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2015 Liv Intrigue 1 (discontinued)

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Discontinued
2015 Liv Intrigue 1
2015 Liv Intrigue 1 2015 Liv Intrigue 1
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2015 Test Sessions: Liv Intrigue 1

Rating: Vital Review

Reviewed by Amanda Wentz and Courtney Steen // Photos by Lear Miller

After its debut in 2014, the Liv Intrigue is back for more with some nice upgrades. Liv claims the bike will help boost your speed and skills, and is "built specifically for women seeking maximum control and confidence on aggressive trails." Was this just some marketing talk or is there really a difference? We were in sunny San Luis Obispo, California to find out. Enduro Pro lady shredder Kelli Emmett helped with the design process, so we knew it had potential to be a ripper going into the 2015 Vital MTB Test Sessions.

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Highlights

  • Aluminum frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 140mm (5.5-inches) of rear wheel travel // 120-140mm (4.7 to 5.5-inches) front
  • Tapered head tube
  • 68-degree head angle
  • 73.5-degree effective seat tube angle
  • 327mm (12.9-inch) measured bottom bracket height
  • 447mm (17.6-inch) chainstays
  • Press Fit bottom bracket
  • 142mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured complete weight (size M, no pedals): 27-pounds, 15-ounces (12.7kg)
  • $4,700 MSRP

Liv, a Giant Bikes brand, creates bikes with their 3F (Fit/Form/Function) guiding principle in mind. At the basic level, when designing bikes specifically for women, they consider our unique strengths and physical characteristics. How so? For starters, the Intrigue was designed from the ground up using body dimension data collected from women all over the world. According to Liv, this data has led them to finding the best angles to complement how women carry their weight and balance over their bikes. They also consider stem lengths, handlebar width, crank arm length, and saddle ergonomics into the equation. It's much more than the usual "shrink it and pink it" approach.

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The Intrigue rides on an ALUXX SL-grade aluminum frame, 27.5-inch wheels, and 140mm of Maestro suspension. The dual-link suspension design creates a single floating pivot point claimed to perform consistently under pedaling power and remain fully active while braking. Additional features include internal routing for everything, a chainstay guard, ISCG tabs, Press Fit bottom bracket, room for a water bottle inside the front triangle, and lots of mud clearance. Liv has also moved back to the original OverDrive headtube (standard 1 1/8 to 1 1/2-inch tapered) to make things easier.

2015 sees a few sweet upgrades in the components department for the $4,700 Intrigue 1 model - most notably the Giant P-TRX1 Composite wheel system. Another big upgrade is in the SRAM drivetrain, which is still a 2x10 system, but instead of GripShift it now has X0 trigger shifters paired with X9 front and X0 rear derailleurs. There's also a $2,775 Intrigue 2 model featuring a Shimano Deore build, RockShox suspension, and a dropper post. XS, Small, Medium, and Large sizes are available, with the XS being one of the few bikes small enough for short women who may struggle to find a good fit.

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On The Trail

We had the difficult job of testing the Intrigue 1 in some of the most beautiful scenery that California has to offer (rough job, we know). We rode several West Cuesta Ridge and Madonna Mountain trails near San Luis Obispo that really put bikes through the wringer.

As testers with two very different body types, we believe we were able to get a well-rounded perspective on this bike, especially in the fit department. We are roughly the same height, but Amanda (5'6" tall) has long legs and a short torso while Courtney (5'7" tall) is just the opposite.

The 403mm reach is average length for a Women's size Medium frame, and we found that it strikes a good balance for a range of rider heights and arm lengths. All sizes have a better than average standover height, which is great for women with shorter legs. Short seat tubes are also welcome for more adjustment and fit options.

In the cockpit area, Amanda rode the bike completely stock at first, while Courtney immediately switched out the stock Giant Contact SL 700mm bars and 80mm stem to suit her preference. This bike is intended to provide "unrivaled handing on descents," so the lack of wider bars and a short stem was a bit puzzling to us. In the end we both agreed that swapping out the bars and stem for something in the 750mm wide and 50mm length range gave us more control over the front end, both uphill and down.

