Liv Devote: new machine from Giant’s sister brand stakes a claim in gravel

We've been hitting the trails on the Liv Devote - Giant's sister brand's first dedicated gravel machine

There’s no denying that gravel riding is cycling’s activity de rigueur at present, so it’s surprising that it’s taken Liv so long to launch with its first bike designed solely for this purpose: the Liv Devote.

The Taiwanese women’s brand, sister to Giant, has unveiled the Devote which is its first adventure ready gravel machine – with capacity for tyres up to 50c (should you opt for a 650b wheel), a tubeless spec set-up as standard and dropper seatpost compatibility.

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I’ve been riding this bike across the South Downs and Surrey trails over the past few weeks, giving me plenty of opportunities to formulate an opinion on this new addition to the gravel line up.

Geometry

Liv Devote

As per all of Liv’s bikes, the brand says that the Devote has been built around globally collected anthropological data, suggesting women are better served by a dedicated women’s specific geometry – this based around limb measurements, weight distribution, and differences in power production. It’s impossible for us to confirm either way, but according to Liv women use their front thigh muscles (rectus femoris) differently, compared with men.

Comparing the Devote’s geometry with the closest Giant model, the Revolt, the reach is indeed shorter, with a higher stack. The headtube angles remain pretty consistent, from 70.5 to 71º depending upon the size, and the trail is 50mm, similar to the Kinesis G2 I put through its paces early this year. These measurements lend themselves to a rugged, off-road ready machine which can certainly lend itself to a bit of gnar when called upon.

The new Devote comes available in sizes from XS to Large, with a typical XS in the range suiting riders down to 5ft0. Interestingly, Liv has chosen to spec 700c wheels throughout the range as opposed to opting for a smaller wheel at the shorter end – though all of the bikes are compatible with a 650b set-up for those wanting to run a 50c tyre.

The brand promises a unique carbon lay-up to each size, ensuring consistency in ride quality throughout.

Regardless of your individual inclinations towards women’s specific geometry, touchpoints are an area where most female riders will want to make changes on a unisex model.

The Liv Devote comes with the brand’s own Liv Approach women’s saddle, and it was the first specced saddle this year that I’ve actually left on the bike throughout the testing period – finding it to be extremely comfortable in the head up, gravel ready position. The handlebar is narrow at the top (more on the lack of flare at the bottom later), meaning my arms didn’t feel splayed – resulting in a glorious lack of the neck ache I now accept as part of the job of testing bikes in a broad-shouldered, male-dominated world.

It’s rare that a rider will maintain the spec of a top-end bike exactly as-is – but going women’s specific certainly removes the need for some of the immediate swaps, for me, and I believe this will be the case for many women. I don’t know any female riders who have had a bike fit and still ride on the bars specced as standard for their frame size.

Ready for the trails ahead

Liv Devote

The Liv Devote comes specced and ready for the trails, but the brand has built-in capacity for much more ambitious terrain should you choose.

As per Liv/Giant convention, the range is split into a hierarchy, consisting of the Liv Devote Advanced Pro (top end), Liv Devote Advanced (carbon) and Liv Devote (aluminium) options. There’s two alloy Devote versions, and two Devote Advanced specs to choose from.

At present, we only have UK pricing for the Devote Advanced Pro and alloy Devote options – but it has been confirmed that the Devote Advanced models will be available in the UK.

All of the bikes enjoy clearance for a 700c wheel sporting a 45c tyre or a 650b wheel wearing 50c rubber. Whilst the wheelset changes throughout the price points, all models come tubeless prepped. Specced tyre widths are narrower in some cases, starting at 35c.

The Devote Advanced Pro I have on test features Giant’s own CXR-2 Carbon Disc WheelSystem, which can fit a mountain bike tyre up to 2.3inches and comes with hookless rims for ease of tubeless tyre fitting. In this case, the rims come specced with Maxxis Velocita, 700x40c tyres.

Liv Devote

Internal cable routing is a given, and Liv has also made the progressive move to ensure that the Advanced models are compatible with a 30.9mm dropper seat post. The seat post specced as standard on the Advanced Pro is the D-fuse model, which has been designed to absorb bumps for the road (or trails, in this case).

For those planning more adventurous terrain, the Advanced 1 comes with a Switch dropper post as standard – alongside 45c tyres and a single chainring set up whilst the rest of the range sports two chainrings up-front, bucking the general trend which is to go single ring throughout on gravel bikes.

Speccing a dropper seatpost takes a gravel bike closer and closer to the dedicated off-road territory, but when mixing rides between the tarmac and more technical trails, the case for their inclusion is clear – especially in the UK where gravel rides are more hardtail style trails over the expanses of hard-pack gravel seen in the US and elsewhere.

At the front, Liv has opted for Giant Contact SLR XR D-Fuse handlebars, with a 5° back sweep and flare drop at the top end, down to a Giant Contact XR Ergo-Control on the alloy options. The bars are wrapped in a Polyurathane/EVA “all condition bar tape”, with a gel backing to dampen vibration. This is designed to increase comfort and maintain grip in both wet and dry conditions.

The carbon models come with chainstay and downtube protection, and there’s ample racking – with three water bottle mounts as well as mounts for mudguards and panniers. Finally, in a neat touch, the front thru axle is supplied with a removable 5mm hex wrench – negating the need for an additional tool in the back pocket, however, this is a short lever so is more of a ‘needs must’ than a tool to use when fitting wheels at home; even Liv’s product experts stated that they’d heard some rattle when using this alone (I used a long lever from the start on my test bike).

