Regular columnist and mtb-junkie Kath Fourie, spent some time with Giant’s new female specific enduro machine.
One of Liv’s most exciting productions in 2017 has been that of the Liv Hail. The Hail is a female specific, 160mm travel Enduro bike that is built first and foremost for descending, but is designed with comfortable climbing capability in mind too.
With Enduro as a race format still being quite fresh territory in our country, Liv South Africa have brought in a limited number of the aluminium Liv Hail 2 bikes, which come stock with a 160mm Rock Shox Yari fork. Being lucky enough to purchase one of the initial bikes, I’ve had some time to ride it recreationally and in events. Many people have asked me: “Isn’t the Hail just the same as the Reign, but with different paintwork?” and the answer is a definitive “No ways José!”
While Giant and Liv definitely do have a particular look in the shape of their bikes, the key differences between the Hail and the Reign is that the Hail has a 66-degree head angle, so is steeper than the Reign, and has a longer top tube and higher bottom bracket. In general, these geometrical elements combined with a metric shock mountain trunnion style, lowers the centre of gravity of the bike, which works for females who have a lower centre of gravity than men. A lot of our power and balance is naturally found through our hips, whereas men tend to square up and power through the torso. As Shakira says, “hips don’t lie”.
My experience on the Liv Hail 2 so far has been really positive, and the move back to 66 degrees for me has been great as I feel like I am a lot more in control of my bike going uphill and pegging into the terrain instead of feeling weightless on the front wheel. Cornering is also suddenly dramatically better for me, but this could also be linked to the stiffer Yari fork – which is, surprisingly, one of the best elements on the Liv Hail 2. I was concerned that a fork with less lock-out capability, and which is heavier than the Pike, wouldn’t suit me – but the stiffer fork has been awesome, most likely because of its combination with boost hub spacing.
The bike is a beast going downhill, it really is. And if you’re not too concerned with going on super-duper long rides and are happy to take in the scenery while climbing, then all the better. Being the entry level of the Hail range, the Liv Hail 2 comes at a price tag that doesn’t leave one considering a second bond, and I am beginning to understand that particularly in terms of big travel bikes, carbon isn’t necessarily and all that. The thing about the Liv Hail 2 is that the more you pretend you’re riding into battle on a dragon with flowing platinum Khaleesi locks, the better she goes. That bike is on your side, 100% (insert image of flames shooting out of the handle bars here).
It’s not established yet if South Africa will see the import of other models of the Liv Hail. I guess that lies in growth of the Enduro scene and the growth in demand from women to have bikes that are built to optimise their womanliness. But from what I am seeing at our races, more women than you can shake a stick at are chomping down the beefy trails, and often they’re there for the whole weekend not necessarily to race but to ride for fun – which is 99% of what big travel bikes and the Enduro scene is about.