SETUP | Initial set-up followed Fox’s Live Valve tuning guide. At 130 pounds, I was running 145 PSI in the rear and 55 PSI up front.
- Shock – 30% Sag at 16.5mm on the 55mm stroke shock – 145psi with stock volume spacers – Compression 7 clicks from open.
- Fork – 20% Sag at 32mm on the 160mm travel fork – 55psi – Compression fully open.
Set-up also included connecting the control module to an app on my iPhone, where I could select different modes and sensitivities. Although I felt I paid special attention to this area of set-up, after some issues with Live Valve disconnecting during brief trail breaks, it was revealed that I didn’t stand the bike up perfectly straight during initial calibration. This could have led to Live Valve being unable to sense uphill/downhill/in-use/not-in-use and then disconnecting. After recalibration, I experienced less issues on my local trails. Live Valve still struggled at bike parks, as it would lose Bluetooth connection to my iPhone while I rode the chairlift, one lift behind my bike. I didn’t love holding up the group at the top as I whipped out my phone to initiate pairing every time.
With the stock EXO casing Dissector tire doing little to inspire confidence for my riding, I opted to add some considerable weight to the package in the form of a DHR2 with doubledown casing, since the test period was going to involve the rocky, dry trails of Beacon Hill, shale-y Canfield descents, and plenty of bike park trips, known to gobble up tires.
After a few quick test rides in each flip chip position, I ended up in the Low position for the majority of the testing period. This gave the Intrigue LT slacker head tube and seat tube angles and lowered the bottom bracket height. This position gave more stability through a slacker head tube angle and lowered center of gravity. Although adjusting the flip chip position isn’t time consuming, it’s not a feature that I would use often and likely not mid-ride. But I do appreciate that such an expensive bike comes with some optional geometry, which could come in handy if I were to venture outside my typical terrain.
CLIMBING | Weighing in at roughly 32 pounds for the size tested (once running Cush Core in the rear and the addition of a slightly burlier rear tire), the Liv Intrigue LT was a beauty on even the worst uphill slogs. On the first few ascents, I almost felt like I was onboard an ebike. And judging from the looks I was given when seamlessly passing other bikers on the logging roads, I wasn’t the only one thinking that. Popping this bike into Sport or Firm mode allowed Live Valve to limit the valve opening as it sensed my uphill direction, making climbing much more efficient and enjoyable on the Intrigue LT.
It wasn’t just the logging roads though. Living in the northwest, it’s pretty well-known that we lack technical climb trails, but Beacon Hill provides mountain bikers with several bi-directional and cross-country style trails. Not only did the Liv perform well on these, it propelled me to a nice end of season enduro victory on the types of trails that I’ve struggled on. Given that I was racing, Live Valve was put either into the Comfort or Open modes, and yet the bike still transitioned smoothly through each section of the stages. I’d go from hard pedaling on the straightaways to uphill sprints; down a chute to come right back up; and then be picking my way through rocky, jumbled tech while climbing and descending. The Intrigue LT was undeterred by it all and was quick to shift its capabilities to whatever the trail had in store for me. All the lightweight components on the bike and electronic shifting worked well in these scenarios and never once did the bike feel sluggish on uphill tech.
I chose to leave my test bike in the low flip-chip position for the majority of testing and this did lead to plenty of pedal strikes. Since the bike was fairly lightweight, it was easy enough to adjust the position of the bike mid-climb to avoid striking objects and I quickly became the queen of half cranks.
The Liv Sylvia saddle was a blessing. It is certainly owed a significant amount of credit for my enjoyment while climbing on the Intrigue LT. Currently putting one in my shopping cart. A few saddles that I’ve been on haven’t been the right size for me, but they’ve also had a really sleek material that caused my tush to slip around, resulting in fatigue over constantly correcting this. The Sylvia saddle ended up being the perfect size for my body and I didn’t experience any slipping or any numbness down under.
I did notice throughout the testing period that I started to experience consistent grip pain. This could’ve been from any number of things, including being in the low position for the majority of testing; Liv’s Tactal Pro Single Lock-On grips (120mm for size Medium); or the fact that small hands struggle to reach all these controls. This is my shameless plug where I ask bike companies to put their heads together when it comes to cockpit components and their compatibility with people who have smaller grips and shorter fingers. Although I was able to adjust the placement of many of the levers, there wasn’t a combination that allowed my hands and fingers to feel totally comfortable during my rides. But it could’ve been that the grips were a smaller diameter than I’m used to (Liv’s website doesn’t show these specific grips or their diameter) or the climbing position of the low flip-chip that distributed too much pressure into my hands.
DESCENDING | It takes, on average, 66 days for a person to form a new habit, and I’d say that’s right around the time I started to remember to adjust the bike’s suspension mode in the Live Valve app. Although Live Valve made many climbs effortless in the Sport or Firm modes, I suffered through many “wasted” descents, where half my brain was focused on the trail and the other half was wondering why the bike felt so harsh, only to realize a minute in that I forgot to pull out my phone and take it out of Sport mode. After forming a mental checklist to cover all the electronics on this bike, friends would joke about me having to Strava everything at the top of climbs when I’d pull out my phone, but really, I was reluctantly messing around on the Live Valve app.
