Review: Liv Hail

The first true women’s-specific ‘enduro’ bike proves big travel comes in small packages

The Hail isn’t a bike that sits around wondering what it wants to be when it grows up. It's slack. It's beefy. And it wants to go downhill as fast as humanly possible.

Liv kicked up its enduro game by introducing the first women's-specific bike to boast 160 millimeters of front and rear travel. The Maestro suspension is a longtime tester favorite due to its smooth, responsive feel, and this year the floating pivot platform comes rejiggered with a trunnion mount, allowing a longer-stroke shock in a smaller space while lowering the bike's center of gravity and standover height.

Our test loop combined a technical climbing trail with a downhill run featuring more limestone boosters, slabs and boulder gardens than you can shake a stick at–assuming you're the type who shakes sticks at geologic features. This let us take advantage of the adjustable travel on the Fox 36 Talas Performance Elite by dropping the travel from 160 millimeters to 130 to keep the front end planted while ascending.

Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail
Liv Hail

Opinions are divided on whether women benefit from modified geometry, but Liv falls squarely in the 'pro' camp. With a 66-degree head angle and 74-degree seat angle, the Hail uses slightly steeper geometry than the Giant Reign, offering a shorter reach while maintaining the straight-line stability of a longer wheelbase. While the stout 27.5-inch Giant P-AM rims made the 2.35 Magic Mary and Hans Dampf combo feel practically plus-sized, testers agreed the 800-mil handlebar fell on the "Holy crap, this is wide!" side of specs, which might ruffle riders reticent to take a pipe cutter to a $5,000 bike.

Though this Hail has a carbon front triangle, our size-small test bike kitted with a combo of SLX and XT parts weighed a hair over 30 pounds, making it the heaviest of our test bikes. However, it's also the longest-travel bike in the women's fleet and the only one sporting a 36 fork, so it's like comparing apples with, well, bigger apples. The Hail isn't the most agile belle at the ball, but when it comes to getting from point A to point B, and point B is way the hell lower than point A, the Hail provides a sure-footed ride that plows past trail chunder and makes bad lines look like pretty darn good ones.

MSRP: $5,350

liv-cycling.com


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Q&A WITH LIV

Many companies spec their women's bikes with narrower handlebars. What went into the decision to spec the Hail with a more aggressive 800mm handlebar?

We spec'ed our handlebars wide to allow more women – those who prefer longer and those who prefer shorter bars, to use the bars that come on the bike instead of needing to purchase a new one. The target consumer for Hail has experience in mountain biking and knows that she has the option to easily cut her bars to the perfect size.

What are the benefits of the Hail's women-specific geometry?

The geometry of Hail was designed to place women in a balanced position around the bike while tackling technical terrain. It climbs and descends technical terrain and is enduro capable- so it benefits women who ride those trails and courses.

Who does this geometry benefit most?

The geometry takes into account both stature, strength and center of gravity to create a balanced build. .Hail is offered from XS to L, so accommodates riders of a large range of heights. The benefits of a women's specific geometry really boil down to- the probability that the bike fits and feels right without making major adjustments is higher on a women's specific bike than a unisex bike.

What type of rider was the LIV Hail designed around?

Hail is designed for riders who:

  • Love to rip and ride on aggressive terrain, or pushing her limits and getting more confidence on technical single tracks and trails.
  • Race enduro

 

Related:

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