Bike shopping for my wife, part 2: Short-listing the options three years later

The last time I broached this topic on my blog, it was November 2018 and we were just beginning to look around for what kind of bike my wife really wanted.

Obviously, a lot has happened since then. COVID19 became a thing, driving demand for bikes up to record levels, and it put a large strain on the global supply chain, resulting in a potentially frustrating experience if you’re in the hunt for a quality bicycle on a tight budget.

To get around that and to still get her very irregular riding fix, my wife’s been riding my folding bike Bino. As mentioned before, the advantage with many folding bikes is that their telescoping nature makes them automatically inclusive of various shapes and heights of rider, so they’re a neat gateway into the sport. That said, after logging saddle time on him, there are aspects she doesn’t like. After swapping in a Specialized Power saddle, comfort had improved, but the small 20″/406 mm wheel size had her feeling she was not gaining any significant speed, no matter how hard she pedaled. On days when she’d rather train indoors, Bino’s 20″/406 mm wheel size also meant unsatisfactory pressure and a jumpy, uneven resistance on the trainer.

At least now she had a better idea of what she wanted. As my main bike Hyro is a Giant TCX, she wanted a Giant or Liv to match – the latter being Giant’s female-focused sub-brand of bikes and components. She definitely wanted a larger wheel size. To reduce cost and complication, flat handlebars were the way to go instead of having her learn how to ride with drop bars, and I wanted to make sure her bike had disc brakes.

Finally, she had set a budget limit of PhP30,000 – give or take PhP5,000. At this price point, current demand is so high that bikes are frequently out of stock and/or subject to months-long delays.

A 2018 Liv Tempt 2 hardtail mountain bike – the same bike she fancied all those years ago.

We went back to her 2018 pick, the Liv Tempt, now since modernized for 2022. From a cursory glance, there hasn’t been a huge change – both bikes run the 650b wheel size, and even have front derailleurs and two chainrings. And here I thought it was a single-chainring world for mountain bikes these days!

The 2022 Liv Tempt 2. Color aside, not a whole lot of difference!

The similarity extends even to the price. Back then, we found the 2018 “2” model selling for PhP30,000; the equivalent 2022 “2” model isn’t much different and still fits within the budget. Helping its cause are the SR Suntour XCT suspension fork and pretty fat 650b x 2.1″ Maxxis Recon rubber.

LifeCycle’s flagship branch in Greenhills. They are the country’s main distributor of Giant and Liv bikes.

We decided to use the Tempt in the XS size as a basis for her fit, so we visited LifeCycle’s main branch in Greenhills. Even then, there were no Tempts in stock for her to try – not even a display model. The closest they had on hand was the Liv Tempt E+ electric-assist hardtail mountain bike, which is laughably out of budget at four times the price, but is a decent stand-in to test frame sizing and fit.

She fit the XS-sized Tempt E+ well enough, which meant that she’d fit the non-electrified Tempt just fine. Giant/Liv also provide pretty detailed sizing and geometry charts nowadays, and make translating one bike’s fit to another in the same size quite straightforward.

The Tempt was not our only pick. A friend of ours had recently gotten herself a Liv Alight; I thought – why not?

The 2022 Liv Alight 2 DD Disc in eucalyptus.

If the Tempt is Liv’s version of the Giant Talon hardtail, the Alight is sister to the Giant Escape hybrid – a road bike with flat handlebars.

In “2 DD Disc” spec, it shares a few similarities with Hyro. Both bikes run the 700C wheel size, have hardpoints for disc brakes (the Alight uses Flat Mount), and can comfortably swallow 40 mm rubber. The Alight’s taller head tube and front end give a more relaxed riding position, so there it’s more akin to Giant’s Anyroad or Defy. Despite the rigid aluminum fork, the D-Fuse seatpost and voluminous stock 38 mm tires should make the ride quite pleasant. While very nice, the suspension fork on the Tempt will require its own maintenance.

More importantly, the Alight in the XS size isn’t far off from the Tempt’s dimensions, so I am pretty sure the bike will fit my wife’s physique, despite the fundamental geometry differences between a hybrid bike and a hardtail MTB.

For 2022, the Alight 2 DD Disc comes in this shade of green called “eucalyptus.” From ten paces, to me it looks close enough to seafoam green or celeste, a color which Italian bike maker Bianchi swathes most of its bikes in – and incidentally my wife really likes. That might be a bigger deal to her than anything mechanical on a prospective bike, to be honest.

So, which bike won out?

Photo taken from the Cycle Express Facebook page.

We went with the Alight 2 DD Disc.

My wife doesn’t ride trails, so the money for a suspension fork is better spent elsewhere. The 46/30T crank and 8-speed 11-34T cassette make for a more versatile drivetrain than the Tempt’s much shorter gearing, having both high-speed cruising potential and low-geared climbing grunt. The 700C wheel size also lends itself well to riding indoors, which my wife does every now and then. Finally, the Alight frame is versatile enough to accept full-length fenders, front and rear racks, and even a kickstand. Should my wife want to, it can also accommodate a drop-handlebar conversion.

For PhP30,000, what’s on offer is pretty hard to ignore. Even if LifeCycle doesn’t actually carry the Alight for the Philippine market for some reason or other, my experience with Hyro shows that Giant/Liv make great bikes that don’t need a lot of post-purchase attention. What little is needed, I can provide.

Hoping to better my odds of getting her bike sooner, I put in the order and downpayment with Cycle Express, a third-party bicycle importer also based in San Juan. They told me they were expecting a shipment with an Alight 2 DD Disc in her size and color in two weeks, which sounded promising. Now the waiting game begins.


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