LIV LANGMA – A COMFORTABLE WAY TO RIDE FAST
Before telling you about my experience with the Liv Langma Advanced Pro Disc, a bike I really enjoy riding, I should tell you how and what I usually ride. That should give you a better sense of what I want from a road bike and how I evaluated the Liv Langma.
I love to ride fast and challenge myself and others on the bike. For me, that’s a part of what makes cycling fun. Road races and hard group rides have always motivated me. And being one, if not the only, female on many rides, I’m even more inspired to bring my best.
To fuel my fire, I’ve ridden stiff, aero, and responsive road bikes with race geometry and high-performance components for as long as I can remember. The Storck Aerfast and BMC Timemachine, two bikes that fit that profile, are the ones I’ve put most of my last 20,000 road miles on.
While I do plenty of 50 to 100-mile rides, and I like to be comfortable, I have never put comfort ahead of performance or considered riding an endurance bike.
Yet, at a little under 5’ 4”, 120 lbs, and not 28 anymore (kids, a husband, and a business), I’ve been looking for a bike that takes a little less of a toll on my body but still performs at the highest level.
Why can’t I have it all on and off the bike?
Great Comfort, But At A Performance Cost?
The Liv Langma is the first women’s specific bike I’ve ridden in years. I didn’t have much luck with earlier ones and have stayed with bikes that were probably designed by and for men. With Liv being one of the few (or only?) brands still making racing bikes for women, I was open to trying the Langma but had reservations.
Of course, women’s bodies are, for the most part, built differently than men’s. How would today’s performance bike designed for women differ from those I’d tried before or from the men’s bikes I’ve had success with? Or at least, how would the Langma that Liv promotes as a women’s racing bike “for aggressive riders” compare to my Storck, a brand with a reputation for being among the stiffest of all bikes?
To ensure as much performance as possible from the Langma, I got an updated bike fit with an aggressive body position, similar to how I’ve been riding for years.
Thanks to Chris Li at Bikeway Source for the great fit
On my first few rides on the Langma, all of them solo, I immediately noticed that the Langma was very comfortable. It absorbed pavement cracks like they weren’t there. It turned almost effortlessly. It was just plain easy to ride.
Was it the frame or the wheels?
The Advanced Pro Disc model of the Liv Langma I tested comes with 25mm CADEX Road Race tubeless tires on a 36mm deep, Giant SLR 1 carbon wheels. That may be theoretically more comfortable and less aero than the 25mm Continental Grand Prix 500 clinchers on the 45mm deep Zipp Firecrest wheels I’ve been riding, but probably not a noticeable difference.
Instead, moving between my Stork and the Liv Langma, it almost felt like I was switching from a hardtail to a full-suspension mountain bike. That has to be in the frame.
But I must be giving up something for that comfort.
Maybe it was speed. No, my average speed on those solo rides was the same as on my less comfortable bikes. It just felt slower because I didn’t feel as beat up after riding the Langma.
Then, on my first few group rides, I noticed I wasn’t moving in the pack as quickly as usual and wasn’t cornering as fast or tight. Maybe the Langma wasn’t as stiff as I’ve become accustomed to and doesn’t react as fast. Perhaps the geometry wasn’t as aggressive as my other road racing bikes.
Was I giving up responsiveness and handling?
Speed Comes with Confidence
Comparing the bike specs, I saw that the Liv Langma has a more aggressive geometry than the Storck I’d been riding. Its steeper head tube angle and shorter stem length should make it more responsive than the bikes I’d been riding unless its carbon layup isn’t as stiff.
Knowing its geometry, I rode the Langma more aggressively on each next ride without doing anything dangerous. As I did, I felt it respond quickly to whatever I asked, giving me the confidence to go where and how I wanted.
While now just as nimble, I found that the Langma reacted differently than the stiff, less comfortable bikes I’ve ridden before. Instead of the point-and-shoot response of others, the Langma’s carbon seems pliable, bendable, and then snappy. It’s just as responsive and maneuverable but in a less jarring, more forgiving, and more intuitive way.
It reminds me of the curving corner and free kicks I watched British soccer star David Beckham take when I played as a kid. Like the ball coming off Beckham’s foot, the Langma seems to know where you want it to go. And it goes there, even if the space is tight in a paceline or a pothole suddenly appears or I come speeding into a sharp turn.
That responsiveness and the comfort I feel riding over rough roads also give me the confidence to ride the Langma faster downhill than I would on a seemingly stiffer and snappier bike.
Powerful and Pretty
After figuring out how it is different than the men’s bikes that I’m used to riding and how to make it do what I want, I’m proud the Liv Langma is made for me as a female. I feel strong and, dare I say, pretty on this bike.
It rides like a road bike designed for powerful women cyclists rather than a men’s bike with a shorter frame and a women’s bike brand slapped on it.
