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Liv Devote Advanced 2 review

6 May 2021
Verdict:

A lightweight, women-specific bike with robust, versatile properties

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Stylish finish • Good women-specific geometry • Clearance for wide tyres • Responsive in changeable terrain
Against 
Flared handlebars may not be to everyone’s taste • On the heavy side

As the weather picks up, more women are wishing to make the most of the dry trails and get in some gravel riding. The lightweight, robust Liv Devote Advanced 2 can certainly help with that.

The Devote is the latest offering from Liv, the women's-specific arm of Giant Bicycles. And while the Brava, released in 2019, has been a popular choice for those interested in cyclocross, the Devote plugs the gap for those wanting something that can cope equally well with trails, but who don't necessarily need the racing geometry.

I have previous experience with the Liv Avail, which even with its wide tyres can only cope with the occasional stretch of slightly rugged terrain. The Devote, on the other hand, can be used with confidence on rail trails such as along the Downs Link in southern England, or the Cinder Track or Monsal Trail up north.

The Devote is also good for longer, more challenging trails such as the Pennine Bridleway or the new King Alfred’s Way.

 

Frame and fork

Very few gravel bikes are built with women-specific geometry from the ground up. Some manufacturers, like Canyon with its Grail, make variants of its bikes for women, but in fact the geometry is the same as the men’s equivalent and it is only the contact points – saddle and handlebars – that are adapted for women.

Buy the Liv Devote Advanced 2 now from Rutland Cycling

However, the Liv Devote is truly women-specific. Using information from research, as well as the Body Dimension Database, Liv is able to build bikes using thousands of measurements in relation to its three pillars in women-specific geometry – body dimension, muscular activity and strength patterns.

 

As well as including narrower handlebars, shorter crank lengths and an adapted saddle design compared with men’s bikes, the Liv designers also consider women’s lower body strength and muscle recruitment. All this aims to give a comfortable and well adapted ride for women bike riders, so the brand says.

At first sight the stylish matte rosewood (read deep plum) colour of the lightweight carbon (Advanced-Grade Composite) frame with internally routed cabling turns heads. On more than a couple of occasions when I was out on the Liv Devote, random passers-by commented on how nice the bike looked.

I like the colour too, my only gripe being that the paintwork is so subtle that the name of the bike is barely visible, and the characteristic Liv swoosh goes largely unnoticed.

 

Gears and brakes

The double 32/48 Praxis Alba chainset with 11x34 Shimano 105 cassette gives a wide enough range to allow me to pick up a racing speed on clear, fast, flat sections of fire-road type tracks, canal tow-paths or just along tarmac roads.

Buy the Liv Devote Advanced 2 now from Rutland Cycling

Reassuringly the groupset is Shimano's gravel-going GRX variant, which includes a clutched derailleur to cope with rough terrain, and the hydraulic disc brakes are a welcome addition.

 

Wheels and tyres

The Devote comes with Giant's P-X2 disc wheelset, which is standard for Giant off-road bikes. I was lucky enough to receive the bike tubeless ready with wide 700 x 38C Giant CrossCut AT1 tyres, meaning reduced chance of stoppages due to the odd flint or stone along the way.

I didn’t experience any punctures over the months that I tested the Devote, which is always a bonus. Of course, I can’t guarantee that the puncture fairy won’t visit others while on a ride. If you do get a flat, you will need an Allen key for the thru-axle release of the wheel, so don’t forget it when going out on a ride.

Also, note that there is the clearance to fit 45mm tyres if you really want to go large – and why not?

 

Buy the Liv Devote Advanced 2 now from Rutland Cycling

Handlebars and saddle

The women-specific Giant Contact XR D-Fuse handlebars are nicely shaped so that the drops flare out slightly more than conventional handlebars. This gives a more comfortable position for the hands in relation to the shoulders during long rides.

 

Probably the most important part of the bike for many women is the saddle. An uncomfortable saddle ruins the ride, or could even cause a woman to give up cycling altogether.

With this in mind, the Liv Devote has been kitted out with a Liv Approach cut-away saddle, filled with high-elastic padding and with contact points that have been studied extensively to mould around the undercarriage rather than pressing onto sensitive areas.

 

The ride

As an overall package the Liv Devote, with its stylish carbon frameset and robust wheels, spells workhorse – it's raring to go somewhere adventurousat a moment's notice.

So, with that in mind my first ride with the Liv Devote was along London's Paddington Basin and down the Grand Union Canal. Apart from a brief bit of cobbles, which the Devote handled fairly comfortably, the path was pretty unchallenging and consisted of packed gravel and tarmac. The Devote sped along.

Buy the Liv Devote Advanced 2 now from Rutland Cycling

Every so often my path was interrupted by a lock, meaning I would climb up a steep ramp, followed by an equally steep descent. The rapid change of gears as I made a quick out of the saddle effort, followed by an equally steep descent as I feathered the brakes showed the Liv Devote could cope well with the abruptly changeable relief.

Talking of changes in terrain, the path along the Grand Union Canal changed character after Southall, where I was faced with sections of thick mud at Hanwell and Boston Manor. The Devote didn’t necessarily ride through with the litheness of a cyclocross bike given that the tyres are more general use, and not specific for muddy conditions.

Nevertheless, the Liv Devote ploughed through industriously – even if it picked up a lot of mud in the process.

The Devote is well suited to an adventurous rider looking for a multi-day trip, with the frame having mounts for three bottle cages plus bar bags and frame bags for the would-be bikepacker.

Summary

The Liv Devote is a very welcome addition for the range of options available to women wanting to do gravel riding on a women-specific bike.

Not everyone will see the need for such a bike, but having something that fits more to my morphology than a general bike does make a lot of difference to the comfort of the ride – something of paramount importance when riding over rough terrain, and a crucial factor in keeping newcomers to cycling interested in continuing to ride their bikes.

Buy the Liv Devote Advanced 2 now from Rutland Cycling

Spec

Frame Advanced-Grade Composite, compatible with mudguards
Frame sizes XS, S, M, L
Frame colours Matte Rosewood
Fork Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, 12x142mm thru-axle
Groupset Shimano GRX
Brakes Shimano GRX RX-400 hydraulic
Chainset Praxis Alba, 32/48 with KMC X11 chain
Cassette Shimano 105, 11x34
Bars Giant Contact XR D-Fuse, 31.8, 5° back sweep, flare drop
Stem Giant Contact, 8-degree/td>
Seatpost Giant D-Fuse, composite
Saddle Liv Approach
Wheels Giant P-X2 Disc wheelset with Giant CrossCut AT1 700x38c tubeless tyres (maximum tyre width: 45mm)
Weight 9.3kg
Contact liv-cycling.com/gb/devote-advanced-2

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£2,399