Review: Liv Intrigue 2

Over the past couple of months, I have become very interested in the range of mountain bikes available for women. This developed as a result of trying to find a bike that fits me comfortably. I tend to fall almost exactly between a men’s small and medium size frame, leading to uncomfortable compromises on many frames. I therefore jumped at the chance to test the 2014 Liv Intrigue 2, which is essentially a women’s specific adaptation of Giant’s trail staple, the Trance.
Liv Intrigue 1.jpg

I am usually sceptical of women’s specific bikes, as they can tend to be lower specced than the men’s equivalent, and feature alarming quantities of garish pink. Bearing in mind that the Intrigue 2 is not the top of the range model, I was pleasantly surprised by my experience.

First Impressions


My first impression of the bike was that it is incredibly good looking: aggressive, and attractive without being girly (not a hint of the dreaded pink). The frame features a muted clear aluminium, purple and lime green colour scheme which really appealed to me.

Liv Intrigue 2.jpg

A closer look revealed some pretty fun suspension in the form of a Rockshox Revelation RL 120- 140mm dual position fork and the Monarch R shock on the back. The bike also comes standard with the Giant Contact Switch- R dropper seat post, and a dropper as standard is a huge plus in my view. 650b wheels complete the picture, a choice that is perfectly suited to this bike.


Liv Intrigue 6.jpgThe Rockshox Revelation with dual positioning was a pleasant addition to the Intrigue.

Liv Intrigue 7.jpgA trail bike is pointless without an adjustable seat post. Thankfully Liv agrees.


The Ride


I took the bike to Welvanpas for the first ride. I was immediately impressed by the plushness of the suspension, and the stability of the bike. It should be noted that I currently ride a carbon hardtail and am not used to having squishy rear suspension to smooth away rocks and roots. On the other hand the bike did feel cumbersome initially since it is heavier than I am used to.

I was very keen to try the dual position fork. I started out by setting it to 120mm and locking it out for the long climb up “The Shuttle” to the trailhead. Unfortunately the rear shock on the Intrigue 2 does not come with a lockout, so there was noticeable bobbing at the back. This combined with the extra weight and my feeble legs, meant I was suffering by the time I reached the top of the first climb.

Once you turn the bike downhill, it comes into it’s own: the suspension chews up rocks, and keeps the rear wheel tracking firmly on even the most dusty, loose and rutted corners, and the heavy frame combined with the slack head angle provides a very solid, confidence-boosting ride. I felt like I could make any number of mistakes and the bike would still get me down the trail safely. In fact, I was unable to come unstuck, despite some pretty poor decision-making. It was deeply satisfying to hear my riding partner struggling to keep up with me on the descents for a change.

I grew very fond of the dual position fork during the course of the day’s riding, I found it very simple to use, and extremely helpful for navigating steeper climbs. I also tried the 120mm setting on some of the smooth, flowing descents on the black route trails, although I found I preferred using the full 140mm of travel as the bike felt smoother and more balanced.


Liv Intrigue 4.jpgA Shadow Plus derailleur means that chain slap is kept under wraps.

Liv Intrigue 3.jpgThe drive train worked well during testing.


I was impressed with the performance of the drive train: the gears shifted reliably in very dusty conditions. The Shimano M395 brakes were the only feature that I felt really let the bike down. They did not have the responsiveness that I have gotten used to. I struggled to trust them, and felt slightly out of control throughout the ride. The low spec brakes don’t make sense on a bike that in all other respects is designed to be ridden aggressively.

Liv Intrigue 10.jpg
The Shimano M395 brakes struggled to keep up with the rest of the bike.

The fit and feel of the bike was good- the medium frame size was spot on for me, and the handling felt intuitive, and there were no points of discomfort even after 3 hours of riding. I found the women’s specific saddle to be very comfortable - it was just the right width and shape. I am told that the Liv Contact saddle can be bought off-the-shelf from Giant/ Liv dealers and retails for around R350.

Liv Intrigue 8.jpg
A relief. The Liv Contact saddle was comfortable and compact.

My personal preference would see slightly wider bars fitted to the bike. I also struggled with the position of the dropper post lever, which is situated some distance from the front shifter. I could not activate it without removing one hand from the bars completely, making it difficult to use in technical sections. The lever can however easily be moved to a more suitable position.


Liv Intrigue 5.jpg

Liv Intrigue 9.jpg


The Verdict


At the end of the day this is a trail bike, if you are planning to race marathons, or are concerned about your Strava climbs, this is probably not the bike for you. However, if you want a reasonably priced and very capable bike to help you get the most out of challenging single track, then it is well worth considering, especially if you can spare some cash to upgrade the brakes. I have to admit, I am sold on the women’s specific frame size for my height. It is a really confidence-inspiring, fun ride, and it is great to see bikes like this released with women in mind.


Full specification:



  • SizesXS, S, M, L

  • ColoursBlast Alumnium/Purple/Lime

  • FrameALUXX SL-grade aluminum, 5.5" Maestro suspension

  • ForkRockShox Revelation RL, w/15mm thru-axle, OverDrive 2 steerer, 120-140mm travel

  • ShockRockShox Monarch R

  • HandlebarGiant Connect, low rise, 31.8mm

  • StemGiant Connect SL, OverDrive 2

  • SeatpostGiant Contact Switch-R, 30.9mm

  • SaddleLiv/giant Contact, Forward

  • PedalsN/A

  • ShiftersShimano Deore, Rapid Fire

  • Front derailleurSRAM X5

  • Rear derailleurShimano Deore, Shadow Plus

  • BrakesShimano M395, hydraulic disc, 160mm

  • Brake leversShimano M395

  • CassetteShimano HG62 11x36, 10-speed

  • ChainKMC X10

  • CranksetSRAM S1000, 22/36

  • Bottom bracketSRAM Press Fit

  • RimsGiant P-XC2, double wall

  • HubsGiant Performance Tracker sealed bearing, [F] 15mm axle, [R] 135x5mm system integrated QR

  • SpokesStainless Steel, 14/15g

  • TyresSchwalbe Nobby Nic Evo, tubeless ready, 27.5x2.25, folding

  • Retail priceR25,995






3 Comments

Odinson, Apr 28 2015 10:19

"This combined with the extra weight and my feeble legs, meant I was suffering by the time I reached the top of the first climb."

 

I noticed the considerable wear on the 22T chain-ring (compared to the 36T) before I even read the above line from your article. 

 

Edit: It would have been nice if the article elaborated more on the difference between the Liv Intrigue and its fraternal twin, the Giant Trance.

Headshot, Apr 28 2015 11:28

"This combined with the extra weight and my feeble legs, meant I was suffering by the time I reached the top of the first climb."[/size]
 
I noticed the considerable wear on the 22T chain-ring (compared to the 36T) before I even read the above line from your article.

Thats a strange gearing choice - my 2013 Reign came with 26/38 gearing and 11/36 rear cluster if memory serves. No need for a 22 if you have a 36 out back.
 
Another error - Strava times downhill will definitely be better on this bike than a hard tail, and that' s all that counts surely? :-)

Skylark, Apr 28 2015 11:48

36/22 is a reasonably common OEM Sram crank setup used on Trail orientated bikes, I've seen it a few time, is a little bit overboard on the 22t.