The Fox Float CTD rear shock was initially set to 30% sag, falling within the suggested 25-30% range. Up front the Fox Float CTD Talas Performance fork was set to 25% sag. Once we had our bike feeling dialed we headed out to a network of trails that would give us the best variety. We had some time to settle in on a short road climb then dropped into a trail littered with some slower techy rock features. After that, we bombed through some fast, chundery, loose rocks before some jumps and a quick flowy section with a mix of berms and flat turns.

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Both of us tend to favor the downhills, so we were super excited to see how it would perform on the rocky trails. Once we got past the slight distrust of the front Schwalbe Nobby Nic tire and replaced the cockpit, the Intrigue rewarded us with responsive handling and stability at speed. Popping off rocks and other trail features made the ride a blast and we were psyched the Intrigue was able to get us out of a few spots of trouble we got into. We feel like the moderately slack head angle and low bottom bracket height added to the stable feel, and allowed us to ride the bike down some rowdier terrain than most 140mm travel women's bikes would be up for. While the Intrigue would reward rider input, it didn’t necessarily need it. It would motor comfortably over trail features without making us feel like we were along for a wild ride.

We were also pleasantly surprised how well the bike handled under braking. Amanda came into a few switchbacks a bit too hot, and even with the rough ground she was able to brake quickly without losing control of the back end.

Suspension wise, we both agreed that with the CTD shock in Descend mode it tended to push through the first bit of travel quite quickly with a super plush feel, then ramp up almost too much at the bottom of the travel. Trail mode gave something more predictable to push against when jumping or changing lines, so dropping just below 30% sag and riding in Trail mode seemed to strike the best balance. Chattery sections at speed could be a bit rough at times in this setting, however.

In the last section of trail we were rewarded with some fast and flowy turns through a fantastic eucalyptus grove and around some gnarled live oaks. There were even a few jumps thrown in to mix it up. While the Intrigue didn’t necessarily want to rail through corners, it was quite stable. Manualing through puddles and over waterbars was a bit of a challenge due to the somewhat long chainstays, though these add to the stable feel at other times. Jumping was another matter though. It did make that fun, and the ramp in the suspension saved one of our testers who may have cased one of the jumps pretty solidly.

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Along the road and on the trail we noticed that the 27.9-pound bike feels light on its feet. The front end feels planted on climbs, yet it is still easy to move your weight forward or back to get up and over a feature. Compared to some lighter bikes we tested, it felt more efficient, but only when we were in the Trail suspension setting. Those composite wheels also make for a bit of an easier job pedaling. We noticed that in Descend mode, the bike has a descent amount of pedal bob, especially when standing out of the saddle. During a slightly rocky climb with some waterbars we switched both the front and rear into Climb mode to see how it would perform. It turns out that Climb mode wasn’t the greatest choice for this terrain as it functions more as a full lockout that felt too harsh and unforgiving, so reserve it for smooth fire road ascents. Ultimately Trail mode also became the preferred ascend mode for both of us, as it allowed the wheels to maintain traction and added a platform for hard efforts. The Maestro suspension design makes it easy to get to the CTD adjustment lever.

A glance at the specs shows that this bike has a 73.5-degree effective seat angle, putting you into a pretty aggressive pedaling position. While the downs are the best part, what goes down must sometimes go up, and we faced some steep climbing sections which made us thankful for the seated geometry. Up front you get a Fox Float CTD Talas Performance fork which can be set to 120 or 140mm of travel on the fly. Only Courtney used the travel adjust feature, dropping the fork for climbs then turning it back to 140mm for descents which felt was more efficient. Overall the performance of the fork was something we were happy with and it was easily adjustable to fit all riding styles.

Build Kit

The 2015 Intrigue 1 comes nicely spec’d for the $4,700 price point, especially when you note the Giant P-TRX1 Composite wheels that you typically wouldn't find on a bike at this level. While we did notice increased stiffness in the wheels versus the aluminum alternative, the first difference noticed was the level of noise when blowing over rocks, or lack thereof. Where our aluminum rims would make a loud PING when we weren’t so graceful, the carbon muted mistakes quite nicely. There was also some level of damping that we could feel when rolling over smaller bumps and chatter at speed. Plus the wheels accelerated nicely and the hubs had good engagement to get us up and over tech sections. Should you want to upgrade to a 1X drivetrain, we believe they are compatible with the SRAM XD driver body design. One thing we didn’t get to test is the ease with which the wheels could be converted to tubeless, but they do come with the necessary parts from the factory.