The Live Valve addition had me honestly scratching my head. While I think that it’s an innovative piece of technology in the mountain biking world, after a full season of riding I was left disenchanted and unconvinced that it was the right fit for Liv’s latest foray into “aggressive” bikes. My experience with Live Valve was that it felt finicky, unreliable, and time-consuming. On the descents, I initially chose Sport mode, as it’s intended to be functional for climbing and descending by balancing comfort with efficiency, but quickly realized it felt much too stiff after being bounced around on the trail. I landed on Comfort, messing around with the sensitivity, and for a while it was fine. It still felt finicky and didn’t give me much confidence to approach technical sections at speed. For most of the test period, I opted for Comfort in a medium setting and Open. I never was able to reach a sweet spot where I felt the fork and shock were working in tandem, rather I was mostly happy with my selected fork settings and felt that nothing I did managed to create a supportive and reactive shock setting. If you’re a rider who enjoys more milder rides and doesn’t feel the need to directly engage with the bike, therefore not expecting its matched output, and rather prefers anything that allows you to set-it and forget-it, then the Intrigue LT Advanced Pro 0’s pairing with Live Valve may be an option for you to consider.
I do have to laugh at myself, though, as I’m clearly SUCH a typical consumer. Live Valve allows a rider to easily adjust their suspension by the push of a button. For those that may be newer to mountain biking, Live Valve gives them a wide array of options to literally just select, ride, test, and find their own sweet spot. And if you’re an XC-style rider looking to experiment with more travel, this bike is an excellent contender. As much as I was unhappy with Live Valve, the Intrigue LT elevated my riding over the course of the season and a lot of that may be due to having smoother climbs, where I expended less energy. I think Live Valve pulls the Intrigue LT back slightly from being truly aggressive, but offers versatility that accommodates a larger range of riders.
Live Valve may not be deserving of all my frustrations though. The biggest complaint that I have was that the bike often felt hung up when encountering larger, more consecutive hits – think chunky rock gardens or ridiculous braking bumps. This could very well have been due to Liv’s Maestro suspension platform, as I struggled with the rear wheel feeling jammed up and not being able to re-set before taking the next hit.
Another spec option that I feel held this bike back was the tire and casing selection. EXO casing and a Dissector tire in the rear don’t reflect an aggressive riding style, and certainly don’t empower a rider to tackle challenging terrain with more speed. And this was put on display at Silver Mountain Bike Park where I promptly flatted. Although this spec choice results in a lightweight package, it’s not consistent with Liv’s messaging of delivering a long travel bike that shreds park, backcountry, and enduro. I upgraded to a Cush Core and DHR2 DD in the rear, and didn’t experience any issues the remainder of the season, albeit adding considerable weight in the process.
The chainstay length was quite a bit longer than my personal bike, and it took a hot minute to adjust. I had less weight on the rear axle when seated, and maintaining traction was difficult at times. I also didn’t want to overcompensate and hang off the back of the bike. Perhaps this bike allowed me to take a hard look at my riding position and make corrections that were necessary anyways. Following this adjustment period, I began to feel extremely comfortable on the Intrigue LT, and was able to double down on my speed and technical descents, likely in part due to a longer chainstay helping me feel more centered and planted. The bottom bracket drop of 35mm in the low flip-chip position (which is where it stayed most of the testing period) also offered more stability, but at the same time may have been a magnet for pedal strikes. I felt firmly planted in the bike and able to properly engage with it, making cornering a breeze.
The Intrigue LT quickly got up to speed on the trail, enabling me to grind and push on my descents. I can’t describe my experience onboard this bike as “lively,” “poppy,” or “playful” necessarily – it felt like it had two missions in mind: efficiently getting up the hill and hauling me right back down it. Without exaggeration, this bike had me smashing PRs every ride, whether it be on the uphill or downhill segments. It performed well with “point and shoot” tactics, covering up plenty of mistakes, and was relatively responsive when given more direction. Many of us are quick to look for the bikes labeled as playful or nimble (which I feel that you’d be hard pressed to find a review these days NOT using these terms), but Liv’s Intrigue LT made itself right at home in the “Dependable” category. Despite all my issues with Live Valve and the rear feeling hung up, I was stoked every time I took it out for a pedal.
FINISH AND VALUE | The Intrigue LT Advanced Pro 0 is an unquestionable looker. Besides a burlier tire and casing combination, there isn’t a whole lot left to upgrade. But there are many riders who haven’t hopped on the Live Valve bandwagon. Live Valve adds another component that could be burdensome to maintain over the years and since Liv doesn’t offer a frame-only option or more than one other model type, you’re kinda stuck with it. For a price tag of $12,500, this just doesn’t do it for me.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Intrigue LT Advanced Pro 0 is a majestic enduro machine, but a couple of questionable spec choices prevent it from reaching its highest performance capabilities. If you’re a rider who is enamored with the idea of electronics on bikes; needs an all-mountain choice, and wants to take the guesswork out of their suspension system, this may be a suitable pick for you. Aside from my personal qualms with electronically controlled suspension systems, the Intrigue LT was an aggressive bike that served as an excellent companion down every trail.
Price: $12,500 (Pro 0)
Weight: 31.9 lbs (Med / As Tested)