New Liv Carbon Trail 29er Mountain Bike [Review]

Early test review of the 2021 Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro carbon trail bike. The flagship model comes complete with a Shimano Deore XT group and Fox Live-Valve electronic suspension.
The Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 0 — Liv’s first carbon trail 29er. | Photo by Anne-Marije Rook

Liv Cycling today announced a new carbon trail 29er bike — the Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 — a first all-carbon bike in the trail category, complete with flip-chip adjustable frame geometry, a high-end component package, and suspension “tuned specifically for women by women.”

In August, Liv announced two aluxx aluminium versions of this bike, and today three more models join the Intrigue 29 family. 

While Giant’s sister company was slow to adopt 29-inch wheels, making their first foray into 29ers with the Pique XC bike just last year, they now seem to be fully committed to the larger wheel size.

We received the top-of-the-line model for testing ahead of the launch, and here’s what we found.

Liv’s first foray into carbon trail 29ers: The Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 0. Photo by Anne-Marije Rook

The Quiver-Killer

Built around a lightweight carbon frame with adjustable geometry, 29er carbon wheels, 140mm of front travel and 125mm in the rear, the Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 is billed as a “quiver-killer,” a bike that can climb while also mow over techy terrain and charge down aggressive descents. 

“This bike was built for riders looking for a lightweight, capable and performance minded trail bike that will allow them to have a blast on their home trails, and be ready to hit new trail destinations that provide a variety of terrain,” says Jen Audia, Liv Global Marketing Specialist.

Like all Liv bikes, the Intrigue 29 was built using the brand’s 3F (Fit, Form, Function) design philosophy. Guided by dimensional data from women worldwide, Liv designs and engineers its frame geometry in a way that’s meant to optimize weight distribution on the bike and maximize power and efficiency. Likewise, Liv custom tuned the Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 suspension for women and the bike’s intended use, aiming to improve traction, control, and confidence. From there, bike prototypes were fine-tuned with Liv suspension partners (Fox) and ridden by Liv-sponsored athletes for feedback. 

To increase the bike’s versatility, the frame geometry is adjustable with the aid of a “flip-chip” — eccentric (offset, two-position) hardware located in the upper rocker arm of the Maestro system — which allows the rider to change the geometry between a High and Low position depending on her riding style and/or the terrain. 

Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 Geo Chart

In the high position, the headtube and seat tube angles become steeper and the bottom bracket will be higher. This provides a more upright position, which is good for efficient pedaling, and the higher bottom bracket helps you avoid clipping your pedals while climbing up uneven terrain. 

In the low position, the headtube and seat tube angles shift to become slacker, and the bottom bracket height is lower. This geometry is meant to add stability and control while descending and cornering at speed.

Every bike in the Intrigue series sports Maxxis-wrapped Boost wheels compatible with up to 2.5-inch-wide tires, a dropper post, the all-new Liv Sylvia saddle, and new frame protectors. Designed to shield the carbon frame while also helping to dampen the sound of impacts —like the chain hitting the chainstay on descents — Liv engineers incorporated a new shape and softer material into the chainstay and downtube protectors.

The Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 is available in three sizes — small, medium and large — and in three different models, which vary in specs and built kit, starting at $3,200 USD for the SRAM-built Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 2. 

The line-topping model, the Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 0, is spec’d with carbon bars, Fox Transfer dropper post, Shimano Deore XT groupset, and the suspension controlling Fox 36 Factory Live Valve. While available in Europe, Australia and Canada, this flagship model is as of yet not available in the US, but retails at €8,500, $11,499 AUD, $9,799 CAD.

How she rode

For a pinnacle riding experience, Liv provided us with the top-of-the-line Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 0 in size small, with Maxxis Minion tubeless tires all set up, and the Fox Live Valve pre-calibrated.

For those unfamiliar with Fox Live Valve, it’s an electronically controlled suspension system. In short, three sensors track the bike’s pitch (climbing, descending, or flat), jumps, and bumps as you ride. These sensors send their findings to the controller at a rate of 1,000 times per second. The controller then automatically adjusts the front and rear suspension accordingly. (Read Matt Miller’s full review of the system, here.)

First out-of-the-box impressions were that the sparking white-and-black paint job is a bit of a diversion from Liv’s previous bright and often, colorful colorways — though not unfavorably so — and that the bike appeared big. Yet I, standing tall at a mere 5’5” on a good day, found myself hiking the dropper post up a fair bit, and the reach, even in the high flip clip position of 424mm, felt perhaps a tad short. 

