Q&A: Liv engineer Sophia Shih on designing the new Langma

Cycling Weekly speaks to Liv's bike engineer, Sophia Shih, about designing the new Liv Langma

Liv langma
(Image credit: Michiel Maas for Liv)

With the brand new Liv Langma launched this week, we spoke to the brand's engineer Sophia Shih about her work, and the new road platform.

Can you describe your role at Liv?

I'm an engineer in charge of female cycling science and bike designs, including bike structure, specific parts and components, and geometric designs.

What attracted you to this career path?

After I earned a Master’s Degree in mechanical engineering, I looked for an environmentally friendly career. At that time, Giant Group was looking for a female engineer for Liv. I had a really good impression of the company, so I delivered my resume to the R&D department.  

Working in the bicycle industry is fulfilling for me. I love seeing people's passion for cycling, working with colleagues from around the world and realizing their visions, and working at a company that supports gender equality. At Giant Group, men and women have the same opportunity for promotion. That means I have the same resources as men and Liv has the same resources as Giant. It's amazing to work for a brand like Liv that is specifically dedicated to women.

There is an Arabic movie called Wadjda; a little girl dreams of riding a bicycle and wants to enjoy the breeze on her face. The movie scenes linger in my mind; I feel I am empowering women. This job makes me feel special.

sophia shih liv

(Image credit: Liv)

What design/design element are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of designing for the ideal riding position across all our different bike models. 

It's an invisible result but riders will feel the intention. I have seen many comments about Liv bikes, everything from a Liv rider saying she feels like the bike is tailored for her to, the bike fits ‘like a glove.’ I'm proud of this achievement. And we don’t count on luck. We have made a lot of effort to develop female riding geometry designs for every model and every size. It’s really a simple result, but a complex process.

What's your personal favourite bike?

Langma! The name is so beautiful and the bike is terrific.

It's been amazing to see Marianne Vos race on Langma and win! And the Langma was also the pioneer that achieved an aero advantage in the traditional race bike category. I like the way the Langma’s features are subtle, elegant, and meaningful.

What excites you most about the new Langma?

The first-generation Langma is athlete tested and race proven at the WorldTour level with 46 first place finishes and six national championships over the past four years. Now, with the Liv Racing WorldTeam aboard the new Langma Advanced SL Disc for the 2021 race season, I’m excited to see the next generation of pro cyclists ride the Langma to even more victories in the years to come.

What were the biggest design struggles for the new Langma?

The first-generation Langma was already a great all-around race bike. So the biggest challenge was figuring out how to make the new Langma even better. We focused on what we’ve learned from pro racers’ feedback over the past four years and made decisions to enhance the aerodynamics while reducing the frameset weight and increasing overall transmission stiffness, as well as update the geometry for wider tire compatibility.

What were your key goals when designing the new Langma?

(1) Race proven performance in all sizes

Every Langma frame size is custom-designed using women’s body dimension data to deliver the ideal geometry for a specific height range and the intended ride experience. Achieving the right geometry translates to better fit, improved handling and less fatigue for the rider. The Langma Disc range is available in XXS-L and each size bike offers uncompromised geometry, design and ride quality from a petite to tall road rider.

(2) Light and responsive

Across the Langma Disc range, we were able to make significant weight reductions and stiffness improvements to the Advanced SL-Grade Composite and Advanced-Grade Composite framesets. The combination of material and construction enhancements, along with the development and selection of key components like the all-new Variant SLR and Variant seatposts, results in a responsive, and overall, faster accelerating bike for climbing and sprinting.

(3) Confident handling

The new fork design and construction improves lateral stiffness for precise handling and responsiveness. Additionally, the all-new carbon Liv Contact SLR handlebar features an aerodynamic design, ergonomic grip and optimized drop and reach that’s customized for women’s measurements.

(4) Efficient ride

The original Langma was designed as an all-around performance race bike that excelled when climbing. The new Langma Disc range is even more aerodynamic, however we maintained and improved the all-around performance characteristics of the first-generation Langma. So it’s fast and light while climbing and smooth and efficient when sprinting on the flats. The new Langma will give riders an improved ride quality with superior climbing efficiency and ultra-responsive acceleration.


How would you like to see bike design change in the future?

The bike industry is really a fun world. I appreciate that all bike brands continue to study and grow technology for cycling. I would like to see wider diversity of choices in order to attract more people into cycling.

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Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.