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Cadex 42 Disc tubeless wheelset review

7 Apr 2020

Well made wheels with lots of high end tech, comparable to better known brands, but with a price tag to match

Cyclist Rating: 
Fast rolling • Quality components • Good sidewind stability

Kitted out with Cadex tubeless tyres, the Cadex 42 wheelset offers a compelling alternative to the leading carbon wheelsets.
The performance brand of Giant, Cadex offers high-end carbon wheels, tyres and saddles, with the Cadex 42 being its mid-section option. It’s available in the disc brake version we’ve tested as well as rim brake.

Giant’s own brand wheels rather fly under the radar, although the company has always had a reputation for quality. But the Cadex brand is a more high profile affair with its wheels, complete with large white logos or the #overachieve tag, run on the bikes of CCC Team and before that Giant-Alpecin.

The road wheel line-up includes the 42mm depth as well as 65mm deep rim and disc brake options. There are also four spoke and disc wheels in tubeless or tubular formats for time-trial and triathlon riders.

So what does Cadex bring to the carbon wheelset party with its 42 Disc? First, it says that its Dynamic Balanced Lacing spoke tech sets the spoke tension so that it’s right for when the wheel is in use, rather than stationary, upping the wheel’s rigidity and efficiency.

Cadex has achieved that by using slightly different lengths for its forward facing and rear facing spokes on the drive side of the rear wheel. At rest, there’s a marked difference in tension between them, but it’s engineered so that this evens up under power.
It’s a system applied in reverse to the rotor side of both rear and front disc brake wheels, to cope with the asymmetric braking forces.

The Cadex 42 wheelset certainly feels responsive under acceleration and when climbing. That’s also probably down to the wheels' light weight: Cadex claims 1327g a pair (1265g for the rim brake option). It uses carbon fibre spokes in its wheels, which it says are around 45% lighter than steel, contributing to that low weight.

The rims have the now-standard U-shaped profile, which leads to greater stability than the V-profile seen in first generation deep section carbon wheels. The rim’s carbon lay-up is designed to reduce material between the spoke holes. It’s a hookless bead design, helping to increase the contact area between the rim and tyre, shave some weight and provide a smoother tyre/rim interface.

Wheelset makers have settled on 40mm to 45mm as a good depth for an all-rounder carbon wheelset, which gives aero benefits without too much weight or being a handful in crosswinds.

I found the Cadex 42 Disc wheels easy to handle in gusty conditions, without edginess. Cadex says that it has tested aerodynamics at yaw angles up to 15 degrees. The wheels gave me a useful extra turn of speed over the (admittedly heavy) stock wheels on a Trek Emonda ALR.

Cadex’s hubs are developed and made in-house too. They use high quality steel bearings rather than ceramic, although they are compatible with CeramicSpeed bearings if you want the ultimate upgrade. But Cadex says that the materials used, and precise alignment of the hub components means that there’s little gain from a switch to ceramic.

The freewheel has a 30 tooth hardened steel ratchet for 12 degree engagement. You can get an XD-R cassette body as an alternative to the 11-speed Shimano version tested.

Buy now from Cadex for £2,499.98

Cadex wheels aren’t cheap: at £1099.99 for the front and £1399.99 for the rear, you’re parting with £2500 for the pair. But that’s not out of line with 45ish millimeter depth wheels like the Enve SES 3.4 and Zipp 303 NSW, Cadex’s wheelset weight undercutting the latter by around 200g. Comparable options from brands like Mavic can be around £700 cheaper though.

Cadex backs its wheels up with a two year warranty and five year incident replacement for the original owner. That’s better than Zipp, although Enve offers a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner.

Quality tubeless tyre choice

I found the Cadex 42 Disc wheels rolled comfortably over the most troubled road surfaces, with the test wheelset fitted tubeless with Cadex’s 25mm tyres. As is usually the case with modern rim/tyre combos, the tyres were well over the nominal width at around 28mm wide, thanks to the fairly wide 19.4mm internal, 24mm external rims.

Again, tyres are an item that Giant has sold for a long time under its own name, so the Cadex tubeless tyres benefit from that experience. Cadex quotes a weight of 270g per tyre for its 25mm tyres. That’s comparable to other high-end tubeless tyres like the Schwalbe Pro One. Cadex has 23mm and 28mm options too, with all priced at £64.99 per tyre.

Buy now from Cadex for £2,499.98

The low profile herringbone tread doesn’t add rolling resistance, but should give a bit of extra wet grip, although with the spring roads finally dry, I wasn’t able to test this.

Cadex’s tyres have a single layer casing, dual compound construction, using a silicon-based rubber that it says lowers rolling resistance. There’s a kevlar puncture protection strip under the tread.


So if you’re in the market for a top-end mid-section carbon wheelset, the Cadex 42 bears consideration alongside the established brands. It’s fast and a useful couple of hundred grams lighter than some competitors. And if you like a noisy freewheel, you’ll love the Cadex 42’s - it’s one of the loudest I’ve tested.


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