CADEX is at it again. The newly minted ultra-lightweight handlebar manufacturer is entering the gravel realm, just in time for those luxury Gravel World Championship builds.
For those unfamiliar, CADEX entered the handlebar scene this year guns-a-blazing with a super lightweight one-piece molded carbon road bar. The one-piece singular molding (no bonding of multiple parts) process gives the bars an uncanny weight (160g in this case) and superior strength compared to traditional three-piece bonded bars. The new CADEX AR bars take all the CADEX RACE bars’ tech and tweaks them into a gravel, all-road package.
CADEX AR gravel handlebars
The new CADEX AR handlebars’ have a refreshingly “normal” bend and profile. CADEX didn’t follow the trend of mega flared, chopped-drops, 50mm wide “all-gravel” bars. The AR looks more like a classic design, emphasizing better control and alleviating some tightness in the lower back. The dimensions are what you’d expect from a gravel handlebar; a short reach of 70mm, and a shallow drop of 115mm (for reference, the CADEX RACE dimensions are 72mm/125mm drop). This 45mm keeps the transition from tops to drops easier on the body and just enough to gain an aero advantage in the wind or take some stress off your arms.
The AR has a subtle 3° of back sweep that gives the rider an extra upright feeling on the tops—paired with an 8° flare that’s just enough for additional control when plowing through large gravel — not too much as to affect the shifter positioning though. The shape of the bars also includes a generous 40mm of drop real estate (CADEX calls it “extended tails”).
The CADEX AR handlebar features the same “precision carbon fiber layup” technique found in the CADEX wheel line as well as the unique one-piece, “no bond mold” construction debuted on the CADEX RACE road bar.
How much do they weigh?
The CADEX AR bar’s weight is a tick more than the CADEX RACE at 194g (size 42) but is very light compared to other gravel-specific bars. CADEX attributes this weight reduction to its one-piece process — how does it work?
What’s a “one-piece” handlebar?
In a nutshell, most carbon bars start as three pieces; the top and the drops on each side. The factory bonds them together and smooths out the material to a specific tolerance. The leftover bonding material around the joint internally (every gram counts) can add weight to the bar, and if not done correctly, can result in loads of flex.
CADEX avoids the bonding process with the one-piece bar, delivering a classic, time-tested drop-bar shape sure to please.
CADEX AR gravel handlebar key features
- 8-degree flare and 3-degree out sweep
- Extended 40mm tails on the drops.
- Short Reach and Shallow Drop
- One-Piece Construction
- Di2 Compatible
- Compatible with Shimano Di2 bar-end style junction (EW-RS 910)
CADEX AR gravel handlebar sizing specifications:
- Clamp Diameter: 31.8mm
- Width (hood to hood): 400mm | 420mm | 440mm | 460mm
- Width (bar end to bar end) : 460mm | 480mm | 500mm | 520mm
- Flare: 8 degrees | Outsweep: 3 degrees | Backsweep: 3 degrees
- Drop: 115mm | Reach: 70mm
- Weight: 185g (400mm) | 195g* tested (420mm) | 195g (440mm) | 200g (460mm)
- Price: $370
First ride review — CADEX AR gravel handlebars
I was pleasantly surprised to see the CADEX AR gravel bars resemble the traditional bars I’ve used on my gravel setup for years. The reach on the CADEX AR is a bit shorter than my go-to bars (70mm vs. 75mm) so I kept the same stem length, the same drop, and let the bars do the talking…
The install was easy, and the graphic marks on the bar measured right on the money — this is not the norm, as I find most are slightly off, and a millimeter can be a mile for shifter placement. The bar’s slight flare didn’t affect the shifter position whatsoever (a gripe of mine with mega-flared bars), and the 3° back sweep reminded me of my older Ritchey Logic EvoCurve bars — I felt very much at home.
The bars have an excellent feel on the road, more of a traditional road feel, but without the dip at the clamp, so you can roll the shifters back for ‘cross-like positioning. In the thick of the gravel, the carbon soaked up the bumps as much as you’d expect, though it is tough to tell with 45mm tires. I did notice the added rigidity when sprinting in the drops. These bars stayed put, no flexing like the alloy bars they replaced.
In the wind and super exposed sections of gravel roads, I found the drops a savior. Like, when you’re gutting yourself to stay with a group or sprinting to finish a segment — you want to collapse your upper body on something, the drops are your best bet. The CADEX AR bars have that kind of drops; beefy, slightly edged out, and ergonomically comfortable.
I noticed this, especially after an onslaught of larger gravel rocks with my shoulders and arms begging for reprieve. The drops were just enough for me not to engage much upper body and concentrate on my pedaling, nothing like the faux short-drops on other gravel designs.
My initial impressions of the CADEX AR gravel bars are positive, and I look forward to putting them through the paces and reporting back with a full review.
For more information on the CADEX line of bars, wheels, and saddles, check out: www.cadex-cycling.com