Gravel Gear

Liv Devote review

Liv's brand new Devote gravel bike series is versatile and capable enough for adventure, comfort, and speed.

Review Rating


Basics

Five build options; women's specific-geometry and carbon tuning; mounts for bottle cages, racks and accessories


Pros

Affordable and diverse build options; lightweight; versatile; sleek design; adventure features

Cons

Not as playful and nimble as I prefer


Size Reviewed

M

Weight

Varies

Price

$5,000

Brand

Liv Cycling


The Liv lineage of bicycles keeps expanding, and finally, a gravel bike series is joining the family. The Devote, Liv’s brand-new contribution to off-road adventuring, is a bike that’s truly up for anything; it’s loaded with details and features that make it capable for all types of riding, from gravel racing to mixed-terrain touring to bikepacking.

Furthermore, as we’ve come to expect from any offering from Liv, the Devote series is designed and built with a woman’s unique stature and musculature in mind. Everything from the geometry to the carbon tuning to the spec list was engineered based on Liv’s global database of women’s body measurements.

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Liv’s exhaustive commitment to making bikes that fit women is by now a given (and a welcome one at that), but what interested me most about the Devote wasn’t so much the fit and finish. Everything from the marketing materials to the adventure-centric features like rack mounts and dropper post compatibility suggests that Liv knows something else about women and bikes: how and where they want to ride.

How might be fully loaded with bike bags and camping gear, and where might be city-owned singletrack in an urban park or 200 miles through the Flint Hills of Kansas — it doesn’t really matter. With its light weight, stable pedaling platform, comfort features, and accessories for bike travel, the Devote is down for whatever.

The Liv Devote Advanced Pro model features SRAM Force eTap AXS and Giant CXR-2 Carbon Disc WheelSystem. Photo: Dan Cavallari | velonews.com

What makes the Devote uniquely Liv

“There are three key things,” says Jen Audia, Liv’s global marketing manager. “One is geometry, based on data we’ve collected worldwide on female bodies. Two is carbon tuning, which is critical when it comes to advanced composite bikes. And three, prototype testing. Data and engineers are critical to our foundation, but we can’t stop there. We need to go beyond, put the bike through the paces.”

One prototype tester who put thousands of test miles on the Devote is professional mountain biker and gravel racer Kaysee Armstrong. As someone who “loves being on the bike for an abnormal amount of time,” the Knoxville, Tennessee-based rider said she was impressed with how versatile the bike was, no matter what terrain she took it on.

“For the past eight months, I’ve spent every weekend trying to find a new route,” Armstrong said. “Gravel rides that turn into singletrack — that great in-between. Or maybe, it’s a new way of biking.”

Whether it’s a new way of biking or the way biking has always been, the bikes designed for this ‘great in-between’ are better than ever. With the Devote, the designers and engineers at Liv have combined lightweight stability, adventure features like mounts and dropper post-compatibility, and a sleek design to create a bike that can go anywhere from a lunch ride to a gravel race to a backcountry bikepacking adventure…and anywhere in-between.

The Devote really wants to go on an adventure. Photo: Courtesy Liv Cycling

The Devote series

I tested the Devote Advanced Pro, which is the most race-oriented of the five bikes in the Devote lineup. It’s at the highest end of the price range ($5,000) and comes stock with with SRAM Force eTap AXS components. The other bikes feature various iterations of Shimano GRX bits, save for the Devote 2 ($1,150) which has a Shimano Sora drivetrain.

The three models in the Advanced lineup feature an advanced-grade composite frame and fork. The lower-priced Devote 1 and 2 have ALUXX-grade aluminum frames with full-composite forks. All of the bikes in the Liv series come with a proprietary Giant wheelset; the Advanced Pro model features CXR 2 carbon wheels, while the weight goes up with the PX2’s on the Advanced 1 and 2 models and the SX2 on the Devote 1 and 2.

To increase comfort on the bike, Liv honed in on a few key places: The D-Fuse flare drop handlebars and the D-Fuse seatpost work in tandem to add compliance at two key contact points, and the Liv Approach saddle has a strategically-placed cut-out design to decrease pressure but offers sufficient support under the sits bones.

