Whether we like it or not, anatomy makes a difference—and the new woman-centric cycling brand Liv, created to satisfy the ever-growing number of female cyclists, is highly aware of this. Instead of making a "women's version"—which is essentially smaller men's bikes with a dropped top tube and some "feminine" colorways and features—Liv bikes are designed from inception for women, by women.
Formally known as Liv/Giant, Liv is now a stand-alone company. "I was determined to contribute to women's cycling by creating a complete, thoughtful brand dedicated to all female cyclists," says Bonnie Tu, CFO of Giant and founder/CEO of Liv. "It’s a big commitment, and it’s all about empowering women. I think it’s extremely important to hire a team of women to work for Liv. Not only do I want to give women strong career opportunities, but I want Liv to be an authentic brand—and women understand the needs of female cyclists better than men."
Liv still uses Giant's facilities, having access to the same technologies and development that have built Giant's recognition, yet Liv has its own women's design and engineering team. Creating from the ground up, they pay special attention to arm and finger length, lever space, inseam and torso, along with weight distribution—altogether creating dynamic and comfortable bikes. The line spans road to off-road and cross bikes, with a full range of price points and capacities from lifestyle to high-performance. The team also works closely with professional riders to create a dialogue around leading edge R&D. "I recently was very involved with development of the Lust mountain bike," says professional mountain bike racer Kelli Emmet. "I’ll usually get a prototype bike a year before its public release, and I’ll give the team feedback as to what changes I think would be good."
Emmett was instrumental in refining and tweaking the bike's design, from the slacker head angles to the higher bottom brackets that help with stability at high speeds and pedaling efficiencies on rugged terrain. These features can be found on the 2015 Lust Advanced which is the world's first carbon fiber, women-specific, full-suspension bike with 27.5'' wheels. The frame is handcrafted with advanced-grade carbon composite and its geometry is based on a women's pelvis placement.
"I’ve seen too many women buy bikes where they are stretched out because the top tube was too long or they had some contrived modification to get comfortable. This impacts your ability to ride with confidence and control, and the Liv bikes address that," Emmett explains.
Beyond the technicalities, Liv takes special care to offer women progressive colorways and graphics on the cycling gear and bikes. "We’re seeing some great women’s products that completely stray from the pink, floral days of the past," says Amanda Schaper—LIV's global product marketing specialist. Instead of more "frilly" designs, Liv has opted for sleeker, sharper lines. And, as Emmet explains, it isn't just women who appreciate Liv: "I received a compliment while on a group road ride recently from a guy who said, 'You win the award for the best-looking bike on this ride. Do they make that color in a men’s frame?'"
Images courtesy of Liv Cycling