The lavender-and-brown bike box arrived just over two weeks after I had placed my order with Cycle Express. After three years, I was finally able to gift her her own bike!
Pulled out of the box, the Liv Alight 2 DD Disc was about 70% pre-built. The saddle and seatpost, front wheel, front brake caliper, handlebar, and side-mount kickstand (!) came lashed to the rest of the bike, but not assembled to it; these are simple enough to install. Smaller but more important things like shift cables and hydraulic brake lines were pre-installed, although these would become the subject of more involved final preparation later on.
Like with Hyro, my TCX, Giant/Liv throws in a smaller box of odds and ends with the Alight, combining important items like the front QR skewer and rear derailleur cable housing, with more optional accessories such as reflectors and a dinky bell.
To Cycle Express’ credit, they threw in a bottle cage and a basic but large water bottle for free with the Alight – both Giant-branded items.
Looking at the frame reveals interesting details I didn’t spot in photos. Even at this low price point, Liv saw it fit to offer partial internal cable routing on the Alight, the shift cables and rear brake hose disappearing into the left side of the head tube and reappearing just before the bottom bracket shell. Unlike with Hyro, however, there appear to be no inner guide tubes for the shift cables after they enter the head tube – it’s just a straight shot along the downtube.
From there, they run through the cable guide and continue zip-tied to the chainstays, the rear shift cable containing just a short length of housing before it hooks to the rear derailleur. Again, unlike Hyro, the Alight isn’t meant to accept full-length shift cable housing.
The Alight in XS size has a rather small front triangle, but still has bosses for two bottle cages. A pair of side-exit bottle cages would be a better fit for this bike.
Somewhat evident in Cycle Express’ Facebook photos is the bike’s ability to accept a kickstand. Liv throws one in the box, attaching to the non-drive side dropout directly via two bolts. What isn’t obvious is that the Alight also readily accepts kickstands that mount between the chainstays. If preferred, the LitePro double-leg kickstand will work here just fine.
Lastly, Liv says the Alight frame has clearance to swallow 700C x 40 mm rubber. The bike comes shod with 700C x 38 mm Giant “S-X2” tires on Liv’s GX wheelset. This naming convention is confusing and a little funny as Giant has previously used the S-X2 moniker for the wheelset, but hey, okay I guess. The wheelset is basically a Liv-branded copy of Hyro’s stock wheelset with 19 mm internal rim width, although the hubs have slightly taller flanges, there are 32 spokes instead of 28, and the rims are drilled for a Schrader valve instead of a Presta one. Such fat tires allow more air volume and lower tire pressures – I inflated these to 60 psi front, 70 psi rear.
As advertised, the Alight in “2 DD Disc” form came with a 2×8 drivetrain, combining a Shimano CS-HG31-8 cassette with a Prowheel 46/30T crankset with 170 mm arms attached to a square-taper bottom bracket. A Shimano Altus RD-M310 rear derailleur handles shifting at the rear, while a Shimano Tourney FD-TY710-2-TS3 front derailleur shoves the chain between chainrings. Both mechs are hooked up to Shimano’s own SL-M310 trigger shifters.
Despite its quaint looks, the Altus rear derailleur is perfectly serviceable. Setup and indexing adjustment are as straightforward as a 105 5700 rear mech, with action that’s just as good. On the other hand, the front gearing as a whole isn’t as nice. Adjustment was strange until I learned that setting the low limit properly is 75% of the process. Even then, there is chain rub that I just can’t trim out or silence. The crank is the likely culprit, as shifts to the big ring can be hesitant, and the shift consistency of cranks for square-taper bottom brackets is at the mercy of their friction fitment.
Tektro covers braking duties with their HD-R280 hydraulic brakeset, clamping down on their own 160 mm rotors front and rear. Like my old TRP Spyres, these calipers use the Shimano B01S pad shape, and come supplied with resin brake pads.
This is my first experience with any Flat Mount hardware and frames, as Hyro is a Post Mount bike. As mentioned, the front brake caliper shipped away from its fork, so I had to mount it up. I was surprised at just how short and tiny these brake mounting bolts were, but I guess it makes sense given how they only need to secure the Flat Mount adapter and not the whole caliper.
The Alight had pretty nasty brake rub out of the box, and Flat Mount certainly made the caliper alignment procedure fiddlier compared to Post Mount. Eventually I got both front and rear brakes to a rub-free point.
The stock saddle on the Alight is a standard-length item, about 3 cm longer than the Specialized Power installed on my folding bike Bino. This has a touch more give to its padding, but retains firmness and support past that point – which is promising and shows Liv know effective saddle construction. My wife hasn’t gone on long rides with this bike yet, so the jury’s out on whether this will work for her or not.
Giant’s D-Fuse seatpost appears here in a bid to increase ride comfort even further. The D-shaped profile encourages the seatpost to bend rearward, acting as a cantilever or leaf spring, and this technology works better when more of the seatpost is exposed.
The final item of note is the strange saddle clamp. While a two-bolt design, it doesn’t appear like it allows adjusting saddle angle independently of saddle setback. For all intents and purposes, this is almost identical to Bino’s saddle clamp, where loosening the mechanism lets the saddle move unconstrained.
The 600 mm handlebars are just 20 mm wider than Bino’s, making for a compact, familiar profile. This bike is too small for me to ride comfortably, but I’d guess the larger wheel and shorter steerer tube length would make for a more stable steering feel despite the almost identical handlebar width. That stability is helped by the XS-size-specific 78.2 mm of trail, which is on the high side and bodes well for jaunts on gravel. I did have to loosen the headset a little, as there was too much preload and the steering felt unnecessarily strained out of the box.
Liv finishes the bars with simple slide-on rubber grips, and throws in a pair of cheap plastic flat pedals. It’s a nice cockpit given the price, but there’s lots of scope for improvement as well, especially when things start to wear out with use.
The 2022 Liv Alight 2 DD Disc is not a shabby bike. At first blush, I think it’s a solid package for general getting-around and fitness riding, and my wife is very happy with her Christmas gift.
If she were so inclined, though, there are lots of areas for performance improvement – and the frame is smartly designed to accommodate them. If my experience with Hyro’s stock wheelset is any indication, the (identical) wheelset here is pretty heavy (accounting for 2 kg of the bike’s total weight), and a swap to a lighter pair will unlock some more ability. Personal-fit things aside, I think the other major area for potential performance gains is the crank. Switching to a two-piece crank would greatly improve the front shifting, as doing away with the square-taper bottom bracket will also greatly reduce the inherent variability in chainring position. FSA makes applicable “adventure” crank options that will retain the 46/30T gearing.
That’s all up to her, though. After all, this bike isn’t mine. I’m glad to report that she enjoyed her maiden ride on it – just a short jaunt around our village.