As for the adventure features? This is where the Devote really shows what it wants riders to do. Each frame is compatible with fenders and racks, has internal cable routing, and features mounts for three water bottles. The three models in the Advanced line-up are all dropper post compatible; the Advanced 1 actually comes stock with a Giant Contact Switch dropper. In terms of tire clearance, the Devote has space for up to a 700 x 45c  tire or 650b x 50c. The backcountry-focused Advanced 1 comes stock with the beefiest tires of all the models (45c Maxxis Ramblers), while my racier Advanced Pro had slick 40c Maxxis Velocitas.

With five bikes to choose from, all centered around the same foundation of women’s-specific geometry and thoroughly researched and developed touch points (saddle + handlebars), the Devote series really does have something for everyone. Regardless of the spec, each bike in the Devote series can function legitimately as a gravel grinder or an adventure rig.

Am I a Devotee?

The Devote promises a lot — endurance, performance, comfort, speed – and it mostly delivers. It was the perfect choice for my 160-mile two-day tour from Kremmling to Steamboat Springs on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The roads between the rural mountain communities are mostly buff, fine gravel, but with a healthy dose of washboards, sandy sections, and loose rock.

The Devote rode like a workhorse, solid and stable underneath me, wanting only to move forward, even when I wasn’t giving it a ton of power. I had plenty of gears for the ride with a 12 speed 10×36 cassette, but I am still not a believer that two front chainrings are better than one on a gravel bike. Of the five bikes in the Devote series only the Advanced 1 comes stock with 1x gearing; the 11×42 cassette on that model is more my jam.

The Devote really is an endurance bike — the frame and fork lend it great stability, the steering is precise with the OverDrive steerer, and the saddle, bars, and seatpost provide exceptional comfort. For all of those reasons, it’s perfect for long rides, and it can easily handle all of the things — paved roads, dirt roads, singletrack, jeep roads, etc.

Liv Devote
Photo: Liv Cycling

Some of the variations of my go-to gravel rides around Boulder include a few sections of loose, more technical climbing or descending, and I was curious how the Devote would perform on something not as straightforward as a road. I took the bike to Rowena, a two-mile bit of singletrack with a few not-steep rock gardens. The slick tires had me more cautious than usual with my line choice, so I ended up walking a few more sections than normal. I was shocked to get my best time ever. Like I said, the bike feels like a workhorse, and when it’s nose forward, it goes.

Where I lost confidence, however, was on techy, sketchy descents. The slick tires obviously don’t help here, but aside from that, it seems like this is where Liv had to compromise in order to make the Devote such a ‘do anything’ bike. On a fairly steep trail, I found that I wasn’t able to get my body far enough back over the saddle to feel comfortable descending. The bike didn’t feel nimble enough to respond to my quick reactions to dodging tree branches, etc. The Devote’s exceptional stability on the road doesn’t translate to playful handling in less-straightforward circumstances.

But that’s ok. Those circumstances are rare, and I’m probably one of few people who pushes gravel bikes to such silly limits. Someone has to, right?

Had racing been a thing this year, I would have liked to line up on the Devote Advanced Pro. On a straightforward course without a ton of steep climbs or techy descents (I’m thinking SBT GRVL), this bike would shine. I’m not sure how it would do in Utah at the Crusher in the Tushar with it’s punishing up and down and up and down and heinous sandy flat section, but I’d certainly try.

Devote verdict

Liv might have been a little late to the gravel game, but features and ride quality of the Devote make up for the tardy arrival. It has all of the things you’d come to expect from a high-end bike — internal cable routing, excellent build choices, and a lightweight frame — with the options to strap on bags and bottles and make it a legit adventure bike. The Advanced Pro was perfect for my 3-4 hour rides in the Boulder foothills and my credit card tour in the mountains. For more aggressive and technical riding, I’d swap out the tires for something with tread and drop the handlebars for a more aggressive position. Other than that, I’d trust the Devote most anywhere.

Liv has already made its commitment to women’s-specific design and geometry. With the Devote, it’s making an even bolder statement: women are getting out and they’re getting after it.