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It was 1987 when Giant first unveiled the Cadex, arguably the world’s first carbon fibre road bike to be made on a mass scale. Now some 32 years later, Giant is bringing the Cadex name back, and this time, it’s a brand name dedicated to premium performance components.
According to Giant, the project started in 2016 with the goal to “develop superior cycling components for pro racers.” It’s a project that aims to combine Giant’s materials and in-house production knowledge with an even deeper investment in innovation.
While the Cadex name is “new”, the products being launched have been seen in the wild for many months. CCC Team riders have been rolling on wheels with “#OverAchieve” plastered across them, and we also hinted at the project during the Taipei Cycle Show earlier this year.
Just in time for the 2019 Tour de France, Giant is lifting the white curtain from the Cadex range which includes a number of premium road race wheel options, a saddle, and some performance-focussed tubeless road tyres. From the outside, Cadex appears to be Giant’s budget-is-no-issue answer to Specialized’s S-Works. These first releases will just be the beginning for the returning Cadex name, too.
Cadex Wheel Systems
The biggest news from the Cadex launch is a series of premium race wheels which include options for rim or disc brakes, and tubular or tubeless tyres. It’s a series that will sit above and separate to Giant’s existing SLR WheelSystem offerings, and one that’s more focused on premium aftermarket sales rather than an extension of Giant’s bike lineup.
While every wheel in the range is aerodynamically designed and tested, Giant currently makes no specific claims on how they compare, to, well, anything. Given the intended purpose of these wheels, we’ll just have to assume they’re competitively fast. Giant does, however, point to the use of advanced materials, manufacturing techniques and a systems approach to wheel design that produces impressively low claimed weights.
Both the new Cadex 42 (42mm deep) and 65 (65mm deep) share a number of similar elements, such as low friction hubs which aim to keep bearing tension isolated, custom carbon fibre spokes, and the Giant’s Dynamic Balanced Lacing (DBL). DBL aims to put the spokes under ideal and even tension when ridden, whereas most other wheels on the market are tensioned to be balanced when static and unloaded. Whether it makes a difference in the real-world is certainly up for debate.
All tubeless versions feature a hookless bead design (sizing standard unknown), which Giant claims allows for a “continuous carbon fiber structure”, and sets the tyre up for a better aerodynamic flow. For the Cadex 42, the inner rim width sits at an average 19mm, with the outside measuring at 23mm. While the deeper Cadex 65 expands it to a more progressive 22mm inner width and 26mm external profile.
Whether tubeless or tubular, the rim brake models include a “precision reinforced carbon lay-up [that] offers unparalleled heat dissipation and, combined with CADEX brake pads, superior braking performance in any conditions.” And like most other carbon wheels on the market, you’ll need to use those recommended pads to retain the rather generous warranty (more on this below).
The Cadex 42s are impressively light with the tubular rim brake version quoted at just 1,163g, and the tubeless version at 1,265g. Even the disc brake versions are light, with the tubular at 1,242g and the tubeless at 1,327g. Such low figures do of course come with a price tag to match, with each Cadex 42 wheelset priced at US$3,000 / AU$3,999 (also available as single wheels).
Deeper and certainly more aero, the Cadex 65s retain competitively low weights. The lightest version, for use with tubular tyres and rim brakes, is quoted at 1,367g, while the tubeless version is 1,425g. For the disc brake users, tubular and tubeless versions are 1,444g and 1,501g respectively. And at US$3,200 / AU$4,299, they’re even more expensive than the 42s.
And as seen in race use, Giant has a new four-spoke front wheel and disc rear wheel for use against the clock. The Cadex Aero Race WheelSystem reportedly has class-leading aerodynamics (no data provided), great stiffness, and the same ultra-low-friction hub system.
The Aero Race wheels are available for either tubular or tubeless tyres, with the latter offering a 21mm inner rim width and 27.6mm external profile. They are for rim brake use only, and paired weights start from an impressively low 1,760g for the tubular. Like the other Cadex wheels, they can be bought as singles, priced at US$1,800 / AU$2,399 and US$2,500 / AU$3,499 for the front and rear respectively.
Clearly, Giant isn’t being shy in going after the ultra-premium end of the market with Cadex. Thankfully, there is some assurance in spending so much, with Giant applying a five-year incident replacement policy, on top of its two-year manufacturer’s warranty, to all Cadex products. This entitles the original owner (who registers the product) to a 50% discount on a replacement should any damage occur in that time period.
Cadex Boost saddle
Specialized, PRO, Prologo, Selle Italia, San Marco and more recently, Syncros, all offer stub-nose saddles, and now, Giant does too. The Cadex Boost is an impressive-looking bit of kit, with its two-piece carbon construction intended to move the rails away from the usual contact points. The rails are moved to the sides of the nose, and to the very rear of the shell at the back, in turn, improving saddle compliance and reducing weight.
On top, the saddle features two separate pockets of free-flowing material that are said to “reduce pressure points and distributes pressure across a broader contact area for a firmer, more comfortable ride.” Giant makes some big claims, but the short of it is that the new 138g saddle aims to be stiff for power transfer, compliant for comfort, and with ideal pressure relief.
There is just a single model of the Cadex Boost for now, which offers a 149mm width, 246mm length and 44mm stack height. Expect to pay US$300 / AU$400 for this premium stub-nose offering.
Cadex Race Tubeless tyres
Lucky last is Giant’s continued investment into tubeless tyres as a race product, with the introduction of the Cadex Race Tubeless. Giant has been designing and pushing its own tubeless tyres across its full range of performance road bikes for a number of years now, but the US$100 / AU$120 Cadex Race tubeless is something else again.
These new tyres feature a silica-based rubber compound, a kevlar cut-resistant belt, and a claimed tubular-like ride from a single layer 170TPI casing. And like every other premium race tyre, they’re said to perfectly balance low rolling resistance, traction, and puncture resistance. They will be available in 23, 25 and 28c options, weighing 255, 270 and 325g respectively.
Given these Cadex tyres and wheels, it wouldn’t be surprising if the CCC Team was the first in the WorldTour to move exclusively to tubeless.
Learn more at Cadex Cycling.