As the women’s-specific arm of Giant, Liv is the only major bike brand to design women’s-specific bikes from the frame up, using data from women’s bike fits to tweak geometry, as well as equipping the builds with finishing kit from handlebars to saddles specifically to suit the female rider.
Liv offers three road models: the aero EnviLiv, the endurance-focused Avail, and its lightweight race bike, the Langma, which is the women’s equivalent of the ever-popular Giant TCR.
With a choice of seven builds, including two grades of carbon composite for the chassis, the Langma is available from £2,349.
Featuring 11-speed Shimano Ultegra, hydraulic disc brakes and Giant SLR-2 carbon fibre wheels, the Advanced 1+ Disc tested here brings this WorldTour race-winning platform, as ridden by Liv Racing Xstra and Team BikeExchange-Jayco, within the grasp of everyday riders and racers.
Although there are some aero features, such as the frame shaping and Giant Variant carbon seatpost, other elements remain more traditional, like the round-profile Liv Contact handlebar and conventional stem rather than integrated aero alternatives.
After testing the range-topping Langma Advanced SL Disc in 2021 – priced at a lofty £9,999, constructed from Liv’s Advanced SL-Grade carbon fibre and paired with SRAM’s RED eTap AXS group and Cadex 36 carbon wheels – I was curious to see how this mid-range offering would compare.
And the result? Having pitted the Liv Langma Advanced 1+ Disc against the Cube Axial WS Race and Scott Contessa Addict RC 15, it’s been crowned as BikeRadar’s Women’s Road Bike of the Year for 2022.
Liv Langma Advanced 1+ Disc frame
Advanced-grade carbon fibre is used for the Advanced 1+ Disc build, second only to the SL-grade carbon found on the top-tier Langma. While Liv doesn’t offer frameset weights, this whole build tips the scales at 7.93kg without pedals or bottle cages.
If you spend over three times the money on the SL build, you can shave off 1.33kg.
The gloss ‘cold iron’ colourway is fabulous in real life, with a shimmering finish in the sun that’s stylish without resorting to feminine cliché.
I’m also a big fan of gloss finishes, which make the bike much easier to clean and keep looking mint for many years to come.
The Advanced 1+ Disc’s build is good for its price point. I always enjoy the smooth shifting of Shimano Ultegra 8000, which yields great performance in a lightweight package without hiking the price of both purchase and maintenance to unattainable levels.
While you can’t escape the fact that the mechanical, hydraulic-disc Ultegra hoods feel a little bulkier than their Di2 or rim brake equivalents, this is soon forgotten after a ride or two. It is worth noting that the reach is adjustable with these brake levers, which is especially useful for riders with smaller hands.
Hydraulic disc brakes with a 160mm rotor up front and 140mm at the back give controlled, consistent and powerful braking when you need it, while also nudging the weight down a little.
I was a little surprised at the gearing choice for the build, with a 52/36 chainring up front and an 11-30-tooth cassette.
Yes, for racing purposes that’d suit most riders. But for climbing enthusiasts, switching out for a compact with smaller chainrings and an 11-32 cassette might be a good idea – though you’d also need a longer medium-cage derailleur to accommodate a wider-range cassette.
It’s not quite a full Ultegra build either, with the inclusion of a Shimano 105 cassette at the cost of an extra 35g, and a saving of £35 for Liv (on retail price).
Brakes are kept aligned thanks to standard 12mm thru-axles at either end, with a handy, lightweight removable lever for easy wheel removal. The Giant SLR-2 36 carbon wheels weigh in at a reasonable 1,535g (without tyres or rotors), and give a good middle ground between all-out aero wheels and a lightweight climbing wheel with their mid-section 36mm rim depth.
Recognising the trend towards wider-profile tyres for both aerodynamic and comfort benefits, the wide 22.4mm internal rim measurement means the 25mm Giant Course 1 Tubeless tyres actually blow up to a fraction over 28mm. Tubeless setup from the factory is very welcome and means one less job for you, too.
Note that these Giant wheels feature a hookless rim – which is said to enhance handling and durability in a more lightweight package, and is generally only compatible with tubeless or tubeless-ready tyres – rather than a conventional hooked type.
Giant’s list of compatible tyre options currently stands at 19, with a few limitations on sizes.
Finishing kit comes from in-house, with a mix of Giant and Liv’s women’s-specific options. The carbon-fibre Giant Variant aero seatpost is easily adjusted, and the internal clamp is kept dirt-free thanks to its positioning on the top tube and rubber seat clamp cover.
Liv’s Approach saddle is specced, featuring a central cut-out and a fairly wide 155mm width. I found this very comfortable, although this will be totally personal, and there are weight losses to be had if you did choose to switch out this 300g saddle for an alternative model.
For example, the Liv Alcara saddle features the same shape and width, but weighs in at 220g for the SL model (£69.99) or 180g for the SLR (£129.99).
The alloy Giant Contact stem and compact-drop Liv Contact handlebar are both standard fittings, so should you wish to change for a different size or shape, for example upgrading to a more aerodynamic-shaped, carbon fibre bar, then you’ll have a lot more options to choose from.
The round-profile Contact bar is also handy for fitting gadgets, such as a GPS computer mount and light brackets.
