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13 Bikes Intuition Gamma review

E13 Intuition Gamma review
15 Apr 2015
Verdict:

Understated style and aerodynamics from Halford’s new in-house brand but is the Intuition Gamma just fashion over function?

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,800

Rubbing shoulders with the respected Boardman brand on the Halfords shop floor, 13 Bikes is a new range of performance-focused road bikes that are sure to become a common sight on the UK’s roads. You may remember that we also reviewed the Intrinsic Alpha a little while ago; here we have the Intuition Gamma, the top of the range model featuring a Shimano Ultegra groupset, a taste for aerodynamics and a pleasingly understated appearance befitting of a ride far above its £1,800 price tag. 

Frame

E13 Intuition Gamma frame

For want of a better word, the Intuition Gamma simply looks badass. At a guess, the designer’s influences comprised a Lamborghini, a B-2 stealth bomber and the Batmobile. The absence of colour and loud branding on a matt black carbon frame screams aerodynamics and speed. Discreet upside-down 13 logos are a nod to racing history, the tradition of pinning the unlucky 13 race number to your jersey upside down to reverse the associated bad luck. The only hints of colour are an unconventional but elegant scheme of white, grey and gold lines out of view under the top tube. Brakes are positioned behind the fork on the front and beneath the chainstays on the rear to minimise air resistance, while internal cable routing completes the frame’s clean look and aerodynamic credentials. The combination of the bike’s aero and minimalist design are befitting of a place in a high-end boutique aside highly priced bespoke custom builds, rather than its true home of a mass-market chain store.

Components

E13 Intuition Gamma ultegra

Consistent with the frame, the Intuition Gamma is fully equipped with performance driven components, but as you’d expect on a bike of this relatively modest price, some compromises have been made. The stem is 120mm long with a negative rise that ensures an aerodynamic riding position when slammed to the headset. The 11-speed Shimano Ultegra groupset performs excellently as expected, however the brakes are not Ultegra and on our test bike we felt they lacked power and bite. The spongy Fizik seat stands out as looking cheap for such an otherwise aggressive bike. Our 6ft 1in rider welcomed the extra length the layback seatpost adds to the 56cm (size large) frame but found the chunky metal branded plate on the back of the seatpost at odds with the bike’s lightweight and aero concept – a sticker would have sufficed. 

Wheels

The first thing that strikes you as take that first roll down the street is the aerodynamic sound emitting from the wheels. The tastefully branded wheels look and sound like an expensive deep-section carbon wheelset. They are in fact typical 24-hole alloy rims with deep-section carbon fairings for some aerodynamic performance. Although not as light as true carbon rims, this mixed material design does offer a better braking surface and more durability.

The ride

E13 Intuition Gamma seatpost

To road test the Intuition Gamma, we set out for a day with Steve Abraham on his attempt to set a new record for a year-long time-trial. For the majority of the 192 miles we covered, we mostly stuck to A-roads, where the bike proved very comfortable. On top of the strong aerodynamics, it feels stiff and light, with little flex round the bottom bracket. On the flat with your head down, the bike feels and sounds like a TT bike, just without the tri-bars. It’s impressive and would be more than capable on any fast-paced club run.

Less can be said for the bike’s performance on country lanes in bad weather; the slick tyres gave us a few slippery moments round greasy corners. Furthermore, the carbon fairings fill with water in the rain and the purr of aero wheels is replaced with the sloshing of a washing machine, and the wheels become heavy. The rims also appeared to suffer from lateral flex. Presumably as a result of spokes loosening off slightly after a few rides, a loud clicking noise could be heard from the rear wheel as the alloy rim flexed and the carbon fairing clicked back into place with each hard turn of the cranks – annoying but hopefully nothing 20 minutes with a spoke key couldn’t fix.

In the Intuition Gamma, 13 Bikes has created a stunner with the looks of a bike three times the cost, but that is however where the comparison with a £5,000 bike ends. Despite boasting credentials such as the Shimano Ultegra groupset and aero design features, the performance of the bike doesn’t live up to its elite appearance. It seems 13 Bikes has pushed to get the Intuition Gamma into the Ultegra category but at the expense of the quality of the seat, wheels and brakes – we think the excellent Shimano 105 would be a more than adequate choice of groupset. Poor brakes and imitation carbon wheels aside, the bike remains excellent value for money, and even if it doesn’t ride like as well as a pro level bike, it sure as hell looks as good.

Spec

13 Bikes Intuition Gamma
Frame Ultra grade carbon, full carbon fork with tapered steerer
Groupset Shimano Ultegra, 11-speed
Brakes TRP T822/T820
Chainset Shimano Ultegra, 53/39
Cassette Shimano Ultegra, 11-25
Bars 13 RS Aero
Stem 13 RS +/- 7
Seatpost 13 RS Alloy
Wheels 13 RS Aero 
Tyres Vittoria Rubino Pro III, 23c
Saddle Fizik Aliante Delta MG
Contact halfords.com

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