The state of the women’s bike market with Liv
Liv is the women-specific sub-brand of Giant bicycles. I had the pleasure of catching up with Nikki Jan and Cassandrou Chou from Liv based in Taichung City, Taiwan. They were in Aotearoa to better understand our market, meeting dealers and Liv ambassadors around the country.
We started with a passionate explainer from Nikki about why they have the Liv brand. “Women are different to men” she says, “not just fit but even power distribution”. So when you see a Liv bike alongside a Giant, they may look similar but will actually ride quite differently. I know this is true as ElectricMeg has self-selected Liv bikes for that “Goldilocks” feel and fit. She went on to explain that most bike companies design and build for a wide profile of potential riders hoping to capture most riders’ needs, whereas Giant and Liv are each targeting a narrower range of riders, so you are more likely to get what you need whether female (Liv) or male (Giant). For example, the riders in the group below included high performance athletes, sport level racers and recreational riders, a bike shop owner, a professional bicycle mechanic and a cycle safety educator. All of their feedback is important to Liv.
More passion for women’s cycling came through when she told me about the advocacy role they play in the industry. While most of the main brands have dropped their female brands or just do “pink and shrink” efforts, Liv is working alongside industry partners like Shimano and SRAM to get the best for women. They want to see more people riding bikes having fun, and making bikes that suit women just makes sense.
This also extends to the retail experience, where women looking to buy bikes have different needs and expectations to men. While many brands try, for example offering wider saddles, Liv has a whole range. They also work with dealers to ensure that women’s retail needs are met (though she confessed that this was the hardest part to achieve, being still a small part of the overall industry).
When I asked specifically about ebikes in their product future, eyes lit up! As a means to get women cycling, it is transformational. Nikki related her own experience as a road and tri-cyclist. Getting on an eMTB in Rotorua was a game changer – it allowed her to have a heap of fun doing something she otherwise may not attempt. And well, she is an athlete-level cyclist so the impact on the average woman is even more profound. Similarly Cassandra is small, so other brands’ bikes just don’t fit. (I did say in my review of the Liv Intrigue E+ that if you are a smaller rider needing an XS sizing then don’t look further, just buy the bike).
The Giant group is seeing the same trends as other manufacturers, in that demand and revenue from ebikes is starting to overtake regular bikes, so from a pure business sense it is a critical part of their product mix.
Thanks to Gayle at Liv NZ and of course Nikki and Cassandra for making this interview possible.