Liv's Prototype XC Bike - Sea Otter 2019

Apr 14, 2019
by Sarah Moore  

American long-distance mountain bike racer Kaysee Armstrong was spotted on this Liv prototype during the XC race at Sea Otter. Kaysee is a part of the Liv Racing team and has competed in the Absa Cape Epic along with a host of cyclocross, enduro, XC and gravel races.

Liv staff were willing to let me take photos of the prototype she's racing on but wouldn't provide any information on it. My guess is that it's an updated version of the Liv Pique since that bike was introduced in 2016 so is likely up for an update after three years on the market. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pique, it was the Lust's replacement and was dubbed an aggressive XC bike with 120mm of travel, 27.5" wheels, and a 70º head angle.

Whether it's a Pique or something entirely different, one thing we can see for sure is that the new bike now has 29er wheels. There are definite similarities between the prototype Liv bike and the Giant Trance 29 that Daniel Sapp and I tested during last year's Pinkbike Field Test so we're guessing it may take even more cues from that model than just the wheel size.

The Giant Trance 29 uses the Maestro suspension layout with a carbon upper link, and it looks like that has carried over to this Liv prototype. Daniel and I were impressed with the aggressive spec that the Trance came with and the progressive geometry, 66.5-degree head angle, 74.5-degree seat angle, and 435mm chainstays, so it would be great to see something similar available on the Liv side.

Rolling on bigger wheels...

Looks like a carbon upper link...

Comparing the seattube to that of the Giant Trance 29 (right), this is definitely a different frame.

The spec on Kaysee's bike isn't as aggressive as the Giant Trance 29 we tested last summer, but that could just be because it's set up for the fast rolling course at Sea Otter.

The Giant Off-Road team moved over to Fox suspension from DVO earlier this year, citing a renewed commitment to XC racing as the primary reason for the change. Will we be seeing the new Fox Live Valve system on the production version of this bike?

Looking pretty close to being ready with the plastic protection bits dialed.


  • 7 1
 Clean looking rig, I know its for xc and they are trying to save weight, but wonder how many potential buyers would like to have a dropper option on that to make it more comfortable during some descents .
  • 7 0
 I imagine the Giant house brand dropper will be spec'd, but the rider preferred against the added weight for the Sea Otter. Note the great Tinker Juarez still doesn't race with a dropper either.
  • 4 0
 It looks like this bike uses a 30.9 post, which addresses what is (I think) the one big shortcoming of the Anthem, its 27.2 post. Giant only makes droppers in 30.9.
  • 2 0
  • 5 0
 @Geochemistry: Tinker still does 24hr races? Dude is Legend.
  • 1 4
 Faster times are not always a priority. Sometimes discomfort, with the added benefit of saving weight is key. The BOOST fixed dropper, as seen in the photograph, is said to have an overall increase in stifness and stiffidity by 148.15%.
  • 1 0

Link pivot bolt still looks crap in silver but love the freedom to route cables/hoses on either side of the headtube unlike 90% of CF frames. I'd buy one for that reason alone.
  • 3 0
 Pretty sure it's silver because it's stainless steel while all other bolts are aluminium and are anodized black. All the other bolts are thicker and have external threads with nuts on them, while this is essentially a screw with an oversized head. It being aluminium would be too weak on the threaded stem, so it has to be steel.

But i agree, it does look kinda weird (I have it on the Reign i'm selling).
  • 1 2
 @Primoz: Correct Primoz but I can't think of another brand that does it.

Maybe that's why there's so much flex in those links?
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: Doubt it, the thicker aluminium bolt supports the bearing radially, the steel screw just holds everything together axially. If there's flex, it's in the link plates themselves (would explain the single piece carbon upper link on the second gen 27,5" Reign as opposed to two separate plates on the previous, 2015 Reign) or in the bolts themselves, which i kinda doubt it since torquing the bolts together preloads the bearings onto the frame axially and supports them that way a bit as well (the bearing would have to bend the bolt and move away from the frame on it). Compared to the link plate and the rear triangle itself that bearing-frame-bolt interface is stiff as hell.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: I think they're using steel because the aluminium spindle is either undersized relative to the Maestro link pivot spindles or thicker with a smaller ID requiring the use of a smaller steel bolt. For some reason the current 27.5" Trance seems to use the more common one piece aluminum spindle/bolt design like everyone else.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: The aluminium bolt could be quite large enough. Take into account that the same OD bearing with a smaller ID will actually be able to carry larger loads due to larger, stronger balls. So the bearing itself might be completely okay for the application, the bolt itself as well, but to not use a nut over it (also being aluminium), to keep the low profile, they used the steel bolt.

