CADEX wheels added a 36mm deep option to its expanding arsenal, rounding out a high-end wheel line that can go toe to toe with the big guns. The CADEX brand emerged from Giant Bicycles to offer high-end wheels, saddles, and more for performance-oriented riders. The CADEX 36 Disc is right on the money for the performance-minded — arriving with ceramic bearings, carbon spokes, a stiff ride, and a hefty $3,450 price tag.

What are they?

The CADEX 36 disc wheel is a performance-driven lightweight wheelset targeted at climbing and maximizing the sought after stiffness-to-weight ratio. The 36 is now the shallowest option from CADEX, and the brand boasts its new wheel has a better stiffness to weight ratio compared to competitors Zipp, Roval, and Bontrager (more to come on that).

CADEX fully embraces the hookless bead design and wider (than conventional standards) rim width. The complete package comes with no upgrade left wanting — upgraded hubs with ceramic bearings included.

CADEX 36 WheelSystem - Hookless Rim Design

Rim details

CADEX went all-in with reducing the weight and bulking up the stiffness of its new climbing wheelset. The rim is carbon, and hookless, with a 22.4 internal and 26mm external — somewhat in the middle ground for modern tubeless wheels. The rims are 21 hole front, 24 rear, laced to CADEX hubs with carbon spokes.

Hookless can be a polarizing word in the cycling community – especially road. The CADEX wheels are compatible with various tire manufacturers (listed here), but it looks like a Maxxis-heavy selection.

CADEX 36 WheelSystem - Efficiency

The carbon layup for the rim is cut using lasers for a super precise fit, allowing CADEX to proceed with paintless rims to reduce weight. But don’t worry about dings on a fragile “unpainted” rim — the 36 disc rim goes through a UV-protective treatment before the build process to add protection and longevity.

The middle of the road rim width keeps the CADEX 36 disc is open to various sizes but the manufacturer claims 25mm tires are the sweet spot. There is no max-width specified, and since Giant/CADEX noted that some of its athletes would be rolling the CADEX 36 discs on gravel — we’re guessing the 40mm spec listed on the compatibility sheet could be the max.

CADEX 36 WheelSystem - DBL and R1-C30 hub

Upgraded DT-Swiss hub

For hubs on the 36 Disc, CADEX went with a hybrid ceramic bearing (an upgrade over its 45 and 65 wheels) and an updated freehub. The freehub body is based on the DT-Swiss EXP ratchet system. The CADEX version employs a 30T (usually a 36T) star driver and offers freehub bodies to fit Shimano, SRAM XDR, and Campagnolo road style cassettes.
CADEX claims the 30T ratchet system, (a solid middle-ground for road engagement) also cuts down on the overall drag of the hub.

CADEX 36 WheelSystem - Acceleration

Carbon Spokes

One of the more remarkable and significant weight-reducing components of the CADEX 36 build is the spokes — carbon fiber spokes. CADEX claims the carbon pair with alloy end spokes are nearly 46% lighter than DT-Swiss Aerolite spokes, a bold claim, and great marginal gain.

CADEX 36 Disc stiffness claims

There is no mistaking that CADEX came out to make the CADEX 36 Disc one of the stiffest wheelsets on the market. The wheelset comes in at a claimed 1,302 g which is very light — but not the lightest out there.

CADEX 36 Disc Stiffness vs Bontrager

The biggest concern when CADEX created the 36 Disc was the stiffness and the forward propulsion the wheelset offered to the rider. Though the aero data is lacking in the CADEX white sheets — the stiffness to weight data is abundant.

For this testing, the engineers at CADEX take the wheel and mount it as it would be on the bike. Then perform a deflection test to obtain a static stiffness number. They also measure pedaling and stiffness as well — locking the hub in place and taking data from the spoke wind up.

Is a stiffer wheel faster?

Why is the CADEX wheel stiffer than competitors? One piece could be the carbon spokes, paired with a system that valued stiffness over any other variable.

