Our Early Verdict
A versatile, sprightly and sure-footed gravel bike that can be loaded up with gear and pedalled into the wilderness
- Incredible build with SRAM Force eTap AXS
- Tubeless setup straight from the box
- Supremely comfortable and versatile
- Women-specific geometry based on dimensions data
- Gorgeous finish
- Drop bar flare is a bit too modest
- Stock tyres not ideal for wet conditions
Liv Cycling has just launched its first-ever gravel bike range: the Devote. Significantly, this is the first gravel bike that’s been designed from the ground up specifically for women, based on their unique physiology and power output.
With the cycling calendar pretty much cancelled and travel restrictions in place, there’s no better time to explore your own backyard. ‘Adventure’ riding has become the new normal, and with it, we’re seeing more brands dipping their toes into this booming market.
The model we have in to test - the top-of-the-line Liv Devote Advanced Pro - is specifically kitted out for gravel racing, while other builds in the range lean towards bikepacking. The whole Devote range is intended for all off-road use that befits anyone’s backcountry desires.
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Liv Devote 2021 - Design and aesthetics
The Devote is the result of extensive analysis of female body dimension data, muscular activity and strength patterns, and comes after multiple rounds of testing and prototyping, working with athletes like Kaysee Armstrong (Liv Racing) to shape the final result.
As this is Liv’s first take on a gravel bike, the Devote’s geometry leans towards an all-round all-road experience, with a focus on stability and comfort for endurance racing and bikepacking.
It has a really long wheelbase (1,013mm in XS), a low bottom bracket drop (80mm), relatively long asymmetric chainstays (430mm) and a whopping 76mm trail (73mm in M/L). The head angle is fairly slack at 70.5 degrees (71 in M/L) which helps prevent toe-overlap, while the steep 75-degree seat tube angle (74.5 in M/L) places the rider’s weight in the optimal position to maximise power output from the quads. This is one of the ways the Devote is tuned towards female physiology.
Liv claims to have designed the Devote to be three key things: lightweight, versatile, and sleek. The Advanced Pro model certainly achieves this. With its Advanced-Grade composite carbon layup (specifically tuned for women’s bodies), the complete bike weighs a very respectable 8.36kg in size XS.
Its versatility comes in the form of mounts for racks, mudguards and three bottle cages across all sizes in the range, plus a decent tyre clearance of either 700x45 or 650bx50.
Finally, with its tidy internal routing and beautiful colour palette - the Advanced Pro is finished in a gorgeous metallic blue-purple - it’s very easy on the eyes.
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Liv Devote 2021 - Components and build
The Liv Devote Advanced Pro comes equipped with the SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset, mated with a SRAM Force 12-speed 10-36 cassette and a Force D1 43/30 crankset. This offers a great range of gears, low enough for climbing off-road while loaded up with bikepacking bags, but high enough to maintain a decent pace for endurance racing.
AXS is easy to set up: just charge the batteries, insert them, and press the buttons on the derailleur, front mech, and each shifter to sync everything together. If you’re not used to it, shifting takes some adjustment, but it very quickly becomes second nature. Also, if you have small hands like me, you’ll be pleased to know that the brake levers are fully adjustable with a 2.5mm hex key.
The flat mount hydraulic brakes are smooth and powerful. Despite my test bike being set up American-style (front brake on the left, rear on the right), I was able to quickly adjust and found them to offer effective and subtle control while descending over technical sections of the trail.
The stock wheelset is Giant’s CXR 2 Disc carbon gravel wheels. Their hookless clincher design exerts a lateral force against the rim sidewall, saving precious weight, while the 25mm internal rim width accommodates wider tyres at lower pressures. Astonishingly the pair weighs just 3.18kg with the tyres and cassette.
In this case, the Liv Devote is set up tubeless with 700x40 Maxxis Velocita all-road tyres, which are pretty slick, fast-rolling gravel tyres that add a supple yet sprightly feel to the ride, ideal for long-distance gravel racing. Off-road, they held up reasonably well, though I was riding in bone-dry conditions. I’m not sure how well they’d perform with wet weather or mud, but I would most likely opt for something more all-weather ready, like the WTB Nano or Maxxis Rambler.
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The Devote is kitted out with Giant’s D-Fuse SLR composite carbon seatpost and handlebars. These together provide compliant contact points to smooth out the bumps while offering the stiffness needed to attack a hard climb or get out of the saddle and sprint. The seatpost offers 12mm of flex, damping vibrations and effectively reducing muscle fatigue. I was out of the saddle while rolling over the really bumpy stuff, but technical climbs were noticeably smooth.
The handlebars have a 5-degree backsweep and a modest-flare drop. The shape of the drops, combined with the D-Fuse composite tubing provides some extra push-pull flexibility for added comfort off-road and increased power when sprinting and climbing. I found these especially comfortable when resting on the tops: the ergonomic flat tubing is perfect for all-day riding. My only gripe is that I’d prefer a more pronounced flare for added stability when navigating rocky descents.
