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Verdict: 
A fun, nippy entry-level offering, although if the roads near you are poorly maintained then it has less to recommend it
Weight: 
9,800g

The Liv Avail 4 is a decent entry-level road bike, with its aluminium frame and carbon fork delivering a fun and nippy ride. It can be quite harsh over rough surfaces, though, and the Shimano Claris groupset is frustrating at times.

Liv is Giant's women-specific brand, and this is the entry-level model in its Avail range. This tops out at the Avail 1, with an £899 price tag and Shimano 105 groupset, although the Avail Advanced SL will set you back £4,000...

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Liv has taken a belt-and-braces approach to stiffness on this Aluxx grade aluminium frame, from the chunky PowerCore oversized bottom bracket and hefty chainstays, to the 30.9mm oversized seatpost. The result is a nippy and responsive bike – a fun ride if you're on smooth roads.

Giant Liv Avail - bottom bracket.jpg

Unfortunately, on less salubrious blacktop, the lack of flex makes for an at times harsh and buzzy ride, as can be the case with some aluminium frames, and on really rough road surfaces (we're talking properly decayed here) that stiffness transfers vibrations and jolts to you, the rider, to an uncomfortable degree.

Giant Liv Avail - riding 2.jpg

The steering is on the twitchy side – not a problem for me, but not everyone may want or enjoy this level of responsiveness on a beginner's bike.

Many beginners will appreciate the wide-range gearing, though, courtesy of an 8-speed 11-32 cassette and FSA Tempo 50/34 compact chainset. It's a decent enough bike on the climbs anyway, but the low gearing helps to negate any extra weight that comes with cheaper components – and it's not the lightest bike.

Giant Liv Avail - cassette.jpg

Saying that, in my experience Claris can be a bit frustrating – and its performance on the Liv was no exception. The front derailleur could be hard to shift, and had a tendency of getting stuck in either the big or small ring. It may be a case of fine-tuning, but once you move up Shimano's range into Sora territory and beyond, this tends to be less of a problem.

Giant Liv Avail - chainset.jpg

Finish lines

In terms of finish, I like the graphics – as you can see from the photos, white with aqua blue and dark blue highlights, and an attractive star pattern repeated on the down tube and fork, the seatstays and the inside of the chainstays. On the downside the welds are a bit knobbly-looking, and the externally routed cables stick out quite a way from the frame, thanks to the positioning of the cable mount on the head tube rather than the down tube. So long as you don't plan on riding through bramble thickets this shouldn't be too much of a problem...

Giant Liv Avail - headtube.jpg

There are no pannier rack mounts on the frame, so if you're looking for a commuter bike and aren't into cycling with a rucksack, this is something to bear in mind. On the other hand, Giant says the chunky seatpost can handle a collar-mounted rack.

I was in between sizes and opted for the small model, which had some not insignificant toe overlap. This became an issue in tight manoeuvres, or when setting off when the front wheel wasn't entirely straight, so something to bear in mind when choosing your frame size.

Wheels, tyres, brakes…

The Avail 4 uses the same own-brand SR-2 wheels as specified on the Avail 3 and 2 (the Avail 1 has PR-2s), but other components change as you progress through the models: the Avail 3 has Shimano Sora gears, the Avail 2 moves up to Tiagra, and the Avail 1 has the excellent 105. Wheels and tyres performed well on a variety of surfaces, and there were no complaints, grip-wise.

Giant Liv Avail - tyre 2.jpg

In terms of stopping power, the made-for-Giant Tektro brakes offer nothing to complain about. The Avail 4 also has cross-top brakes – secondary levers mounted on the bar top. Love them or hate them, Giant's reasoning is that some women new to road biking feel uncomfortable about riding in the drops, and if this is the case, and it's helping people get into road biking, this can be no bad thing.

Giant Liv Avail - inline brakes.jpg

Another benefit of these levers could be for riders with flexibility issues, or back problems, that means riding with their hands on the hoods is uncomfortable. I didn't use them at all, and found they got in the way when it came to mounting a phone on the bar; I had to resort to mounting it sideways on the stem, which made map reading interesting...

> Check out our guide to the best bikes for £500-£750

The Liv Connect Forward saddle was acceptable. The surface felt a little cheap and plasticky but I had no complaints in terms of comfort, even on longer rides. As always, though, saddles are a matter of personal choice.

Giant Liv Avail - saddle.jpg

I found the shallow-drop Giant Connect handlebar comfortable, too, and I particularly liked the soft finish of the bar tape, which was also well-padded, helping to reduce buzz on rough surfaces.

Giant Liv Avail - shallow handlebars.jpg

Overall, the Avail 4 is a fun, nippy, entry-level bike designed to get you from A to B quickly. However, if the roads near you are poorly maintained, this bike has less to recommend it than models with a bit more flex in the frame.

Verdict

A fun, nippy entry-level offering, although if the roads near you are poorly maintained then it has less to recommend it

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Liv Avail 4

Size tested: Small

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Aluxx grade aluminium frame with carbon fork.

FRAME

Sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L

Colours White

Frame ALUXX-Grade Aluminum

Fork Hybrid Composite, OverDrive Steerer

Shock N/A

COMPONENTS

Handlebar Giant Connect

Stem Giant Sport

Seatpost Giant Sport 30.9mm

Saddle Liv Connect Forward

Pedals Wellgo with clips and straps

DRIVETRAIN

Shifters Shimano Claris 16 speed

Front Derailleur Shimano Claris

Rear Derailleur Shimano Claris

Brakes Tektro TK-R312 Giant Specific, Dual Pivot

Brake Levers Shimano Claris

Cassette SRAM PG850 11x32

Chain KMC Z7

Crankset FSA Tempo 34/50

Bottom Bracket FSA cartridge

WHEELS

Rims Giant S-R2

Hubs Giant Tracker Sport Road

Spokes Stainless Steel

Tyres Giant S-R4, Front and Rear specific, 700x25mm

OTHER

Extras Cross top brake levers

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Giant says: "Built specifically for women riders, the Avail is a versatile performer for all types of road adventures. From short training rides to long days in the saddle, its comfortable endurance positioning and easy handling keep you in control. Other features include an OverDrive steerer tube for precision steering and a PowerCore oversized bottom bracket for maximum pedalling efficiency."

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
6/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Looks-wise the welds are a little knobbly; and the ride can be a bit harsh, but on the other hand it's stiff and responsive.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Aluxx grade aluminium frame with carbon fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Giant's "women's endurance" geometry.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

I ended up on a small as I was between sizes, which was perhaps a little cramped.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

It was comfortable on smooth roads, though the ride tended to be a bit harsh on rougher surfaces.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

A little too stiff.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Yes, it felt efficient.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

Yes, this was a problem when setting off or manoeuvring very tight corners.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Handled well, though the steering was a little on the lively side.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Stiff frame, chunky seatpost made the ride a little harsh; could offer more give.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The oversize bottom bracket and chainstays; could do with being more forgiving.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
7/10

Steering a little twitchy

Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
5/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
4/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

I found the Shimano Claris derailleurs a little temperamental, at times refusing to shift on the front chainrings.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
5/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
6/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
4/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? No

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? No

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your score

It's a fun, responsive bike to ride but loses points in terms of comfort on rough surfaces, and even though it's good value I'd probably suggest spending a bit more for a better groupset.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 0  Height:   Weight:

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for:   I ride:   I would class myself as:

I regularly do the following types of riding:

1 comments

Avatar
mostly [71 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I purchased this for my wife last year at 299, pretty good. At full asking price its a no no. Claris isn't so bad, I suffered it during the winter I wouldn't bother with a upgrade to sora to be honest, tiagra yes. Swap the cassette out and its fine, upgraded the calipers to 105 on the cheap happy days. 

These upgrades are based on my 299 purchase price. Clearly.