The test riding took place at the Cold Creek trail system in southern Washington and Sandy Ridge in Oregon. Both areas provide a good mixture of rocks, swooping berms, some jumps, and roots but also require a 30-minute climb to get to the fun stuff. So I started out in the bike’s high position. 

Weighing in at a smidge over 30 pounds on my scale, the Intrigue is by no means a thoroughbred climber like its nimble XC-cousin the Liv Pique. This is a trail bike after all, yet it went up the mountain well. It was a pedal but certainly no slog. And while I personally already quite enjoy riding uphill, with this bike, those who normally avoid the climb could learn to do the same.

At the top of the climbs, switching the bike’s geometry into the low position for the descents was pretty straightforward. You simply loosen the two bolts on either side of the upper rocker arm, lift or push the bike into the preferred position, and re-tighten the bolts. 

Please note that this switching of the flip chip positions during a ride was purey for testing purposes and isn’t necessarily advised for everyday riding. The geometry change isn’t drastic — it’s +/- 0.7 degrees in the headtube angle and  +/- 0.8 degrees in the seat tube angle — and the bike is more than capable of conquering the trails in either position. Instead, it’s recommended you pick the geometry you want to ride for the day and stick with that. 

To increase the bike’s versatility, the frame geometry is adjustable with the aid of a “flip-chip” — eccentric (offset, two-position) hardware located in the upper rocker arm of the Maestro system — which allows the rider to change the geometry between a High and Low position depending on her riding style and/or the terrain.

The bolt-and-screw system is simple and it works, but it’s not ideal for trailside tinkering. Losing a washer or a nut would make for a bad day out on the trail, and while other companies have come up with a more clumsy-proof lever system, Liv engineers opted for a system that was sturdy, reliable and not yet patented by their competitors. 

Rook taking the Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 0 through its paces. Photo by Sam Nakata

On the trail, heading down, there was no doubt that this is a very capable and versatile bike. The bike responded equally well when thrown into corners, across rocks, or down drops. It does it all with great stability and security. The 29-inch wheels are a big contributor to this, as they conquer rock gardens and large sections of roots better than any 27.5 bike I’ve ridden. 

It’s perhaps not the nimblest bike out there but it’s lively enough, and does greatly inspire confidence in the rider. So much so that I found myself pushing my own comfort levels on my very first test run, opting for lines I’d usually ride around, knowing that the bike was both capable and forgiving. It doesn’t do the riding for you, by any means, and no bike can fix stupid, but should you make a mistake or launch yourself off a small unforeseen drop, its responsive suspension and stable platform is there for you.

Despite its medium range 140mm/125mm suspension package, I’d reckon this bike could even handle an entry-level Enduro race quite well. While enduro bikes, like the Liv Hail, tend to have more travel and a slacker geometry, the Intrigue would be a good option for courses like Sea Otter that are more pedally and/or less steep. 

Photo by Sam Nakata

Perhaps here an argument could be made for smarter suspension instead of bigger suspension. And the Fox Live Valve sure does its job well, allowing the rider to simply focus on the trail and never think twice about the suspension. In fact, the only time I did think about my suspension was on the uphill when I wished I could have locked out the front suspension altogether. While the rear suspension got sufficiently stiff, the front remained open. I know it’s just the cross-country rider in me talking, but I really do prefer a completely locked out fork when getting up steep fire road climbs fast. Most trail riders out there, however, aren’t trying to gun it up the climb in search of a Personal Best of QOM so a little bit of bobbing won’t bother them at all. It’s a minor personal preference thing and after all, it’s the way the suspension functions on the trail that matters more than the service road climb. And on the trail, this bike was superb. 

Final thoughts

All in all, the Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro 29 0 is a lively, confidence-inspiring ride, great for those riders looking to push their own limits and take their skills to the next level as well as those riders looking for a light do-it-all-bike. If you’re going to travel and tackle unknown trails, this is the bike. Likewise, if you’d prefer to have just one bike for multiple styles of riding, this is it. 

It may not win downhill races or earn you any QOMs, but it can handle both and everything in between. As advertised, the Liv Intrigue Advanced Pro is plain versatile.