2.25-inch Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires are spec'd both front and back. We were slightly skeptical of this choice for a front tire because they seemed relatively low profile, but we knew they would be fast rolling. Weighing in at 610g per tire they are quite light, but we found that the weight savings may come at a trade-off in sidewall thickness. According to Schwalbe this tire is supposed to have superior sidewall protection from cuts and pinches, but we had the rear tire pinch flat in terrain that we didn’t expect. Setting these up tubeless could help prevent pinch flats. On the plus side, Schwalbe made some improvements to this tire in the last year and we felt that the cornering knobs seemed a bit more robust. They did feel a bit drifty when we rode some loose over hard pack, but many tires would have felt the same way. Overall we were happy with the way they rolled and had good traction under braking.

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In addition to the cockpit swap, neither of us were a fan of the foam grips. They were huge in comparison to many women’s hands and difficult to change out. We felt that lock-on grips would have been a better choice. They would have made the bike look better, and we could have more confidence that they would stay put over time. They may have saved a few grams, but the savings here seemed negligible.

This bike comes with Giant’s own internally routed Contact SL Switch-R dropper seat post which has some cool features, like the ability to adjust to any point in its travel. While hydraulic seat posts are popular, a cable actuated post like this one can be kind of cool. Let’s say you’re just riding along 15-miles from home and the cable breaks. We're guessing that a bleed kit isn’t part of your gear bag, but a spare derailleur cable is. Problem solved. Don’t have a cable? That's fine too. The post will just remain in the upright position for the duration of your ride. As much as we appreciated the way the dropper post has changed riding, we do have one beef with the Giant Contact post. The Intrigue comes with just 75mm of dropper travel, and this just isn’t enough to get the saddle out of the way on steep descents. There were a number of times the saddle would bump us in the bum on rowdy descents and would make us feel a little sketchy. The bike can tackle steep terrain, but sometimes we felt limited by the saddle all up in our business. Giant does make a 100mm dropper post, and even at the seat height needed for our shorter legged rider it looks like there would be room for that extra 25mm of adjustment. The single bolt clamp design is also a little difficult to adjust and keep tight.

The bike should have come with the SRAM Guide R brakes, but instead we had the Avid Trail 9s. We had heard good things about the Guides and were looking forward to checking them out, but the Trail 9s didn’t disappoint. The lever was comfy and it was easy to adjust the reach thanks to the knob on the outside of the lever. This is a fine adjustment that can be beneficial to the ladies with smaller hands. Modulation was quite good, and we never felt like we were locking up our wheels when we didn’t mean to. Lastly, the 160mm rotors provided sufficient stopping power. Overall they were well matched to the capabilities of the bike, but we are still looking forward to checking out the Guides.

While the range of gears provided by the SRAM 2x10 system is fantastic, we found that it dropped the chain way too much. And by too much we aren’t being overly dramatic here. Almost every bumpy downhill ended with us having to stop and put our chain back on. This costs the bike some points overall. Unfortunately this is something that also occurred on the 2014 Intrigue, and hasn’t been corrected for 2015 despite other drivetrain upgrades. On the plus side, the X0 shifting seemed precise.

Finally, the internal routing could use some serious help. The cables, particularly the seat post cable on our test bike, bounced around in the frame a lot. The frame has big ports to accept the cables, but there is no internal guide to keep them from moving around or to help with installation. The cable length is also very excessive from the factory. Trimming down the housing and making sure everything is pulled tight in the frame would help.

Long Term Durability

We've had another Intrigue in the field for quite some time, and even after almost a full year of riding it hasn’t seen much obvious wear and tear. Much of this is thanks to some clear tape on the head tube which comes with the bike to protect against cable rub. As for the components, they are solidly spec’d for this bike's intended rider so nothing stands out as a liability. Liv backs the frame with an impressive lifetime warranty plus one year on original components.

