The Liv Pique SX1 is a 27.5-hooped aluminum machine that falls somewhere between two categories. On paper, it's too steep in the front and slack in the rear to be an all-mountain rig, given its 67-degree headtube angle and 72-degree seat angle. At the same time, its 140 millimeters of front travel and 120 millimeters of rear travel indicate that this bike could tackle something more interesting than just cross-country trails. As such, the bike didn't stand out in any one particular area. The amount of travel seems to beg for 29-inch wheels, but Liv's Maestro linkage hardware crowds up behind the bottom bracket and would force a big-wheel Pique to have big-ol' chainstays. The linkage itself is one of the bike's strong suits, and the Pique earned bonus points for pedaling as efficiently as its XC siblings, slack seat angle notwithstanding.

Raw aluminum and a slack seat angle give the Pique a different look and ride.

Another highlight is maneuverability--the Pique is light and easy to move around and felt particularly capable on slow-speed technical climbing as it eagerly floated up and over obstacles aided by excellent rear-wheel traction (a quick kudos here for the Maxxis Highroller tire spec, a big improvement on this year's build). The Pique also got a wide, 750- or 780-millimeter bar, depending on frame size, paired with a 40-millimeter stem to appeal to a more aggressively minded crowd.

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High-speed descending didn't feel as confident as climbing, and the Pique requires that the rider pick smart lines--this bike isn't going to plow through everything without proper handling and it isn't going to make up for poor line choice. Testers' biggest gripe is related to spec, but not the kind of spec that would have been easy for Liv to fix. The Pique SX's shallow seatpost insertion depth forced them to spec 100-millimeter droppers which, for those of us accustomed to more, felt borderline dangerous. Testers on both medium- and small-sized frames had room for 125, but not everyone will. There is a narrow margin of error if you want to run your perfect post in the Pique SX.

At $3,700, it's on the lower end of the price spectrum, and comes wonderfully equipped with high-end RockShox Suspension, SRAM GX Eagle and Guide RS brakes. Liv smartly offers frame sizes from XS to Large, a move that will appeal the Pique to the gamut of body types. The Liv Pique SX 1 is a bike that is built to push the limits of XC, and with a few tweaks it could be a great contender in that crossover category.


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Liv Pique SX1 Q&A with Jen Audia, Liv US marketing manager

The biggest question we kept asking each other was, “Why isn’t this offered as a 29er?” So we’ll ask you that too. What’s the reasoning for keeping this bike only as a 27.5-inch offering? With its XC roots but desire to ride terrain that’s a bit more aggressive, it seems fitting as a 29er.

The Pique might not be a 29er, but it can descend, as Kristin Butcher finds out here.

The reality is there is no perfect wheel size for all riders and terrain. Given the range of usage the Pique platform was designed to cover, as well as the rider size range, the best platform to build this experience from was 27.5-inch. In a hyper sub-segmented category like 'mountain bikes,' we also aimed to ease the buying decision without watering down the experience, no matter where you live or how you ride. As you know, the mountain bike market is progressing rapidly in terms of tire volume, as well as various frame designs for 27.5-inch and 29er. Now, divide 'trail' into 'long travel/enduro,' ''standard' travel' and 'short travel' trail, then add in 'pure XC' and 'marathon XC' and you've got some very unsure customers on your hands. That being said, we will always continue to enhance or create new platforms of bikes for Liv riders as the market progresses, while also staying pure to the intended experience.

Most bikes are trending toward putting slightly longer dropper posts in size Mediums, but this one still comes with a 100-millimeter. What’s up with that?

The XC roots of the Liv Pique will make sure you get to the top. Kristen Butcher sees if her limits or the bike’s will come first.

Dropper post seat-tube insertion length is never easy and always longer than the actual telescoping drop length. It can become even more exaggerated with full-internal routing designs due to the mechanism at the base of the seat post where the cable or housing is affixed to. Some designs are lower profile than others. Regardless, it's really tough to get it perfect for the range of rider height and related min/max seatpost range. Add to that multi-link suspension designs with pivoting linkage at the seat-tube or interrupted seat-tubes, then you also have a lower limit for max seat post insertion. Going forward, we will increase the drop length spec on most sizes. Some updates to our post design will assist but not be perfect for everyone, so we will be asking our retailers to support where needed if a shorter drop length is needed for a gal with the lowest saddle height.

What was the impetus for creating this bike within the Pique lineup, and why is it only offered in this one build? 

The Pique Series was created as a short travel XC/trail bike platform that could race on Sunday but was most fun on every other day. XC style riding doesn't always mean racer, and this is why we continue to categorize it under XC in our consumer communication but will make clear that the Pique was not created as a pure XC race platform. That was the Lust. The Pique has a wider range of versatility for a technical race course or a rowdy marathon track but also the travel range and nimble ride personality to handle the rougher stuff. The Pique SX was developed in this series to support the more "trail" side of this platform personality and rider demand. With more travel and a slacker headtube angle, we positioned this bike for a rider that was still looking for Pique DNA but with the right component package that is more capable of riding 80- to 90-percent of the time in burly, technical terrain. We provide options because our riders don't fit in cookie-cutter molds--we have a diverse playground in the U.S. and we want to provide options to support this. You'll see us continue to support this in other arenas--for playing in big terrain or competing in enduro we have the Hail platform and for the least technical climbers course and generally high-speed XC race formats we continue to offer the Obsess.