13 Intuition Alpha road bike review
Nowadays Halfords stock bike brands ridden by triathlon world champions and Tour de France winners, as well as the budget options they’re renowned for.
Their own-brand 13 range is an attempt to remove any snobbery that might still exist among club cyclists about Halford’s commitment to quality and performance.
On first impressions, the Intuition Alpha is as aesthetically pleasing as any similarly priced ride available. The bike has a racey geometry thanks to full internal cable routing, a narrow head tube and a lightweight carbon frame. The front brakes are also positioned behind the fork to improve airflow.
The front brakes are positioned behind the fork to improve aerodynamics, giving the bike a racey geometry
Interestingly, the spoke opposite the valve is a different colour, presumably to speed up the process of inflation and puncture repairs – we didn’t know whether to feel insulted or grateful, but every little helps…
Comfort and confusion
Once out riding, the thing that stands out is the comfort of the ride. You feel like you could spin out all day on the Intuition Alpha, and the own-brand 13RS saddle, although narrow, is a surprisingly comfortable perch and well-padded at the back.
The jolts that are inevitable when going over a bump with 23c tyres are cancelled out by the well-balanced wheels, and the bike handles well on tight corners and in wet weather. Braking is generally fine, but we’d look to upgrade to some tougher tyres than the budget Vittoria Zaffiro offerings to boost stopping power.
The chainset and bottom bracket are supplied by FSA, combined with a Shimano Tiagra cassette
Where the Intuition really lets itself down, though, is the groupset and low gearing. As the bike is so light, you need some extra oomph on the flats and downhills, and with Shimano Tiagra combined with an FSA 50/34 chainset we found ourselves running out of gears on a slight descent.
So with the light frame and distinct lack of ‘oomph’, it means the bike never really gets going. And racing over a 20km short-course triathlon bike leg we could have really done with a couple more gears at the top end. This leaves the Intuition in a confusing place – it looks like an out-and-out racer, but performs like a climber or sportive bike.
The Intuition Alpha comes with own-brand 13RS handlebars and stem, and the frame is full carbon fibre
The front derailleur shifting is quick and tidy, yet the rear mech shifting wasn’t smooth, even after a good period of breaking in, which is the last thing you want when you’re losing power due to low gearing anyway.
While it might sound harsh to expect too much for a grand, if you shop around you’ll find Dolan’s full carbon l’Étape model with Shimano 105 for £999, while Cannondale’s Super Six Evo with 105 is £100 more at Evans. We’d expect the big boys at Halfords to be matching or surpassing the specs of their competition at this price point, considering their buying power and market share.
Groupset/gearing gripes aside, there are many positives to the 13 Intuition. It’s comfortable, looks the part and climbs well. We’d be happy riding this in a leisurely sportive and it’s great for training – just don’t expect to be tearing past anyone on descents unless you change to a 53/39 set-up.
Verdict: Solid training workhorse and a comfortable ride, but doesn’t inspire much in the way of actual race speed, 74%