Review: The Featherweight Liv Langma Advanced SL0
While Team Sunweb were some of the first women to push this bike to the limits throughout the 2017 edition of the Giro Rosa, a select number of ladies including our women’s specific journalist Gemma Mollenhauer, were able to test the bike in the mountains of Northern Italy.
Specifically designed for the race-focused, mountain goats amongst us, the featherweight Langma Advanced SL0 is the newest edition to the Liv family. Described by Liv Founder, Bonnie Tu as her “favorite daughter”, the Langma features an incredibly lightweight design with aero features, paired with SRAM Red eTap, a Quarq power meter and the tubeless Giant SLR 0 Composite Wheelsystem.
So Light, So Fast
Prior to its maiden voyage, Liv Founder Bonnie Tu issued a word of warning: “Be careful! Be careful because this bike is so light and so fast.”
Designed specifically for “the girl that loves to climb in the mountains and the girl that loves to go fast up and downhill”, according to Product Manager Erin Lamb, the Langma is Liv’s first climbing race bike.
More than two years in the making and named after the tallest peak in the world: Mount Everest, or 'Qomolangma' in Tibetan, the Langma has been developed with climbing efficiency at its forefront without compromising aerodynamics or stiffness.
"With this new model, climbing won't be a problem," said the brand manager for Liv Cycles, Phoebe Tu. "I like climbing. It reflects the reality of life. You gain what you work hard for.”
In 2012 Giant launched its pioneering sister brand, Liv with the release of the Envie, an aerodynamic machine which has consistently rated highly amongst female consumers from that point until today. Athletes such as Marianne Vos, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Anna van der Breggen and Coryn Rivera have all ridden the Envie to victory, however on hilly courses some riders admitted to finding the bike somewhat limiting.
Perfect Climbing Bike?
“We started with Avail; our on road endurance bike... it's really great for those long rides. Then Envie came along; our aero road bike. But what we were missing was a climbing bike - a bike that you would choose in the mountainous stages of races such as the Giro Rosa,” said Lamb.
With climbing a particularly notable feature of the Giro Rosa and the 2017 edition of La Course shifting to the mountains and the Col d'Izoard, among other races throughout the professional peloton, the launch of Langma came just in time for Team Sunweb, who raced the bike to a stage win and podium positions throughout the Giro Rosa.
“The bike is really cool. It is very different from the Envie but not in the sense that it’s crazy better or worse, it’s just different. It’s a lot lighter but still aero and stiff. It makes for a very agile ride, a very quick reacting ride”, team sprinter and pocket rocket Coryn Riveria told Bicycling Australia prior to Stage 2 of the Giro Rosa.
Team Sunweb's Say
When asked if this bike will give her the edge up a climb, Rivera agreed, stating: “Yeah it’ll be able to let me reserve more and not have to work as hard to get over a climb because it’s so light. I’ll hopefully be able to save some energy for the end”.
While the Team Sunweb women were instrumental in test riding the Langma prototypes, the Giro Rosa was to be their first chance to give the bike a workout under race conditions. The women were impressed after the close of Stage 2, which saw Floortje Mackaij in the white Young Riders Jersey.
“The bike was really good and really responsive”, said Riveria, “It was nice to be on a good bike for the climb even though it was a bit hard for me. I sprinted at the end just to test it out and it was good for the sprint.”
Fellow teammate, Molly Weaver echoed Riveria’s enthusiasm, agreeing that the bike was lighter and stiffer than the Avail and noticeably quick to react.
While the test conditions I experienced were low key in comparison, despite a few test sprints and my competitive spirit kicking in mid climb, I agree with Riveria and Weaver’s experiences of the Langma Advanced SL 0.
Noticeably responsive and seemingly able to float up the climbs, the Langma felt comfortable and light. And so it should.The Langma is the lightest bike the brand (including Giant) has ever built with Liv claiming the built weight to be 6.05kg.
The Langma was an eager climber, and seemingly rolled up the climbs pedaled for this review. Climbs such as Passo San Boldo, with its 18 switchbacks or the Via Bosco del Madean, a 10km climb with an average gradient of 8, weren’t easy, but the Langma certainly made the ride comfortable, with each pedal stroke feeling purposeful - possibly due to what Liv describes as the “tuned stiffness” of the frame.
Powercore Bottom Bracket
Sharing the same Powercore bottom bracket with the sprint-focused Envie, the Langma has achieved its feathery weight through narrow tubing and a few key ‘junctions’ specifically at the bottom bracket and top tube.
