A female point of view: A Q&A with Bonnie Tu, the grandmother of the women’s cycling industry

by Jen Agen


 

Our Movers and Shakers series features Q&As with women trail blazers in the sport and industry of cycling. These are women who often go unnoticed but make the world of (women’s) cycling go round.

The women we write about in this series include team owners, key industry players, race organisers, cycling advocates, journalists, inventors, designers, business owners and the professional athletes that often play a huge role in advancing their sport. Is there someone you want to hear form? We happily accept your nominations for Movers and Shakers in the comment sections of these articles.

 


Women shouldn’t share men’s underwear

– Bonnie Tu, Liv creator, Chief Financial Officer  and industry godmother

Out of wonder and necessity arises ambition. When Bonnie Tu – the creator of Giant’s standalone women’s brand, Liv – saw a need for women’s specific gear and apparel, she rose to the challenge, creating not only an understanding of women’s needs but a profitable market as well.

Today, Tu is known as the ‘grandmother’ of the women’s cycling market, leading a brand that continuously tops the charts in women’s product sales and has successfully inspired thousands of women to get pedaling with clever marketing  like the empowering “Actually, I can” and “Liv Beyond” campaigns, and a horde of influential ambassadors worldwide.

From frame geometry to chamois, Liv firmly believes in women’s specific design and a ‘for women, by women’ approach. Liv argues that female-specific design ensure the rider is more comfortable and more efficient. As such, all Liv bikes are designed from the ground up using global body dimension data and feedback from pro athletes and ambassadors. The team of engineers, product designers, and retail specialists are all female as well.

“It’s female FIRST!” Tu told Ella CyclingTips.  “Liv doesn’t depend on the male [market], but organically grows for female specific needs.”

“When it comes to female consumers, you have to think about how to let her feel confident, proud, and comfortable when it comes to cycling shopping no matter bike or gear. Most of the time in many places, women aren’t aware of the options of female specific offerings. Liv, a single standalone brand, is to remind us to think from the female point of view.”

And while the gender- versus size-specific design is a hotly debated topic, it seems to be working for Liv, as they’re enjoying a tremendous popularity among women the word over and across disciplines.

In Taiwan for example, women are drawn to the Thrive city bike, while Canada’s number one choice of bike is the mountain bike, and  in Dubai, women’s top selling bike is the Avail road bike. And on the pro road scene, multi-world champion Marianne Vos was notably linked with Liv (and Giant) for five years, and now Team Sunweb’s Coryn Rivera, Ellen van Dijk and Lucinda Brand are enjoying a highly successful spring season atop the LIV Envie.

Tu and the Liv ideology are laying the groundwork in how to sell cycling to women not only in terms of making quality product but also in growing and enrich the global women’s cycling community.  The end goal?

“One day we hope to see cycling as a kind of women’s mainstream sport,” Tu said.

Rapid fire Q &A with Bonnie Tue

Jen Agan for Ella CyclingTips: What makes the LIV ideology and formula stand out from current competitors?

Bonnie Tu: “Women accounts for 50% of the population and the equality should be brought to cycling as many other industries are trying too. Liv doesn’t depend on male but organically grows for female specific needs.”

Ella: What has been the biggest challenge (thus far) in leading Liv?

Tu: “Answering chicken & eggs questions that shouldn’t even exist if you think women deserve different than men. Ie: women shouldn’t share men’s underwear.”

Ella: What are the building blocks and fundamentals you insist on instilling with LIV?

Tu: “Making cycling appealing and approachable for women. One day we hope to see cycling as a kind of women’s mainstream sport.”

Ella: What does success mean to you?

Tu: “Being Liv’s brand champion, bicycling industry paid same quantity of attention for female consumer. And most of women can enjoy cycling.”

Ella: If you could go back what advice would you give your younger self?

Tu: “Start cycling and golfing as early as possible. Generally do sports, no matter any kind.”

Ella: What is the first thing you do every morning?

Tu: “Weigh myself.”

Ella: What is your most proud moment thus far?

Tu: “Finished Mt. Fuji, it was a fun ride I did back in 2015.”

Ella: Where is one place you have not ridden your bike (yet) that you have always wanted to?

Tu: “Silk Road in China.”

Ella: Do you believe the female cycling industry is moving in a successful direction?

Tu: “Sure, we can see that from statistics as well as from our ambassadors. However, we are still in baby stage compared with other dominating female sports like yoga and running.”

Ella: What, in your opinion, does the world need more of? Less of?

Tu: “We need more bicycles and less cars.”

 
Related: Watch our previous interview with Bonnie:


 

Who would you like to learn about next? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author: Jen Agan is a Chicago native and a long-time member of the cycling industry, most recently as an events coordinator. Her true passion is story telling, and she’s always in search of roads to ride, communities to be discovered and people to meet.

Editors Picks