Does this correlate to a fast wheel? Possibly — I’m guessing (we haven’t ridden these wheels yet) they are an asset on climbing stages and all-out vertical mileage. I don’t think stiffness would be a feature riders will look for on a cobbled stage or something in the classics. I’m similarly asking why a rider would want such a stiff wheel for a gravel race. The quickness of a wheel depends a lot on overall ride quality, and for that, we can’t speak — yet.

www.CADEX-cycling.com

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21 Comments
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Matthew
Matthew
7 months ago

Didn’t Mavic have a carbon spoked wheel that had catastrophic failure modes … and didn’t last long on the market? How is this different?

Seraph
Seraph
7 months ago
Reply to  Matthew

Mavic had the first generation R-Sys wheels and they were indeed a failure. Their main flaw was the fact that they used hollow carbon spokes (basically tubes). Also they used hollow carbon spokes in a radial pattern on the drive side. They still use carbon spokes on some of their wheels but not on the drive side.

gregoryvanthomas
7 months ago
Reply to  Seraph

I don’t recall any R-Sys wheels having radial right carbon spokes on the rear. The right rear was always aluminum, which is a big reason why the rear wheels were never recalled (only fronts).
The biggest flaw was relying solely on longitudinal UD fibers, not having any impact toughness. The replacement spokes had a woven outer layer for impact resistance and kevlar strands down the middle as redundant safety.
There are plenty of wheels with carbon spokes that have a very good track record. With this and any other carbon-hybrid spoked wheel, its success hinges largely on the carbon bond to its metal ends.

Vissile
Vissile
7 months ago

R-Sys was a completely different animal.
They were carbon tubular spokes that Mavic calls “tracomp” spokes, which stands for traction and compression, ie, tension and compression. The spokes weren’t under a lot of tension, and would shatter easily under an impact.

Scott
Scott
7 months ago

Jordan – any thoughts or comparisons to the Hunt wheels with carbon bladed spokes? Similarities/differences? Other than the Hunts being much cheaper of course?

HUNT 44 UD CARBON SPOKE DISC WHEELSET

William
William
7 months ago
Reply to  Scott

Or the Gulo Composite GRD-36 wheels with Carbon Spokes

Seraph
Seraph
7 months ago

That weight is not what I was expecting from a road wheelset with carbon spokes, considering that the Syncros Silverton SL wheels weight 1290g with a 26mm internal width.

LargeD
LargeD
7 months ago
Reply to  Seraph

The Siverton SL is molded as one piece versus this wheelset which is a standard wheel build with carbon spokes. It was never going to be as light.

RoadbikeD
RoadbikeD
7 months ago
Reply to  Seraph

Silverton SL is one piece and not serviceable, I would never consider it for either road or MTB.

Mark
Mark
7 months ago

100% gimmick. Carbon’s tensile modulus is nearly 10x lower than steel.

Vissile
Vissile
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark

What are you talking about?
Modulus of elasticity of carbon fiber is lower, but nowhere near 10x lower.
And that’s fairly irrelevant as you’d be more interested in it’s tensile strength, which is almost 3x higher than 18/10 stainless.

18/10 stainless
typical ultimate strength = 570 MPa
modulus of elasticity = 200 GPa

Unidirectional carbon fiber
Ultimate strength = 1500 MPa
Modulus of elasticity = 135 GPa

Carbon as a material for spokes make a lot of sense. The difficulty is figuring out how to assemble and true them. Threading carbon doesn’t exactly work, so you need to bond it to some sort of threaded end. Or make a wheel that can’t be trued.

rich rutishauser
rich rutishauser
7 months ago
Reply to  Vissile

Vissile, great answer for the misinformation! I always like when someone posts like this and corrects the bad info out there.

Mark
Mark
7 months ago

Oops, got my units crossed. Mea culpa. Tensile strength plays no part in stiffness, only durability. A properly built and stress relieved wheel built with steel spokes will likely outlast the owner, so it’s a moot point. Mechanical engineer here.

Vissile
Vissile
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark

@Mark
Yeah, good point about tensile strength. I was also actually looking for yield strength but could only find ultimate tensile strength (during a quick google search).

