The Liv Brava SLR is a cyclocross bike with gravel vibes. A smart alloy construction paired with a neat spec and small frame sizes make this a great value option for women just starting out – it's not a full-blown adventure machine, but it'll take you off the beaten track and out into the wilds with ease.
Liv is the female-specific portion of the Giant Bicycles brand, making bikes with geometry and components just for women. The Brava SLR is an entry-level machine, an aluminium gravel/cyclocross bike that's aiming to cover all bases and lure females onto the dirt.
A women's do it all bike: a discussion
Whilst I don't think that women need totally different bikes, I do think that we, as individuals (that's men and women) all suit slightly different sizes, geometries and components too. The Liv Brava SLR offers a very useful thing: a fit that can suit smaller riders better than the typical male or unisex offerings.
The size XS has a 51.5cm top tube alongside a 44.5cm seat tube, though we tested a small.
Sizing aside, the Brava SLR sits between cyclocross racer and gravel grinder: the former being more racey with an aggressive riding position, and the latter sitting you taller and more relaxed. Sitting on the fence in this way makes the Brava relatively efficient both on and off-road, though it does lose a little of the long-distance comfort of a more relaxed gravel bike.
The Brava gets a 71° head angle and a steep 74° effective seat tube angle, which sits the rider forward for an efficient pedalling position. The result is nippy around the turns and quick to change direction.
The 170mm cranks and the 380mm wide bars suit the size Small Brava, but with this bike only coming in XS to medium, anyone over 5'11 is out of luck.
The Brava SLR's frame is a highlight. It's smart, not overtly girly and gives a good ride quality. The build comes in at 9.1kg (20lbs) so it's not heavy either, and compares well to competitors such as the Kinesis G2.
There are rear rack mounts and bottle bosses but, if you're thinking of using this for adventuring, note there are no mudguard eyelets, and no mounts on the fork.
The composite D-Fuse seat tube accepts D-shaped posts designed to flex and reduce vibrations – seemingly with reasonable success – but it does mean you can't fit a dropper post in there.
The fork is carbon and uses sister company Giant's 31.8mm OverDrive2 steerer for increased stiffness over the near-universal 28.6mm steerer. Interestingly, Giant has stopped using that on this year's Revolt gravel bike...
The Brava features internal cable routing, a threaded bottom bracket, a chain guide, and tool-free thru axles front and rear.
The Brava has some solid components. The groupset is SRAM with a single-ring Apex drivetrain and Apex hydraulic brakes, both of which work extremely well (although the brakes can get a little hot, squeal and fade slightly on long descents).
The largest cog at the rear is enough to winch up most climbs and the mountain biker in me likes the simplicity of a single chainring. Off road, there are plenty of gears to play with across the 40T chainring and 11T SRAM PG1130 cassette, but on the road you spin out earlier than with a 2x set up.
Components such as the wheels, hubs, bars, stem, grip tape and saddle are all own-brand, and the integrated clamp makes for some lovely clean lines to the frame, which I really like.
At £1800 the Brava is decent value, though for the same price you can get a carbon-framed Revolt Advanced 3 with a Shimano 2x drivetrain. The Kinesis G2 is cheaper at £1,500 with similar kit to the Brava.
The tubeless-ready Maxxis All Terrane 700 x 33c tyres dig in well on soft ground, but at 33c they're skinny for a chattery, bumpy ride. Happily there's plenty of space for wider tyres, and the rims are rated up to 40c. I'd keep the All Terrane's though for when it's super muddy, or for that cyclocross race you've got your heart set on.....
Ride quality is good. The Brava feels smooth on rough tarmac, whilst also being a comfy place to churn out miles off road. It might not have the compliance of a steel or titanium bike, but on the flip side it's an agile and responsive machine. It feels direct and composed under pedal pressure on and off-road.
I found the Brava slightly more twitchy downhill than other gravel bikes I've been riding lately – it's more the responsive racer ready to turn on the speed than a relaxed graveller taking everything in its stride.
On the road that translates to a zippy machine which, with some faster-rolling tyres, could make a good fist of keeping up with road bikes.
The Brava isn't quite a do it all machine. The lack of mounts will put off the avid graveller, as loading it with kit and mudguards will need careful planning. But it is a nicely proportioned bike that will suit many smaller riders.
At £1800 for the great quality frame and decent spec list, this is a good value gravel bike for those who want to bang out gravel miles, an efficient commute and a smooth road ride.
You might also like: