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Liv’s newest model, the Langma, made its debut last July at women’s pro cycling’s biggest race, the 10-day Giro Donne in Italy. With plenty of uphill, it was the perfect launching pad for a featherweight race machine that bridges the gap between the company’s Envie aero bike and the more endurance-oriented Avail. Ella editor Anne-Marije Rook took delivery of a Langma Advanced Pro Disc, and promptly put it through its paces.
“This? This?” my 18-month-old nephew coos as he strokes the top tube of a brand new Liv Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc.
From the moment I pulled up at his house, his eyes had been transfixed on the bike. And I can see why. The metallic red colour is an absolute head-turner, just like the rest of the colour schemes in Liv’s new Langma line.
Filling the gap between the endurance-oriented Avail and the Envie aero race bike, the Langma is Liv’s long-awaited all-rounder with an aim to give riders an edge whenever the roads turn up.
The Langma made its debut last July at women’s pro cycling’s biggest race, the 10-day Giro Donne in Italy. With plenty of uphill, it was the perfect stage for a featherweight race machine, which the women of Team Sunweb rode to a stage win.
At the time, I had the opportunity to test ride a special, top-end edition of the Langma Advanced SL, but it left me wanting a closer, more in-depth look. And so Liv sent over a retail version I hadn’t yet seen: the disc brake-equipped Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc.
I took the bike over to Idaho, where the winter weather was a bit more forgiving than the Pacific Northwest, and also more suitable for riding up and down some hills. And what I found was that the Langma is far more than just a pretty colour.
Introducing Liv’s newest member
Named after the tallest peak on earth — Mount Everest, or “Qomolangma” in Tibetan — the Langma is clearly marketed as a climber’s bike, which is the one model that was noticeably missing from the Liv lineup.
When Giant launched its sister brand, Liv, in 2012, the Envie aero bike was the only option for women looking for a high-end, race-capable bike.
At the time, some of the best female cyclists, like Marianne Vos, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, and Anna van der Breggen, did ride to victory aboard this Envie, but when the Rio Olympics and its demanding, hilly race course neared, riders found the aero bike to be limiting.
Ultimately, Liv-sponsored riders ended up riding a re-branded Giant TCR instead.
This simply wouldn’t do.
And so with the help of riders like Coryn Rivera and Lucinda Brand, Liv went back to the drawing board to address this missing link in the line.
Geometry and weight was at the forefront in creating the Langma, which at just 6.05kg (13.34lb) for a small, top-of-the-line Langma Advanced Pro SL model, is the lightest bike Liv or Giant has ever made.
| Related: Team Sunweb premiers featherweight new bike
And while it serves the same niche as the TCR does for Giant, the Langma is certainly not a feminised version of Giant’s flagship road bike. With a completely new geometry, it stands on its own.
The bike at a glance
It took a few years, but with the Langma, Liv is hoping to fill the gap and offer “a complete bike” – one with the agility and responsiveness to contest a sprint while still being light and comfortable enough to climb and go the distance.
Sure enough, one look at the geometry chart and you’ll see just how different the Langma frame is in comparison to its sister, the Envie.
The Envie sports an aggressive yet more stretched-out riding position, and a frame with wide, drag-reducing tubing.
In contrast, the Langma has a noticeably compact frame with remarkably small front and rear triangles and thin tubing throughout. Just look at the difference in standover height alone: the Langma frame’s standover height is a full 6cm shorter; the seat tube is 5cm shorter.
While most of the tubing seem to have undergone a slimming process, some aerodynamic and power-transfer features did carry over from previous models.
For example, the aerodynamic down tube is tapered in profile, widening as it leads into the “Powercore” bottom bracket. This massively oversized bottom bracket and chainstay area is also a key feature on the Liv Envie and Giant TCR, and aids in the frame’s stiffness and power transfer.
Likewise, the front of the bike features Giant’s OverDrive2 oversized headset bearings (1 1/4-inch top and 1 1/2-inch bottom bearings) for responsive steering.
To accommodate the disc brakes, the Langma Advanced Pro Disc does sport a slightly different design and lay-up than its rim-brake siblings, with changes made to the chainstay and fork to better balance out the braking forces.
And unlike the top-of-the-range rim-brake equipped models, the Langma Advanced Pro Disc does not feature an integrated seat post nor Giant’s signature oversized carbon fibre stem.
It’s also important to note that the bike reviewed here is a mid-range model with slightly lower-grade materials and components than the top-of the-line Langma Advanced Pro SL. Add in the disc brakes and you get a package that is significantly heavier than the featherweight range topper. But at 7.6kg (16.76lb), this consumer-friendly model is still remarkably light for a disc-brake bike.
In my opinion, the extra kilo is a fair compromise for the added stopping power, and the significant money savings.
Whereas the model reviewed here, the Langma Advanced Pro Disc, retails for US$3,315 (AU$4,699), its rim-brake version, the Langma Advanced Pro will cost you an extra US$1,200, and the top-of-the-line Langma Advanced SL retails for a tough-to-justify US$10,000 (AU$10,999).
I rode and raced the Liv Envie Advanced 0 for several years, and quickly found that comparing the Envie with the Langma, is like comparing apples to oranges. They are two completely different breeds, and I can see why Team Sunweb is opting to have both in their quiver.
A fair compromise between an endurance bike and a speed machine, the Langma was playful and reactive without the harshness that often comes with an ultra-stiff aero bike.
Whereas the Envie feels more rigid and faster than the Langma, the latter is definitely more comfortable on longer or hillier rides. As the market is increasingly trending toward more mixed-pavement and adventure riding, comfort is critical.
With clearance for at least 28mm-wide tyres and shipped with tubeless-ready wheels, the Langma Advanced Pro 1 Disc does not limit you to smooth tarmac. I probably rode the demo bike on as many hardpacked dirt roads as I did on asphalt, and I was impressed with how capable the ride was — I barely felt any chatter or bouncing.
To me, disc brakes always slightly blunt the liveliness of a bike yet the Langma was pleasantly responsive when called into action for city-limit sprints or while dancing on the pedals up a climb. While some bikes can feel as though you’re dragging it up the hill with you, the Langma feels like it’s working with you, not against you.
The flat-mount Ultegra hydraulic brakes are outstanding, and certainly inspire confidence while descending. With that said, there’s more to going downhill than the confidence in the bike’s stopping power alone, and I will say that the Envie is a more stable, surer-footed descender. Perhaps it’s the Langma’s tiny frame, or it could simply be my familiarity with Liv’s other models, but I felt myself descending with a little bit more caution than I normally do. I didn’t feel unsafe by any means, but also not my usual daredevil self.
All in all, this is exactly the bike that was missing from the Liv line-up. It’s playful, responsive, and capable of racing. Yet the Langma Advanced Disc 1 truly shines on those long days where the finish is not a white line, but a hard-earned view, and the reward comes in the form of a nice, long descent.
Plus, the bike sports one of the best paint jobs I have yet seen on a Liv bike, which never hurts. Every model in the Langma line has its own vibrant colourway and computer generated graphics. This one is called “metallic ruby red,” and ranges from an almost dark burnt orange to a glistening red depending on the light.