Liv is the female-centric division of Giant Bicycles with a single focus on catering to the specific needs of female cyclists in terms of ergonomics, component spec, and styling. This doesn’t mean they’re any less technical or durable. In fact, they use the same Aluxx-SL alloy frames found in Giant’s mountain bike line.
For designing the women’s-specific bikes, Liv uses what they call their “3F philosophy,” which stands for “fit, form and function.” They start with a global database of women’s body dimensions. Women generally have different torso-to-leg dimensions, use more lower-body power and have very specific needs when it comes to ergonomics on a bike. This means that you can’t just use a shorter stem with a greater rise and a shorter head tube; these things would solve the problem of reach, but wouldn’t support the differences in physiology, balance, etc.
Already having enjoyed global success with the Liv pedal bikes, Liv has now become the first to enter the electric mountain biking world with a women-specific bike.
At first glance, the Liv Vall-E+ 0 Pro stood out with nice lines, a great finish and graphics, and doesn’t look “girly.” Instead, it looks like it means business, with great components like a Shimano 1x drivetrain that consists of an XT Shadow Plus derailleur and KMC chain combo, RockShox Revelation 35 fork, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with big rotors.
The motor is a Yamaha PW-X motor, one of our favorites for its power, performance and range. Liv and parent company Giant brand the motor as the Giant SyncDrive Pro motor. It offers 80 N/m of torque with five levels of assistance ranging from 100- to 360-percent added power.
A 120mm RockShox Revelation 35 fork smooths out the ride and can be tuned by the rider for the best performance. Like all RockShox forks, there are marks for measuring sag to make setting up the fork a cinch.
The compact hardtail frame weighs in at a svelte 48 pounds even. Those weight savings translate into a bike that’s easier to control and causes less fatigue for the rider, and with that much less power the motor has to use to move the bike, it thereby increases the range—not by a lot, but every little bit helps.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
Designed for women from the ground up, it’s made for women who want a serious mountain bike that can handle technical terrain. The Liv offers plenty of available power assist and long range. The sub-$4000 price point is not entry-level, but it does reflect a level of craftsmanship and component spec that adds up as big pluses in the hands of both beginner riders looking for reliable quality and the more intermediate-level rider who prioritizes outright trail performance.
The 500-Wh battery offers a 25-percent increase over the capacity of Yamaha’s previous PW motor with 400 Wh. Does that translate into 25-percent more range? Well, close, but not exactly. The PW-X motor offers more power, using a little more battery. It is more efficient and actually doesn’t cut off on high cadence until you go over 120 rpm. We love this. And, the torque is more than enough without being too much.
We rode an early Giant prototype with a PW-X motor with Giant’s own additional tweaks on the performance software, and we found it way too much torque at the start, and it destroyed the range of the battery, something we brought up to the engineers. The folks at Liv could’ve been privy to this, as the bike with this motor works really well. There’s not so much torque that you can break the back wheel loose, just plenty of controllable power to get you uphill faster and easier.
One of our test riders, who is used to an electric downhill bike with 200mm of travel, really loved the Vall-E on big, flowy trails. Between the sheer volume of the plus-sized tires and the Revelation fork, she thought the suspension was good for most riding. She only complained about short, choppy stuff, not about the ride quality on technical sections or flowy sections.
“Most of our test riders didn’t want to give the bike back after riding it.”
The Maxxis Forekaster tubeless tires are at the cusp of plus-sized, and with the increased volume, we ran lower pressures to create a better contact patch for better grip, which also helps with smoothing out the ride. We love that the bike comes set up for running tubeless right out of the box.
Riders generally found the handlebars a bit narrow, especially with the ever-widening handlebar trend. Controls are all very easy to reach and use, and we really like the controller for the motor. It’s a sturdy metal piece with big, rubberized buttons that you don’t even have to look at while riding, something that’s really useful when going over technical terrain.
Most of our test riders were just over 5 feet tall and one was 4-foot-11. This was the small-size frame, so there’s a really good range of women this bike will fit in the sizes from extra small to large. Chainstay length remains the same throughout the range, as does the 68-degree head angle. Cranks are 170mm on all sizes, which helps protect against pedal strikes.
Speaking of pedal strikes, or avoiding them, riders loved the instant response of the motor when going over technical stuff and having to start and stop, such as when trying to avoid pedal strikes in rocky areas.
In terms of the overall design and performance, as well as price, we definitely came away impressed with the Liv. Between the tires and good motor performance, this bike is capable on almost any terrain. Full suspension would be nice, but that adds complexity, weight and cost. We’d still like it on a mountain bike with a “pro” designation, though.
SPECS LIV VALL-E+ 0 PRO
Motor: Giant SyncDrive Pro (Yamaha PW-X)
Battery: Giant EnergyPak500, 36V, 13.8Ah, lithium-ion
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (with assist)
Range: 35-65 miles, depending on use.
Drive: Shimano XT Shadow Plus with Shimano 11-speed (11-46),
Brakes: Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, 200mm front/180mm rear rotors
Controls: Giant RideControl EVO, grip launch control with walk assist, mini USB charger
Fork: Rock Shox Revelation 35, Overdrive, Lockout, 120mm travel
Frame: Aluxx SL-grade aluminum
Tires: 27.5×2.6” Maxxis Forekaster, foldable, Exo protect, Tubeless ready
Weight: 48 pounds
Color choices: Satin Dark Charcoal/Red
Sizes: XS, S, M, L
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