13 Incline Alpha review

A budget mountain bike that’s only unlucky for its peers

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£500.00 RRP

Our review

Quality frame, fork, cockpit and tyres create a properly controlled and infectiously enjoyable have a go hero at a bargain price
Buy if, You want a classy, fun little hardtail that offers near-unbeatable value
Pros: Well-balanced frame, genuinely decent air-sprung fork and good tyre choice
Cons: Only a handful of inevitable spec compromises
Skip to view product specifications

The Incline, from Halfords house-brand 13, is marginally more expensive than the other budget bikes (the Trek Marlin 6, Specialized Pitch and Saracen Tufftrax) we tested alongside it – which when you’re working with prices this low, gives it an immediate advantage.

Advertisement

Punching above its price point

That said, the Incline’s outstanding performance would put many £700-800 bikes we’ve tested in the shade.

1449578478189-1ck1p4hbr50ru-1000-90-a339c0e
Triple-butted mainframe tubes save weight while maintaining strength:

Triple-butted mainframe tubes save weight while maintaining strength

This isn’t just a question of good value componentry on a generic frame either. The Incline frame uses triple butted (three different wall thicknesses in the same tube) main tubes to tune strength and stiffness without excess weight. The main tubes and rear stays are also curved and tapered to remove sting from rough terrain without diluting power delivery.

Related: 13 Bikes Incline Delta – first look

Smoothed welds and internal gear routing give clean lines and the rear brake uses an easily adjustable post mount. The quick-release collar on the seat clamp also allows generous seat drop for steep descents before the rubber ’13 race number’ badge stops play. The matt grey and blue paint is carried through into colour coded fork, rims, saddle and bar for premium looks too.

1449578478213-2ujjhavnuggb-1000-90-4bc2239
The 720mm bars give reasonable leverage:

The 720mm bars give reasonable leverage

Even if it looked rats, the 13 would shine on the trail though. That’s in no small part down to the fact that the Suntour Raidon fork is in a totally different class to the coil-sprung clangers you’ll find on most bikes this cheap.

Riding on air

The air spring is easily rider weight-adjustable and you get proper damping adjustment so you’re not chasing random rebound all over the trail like a dropped rubber ball. Its 32mm legs mean it steers with impressive accuracy, and the stiffer structure also stops it binding under braking and cornering loads.

Related: Best mountain bikes under £500

The 720mm bars give reasonable leverage for pushing the well-balanced steering hard through aggressive trail sections, and the big-volume 2.25in WTB Trail Boss tyres offer up decent levels of grip when things get damp or dirty. The carefully judged frame compliance, genuinely smooth fork and bigger tyres also give the 13 a really smooth, flowing ride feel.

1449578478217-181kb6q315ky4-1000-90-0e673e0
Out on the trail, the incline alpha offers an impressively smooth and flowing ride:

Out on the trail, the Incline Alpha offers an impressively smooth and flowing ride

Inevitably there are some cost-related compromises getting a frame and fork this good out of the shop door for just shy of £500. While the tyres are a reasonable weight the deep rims are needlessly heavy and it’s a surprise the Incline feels as lively and smooth as it does in the rolling equivalent of steel toe cap boots.

The Clarks EXO brakes need extensive bedding in (repeat braking) to build a reasonable level of power, and the grips are are really hard and unforgiving too.

Advertisement

But if ever a bike proved that digging slightly deeper into your pocket was totally worthwhile it’s the Incline Alpha. 13’s designers have done a brilliant job of prioritising frame, fork and handling quality for a truly outstanding ‘all the bike you really need’ bargain that’s brilliant no-limits fun on the trail.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Incline Alpha
Brand 13 Bikes

Bottom Bracket FSA Square Taper - 68mm Shell
Headset Type Chin Haur - 1-1/8" - Semi-Integrated
Shifters Shimano Altus - 3x9 Trigger
Seatpost 13 MS Alloy
Saddle 13 MS - Steel Rails
Rims 13 MS Alloy Deep Section Double Wall - 32 Hole
Rear Tyre WTB Trail Boss Comp 27.5" x 2.5"
Rear Hub 9mm QR - 32 Hole
Rear Derailleur Shimano Alivio - 9 Speed - Long Cage
Pedals Wellgo Alloy/Steel
Handlebar 13 MS 680mm(S) 720mm(M,L,XL)
Brakes Clarks Exo Hydraulic Disc Brake - 180mm (F) / 160mm Rotor (R)
Grips/Tape 13 MS - Lock-On
Front Tyre WTB Trail Boss Comp 27.5" x 2.5"
Front Hub 9mm QR - 32 Hole
Front Derailleur Shimano Altus - 3 Speed
Frame Material 7005 Triple Butted Alloy with Smooth Welds
Fork 120mm Suntour Raidon suspension fork
Cranks Suntour XCM 42/32/22t - 170mm(S) 175mm(M,L,XL)
Chain KMC Z99
Cassette Shimano HG200 - 9 Speed - 11-34t
Stem 13 MS 70mm(S,M) 90mm(L,XL)