Patterned Liv All Condition tape wraps the cockpit up. Although I found this thick, cushioned tape a little overkill on the top-end Langma, at this price point I think it’s more appropriate, giving great comfort over long days in the saddle and proving to be pretty durable too.
Liv Langma Advanced 1+ Disc geometry
Geometry-wise, the Langma features Giant’s compact frame design with a sloping top tube and greater length of exposed seatpost, although the numbers are different to the Giant TCR due to the use of women’s dimension data. The result is a shorter reach and longer seat tube for the same wheelbase measurement.
The fit was spot on for me, certainly aided by the handy fit guides offered on Liv’s website. At 165cm / 5ft 5in, I rode the size small, with extra-small and medium models also available for this model. Taller women, over 180cm / 5ft 11in, can choose from the range at Giant instead.
I rode with 35mm of headset spacers to give a position prioritising comfort over pure speed, which could easily be adjusted. Again, the ability to fit standard parts here, except the seatpost, makes getting your fit perfected on the bike much easier.
Liv Langma Advanced 1+ Disc riding experience
I’ve truly loved testing the Langma, whipping along my home roads near Bristol in the spring sunshine. This really is a bike that packs a punch for a reasonable price point, and the accompanying ride quality is testament to how well it has been put together.
For me, the Langma offers the perfect balance of speed and comfort, allowing you to challenge yourself on faster-paced group rides or go for a hill-climb PR without putting your back out or feeling excessively stiff.
Of course, for out-and-out racers you could certainly dial in your fit for a more aggressive, aerodynamic position, but as an all-day rig I have no complaints about comfort, even where some rougher lanes were added in.
Cornering felt especially confident, encouraging me to really lean in and maintain speed. Although this model isn’t the lightest carbon road bike, it certainly won’t hold you back, with a responsive feel tackling shorter, punchier climbs. It’s no slouch on the steadier ascents either.
As mentioned earlier, my personal preference would be for a lower-geared setup for tackling steeper hills, with a compact crankset, 11-32 cassette and medium-cage rear derailleur (more akin to what’s found on the endurance-oriented Avail), though I can understand the gearing specced given that the Langma is marketed as a race bike.
The Shimano Ultegra hydraulic braking performance was put to the test both on lanes and in city traffic, giving reliable, powerful control when needed and a sharp response without locking up when an emergency stop was required.
While Liv maintains that the intended usage is for paved roads only, I couldn’t help but test out the Langma’s versatility on a few light gravel and cobbled sections, Spring Classics style.
There may not be space for really wide tyres (32mm maximum), but I was very impressed by how the bike handled these more challenging surfaces, offering a steady, reliable sensation rather than feeling too delicate.
Kudos to the Giant Course 1 tyres too, which took the speedy gravel descent and drainage ditches through Ashton Court in their stride without a hint of a flat.
The 36mm-deep Giant SLR-2 wheels are a great choice for all-round riding, giving an aerodynamic advantage without affecting handling on windier days, as deeper rims might.
A few small changes to the build could help elevate the Langma Advanced 1+ to even loftier heights. First, I did notice a fair amount of chain slap when riding over rougher roads and lanes, so I’d add some light chainstay protection such as Helitape.
Second, the hoses and cables at the front end, which wrap around the head tube to enter the frame via the top of the down tube, are a little long.
The excess cable might give a small performance disadvantage due to increased friction from the greater bend, though mostly this is just an aesthetic preference.
Liv Langma Advanced 1+ Disc bottom line
Sprightly, comfortable and great value, I’d certainly recommend the Liv Langma Advanced 1+ to my friends looking for a do-it-all race whip without breaking the bank.
You get a lot for your money with the component choices, with plenty of options for upgrading later too, should you want to shave a few grams off or customise your fit.
The drawbacks are small: a non-series Shimano 105 cassette adds a little weight and there’s excess cable length around the head tube.
Consider spending a little extra to upgrade to the Advanced Pro models if you’re looking for a power meter or electronic shifting.
Women’s Bike of the Year | How we tested
While a number of major bike brands have moved away from women’s-specific models, our 2022 test focuses on three brands that continue to produce women’s road bikes.
That includes Liv, a brand offering truly women’s-specific bikes from the frame up, based on women’s fit data, and Cube and Scott, who offer women’s-specific builds. It’s worth emphasising, of course, that many brands offer an improved range of unisex bikes, too.
The roads, lanes and a few unpaved tracks around Bristol were the testing grounds for the Women’s Bike of the Year, trialling the three bikes on rides ranging from short, pacy blasts and all-day endurance rides.
The gradual climbs and steep ramps of the southern Cotswolds and Mendip Hills enabled us to put the bikes’ climbing prowess to the test, and similarly assess their handling on the descents.
With a wide range of price points represented, from £1,749 to £5,699, value for money was key to the test, rather than solely assessing how the bikes performed.
To win the Women’s Bike of the Year category, we were looking for a bike that not only plastered a smile on our faces, but also didn’t leave us feeling cheated out of our hard-earned cash.
Our 2022 Women’s Bike of the Year contenders are:
- Cube Axial WS Race
- Liv Langma Advanced Disc 1+
- Scott Contessa Addict RC 15