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What's The Bottom Line?

We set out to see if Liv had in fact created a bike that would allow women of all sizes to feel comfortable and stable. There is a ton of merit to this claim, though it took a cockpit upgrade to achieve the feel. Overall the Intrigue 1 was able to rise to the occasion in almost all the situations we put it in. Provided you find the sweet spot in the suspension setup, it's capable of taming very rough descents without feeling like it's overkill on the rest of the ride. There are a few shortcomings to the build kit and cable routing, but these could be overcome with a few small tweaks. The geometry promotes balance, and while responsive it doesn’t always need to be told what to do. Because of this we felt that this bike would be fantastic for helping a beginner progress or a more advanced rider hone her skills, so it could be a good investment for several seasons of use.

Visit www.liv-cycling.com for more details.

Bonus Gallery: 16 photos of the 2015 Liv Intrigue 1 up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Courtney Steen - Courtney has been at it for seven years and racked up some nice race results along the way in various disciplines. Today she travels the country in a RV in search of the next best trail and writes women's reviews for Vital MTB. Her technical background helps her think critically about products and how they can be improved.

Amanda Wentz - Over the last decade Amanda has soaked up all aspects of mountain biking and continues to push herself to progress. Just last year she fell in love with the rush of racing downhill. She recently turned her passion into a career by coaching riders to navigate the sometimes painful entry into mountain biking.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

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About Test Sessions

Three years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2015's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in San Luis Obispo, California. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Foothill Cyclery. Tester gear provided by Five Ten, Race Face, Easton, Troy Lee Designs, Club Ride, Kali, Royal, Smith, Pearl Izumi, and Source.

Specifications

Product Liv Intrigue 1
Model Year 2015
Riding Type Trail
Rider Women
Sizes and Geometry
XS, S, M, L View Geometry
Size XS S M L
Top Tube Length 21.3" 22" 22.8" 23.2"
Head Tube Angle 68° 68° 68° 68°
Head Tube Length 3.9" 4.1" 4.5" 4.9"
Seat Tube Angle 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Seat Tube Length 14.5" 16" 18" 20"
Bottom Bracket Height
Chainstay Length 17.6" 17.6" 17.6" 17.6"
Wheelbase 42.8" 43.6" 44.4" 44.9"
Standover 27" 27.2" 28.2" 29.7"
Reach
Stack
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Frame Material Aluminum
Frame Material Details ALUXX SL-Grade Aluminum
Rear Travel 140mm
Rear Shock FOX Float CTD
Fork FOX Float CTD Talas Performance with 15mm Thru-Axle, OverDrive Steerer
Fork Travel 120-140mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset OverDrive
Handlebar Giant Contact SL, Low Rise, 31.8mm
Stem Giant Contact SL
Grips
Brakes Avid Guide R, Hydraulic Disc, 160mm Rotors
Brake Levers Avid Guide R
Drivetrain
Shifters SRAM X0 Trigger
Front Derailleur SRAM X9
Rear Derailleur SRAM X0, Type 2
ISCG Tabs Yes
Chainguide N/A
Cranks SRAM S1000
Chainrings 22/36 Tooth
Bottom Bracket SRAM, Press Fit
Pedals N/A
Chain KMC X10
Cassette SRAM PG1050, 11-36 Tooth, 10-Speed
Rims 27.5" Giant P-TRX1 Composite WheelSystem; 27mm Wide, Tubeless Compatible
Hubs Giant P-TRX1 WheelSystem; 28 Hole
Spokes Sapim Race, 14/15g
Tires Schwalbe Nobby Nic, Snake Skin, 27.5" x 2.25"
Saddle Fi'zi:k Donna, MG Rails
Seatpost Giant Contact SL Switch-R
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 142mm x 12mm
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Black/Red
Warranty Lifetime Frame for Original Purchaser, One Year for All Other Original Components
Weight 27 lb 15 oz (12,672 g)
Miscellaneous
Price $4,700
More Info Liv Website

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