherwise. I’ve personally ridden and owned several similar endurance road models from competitors and have thoroughly enjoyed the Avail as one of the best bikes I have owned.

There’s a lot of hype and efforts to insert unnecessary dampening into endurance road models that make them feel dead or even sluggish to ride. The Avail uses nothing but great frame design and quality components to offer a great road model.

For more information about Liv as a brand or the Avail model line up, please visit the Liv Cycling website!

Liv Cycling Ambassadorship

It’s halfway through the year. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!

So much amazing stuff has happened this year and it continues to be a whirlwind. Last fall I applied to be an ambassador for Liv Cycling and was chosen to be one of many women who will be representing the largest women’s cycling brand IN THE WORLD!

It’s an incredible honor and it’s been a wonderful experience up to this point. I look forward to telling you all about it.

For those of you who don’t know, Liv is the sister brand to Giant Bicycles. Liv was created in 2008 and was the brain child of Bonnie TU. TU is a petite and highly stylish woman whose idea for creating a women’s brand stemmed from her own experience while shopping for a bike and clothing for the Tour of Taiwan. The lack of bike sizes for smaller women and comfortable clothing inspired her to get Giant on board with creating products for the women’s market.

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Bonnie TU of Liv Cycling

The very first products were co-branded with Giant’s name on them and were often shrunk down versions of some of the brand’s most popular men’s models. Giant eventually decided to go ALL IN on Liv being its own brand, wiping the slate clean and going back to the drawing board when it came to bike design, accessories, clothing, and more for women.

Liv brought in female engineers for designing the new bike models, they focused on graphics that were fun and bold, but didn’t scream “girly bike”. They dedicated countless hours to developing comfortable touch points on the bikes such as their women’s saddles. What came out of it was one hell of a line up of bikes for women to choose from.

Liv offers a full line up of kids, hybrid, city, road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes. Liv is the first women’s bike brand to launch a long travel, full suspension downhill bike which is the Hail model for 2017. An inspiring feat, as no other brand has dedicated themselves to creating such a magnificent offering to the women’s market.

The brand works closely with athletes such as Leigh Donovan, professional down hill rider and mountain bike coach, to develop their products to be best in class. They also utilize women like myself who are ambassadors of the brand, who work in the field and can give real world feedback from women we ride with to continue to improve the products coming to market.

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Up close and personal with the Liv Hail

Okay, enough of the kool-aid talk. My journey as an ambassador first started in January with our first webinar to discuss the brand history and get familiar with our responsibilities.

Each brand ambassador is provided with gear from Liv including swag for events, clothing,  and other promotional materials. We submit an event calendar for the year and our goal is to simply get more women out riding.

After each event, we report back on how things went and provide feedback on what we hear from women at our events.

Liv also offers ambassadors an opportunity to attend an ambassador camp. This year there were two camps due to the sheer number of women who are a part of the program (somewhere around 125 women).  The first camp was in California near Newbury Park, the home of Giant’s USA headquarters. Attendees had road and mountain bike riding options, as well as workshops, yoga classes, and brand seminars.

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Getting crafty with Jen Audia at the Mulberry Gap barn

The second camp location was a mountain bike specific location at Mulberry Gap, a lovely family owned get-a-way in the Appalachian mountains near Elijay, GA.

I had opted to attend the second camp as I’m getting much more into mountain biking these days, I had never been to Georgia, and I really didn’t want to sit on a plane for 4 hours!

The flight to Atlanta is a little over two hours from Milwaukee, WI. There is really no comparison to having to fly into LAX, even though ATL is the busiest hub in the nation.

My time in Elijay reminded me quite a bit of when I went to bike school for two weeks in Ashland, only much less cramped!

I stayed in a large group cabin with five other women. We had probably 20-25 women total at our camp. We spent our days attending clinics, seminars, riding some of the best mountain bike trails in the country, and bonding over our love of cycling and the Liv brand.

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Post Pinhoti re-group at the bottom of the trail with my Pique 2

I met so many incredible women, who continue to inspire me through my journey as an ambassador. They come up with so many fun and unique ideas for inspiring the women in their communities to ride!

I also have to give a huge shout out to Jen, Dorothy, Stephanie, and Liz from Liv for creating such an awesome experience for us.

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How We Liv @ Mulberry Gap Ambassador Camp 2017

Kate and her family at Mulberry Gap are also some amazing people. I can’t wait to return there for more adventuring in the future. Their hospitality is unmatched and the riding is challenging, but incredibly fun!

Liv ambassadors are offered some great purchasing opportunities for bikes. We are encouraged to get the latest and greatest, so we can speak to the quality of the bikes.

I personally decided to purchase not one, but TWO new Liv bikes. Fitchburg Cycles is the shop I work through as an ambassador, as they are a Liv dealer. Through the shop I landed on the Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1. A full carbon road bike with tubeless setup carbon wheels and Shimano Ultegra components.