The Langma I tested combines green, black, and grey colors that come through in different strengths and locations depending on how the light hits the frame. It’s a colorway and effect that sets the bike apart from most.
And it’s not pink. I don’t need pink. It’s a biker chick’s bike, not a girl’s bike. And it’s fun to ride fast. It feels safe, solid, secure.
Most of the guys I ride with have never heard of Liv, even though it’s a sister brand of Giant, both part of the Giant Group, a brand everyone knows. Those that have, know Liv mountain bikes, not road ones. When I first showed up for group road rides on the Langma, most thought I was riding a gravel bike with road tires.
I tell them that Liv road, mountain, gravel, and cross bikes are just for us gals.
The Right Component Specs
I’ve often needed to deal with or replace cockpit and drivetrain components that come on bikes I’ve had in the past because they aren’t suited to female bodies.
Handlebars are often too wide, while crank arms and stems are too long. And the saddles are usually all wrong.
However, the Liv Langma stock components seem to fall in the right size and shape for females. It seems that Liv thought carefully about this for the Langma. And the ones on the size Small model I tested mainly are right.
As you can see in the chart above, bar widths range from 26cm for an XS to 42cm for a Large and 38cm for the Small Langma I tested. Crank arms go from 165mm to 172.5mm with a 170mm on the Small. Stems run from 80mm to 110mm and are 90mm long for the Small.
The saddle on the Langma is significantly shorter than any I’ve ever ridden and mostly works for me. I don’t need a long saddle. My strong quads give me thicker thighs that can rub on the extra length if I wear a bib without enough compression. That’s never an issue with the Langma’s saddle.
I also wish it was a bit narrower under my sit bones. Otherwise, its padding makes it super comfortable.
Performance on All Terrain
While I’ve written about the Langma’s comfort, responsiveness, specs, and how it speaks to me as an aggressive female cyclist, I should tell you more about how it performs.
The 12-speed Shimano Ultegra Di2 ST-R8100 electronic groupset on the Advance Pro Disc model shifts quickly and seamlessly across flats and rollers at varying speeds.
But regardless of whether I’m riding on flats, rollers, or climbs, the Langma feels like a lightweight, peppy bike that I can cruise on at fast speeds, quickly shifting from one terrain to the other without losing momentum or my position.
While the standard Advanced Pro Disc model comes with 52-36T chainrings and an 11-30T cassette, my test bike had a compact 50-34T up front and an 11-34T in the back. The added cog of the 12-speed and added range up to 34T in the back compared to the 11-speed, 11-28 on my own bikes allow me to stay in the big ring going up rollers while smoothly shifting well beyond a ratio that I’d be grinding and cross-chaining before the Langma.
In addition to riding the Langma with the Giant SLR 1 36 Disc wheels that come stock on this bike, I also tested deeper and wider wheels from ENVE, Elitewheels, Hunt, and CADEX to see how the bike would perform with one of those upgraded models.
While the Giant SLR 1 wheels are solid, confident, and roll well in various conditions, they aren’t stiff, responsive, or compliant enough that I’d want to stay with them very long if I were to own this bike.
I especially liked the CADEX AR 35 wheels made by another brand within Giant Group. They are excellent all-around wheels (for road and gravel) that go where I want, hold their speed very well, corner like they are on rails (Pretty Women reference), and ride through rough patches with the same confidence as on a freshly paved road.
Options and Prices
The Liv Langma Advanced comes in several model options. The 2024 model of the bike I tested is called the Langma Advanced Pro Disc 0 Pro Compact sells for US$6,175 with the complete Shimano Ultegra Di2 8100 groupset and Giant SLR 1 36 carbon disc wheels, Giant stem and seatpost with Liv bars and saddle.
Liv also makes the Langma Advanced Pro Disc 1 AR with the same frame as the model I tested but a lower spec version SRAM Rival groupset and SLR 2 36 carbon disc wheels for US$5,100. Its Dark Green/Chrysocolla/Chrome colorway makes for a more robust green color presence and 46/33 crankset with a 10-36 cassette gives you even more gears for climbing.
At almost 2x the price (US$12,000) of my test bike, the Liv Langma Advanced SL Disc has a higher modulus carbon frame, SRAM’s top tier RED eTap AXS electronic groupset, and CADEX’s climbing wheels, the CADEX 36. You can get it in Tiger Red or Chrome.
Liv makes several additional models of the Langma Advanced with tier three SRAM Rival eTap AXS or Shimano 105 Di2 12-speed electronic groupsets or Shimano Ultegra or 105 11-speed mechanical ones in different chainring and cassette combinations best suited for a different terrain range. Selling between US$4,700 to $3,000, they are disc brake and share the same composite frame material as the model I tested.
Special thanks to Giant and Liv dealer Chris Li at Bikeway Source, who gave me an expert fit and can help you find and fit the right Langma or any Giant or Liv bike for you.
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