Liv Langma 2018
A review by Lisa Hilleren of BFF Bikes Racing
For as long as I’ve been choosing my bicycles, I’ve been buying cross bikes. When the road bug bit me early this season, I decided it was time to finally invest in a proper road bike. As a smaller woman, it can be difficult to find a frame that will work for me, so Liv’s commitment to stocking the smaller end of things drew me in. When I started looking to buy in May, I test rode a couple of frames to figure out where I wanted to go. While I really liked the race specific design of the Envie, I was worried that it wouldn’t be comfortable on long rides, one of my longest held cycling joys. I also rode an Avail 2. While I found the Avail extremely comfortable, it just didn’t have the take off and oomph I was looking for to lead me to criterium glory. After having found someone with an extra small Envie and being impressed with its snappiness in response during my test ride, I was pretty sure that it was the bike for me. I hit a small snag when I made my decision: the Envie was already mostly out of stock in my size. I knew new models would be coming out in August-September, and having already had a lot of success racing my cross bike with road tires, I decided to wait for 2018 models rather than try to find and ship a bike that did come in my size. This was definitely the best choice I could have made.
When Liv announced its new frame line mid-summer, I got excited. I wasn’t sure what exactly was coming but it looked great. When the frame specs finally went up, I got out my handy bike geometry comparison metric and started seriously evaluating the merits. After some number crunching and existential agonizing, I ultimately decided to go with a Langma over an Envie. Having put around 600 miles on my brand new Langma Advanced 2 in the less than a month that I’ve owned it has me convinced that I made the right choice.
The Langma vs Aero Race and Endurance Bikes
The Langma is truly an all arounder. For the most part the handling feels just like any other cross or endurance oriented bicycle of this level, shifting and braking are crisp and responsive, the ride is smooth and stable, but unlike most cross and endurance bicycles, the second you really apply any kind of power to the pedals, the response is instant. The stiffness of the frame makes the bike feel like it’s taking off. It has a very similar feel to the near instantaneous start of the Envie, but feels more controlled. Sprinting off is a choice you make on the Langma, not an ambient state of being. The cornering between the Langma and Envie is virtually identical. The bike seems to float through turns with perfect balance and stability. Cornering on the Avail could feel like steering a boat, and railing a corner on my cross bike with road tires always felt a little like toeing the line of where the bolts would start to rattle loose leaving me comically riding a saddle mid-air. For crit racing, confident cornering is key and I can tell that the Langma will serve me well. I’ve gotten to take the Langma out for multiple long rides, including a couple of centuries, and its comfort ranks up there with a steel cross frame, minus about 10 pounds of weight, which truly does add up over that kind of distance. One of my biggest concerns after test riding the Envie was how well it would hold up if I tried to take it on a 75+ mile ride. It was certainly responsive and easy to power, but it felt a little bouncy. The Langma holds smooth and steady, ready to go when you are.
Climbing with Langma
Liv has marketed the Langma as a climber’s bike. While I would absolutely say that I’m #NotAClimber, this sprinter can confirm that the Langma certainly makes climbing a little easier. The Langma has thus far helped me avoid the sluggish feel that can set in as the grade gets steeper. It recently helped me climb to a QOM on a 6-10% grade hill in the Northwest Suburbs. I definitely couldn’t have done that on any other bike I own. While nothing short of a lot of practice can truly make me great at climbing, the Langma seems to be actively working with me, rather than sitting it out or specifically not helping.
Who Should Buy Langma (TL;DR Review)
The Langma is truly an all around race bike. Its normal, smooth handling makes it comfortable and easy to ride for long distances and spirited group riding; however, unlike many endurance oriented bicycles, the Langma is ready to give you the extra oomph you need to set a new PR on that Strava segment or attack off the front in a race. Its stability in tight, speedy corners makes it at home in any crit and welcome on rural roads. Its stiff carbon frame absorbs road chatter and transfers power efficiently. While someone who is looking for a time trial specific bicycle could certainly be better served by a truly aero race bike, the Langma adopts aero elements where feasible to make a truly speedy bike that is just as at home on a 15 mph coffee ride as a 30 mph sprint for the win. The Langma clearly wants to grow with you, will you let it?