A thicker bolt is also heavier. Though i do admit that the upper linkage main bolt and upper shock bolts are relatively thin compared to the bottom bolts.

Also, looking at pictures of 2018 Trances, it has the exact same arrangement bolt wise. A single stainless bolt on the seat tube-rocker pivot. In some cases on the driveside, in others on non-DS.

EDIT: looking at the video, it's the exact same setup as on my Reign. main lower rocker pivot bolt goes through the lower shock eyelet, the nut is on the driveside, behind the chainring. The swingarm-lower link pivot has the arrangement reversed. The seat tube-rocker pivot was mentioned before, the rocker to swingarm bolts screw into the swingarm and while on my Reign there was bolt with a nut through the rocker plates and the shock, there are two small bolts going through the rocker directly into the shock, which has threads in it due to it being a trunnion mount shock. So yeah, more or less the same concept. Might be different for 2019, but i really doubt that they changed anything.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: Oh yeah now I see what's going on now. In some photos the orientation of the bolt is reversed with the SS side being on the non-drive. This lead me to think that it was an aluminum spindle with SS bolts in both ends.

Sorry for the confusion!
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: it is titanium...because of structural reasons...
  • 2 0
 @Elbear: You de realise stainless steel is MUCH cheaper and also stronger than titanium? Heavier too, but stronger still.

You use titanium for stuff for weight reasons, not 'structural reasons'.

And titanium is a more dull gray than that, it's not as silver.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: a real expert :-)
It IS titanium...
  • 1 0
 @Elbear: A real expert. I took the bolt out of my Giant, measured it with calipers and weighed it with a kitchen scale. 6 grams and around 0,83 cm^3 gives a density of 7,17 g/cm^3 which is MUCH closer, mistakes and approximations at measuring, than the 4.5 g/cm^3 of titanium.

So yeah. An expert. The bolt on the 2015 Reign IS, in fact, steel. And i bet it IS also on the Trance that me and jclnv were talking about most of the time.

It might be titanium on the proto above in the article, but that'd be a damn minuscule weight saving of a grand total, on two bolts, of around 5 grams. Given the size of the pivot and given bolts on other bikes, the axle could be aluminium. Having a titanium axle in there would negate any weight savings and would mean a weight gain. Screwing a titanium screw into an aluminium axle would be a god damn genius move, since the two metals are almost at complete different ends of the galvanic potential and wreak havoc when used with one another without proper care.

While i do not know what the bolt on the proto is made of, looking at the pictures and comparing it to the one on my desk, i'd say it's too bright to be titanium. I could be wrong though. What i do know is that there has to be a damn good reason or somebody has to have some really weird decision making logic to use titanium bolts on that pivot.
  • 4 1
 It could do with a steeper sa, not that I ever going to buy one but their rider looks like she's out of rails
  • 2 1
 A lot of women XC racers seem to have the seat pushed forward like that...not sure if it's fit related or preference related.
  • 2 1
 @clink83: what's that suppose to mean? They preffer to feel uncomortable while racing? If it doesn't fit what's in to be preffered over?
  • 3 1
 Almost every bike on the market could use a steeper seatube angle. But i digress...
  • 2 0
 @clink83: Giant has fairly slack seat angles on their current bikes
  • 2 0
 @adespotoskyli: They could have their pedal cleats pushed backwards behind the met heads for better descending, which means you have to push the seat forward. Women have a lower center of gravity so pushing the seat forward may be necessary to keep the front end down too. It also could be that instead of sitting on the nose to put down power on the climbs they just slide their seat forward so they are always in that position too. Lots of possible reasons.
  • 2 0
 @dthomp325: that too
  • 2 0
 AFAIK women have shorter torsos and longer legs compared to guys of same height, so seats slammed forwards make sense - they shorten the cockpit given the frame size needed for the longer legs (effectively sizing up due to seat height, not cockpit length).
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: it supposed to be women specific, it still does not make any sense when you desighn a bike for a specific customer ant then it fits on the extreme end of the adjustments, that is what I'm trying to point out
  • 1 0
 @adespotoskyli: Agreed. I was more or less replying to clink83 trying to find the reason for 'a lot of women xc riders moving the seat forwards'. I'd bet most of them ride 'unisex' frames, which would then explain the seat being pushed forward.
  • 1 0
 @adespotoskyli: my xl FS has the seat pushed forward because the bike had a 69.5 seat angle and I have short legs lol
  • 2 0
 Does the Live Valve also collect data from the (front) brake or is there any other reason why there is a (electrical) cable coming from the left lower?
  • 3 0
 Looks like it's a senor mounted to the brace on the lowers. They probably need one accelerometer on the uppers and one on the lowers to measure the difference in accelerations in order to calculate how fast the suspension is compressing and rebounding
  • 1 0
 Is it me or does the Liv side of Giant seem to be more progressive... That Hail is definitely a nicer looking bike than the Reign and now they taking giants new Trance and dubbing it an aggressive XC race bike.
  • 2 1
 Am I the only person that thinks that frame looks a bit weird (too small) with 29 wheels?
  • 3 0
 Its probably a small frame, they look more compact and the 29 inch wheels magnify that.
  • 1 2
 Why are there women specific bikes? I thought all bikes were equally male/female as is and that’s why there are size options.

Wouldn’t a man and a women of the same height require the same set up?...
  • 3 0
 Well a woman of the same height as a man is usually going to be lighter, different pelvis shapes, narrow shoulders, smaller hands. Lots of differences that bike companies can adjust for.
  • 1 1
 @clink83: I would say the weight difference is minimal and would be dealt with via suspension set up.

Narrow shoulders would just be dealt with via handle bar width.

I understand female/male saddles.

smaller hands is just a grip and lever situation.

I don't get how there's a female frame, like what is custom about it?
And with that I wouldn't think there is "male" frame, just unisex overall.
  • 1 0
 AFAIK women at the same height have longer legs and shorter torsos. It would then make sense for a woman's frame to have a slightly longer seat tube (well, debatable given current dropper lengths) given the length of a frame in a given size. A dudette shredder will have the seat positioned higher up and will need the bars closer to the seat than a dude of the same size.
  • 1 1
 @coadymacmillan: well, if you actually gave a shit about your woman's frames you can make them with thinner walls so they are lighter and more compliant, softer shock tunes, geometry tweaks, ECT. There is a lot you can actually do.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: So the seat post or dropper going up an inch or two and a shorter top tube / stem?

I don't get how that justifies an entire company built around women bikes.

I'm all for this idea of this and getting women into the sport, I'm just trying to wrap my head around what this company does specifically to customize bikes towards women.
  • 2 0
 @coadymacmillan: I don't know what Giant does exactly, but at the face of it, it's the brand, frame/gear colors, marketing, contact points (seat, handlebars), Specialized has smaller sizes for the frames (XS to L instead of S to XL).

Some brands do a separate women's brand to differentiate more, others just say 'bike xxx women's'. Different companies, different strategies.

Then you have the geometry. It might seem trivial to just do what you mentioned (i'm not an expert on geometry, but looking at women specific bikes, this would seem to be what is done to them), but it is a completely new bike when you do that. The suspension can be moved around as well to give the correct antisquat values, etc.

Look at Canyon, they made a completely different women's Spectral.
  • 1 0
 @coadymacmillan: women don't have long legs and short toes, NASA and the DOD did research and there is no statistical limb length difference between men and women.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: Do you have a link about that? The diagram i have gives 2,5, 50 and 97,5 percentile of trunk lengths for men of 425, 455 and 458 mm while for women it's 400, 425 and 455. So the average male has a trunk length of women who have their torso longer than 97,5 of other women. Sure, the difference is 'only' 30 mm, but a 20 mm difference in reach of a frame is supposedly a size up or down.

The more i'm looking at it, it does appear the average woman has the proportions (height-wise) of a man in the 2,5th percentile with the woman in the 97,5th percentile the proportions of the average man.

I'd really like to read more about this. It has always been said women have shorter torsos but it might be that they are just smaller all around and that that makes the difference.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: And if that is true a XS small from each company would could cover things for the most part.

A short man would need the exact same thing.
  • 3 2
 looks like an anthem
  • 2 1
 That's because it is.
  • 3 2
 @Bflutz625: that's the joke

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