The Up Side
The Intrigue was originally slated for the cross country course, but testers quickly realized it had more gravity-oriented ambitions. That's not to say that it's a bad climber. Big tire clearance and forgiving geometry gave it great traction on ledgy step-ups, and it seemed to hang easily with other trail bikes on long grinds.
The Maestro suspension platform erases chatter, lofts easily over natural features, and gives every trail the sort of flow you dream about. While the Intrigue lacks that super-stiff smashyness you find on some trail bikes, it makes up for it with highly tunable suspension and seemingly unshakeable poise.
Dollar for Dollar
With its top spec, this bike is right up there with the priciest around. But you get boutiquey DVO suspension, which was developed specifically for Giant. If tuneability is super important to you, then this upgrade might be worth the extra cash—otherwise you can go with a more standard spec and save significantly.
With Yeti and Santa Cruz proving that women can shred quite proficiently on unisex bikes, it seems most other brands have followed suit, distilling their women's offerings to unique colorways, suspension tunes and touchpoints. Not so with Liv/Giant, one of the few big names still committed to ground-up women's geometry. Do women really need their own special frames? The Intrigue Advanced 0 certainly makes a strong case.
Liv's 140/150-millimeter trail bike got some modern updates for 2018, including highly tunable DVO suspension (a trickle-down benefit from the Giant Factory Off-Road Team) and refined geometry—like most trail bikes launched lately, the Intrigue has a slacker headtube angle, steeper seat tube angle and shorter chainstays. These tweaks aim to give you more plowability without making the bike feel like a semi-truck. With 27.5-inch wheels and clearance for up to 2.6-inch tires, the Liv maintains a lively feel with a stable platform.
We were unanimously (and substantially) impressed by the Intrigue's buttery high-speed descending characteristics. The Maestro suspension platform and fancy DVO squishy bits created a frictionless, quiet-feeling ride through the most hectic terrain, and stayed composed in slower, chunkier sections. The bike was so balanced that small natural doubles required almost no body English to float over. That said, the Intrigue felt a little less 'sendy' than some slacker rigs, especially when it came to larger, more-committed drops. It wasn't the sort of bike that begged to be thrown with abandon into every blind landing.
On climbs, the Intrigue lifted easily over mid-sized square edges and stayed reasonably precise in tight turns. We were less happy rock-crawling over successive step-ups, where the Intrigue seemed to get a little hung up. As geometries get longer and slacker, this is not a unique issue. This is a descent-oriented bike: It will enthusiastically join you on your mixed-bag rambles, but it probably won't be getting you any QOMs.
The DVO suspension might feel like it was made for the bike because it was, literally, made for the bike. California-based DVO partnered with Giant early last year to help fine-tune the shock's inner workings specifically for Giant's linkage. Traditionally, shock tune is limited to a couple different damper shim stacks—but through its partnership with Giant, DVO came up with something much more purpose-built.
Dialing in that fancy suspension took more thought than simply setting sag, compression, rebound and volume. The Topaz 2 T3 shock also requires you pressurize its 'bladder,' a mechanism that eliminates the traditional but often-sticky internal floating piston. The Diamond 150-millimeter fork offers high- and low-speed compression tuning, and DVO's Off The Top (OTT) negative spring adjustment.
Right-brained riders who don't want to spend all day fiddling in the garage will have to invest a little extra time up front to get this system to feel the way they want. But for the left-brained ladies who are drooling about the infinite possibilities for minute adjustments, this spec will let you eat your hearts out.
While we admittedly did not push the DVO suspension's tunability to its limits in our timeframe, the incredible ride feel after basic setup (and potential for further customization) had us excited. Combine this level of personalization with Liv's expansive frame sizing (XS-L), and more women than ever will be able to find the perfect fit. If you're tired of messing with tokens and falling outside the weight limits on your fork's suggested PSI chart, this could be your solution.
The Intrigue Advanced 0 model we rode arrives blinged-out with an X01 Eagle drivetrain and Guide RSC brakes. Only the 100-millimeter Giant-branded dropper drew criticism, especially for a bike that costs $8,400. The Advanced 1 and 2 drop down to $5,565 and $3,885 respectively, but you give up the DVO suspension at the lower prices.
Overall the Intrigue felt stable without feeling sleepy; supple without feeling sluggish. The geometry put your weight where it needed to be, and the suspension spec was a nice change of pace. While it got slightly overwhelmed on the spiciest drops and most desperate climbs, the Intrigue felt like a worthy partner for almost every trail.
Q&A with Jen Audia, Liv US marketing manager
With the new DVO setup, did the Intrigue get suspension design integration similar to the high-end men’s bikes? If so, what does that look like for this women’s model?
Yes, the same level of integration went into the Intrigue Advanced 0. The relationship we have with DVO brought us an unprecedented level of collaboration for this integration, and we worked closely with DVO when tuning this shock and fork to work with our Maestro Suspension system. Rae Morrison, along with a team of ambassadors, got on trail with Liv product designers and our partners at DVO. We based tuning on the testers’ feedback so that she gets top notch shock performance. The goal is to allow riders of varying weight ranges and riding styles to dial-in their shock for optimal leverage ratio to produce the most top-notch shock performance across the entire stroke.
Why is Liv sticking to a ground-up women’s specific geometry when most brands are going for unisex frames with different touch points? What advantages do you believe it offers female riders?
We believe women will be more powerful and more comfortable on bikes designed for them. At Liv, we maximize women's strength by incorporating specific geometries, stiffness and tuning that enhances overall riding quality and efficiency. Each Liv model is inspired by real riders and the type of riding they do. You may have heard about 3F, this is our data-driven design philosophy for making bikes for women:
O Fit refers to frame design; based on body dimension, muscular activity and strength patterns.
O Form refers to the look and finishing.
O Function speaks to the way the frame, components and technologies align to become the final bike.
Liv engineers consult over fifteen sources, which includes a global body dimension database that reveals female anthropometrics. This database, by PeopleSize, includes 9 nationalities: American, Australian, Belgian, British, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Swedish. For instance, British adult data came from government survey in which 21,884 females and 18,320 males of all ages were measured. American adult data came from a government survey in which 3,850 adult men and 4,401 adult women were measured. We also consult NASA's published research and other sources to round out our understanding of women's dynamic physiology, including anatomy, sizing variations, muscle energy and output.
Based upon the global database and additional sources, we simulate the riding postures for optimal fit for every model and every size, and also create a thorough sizing strategy. This strategy looks across women's body dimensions, muscular activity and strength patterns. After prototyping bikes and carrying out field tests, we refine product stiffness, components, and saddles with positioning specific to women's pelvic tilt to maximize strength patterns and comfort.
On the Intrigue Advanced, our engineers and designers built an aggressive trail geometry putting the rider in a balanced and strong position with all of this in mind. And if you need additional info, please visit our 3F Engineering and Design page with a great video and supportive articles. https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/liv-engineering-and-design