A new brand from Halfords that promises simplicity and value.
Halfords has a new bike brand called 13, complete with road, cyclo-cross, urban and, of course, mountain bikes. And boy is it taking itself seriously — the website features wind-tunnel testing, moody lighting, and dramatic music to rival a Michael Bay movie.
Halfords is keeping its other premium bike range, Boardman, so 13 is really a reflection of how big this retailer is in terms of bike sales — Halfords has seen a 35 per cent increase in ‘premium customers’ in a year, it says. It’s also about to launch a total of 13 new 13 Bikes stores to cater for the new models, which are also available through click-and-collect at any Halfords.
The Incline Delta has some amazing kit on it. Starting with the drivetrain, it’s great to see 13 dodging the triple chainset trap and embracing the latest SRAM X1 technology. With a 30-tooth chainring and 11-speed on the back, the gearing seems spot-on for trail riding. The crankset is fed into a big PressFit 30BB that lends the bike some stiffness. There’s an integrated, sealed headset too, which goes towards 13’s goal of making the bike low-maintenance.
The bar is wide enough at 720mm but sadly the stem is size-specific, growing to a daft 90mm-long on the large and XL frames. Up front, a RockShox Revelation fork with 130mm travel is a quality choice, far superior to any other bike at this price point — the winning bike from November’s 650b hardtail test, the Whyte 901, could only manage a Sektor fork. The new Avid Guide RS brakes are classy too, with loads of control and power to rein in the speed that fork and excellent WTB Trail Boss tyres should allow.
On my first ride, though, I didn’t feel I could tap into all that promised speed. The riding position feels way too high because the BB is lofty, so while I didn’t clip my pedals, I never felt like pushing it in the corners either. The high front end can probably be fixed by fitting a shorter stem; ask Halfords to change it before leaving the shop.
My guess is that the two lower models in the range (of four bikes; this is the top) might prove much better options — they share the same frame but carry less travel in the fork, meaning a lower front-end and BB. They might even be better value — £1,400 seems like a lot of money when the frame is the same one used for the £500 model.