This, coupled with Liv’s highest grade composite material, an integrated seatpost and some innovative construction techniques make for a ‘weight to conquer hills, aerodynamics to power through flats, and the stiffness for responsive handling’, according to the marketing spiel.
Liv has also used Giant’s Contact SLR Flux stem to increase the aerodynamics of the Langma with the brand claiming the stem reduces drag by 1.75%.
Less Is More When It Comes To Graphics
In following market trends, Liv has opted for minimalist and very tasteful frame graphics with the Langma Advanced SL 0 taking its inspiration from the “sun and the stars”, according to Shih.
While the Langma is the women’s specific TCR equivalent, it’s not just a bike with female-specific touch points, but rather has been designed from the ground up using global anatomical data to create the optimum climbing position for a female.
According to Lamb, “We use our 3F design philosophy (fit, form & function) to design our bikes from the ground up, for women. We do not take our men’s bikes and adjust them to fit them to women”.
While initially taking a little time to become accustomed to, as I ground my way up the climbs featured in the test rides, surprisingly the Liv Contact SLR saddle became more comfortable.
Although this could be the result of the discomfort being transferred to my legs, the saddle gave me little to complain about and even with a brand-new chamois maintained its comfort levels throughout the most of the rides.
The compliance of the frame made for an ache-free couple of days and an almost instantaneous comfort, despite only the saddle and stem height being adjusted to fit my specifications. Despite sometimes slippery conditions, the bike as a whole felt remarkably planted and stable.
While the frame was among the most comfortable I’ve ridden, during the damp conditions of our initial test ride up Passo San Boldo, traction was somewhat elusive so high speed descents were not on the agenda.
Sporting a SRAM Red Quarq powermeter as its crankset, the Langma is certainly well equipped for the racer girl to simply jump on and go.
Known for its consistent reliability, I was impressed with the inclusion of the Quarq and felt it added a real ‘value for money’ feeling compared to other race-ready bikes.
While disc brakes aren’t offered on the Advanced SL 0, flat mount disc brakes with thru-axle wheels do feature on the other models in the Langma line up and interestingly on Tu’s custom made Langma Advanced SL 0 DISC. When asked about this, Tu agreed that discs are the future of bikes, however evidently many dealers and riders aren’t keen on it.
Shih echoed this, but stated that disc options are definitely up for discussion.
For Australia, the Langma range consists of three types including the Langma Advanced SL, the Langma Advanced Pro Disc, Langma Advanced Pro and Langma Advanced and comes in at sizes XS to M.
Although the Langma is undoubtedly for the climbers amongst us, or rather those who need an extra edge up steep climbs or mountainous races, with her aerodynamic features and race-ready set-up, the Langma also meets the needs for rolling-road races and races where a sprint finish may ensue.
Described as responsive, yet sturdy and planted, the performance of the Langma far outweighed expectations. Bonnie Tu was right, climbing really wasn’t a problem with the Langma Advanced SL 0.
Value for money
With her composite carbon frame and seatpost, flux stem and Quarq Powermeter, the Langma is not cheap but represents solid value-for-money in comparison to other top-of-the-line, female-specific race bikes.
While it was disappointing to see no disc-brake on the SL0, the feathery light Langma was impressive on all other fronts and comfortable to ride. The addition of a Quarq Powermeter gives the Langma a high-end, yet value-for-money feel, and the compliance of the frame, coupled with some classy graphics present a sense of luxury not always seen in race-specific bikes.
Liv Langma Specifications
Frame: Advanced SL-Grade Composite
Shifters: SRAM eTap
Front Derailleur: SRAM eTap
Rear Derailleur: SRAM eTap, 11-speed
Crankset: SRAM Red, 34/50 with Quarq Powermeter
Cassette: SRAM Red 22 (11-28)
Bottom Bracket: SRAM GXP
Wheels: Giant SLR 0 Composite, Fr: 16H, Rr: 21H
Tyres: Giant Gavia Race 0 Tubeless
Brakes: SRAM Red
Handlebars: Giant Contact SLR
Stem: Giant Contact SLR Flux
Saddle: Liv Contact SLR (Forward)
Seatpost: Integrated seatpost with TCR ISP Clamp
Extras: RideSense Bluetooth
Weight: 6.05 kg (Size Small)
Distributer: Giant/Liv outlet stores