With the huge range of bike brands on the market, does gender matter when it comes to design? When many of us were growing up, the difference between the design of boys’ and girls’ bikes was that the former had a straight top tube, while the latter had a U-shaped or pass-through frame (historically, to accommodate dresses). Where remnants of that design ethos remain in the low-end kids’ market, those accolades are more about marketing than performance. But for adult women, frame geometry is a real concern. Many brands make bikes that are supposedly designed for women, but are they really suitable for women’s bodies?
Giant’s Taiwan-based sister brand Liv Cycling is exclusively dedicated to designing and manufacturing bikes for women’s physiology – from frame design and stiffness, to component design and selection, positioning – to provide women with optimal comfort and efficiency on any type of bike. The designs are based not only on anthropometric data, but also on the lived experience of women on the bike: Liv has female athletes in every bike specialty who consult on every design nuance, and it’s the only brand for women which has been building its own bikes in-house since the beginning. to finish. This means they have control over the entire process, from design to completion.
Liv was founded in 2008 by Giant Group President Bonnie Tu when she wanted to compete in a cycling event and couldn’t find a bike that really suited her. Tu’s personal research has led to a better understanding of the cycling market and its shortcomings when it comes to female cyclists. Women’s interest in cycling has grown every year and the COVID-19 pandemic has taken interest to new heights. Women’s cycling continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in the cycling industry. The brand makes road, mountain, cross and gravel, electric and kids’ bikes, with many variations on each theme for different styles of riders and budgets.
I demoed a Liv Intrigue Advanced mountain bike, whose 27.5-inch carbon-framed full-suspension trail bike was incredibly light. The bike was very easy to customize for someone who hadn’t been in the saddle for, oh, about two decades. It rolls beautifully over rocks and roots, and it seems to have a good dose of forgiveness and stability in muddy conditions. Best of all, it fits my 5’2″ frame perfectly. The shifter position is ergonomic and the seat height and angle are easy to adjust. Its light weight makes climbing much easier than expected! I can’t wait to develop my skills to see more of what this bike can do.
To get myself into the headspace for mountain biking, I looked at the guide content on Liv’s website, which includes topics like basic maintenance, bikepacking, and an introduction to biking skills. of Mountain. In 2014, Liv partnered with Ladies AllRide, founded by mountain biking evangelist Lindsey Richter, who has dedicated her career to inspiring and empowering women and girls to ride bikes. Ladies AllRide offers bootcamps all over the country, and there’s a ton of content on the LAR YouTube channel, which gave me the confidence to try mountain biking.
I also spoke with Jen Audia, who works with Liv’s global team in Taiwan, who said the issue of representation is just as important as bikes designed for women’s bodies. “You have to see it for it to happen,” she offered – “girls and women getting into the sport at all levels need to see people like them on bikes – s’ having fun, taking risks, facing fears, accepting challenges – and Liv invests in women and women only. Audia added that “our welcoming community is the other part of the equation. We don’t just create products and bike gear, we also create community and education.
The partnership between Liv and Ladies AllRide is a natural progression of the women’s movement into sports like mountain biking. Having a community to welcome you, guide you through any apprehensions, and help you learn the skills you need to achieve your goals is invaluable. And if the experience serves to boost women’s confidence – both on the bike and in life – all the better.