Video and photos by Dan Barham
Words by Nicole Formosa
Something to remember when you're scoping Giant's reworked line of women's mountain bikes under its liv/Giant brand: Don't judge a bike by its name.
Though the innuendo-filled monikers Intrigue, Obsess, Lust and Tempt smack of Calvin Klein's latest perfume or the tacky adult club that opened in town, the bikes--and Giant's commitment to women's-specific mountain bikes--is more genuine and sincere than ever.
liv/Giant started from scratch with its women's line for 2014, developing the bikes from the ground up, all based around the ever-more-popular 27.5-inch wheel size. That means unique geometry, colorways and graphics and factory molds cast specifically for women's frames, an investment few brands are making.
"That's a big shift for us," said Janette Sherman, women's marketing manager for Giant USA. "In the past, the women's line was a lot more influenced by the men's."
The range has something for every type of rider, from entry-level hardtail to the super-sleek, carbon fiber, XX1-spec'd 4-inch travel XC race bike. With 140 millimeters of front and rear travel, the aluminum-frame Intrigue fills the all-mountain, or enduro, category nicely. A 68-degree head tube angle, taller headtube (114 millimeters on a medium), shortened toptube (580 millimeters on a medium) and lower bottom bracket create geometry that is comfortable for smaller riders packaged in a frame design that actually looks really cool (let's face it, that matters). At almost 5'7" I don't necessarily need more compact geometry for a bike to fit well, but riding the trails at Bootleg Canyon on Tuesday, I never felt like my frame was too big for the Intrigue's.
The plush five-and-a-half inches of Maestro suspension, coupled with a Fox 32 CTD Talas 120-140 millimeter adjustable travel front fork, cushioned the technical descents on Bootleg's notoriously rocky singletrack. A simple, on-the-fly switch into the Talas' negative travel and 'Trail' mode on the rear shock made the bike feel fast and fun during the flowy sections. Even when Talas was in the positive position, the Intrigue powered up short, punchy climbs with more gusto than I would have expected. The only drawback of the design is the lower bottom bracket could cause some clearance issues if you're tackling steep, rocky terrain.
The Intrigue comes in two spec packages with the top-end Intrigue 1 outfitted with SRAM's 2×10 drivetrain with an X9 rear derailleur and X7 in front; Avid Elixir 7 brakes; XO Grip Shift; and Giant's contact dropper seat post. Internal cable routing both on the frame and for the dropper post is a nice aesthetic touch. Retail cost for the Intrigue 1 $4,250 with the Intrigue 2 coming in at $2,775
The Intrigue suits XC-oriented riders who want to start tackling more technical terrain, and offers plenty of bike to grow into as your skills progress. Giant could take the offerings up another notch by investing in a carbon-fiber frame, which the company is considering depending on how sales go in the first year.