Question for you with an explanation first.
I was going to say that higher yield strength would allow for higher spoke tension and would therefore allow you to build a stiffer wheel. But I recall reading about how spoke tension doesn’t affect wheel stiffness. Which I’m having a hard time comprehending.
So if your spoke stays in elastic deformation, it’s effectively a spring. Hooks law states that F=k*x. Therefore the force required to deform the spoke doesn’t change regardless of starting tension.
But then the tension acts as a spring preload, and reading about spring preload in regards to suspension indicates that more preload doesn’t affect spring rate but does affect how much force to get the spring to start compressing (or spoke to start stretching in this scenario). Which would mean that a higher tensioned spoke would make for a stiffer wheel…
I know I’m missing something here. Let me know what you think.

Robin
Robin
7 months ago
Reply to  Vissile

Force is not stiffness. In the case of a wheel, stiffness is a function of spoke material and cross-sectional area, rim profile, and bracing angle.

Check out the test that Sheldon Brown did wherein he measured lateral wheel deflection vs spoke tension. The test showed that tension does not impact lateral deflection or “wheel stiffness”.

FWIW, re: your hypothesis using Hooke’s Law, the stiffness in that spring system is the spring constant, not the spring force. No matter how much stretch that spring (a measure of how force is applied to the spring), stretching it an additional cm will always require the same additional force. If you want less stretch for the same force, you need a spring with a larger spring constant, i.e. a stiffer spring.

Vissile
Vissile
7 months ago
Reply to  Robin

@ Robin – I appreciate the response.

That was to he same conclusion I came to when considering Hooke’s law.
In which case my question becomes – how does preload on a spring work?
According to almost everything I’m finding regarding pre-load in suspension, more preload on the spring means that it requires more force to get it to start moving.
What am I missing here?

Robin
Robin
7 months ago
Reply to  Vissile

Spring preload doesn’t change stiffness, it only “shifts” the range of force applied by the spring. Perhaps you need to look at how stiffness is defined. Stiffness is a measure how much a body is stretched, compressed or displaced under a given force. Putting more tension on a spoke or preloading a spring more does not change how much that spoke or spring will stretch when an additional load, say another Newton of force is applied. Example: if a spring with a spring constant (basically the stiffness rating for a spring) of 100N/m, no matter if you preload that spring with 100N of force or 500N of force, it will still stretch an additional centimeter, in each case, if you increase the load by 1N. The only way you can limit the stretch of a spring under an increasing load is to get a stiffer spring, i.e. a spring with a higher spring constant. In fact that spring constant tells you just that. For that example of above the spring constant tells you that for every increase in load by 100N, the spring will stretch an additional meter.

The purpose of a recommended spoke tension in a wheel is to insure that spokes don’t go slack under high or unexpected loads. When spokes go slack, things can go all pear-shaped for a wheel…..or taco shaped.

Mark
Mark
7 months ago
Reply to  Robin

@Robin nice explanation. The only thing I would add is that the article was referring to torsional stiffness (wind-up), and as you know that’s a function of the number of spokes, spoke x-sectional area, tensile modulus and spoke crossing pattern.

Vissile
Vissile
7 months ago
Reply to  Robin

@ Mark – good point on torsional stiffness. I missed that earlier.

@ Robin – that all makes sense and is inline with my understanding of stiffness, spring constants, etc.
What I don’t understand now is why suspension manufacturers offer adjustable pre-load on coil sprung suspension if it doesn’t do anything.
Or are almost all suspension coil springs variable rate or progressive springs?

Dylan Sutton
Dylan Sutton
7 months ago
Reply to  Vissile

Pre-load absolutely does something! On a coil suspension system, pre-load is _compressing the spring_, with the fork/shock remaining in the fully extended position. Until the load you apply to the spring is above the pre-load, your fork/shock remains fully extended. The amount of compression you get as your dynamic load changes remains linear in relation to the total force applied (f=kx), however “x” includes both the compression of the spring from pre-load plus compression of the spring from suspension travel. This changes the sagged position, without altering the spring rate.

A wheel is a completely different system, because when the wheel is centred with no external force applied, it is centred by opposing spring forces from the spokes on each side, not by a hard stop equivalent to a shock top-out.

Kyle Gisbert (@moral_eclipse)

Carbon spokes, electronic brakes, phallic computer mounts. Whats next? Aireless ti/carbon reinforced tires? Maybe a ‘smart’ dropper that adjusts to angle of descent?