The ride

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Lap power screen: off Navigation: somewhere nice *** Beautiful afternoon exploring, first time really using @garminuk gravel mode for routing. Fair to say I have navigational special needs so was pretty refreshing to just type in "Lewes" then "Ditchling" and end up exactly where intended. Only "am now completely lost" (climbing over a friendly elderly lady's fence/hikeabikeing up footpath alongside Beacon) moments occurred when I tried to cheat the map to avoid extended road sections. **** No snaps of bike, as per basically every bike the @cyclingweeklymagazine test team is riding atm, it's under embargo. Carbon. Gravel. Rides nice. Missing flared bars. Squishy slick tyres. 2x. SRAM Force eTap [insert robotic blipblip noise]

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I’ve been testing the Liv Devote Advanced Pro for several weeks now, taking it on some three-hour excursions across the South Downs as well as shorter rides on my local trails; living in Caterham most of my ‘gravel’ riding is strewn with tree roots and the soil here is very clay like – for me it’s only really rideable in the dry.

My first impressions en route to the trails were of a bike that handled the road exceptionally well, rolling quickly and providing plenty of feedback on power transfer – in no small part I’m sure due to the Overdrive Steerer and Power Core bottom bracket that Liv uses throughout its range. The wide 40c tyres of course will feel squishy on the road, but they didn’t detract from the ride really at all.

Off-road, the relaxed geometry lent itself well to the task in hand, and the tubeless set up took out a lot of the bumps that might otherwise add up to fatigue over a long day.

Addressing some of the more technical trail sections around my home in Caterham, at times I felt less confident than I have done on other gravel bikes. I put a lot of this down to the shallower flare of the bar – something easily remedied with a spec change – but it’s a swap I’d recommend for anyone planning to tackle rootsy, rocky sections. Flared bars have proved a revelation to me off-road, providing a far more stable base when hammering the descents.

Though wide, the tyres are slick with little provision made for mud shedding. This again is well suited to long expanses of gravel terrain elsewhere in the world, but less so to UK conditions. I did take the bike out on a wet day, and found the tyre were very slip-n-slide, but the clay like nature of the soil means this is often the case.

The two-by set up was unexpected, but I was surprised by just how well the system worked. SRAM lower ratio gearing, designed with gravel in mind, provided me with a plentiful spread of gears, and I was never worried about crunching the chain with the AXS electronic shifting.

The Devote has been a long-overdue addition to Liv’s range, and so far, I’ve had a blast spending time on it. Ideal gravel bike spec varies hugely depending upon the rider’s planned use – for me, the Advanced 1 model with wider tyres and that lovely looking dropper seatpost addition would likely be a winner for me, and I’d be swapping flared bars on from day one. With those changes, it might well be perfect.

Liv Devote: the range

Liv Advanced Pro – £4699

Liv Devote

  • Frame: Advanced-Grade Composite
  • Fork: Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, 12x142mm thru-axle, disc
  • Handlebar: Giant Contact SLR XR D-Fuse, 31.8, 5° back sweep, flare drop
  • Stem: Giant Contact, 8-degree
  • Seatpost: Giant D-Fuse SLR, composite
  • Saddle: Liv Approach
  • Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS (press fit) 30/43, 10-36 cassette
  • Wheels: Giant CXR-2 Carbon Disc WheelSystem
  • Tyres: Maxxis Velocita, 700x40c, tubeless

Liv Advanced 1 – UK pricing TBC

  • Frame: Advanced-Grade Composite
  • Fork: Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, 12x142mm thru-axle, disc
  • Handlebar: Giant Contact SLR XR D-Fuse, 31.8, 5° back sweep, flare drop
  • Stem: Giant Contact, 8-degree
  • Seatpost: Giant Contact Switch dropper
  • Saddle: Liv Approach
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX RX-400 hydraulic (press fit) 40t chainring, 11-42 cassette
  • Wheels: Giant P-X2 Disc wheelset
  • Tyres: Maxxis Rambler, 700x45c, tubeless

Liv Advanced 1 – UK pricing TBC

  • Frame: Advanced-Grade Composite
  • Fork: Advanced-Grade Composite, full-composite OverDrive steerer, 12x142mm thru-axle, disc
  • Handlebar: Giant Contact SLR XR D-Fuse, 31.8, 5° back sweep, flare drop
  • Stem: Giant Contact, 8-degree
  • Seatpost: Giant D-Fuse SLR, composite
  • Saddle: Liv Approach
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX RX-400 hydraulic (press fit) (32/48 – 11-34)
  • Wheels: Giant P-X2 Disc wheelset
  • Tyres: Giant CrossCut AT1, 700x40c, tubeless

Devote 1 – £1349

  • Frame: ALUXX Grade Aluminum
  • Fork: full composite, OverDrive steerer, disc
  • Handlebar: Giant Contact XR Ergo-Control, 31.8
  • Stem: Giant Contact, 8-degre
  • Seapost: Giant D-Fuse, alloy
  • Saddle: Liv Approach
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX RX-400 (32/48 – 11-34)
  • Wheels: Giant S-X2 Disc wheelset
  • Tyres: Giant CrossCut AT 2, 700x38c, tubelessG

Devote 2 – £1049

  • Frame: ALUXX Grade Aluminum
  • Fork: full composite, OverDrive steerer, disc
  • Handlebar: Giant Contact XR Ergo-Control, 31.8
  • Stem: Giant Sport
  • Seatpost: Giant D-Fuse, alloy
  • Saddle: Liv Approach
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX RX-400 (Tektro MD-C550 brakes)
  • Crankset: FSA Vero Pro, 32/48 (11-34 cassette)
  • Wheels: Giant S-X2 Disc wheelset
  • Tyres: Giant CrossCut AT 2, 700x38c, tubelessG