Last week I reserved an Avail Advanced 3 carbon frame road bike by Liv. It’s one of their newly redesigned 2015 models engineered with a combination of Giant’s frame building technology and a detailed understanding of the unique biomechanics of the female body. Unlike a men’s frame, the Liv is built to be more stable with less upper body input. The geometry is also supposed to incorporate the shorter top tubes required by a leggier build along with the required clearance of tire and pedal that can be complicated by a naive application of male geometry to female frames.
The Avail does not disappoint! This bike was smooth and clean to ride, and she practically turns herself. In fact, on slower tighter corners I had to be careful not to actively turn the handle bars or else she would almost flip inside herself. It was as if the bike knew where I wanted to go and just went there without any input from me. In reality, I think my experience was the intended change in handling where the bike is designed to be driven more with the hips. It worked out really well and I love her handling.
The tiagra components were surprisingly smooth, to. I had tiagra on my 2012 TCX 2 and they drove me nuts. They never wanted to shift into the outer ring and often would jump the chain. I upgraded to ultegra crank, shifters and derailleurs as soon as I had the chance. With the Avail and the road crankset I had no complaints. The shifting was heavier than my cyclocross ultegra, but still crisp and clean.
My only complaint with the Avail is that the disk brakes are awful! I am primarily a mountain rider and am quite accustomed to disks, but these simply refused to stop the bike. On a decently windy descent my hands were actually screaming from the effort of clamping down on the brake levers to try and slow myself enough to enter each turn properly. At first I was able to release the brakes between curves, but by the last third of the descent I was riding the brakes almost continuously because I simply did not trust them to take off enough speed for a sharp turn. Even of flat ground, fully slamming the brakes shut will not stop the wheels (no jacknifes on this bike), but only grind them to a very mushy halt.
The Avail was the first carbon road bike I’ve ever ridden. I took her with me to the Sado 210km long ride and despite her not being remarkably lighter than my baby Pikuro (aluminum all the way), the stiffness and the dampening of the carbon on the road made for a very comfortable ride. Even on my shorter commute to work I can feel the difference in my body and the extra energy it saves from not having to absorb the road vibrations myself.
Over all I highly recommend this bike. For the price (something around $1500?) it is an absolute steal. For a woman, it is unprecedented technology. Even the crappy brakes can probably get upgraded to something more snippy. All that said, though, it’s not the bike for me. Next I plan to test ride the Envy, baby sister to the sexy Propel aero road frame. Can’t wait!
As a side note I also tried a new saddle with the Avail. It’s Giant’s contact saddle with some technology I know nothing about. After 210 km on my Mantra, I just couldn’t sit the same seat anymore and I discovered something. My butt likes padding on a saddle! The Mantra is shaped really well to care for my clit, but not so well for my backside. I will be revisiting the Fisik chameleon and possibly looking into some other squooshier saddles in the near future. Wish me luck.