All roads lead to gravel, and we knew it was only a matter of time before the purveyors of fine carbon over at CADEX would have a dedicated gravel handlebar. Meet the all-new CADEX GX carbon handlebar; It’s a twist on the successful CADEX AR bar with gravel-friendly features and a classic look.
When most hear the words “gravel focused,” some think of a novel creation, a 65cm wide super drop bar like driving a semi-truck over crushed limestone. The new CADEX GX bar has a slightly more elegant focus, more traditional, with some exaggerated features to enhance your gravel riding experience.
The CADEX GX bar features the same innovative one-piece mold manufacturing that CADEX bars are well known for and keeps it lightweight at just 184g for a size 420mm bar. The shape of the CADEX GX is slightly similar to the CADEX AR (all-road) handlebar we reviewed last year, with some gravel riding tweaks.
The drop on the CADEX GX (115mm) is the same as CADEX AR, the same with the super short 70mm reach and extended 40mm tails. Where the CADEX GX differs is in the backsweep (5° vs. 3° for the AR) and the flare (16° vs. 8° on the AR). To add extra compliance and natural hand positioning, the CADEX GX arrives with a new D-Shaped top portion, a departure from the hyper classic design of the CADEX Race and AR bar designs.
What stays the same throughout the CADEX handlebar line is the precision carbon fiber layup process and one-piece, no-bond mold manufacturing process. This process eliminates excess weight and the inherent flex in the bonded joints of traditional three-piece bars. This same molding process helped create the uber-light CADEX Race bar that gently tips the scales at 160g.
CADEX GX Technical Specifications:
- Clamp Diameter: 31.8mm
- Width (hood to hood): 400 / 420 / 440 / 460mm
- Width (bar end to bar end): 466 / 486 / 506 / 526mm
- Flare: 16 degrees
- Outsweep: 5 degrees
- Backsweep: 5 degrees
- Drop: 115mm
- Reach: 70mm
- Weight: 185g (400mm) 184g (420mm) Tested 195g (440mm) 200g (460mm)
- Price: $450
- CADEX AR tape $50
- Compatible with Shimano Di2 bar-end type junction (EW-RS 910)
CADEX GX Ride Impressions
Since my review CADEX AR handlebar, I’ve been a fan of the CADEX bar line. The shape is classic, and the ride is vibration free with a stiff response when digging deep on an effort. I was very excited to check out the new design, we’ve had lots of CADEX gear coming through lately, and it’s all lived up to the performance claims.
The CADEX GX is interesting because the design takes many cues from the AR bar but doubles the degrees of the defining characteristics of the bar to create a supremely-riding bar without treading into novelty territory.
CADEX GX bar setup
Unpacking the CADEX GX, the bar looks like others in the CADEX line, keeping the matte carbon aesthetic with a slight pop of off-white color on the new D-Shaped tops. The extended tails have an excellent clean gloss highlight with the CADEX logo, adding to the elegant and subtle cool of the design.
Without mounting the bars, they look very close to the AR design, except for the flare, which is noticeable when looking at the bars head-on. The weight is surprising, but I’ve come to expect that surprise from most, if not all, carbon components these days.
I installed the CADEX GX bars on my gravel (cyclocross) bike with Shimano Di2 and had zero problems routing the Di2 wires through the bar openings. My previous bar (Specialized S-Works Short/Shallow) had wire ports at the end of the drop instead of the tops like the CADEX GX. I was lucky my Di2 wires were a tick long, as the routing from the top vs. the bar end adds a few millimeters for the wire to connect appropriately to the barend junction.
I set up my shifters exactly where I have them on my bike with the CADEX AR bars, slightly higher than on my road bike. Though the shifters were in identical spots from AR to GX, the GXs’ laid-back personality was easily felt with just a leg over the bike.
CADEX GX ride impressions
When I hit the road on the CADEX GX bars, the ride sensations were familiar but with some extra feeling of steering confidence. I’m attributing this to the extra backsweep, the shifters are slightly closer, and you can sink into the levers. The drops have a similar feeling, a similar ride to the AR but exaggerated. I can imagine drops like the ones on the CADEX GX bars being an asset on long gravel slogs, trying to keep the train rolling and the back happy.
My first rides were from my house to the local gravel, then trails, finishing off at our community cyclocross course. The CADEX GX bars have a nice feel on the road, classic, but the 16° flare is notable and pushes the shifters in slightly, but not in a bad way. When you venture off the beaten path and onto a course that requires more active steering, the GX bars shine.
On fine gravel (not full-on rocks), the D-Shaped sculpting tops give a slight reprieve, enough to be a notable difference from the CADEX AR bars. The stiffness, however, feels the same when in the drops or giving it your all on a steep climb.
When I arrived at the single track, I could tell I would like the GX bar shape for driving the bike in tight twisty sections of the trail. The 5° backsweep adds another level of confidence in steering, and the wide drops offer the same.
In the drops, the shifting/braking controls are easily found, unlike some that put the hands so far out that you have to move in an unnatural way to pilot. The extra bit of length on the tails of the GX (40mm, same as the AR) is more noticeable, possibly because of the 16° of flare. This added tail allows the rider to angle the bars slightly up if they wish while maintaining a relatively neutral position on the bike.
CADEX AR Bar Tape
Our CADEX GX bar arrived with CADEX AR handlebar tape, something we didn’t experience with our CADEX AR review — a very sweet bonus. Much like the other offerings from CADEX, the tape arrived in a matte black box and didn’t pull any punches in terms of aesthetics.
The CADEX AR tape is 4mm thick (vs. the Race Tape 3mm padding) and has a tacky, nonslip PU compound surface. The padding is a high-density shock-absorbing foam for lightweight comfort over long road-ish miles and is the right mix of padding and feel. The tape comes with alloy bolt-in end plugs with stainless steel bolts. The AR tape (tested) comes in a 2350mm for wider gravel handlebars or those who prefer a super tight wrap.
The AR tape was straightforward to wrap and reminiscent of Lizard Skin bar tape. This style of tape requires an extra bit of attention to get a super clean look but when you finish is incredible. As of our review rides, the AR tape has performed fantastic, but we were waiting till a long mud-filled November/December cyclocross season to give our final verdict.
Worth the Price?
The $450 price tag is a lot — it’s bonkers, to be truthful. It departs from the already premium $370 price of the CADEX Race and AR handlebars. Is this the price of modern gravel glory, or just a premium outlier? Only time will tell; at least the CADEX GX (like all CADEX carbon gear) comes with the CADEX composite confidence. If you value hand comfort and want the market’s newest and greatest — the price could be worth it. Look for a long-term review after some months of abuse, but we’re fairly certain our initial impressions will remain.
I’ve been very impressed with the CADEX line of wheels, tires, handlebars, and saddles — the CADEX GX bar is no different. The ride is fantastic, and the bar’s identity is easily distinguished from others in the line. The CADEX GX is for those looking to make the most from their gravel rides or races without venturing too far from their road fit.
The CADEX GX handlebar will be available at retailers and online in select markets worldwide.
Learn more at www.cadex-cycling.com