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My beloved Avail Advanced Pro 1

When I discovered that Mulberry Gap would be an option for attending Liv’s annual ambassador camp, I also jumped at the chance to order the Liv Pique 2 full suspension mountain bike.

It may be the kool-aid talking, but they are two of the best riding bikes I have ever owned and I’ve owned A LOT of bikes.

Out of the box they were both extremely comfortable. The only change I made to the Avail was swapping out the saddle, as I’m very particular about my saddle choice. The bike feels fast and stable at the same time. It’s an endurance road bike, so it’s great for spending all day in the saddle or for someone who may not want quite as an aggressive position on a road bike.

The Pique 2 took some dialing in as I had never owned a full suspension bike before. It comes with a dropper seat post, which is a welcomed addition to my bike. It makes clearing obstacles a lot more comfortable! I eventually found that I needed to set the rear shock at the stiffest setting and then dial in the pressure and rebound to suite my needs.

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A trail with a view! Getting ready to descend the Pinhoti with the Pique 2

I’m used to riding a plus sided bike with no suspension, so I like a little more stiffness in the rear end, but like the forgiving nature of full suspension. It climbs incredibly well and I haven’t changed much parts wise on it with the exception of the rear tire, which I opted for a slightly wider 2.4″ tire as opposed to the 2.25″ tire that came on the bike. I like wider tires for the extra grip on some of the loose stuff. I also opted to put my favorite ESI silicone grips on as I don’t really like plastic/rubbery lock on grips.

The saddle is incredibly comfortable on the Pique and I tend to forget it’s even there. The SLX drivetrain performs flawlessly and I’ve never come to wish I had more gears on the 1×11 setup.

When women ask me how/why I am a Liv ambassador I often reply that I wouldn’t represent a brand I didn’t believe in and if the products sucked, I wouldn’t want to be a part of what they are doing. Good news, the products kick ass and I’m proud to be riding their stuff!

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Liv Cycling Social @ Fitchburg Cycles

My ambassadorship is no where near over yet for the year. I have some really wonderful plans for events coming down the pipeline.

Sunday June 25th is a brunch ride to Paoli with a coffee stop at True Coffee roasters leaving from Fitchburg Cycles at 10am.

Sunday July 9th is a my Functional Fitness for Cyclists clinic at Cross Fit Big Dane- currently full, but e-mail info@spokehaven.com if you are interested in attending!

August will most likely be a fun Tour de Breweries ride featuring some awesome local breweries!

September will be an in shop maintenance clinic at Fitchburg Cycles

October will most likely be the last event which is kind of a toss up, but a costume ride or bike camping outing isn’t out of the question. I’ll have to see what options folks would be interested in.

All upcoming events will be posted at fitchburgcycles.com and facebook.com/fitchburgcycleswi not to mention the Spoke Haven Facebook page!

Guest Blog:On the Road from Newbie to Roadie

Our good friend Andrea decided to share her experience of what was like to transition from commuter to roadie. Before she became such a road pro, she actually had to work on becoming a commuter first. You can read that story HERE. Thanks for sharing your story with us Andrea!
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I used to find road bikes intimidating. How could I possibly balance on those skinny tires? Would I have to wear spandex? Won’t that tiny saddle hurt my butt? What are “the drops” anyway?

After a few months of commuting on my heavy, old mountain bike I started to feel more confident on the road. I stopped holding on my breaks while going downhill and started to have a greater awareness and comfort for riding with traffic. I decided I was ready for the skinny tires.

The commuting machine.
The commuting machine.

On my first outing on my road bike, I noticed the difference in balancing on the tires, but it was easier than I thought. There’s a short, steep hill on my way to work and when I lifted out of the saddle to climb, I noticed that I had to lean more forward than on my mountain bike.

At first, I rode with Yoga pants, but I quickly realized what all the hype about wearing a Chamois was for. Overall,  firm saddle and all, I was surprised at how comfortable the road bike felt. The first couple of outings, my wrists were a bit sore, but they grew stronger over time.

Of course, the biggest difference between my road bike and my mountain bike is the speed. When I started riding to work on my road bike, I trimmed my commute time from 45 to 40 minutes. I feel like it’s easier to get power while climbing hills. Now when I ride with friends and family, I can keep up with the pack. I’ve added a bit of spandex to my wardrobe, but don’t wear it exclusively.

New road ride!
New road ride!

For me, becoming a cyclist has been a series of small steps. First, I wanted to be able to commute to work and back and not die. Then, I wanted to tackle a 25-mile ride, then a 50-mile ride. Next year I hope to train for a full century…and learn how to ride with clip-less pedals, which look pretty intimidating at the moment.