With the launch of the Devote we’re seeing some new and considered finishing kit from Liv. The All-Condition bar tape is incredibly grippy and despite the 30-degree heat, I maintained a confident grasp throughout the ride. I can’t yet comment on how it would perform in wet weather, but so far I’m impressed.
The Advanced Pro is also compatible with a 30.9mm dropper post. Liv recommends pairing it with either the Giant Contact SL Switch (maximum travel 75mm XS-M, or 100mm L), or the Rockshox SP-RVB-S-C1 (maximum travel 100mm XS-M, 125mm L).
I will be trying this model with a dropper post, though if you’re looking for a bikepacking rig and aren’t fussed about electronic shifting, opt for the Devote Advanced 1. It comes with the Giant Contact SL Switch dropper post already installed, along with Shimano GRX and Maxxis Rambler 700x45 tyres, making it a more ‘backcountry-bound’ build.
The new Liv Approach saddle features a short and narrow nose with an ergonomic cutout that reminds me of the ever-popular Specialized Power saddle and offers a similar level of support and comfort. With the rail joints positioned towards the front of the saddle, weight on the rear pressure points is eased. After hours in the saddle, I’m happy to report no sore spots or chafing.
Liv Devote 2021 - Ride and handling
Out of the box, the Liv Devote Advanced Pro delivers a smooth yet sprightly ride both on- and off-road. Setting out from home with 40psi in the tyres, it initially felt like an endurance road bike: light to manoeuvre and well-mannered on Bristol’s undulating landscape. From the outset, I could tell that it was supremely comfortable, and was grateful for the slightly slick tread pattern, despite expecting something more knobbly when unpacking it.
The Devote really begins to shine when you take it off-road, and it handles beautifully over a multitude of terrains, including hard-packed and loose gravel, smooth slabs and jagged rock gardens, grass fields and fire roads. At this point I let some air out of the tyres, reducing them to around 30-35psi.
The Devote is a capable and efficient climber, thanks to the Advanced-Grade composite carbon layup that provides evident lateral stiffness. Each turn of the pedals counts, especially when the surface becomes bumpy. Even while loaded with race essentials, the lightweight frame and build keeps the unnecessary grams at bay, while the low gearing lets you sit and spin your way to the top. It’s here that the sturdiness provided by the long trail and wheelbase comes into its own, allowing ample time to choose the best line.
Once you’ve crested the climb, the Devote is sure-footed and rolls quickly over the rough stuff. There’s noticeable vertical compliance built into the frame, seatpost and handlebars, and even without the dropper post, the bike is easily manoeuvrable and agile where it counts most.
While I certainly won’t be spending a lot of time sprinting on this bike, I found it effortlessly accelerated while pumping around my local trails. Once it picks up the pace, the Devote feels vibrant and nimble, navigating tight turns and berms with finesse. Whether you’re out on a jolly in the woods, or tackling a flowy descent to put some distance between yourself and the racers behind you, the Devote is effective at cornering and rolls over most obstacles.
Liv Devote 2021 - Early verdict
While the term ‘confidence-inspiring’ is overused these days, sometimes it’s appropriate. I was taken aback by how much my confidence grew over the course of riding the Devote.
At first, I was cynical about the Velocita tyres, and was fairly reserved when I went off-road. However, I eventually threw the bike at harder and rougher technical sections and found myself coming out of them feeling thrilled and ready to go again. Having said this, I don’t feel confident that they’d hold up in wet conditions.
The Devote is long, sturdy and versatile, which is ideal for multiple days of off-road racing. Even over more technical terrain, it feels stable, and distributes weight evenly throughout the frame. Even without the dropper post, I felt like I was ‘in’ the bike rather than ‘on top’ of it.
If I’m going to gripe about anything, it’s mostly to do with the build rather than the bike itself, and that’s only down to my personal preferences. I would prefer to swap out the tyres with some 45mm Maxxis Ramblers and take it out in the mud. I would also prefer the D-Fuse handlebars that come with the Devote to be a bit more adventure-ready, with a more pronounced flare to provide a wide and stable base for steering off-road.
Otherwise, I cannot fault it. Liv’s debut gravel and adventure bike is a veritable steed to load up and pedal out into the wilderness for a well-needed escape, and I guarantee you’ll come back with a smile.
Logbook: 2021 Liv Devote Advanced Pro
- Temperature: 22-30 degrees
- Weather: Sunny
- Road surface: Dry, mixed terrain (gravel, dirt, grass, trails)
- Route: Tarmac, bridleways, woodlands, rolling topography
- Rides: 3
- Mileage: 227km
Tech spec: 2021 Liv Devote Advanced Pro
- RRP: €5,000 (GBP TBC)
- Frame: Liv Devote Advanced-Grade Composite
- Size: XS
- Weight: 8.36kg
- Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS
- Crankset: SRAM Force D1 DUB, 43/30
- Wheels: Giant CXR 2 Carbon Disc
- Tyres: Maxxis Velocita, 700x40, tubeless
- Brakes: SRAM Force eTap AXS hydraulic
- Bar/stem: Giant Contact SLR XR D-Fuse/Giant Contact
- Seatpost: Giant D-Fuse SLR
- Saddle: Liv Approach
What is a hands on review?
'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.
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