There’s no doubt that, with the Intuition Beta, 13 has designed a great-looking ride. The stylish understated graphic package and neatly coordinated wheels from Xero all combine to make a bike that looks far spendier than its list price – and made it onto the longlist for our sister mag Cycling Plus's 2016 Bike of the Year awards.
Add a predominantly 105 drivetrain, and the aforementioned Xero wheels with their 50mm deep aero carbon fairing over alloy rims, and this is not only a looker, it's loaded with value for money too.
Aero stylings, comfort considerations
The frame is aero-optimised, especially in relation to its fixtures and fittings. That means up front the slender-bladed fork features a TRP side-pull direct-mount T822 aero brake on the rear side of the crown. All the cable routing is internal to cut down on aero-noise, and the rear brake is mounted on the chainstays. Again it's a TRP, this time the centre-pull T820.
Cabling is tidily routed internally
It’s not all about aero styling though. Take the dropped rear seatstays (a la BMC), which are slender and blend into a single spar just where you’d expect to find the rear brake. This short, tight triangle leaves plenty of seat tube, and the standard 27.2mm seatpost (in favour of a dedicated aero mast) means the back end of the Beta offers plenty of compliance over poor surfaces. That 13 has topped this off with the legendary comfort of a Fizik Aliante saddle only further enhances the smooth feel of the back end.
Up front the slender tapering aero-bladed fork meets an oversized head tube that blends into a triangulated down tube. Narrowing rearwards, rather than the usual semi-teardrop Kamm-tail design favoured by competitors, it counters any lateral stiffness issues suffered by some aero designs. The feel through the cranks is one of solidity.
TRP brakes are tucked away in aero-friendly positions
The feel through the bars, however, can’t match the smoothness of the rear end, with a fair amount of buzz from poor surfaces transmitting into your hands. We think some of that would be cured with an upgrade to some quality 25c tyres over the rather slim stock 23c Rubinos.
As mentioned above, the 13 RS wheels are made by respected Taiwanese wheel brand Xero; we’ve been impressed with its offerings in the past. They feature a 50mm-deep carbon aero section bonded to an alloy rim (as the aero section is a shroud, it means the nipples are internal so tyre removal is necessary should you need to true them).
The rim used though is a standard 17c, narrower than the top contemporary aero wheels. While the rim profile is nicely blunted, they can’t match the latest designs when crosswinds pick up. They’re by no means the worst we’ve tried, but you do definitely get some steering influence when conditions are blustery.
Despite our slight niggles over road buzz, the 13-branded bar and stem make a nice combo. The bar has a nicely ovalised semi-aero top shape and 13 has chosen to use a sensibly long stem (110mm on our 58cm/XL test bike).
It’s a good match to the race-focused geometry: 73.5 degrees for the head tube, the same for the seat tube and a wheelbase that’s bang on the 1m mark. The long low position certainly makes the Beta fast in a straight line, and the sharpness of the steering means its no slouch when the road starts to twist and turn too.
Climbing on the Beta favoured an out-of-the-saddle approach. The sharp handling and well-chosen gearing meant the Beta felt pretty nimble when attacking on the slopes, sitting in on longer drags we got the best out of the beta by shifting up onto the nose to shorten our position to concentrate on powering down on the cranks.
The 25.2mm seatpost helps deliver more than adequate levels of compliance
On the descents the TRP brakes temper the swift handling. Stopping is consistently powerful, though they do lack the feel of Shimano 105 dual-pivots, especially the direct-mount versions (as found on the similarly priced and similarly aero Fuji Transonic). With a shorter throw to the lever its not as easy to 'feed in' braking, though we adapted pretty quickly and in a rain-soaked test ride never felt that things were lacking. Under hard sprints we could induce a little brake rub at the rear wheel, where the brake's mounted under the stays. That, we think, is from wheel flex rather than any movement in the otherwise rock-solid chassis.
In all the Beta is an impressive, value-packed machine. The ride is exciting and quick and, aside from a few niggles (the narrow tyres and the braking feel taking some time to adapt to) we’d recommend it if you're looking for a fast machine that’ll still accommodate long-distance endurance riders.