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Cadex 36 Disc wheels promise stiff and lightweight performance at a premium price

Giant Bicycles' high-end house brand promises performance with lightweight, shallow-depth option.

The Cadex 36 Disc WheelSystem wheels are the latest addition to Giant Bicycles’ house-brand wheel lineup, joining the brand’s 42mm and 65mm offerings. These new 1,337g wheels will be available in July for $3,450, and will also appear on some high-end Giant bikes.

These relatively shallow wheels will compete with offerings from Zipp, Enve, Roval, and Bontrager on tech and price.

trAlso read: Cadex 36 Disc WheelSystem wheels first ride review

Cadex’s director of product Jeff Schneider told VeloNews that the Cadex 36 wheels were designed to optimize rider efficiency by limiting energy loss when pedaling — that instant when the chain engages the cassette which winds the rim when the hub moves. The carbon spokes and carbon rims also provide lateral stiffness — needed when cornering — as well as smoothing the ride when on less than perfect roads once the wheels are spinning.

The hookless, tubeless-ready wheels, tipped the VeloNews scales at just 1,337g/set with valves and rim strips installed. Cadex claims the internal width at 22.4mm (and 26mm outer width) will support a range of tire widths from 25mm to 32mm.

“The 36 utilizes much of the cutting-edge technology found in our other hookless wheel systems, but the shallower depth and wider inner width combined with the addition of ceramic bearings results in greater versatility, performance, and efficiency for riders encountering a greater diversity of pitches and conditions on an all-day adventure,” Schneider said.

Cadex 36 WheelSystem disc wheels are the shallowest offering from Giant’s house brand Cadex. Photo: Greg Kaplan

Cadex claims

Cadex boasts that these new wheels offer 30 percent greater lateral stiffness compared with similar wheels from Roval and Bontrager. Also, the carbon spokes have nipples mechanically bonded — not threaded — to them offers improved response when accelerating from lower to higher speeds as well as offering an all-around smoother ride.

The spokes are laced asymmetrically for stiffness; on the front the drive-side is radially laced while the opposite side has minimal spoke-crossing which allows strength without requiring extra material. The rear wheel has standard 2-cross lacing. Cadex makes the claim that its Dynamic Balanced Lacing (DBL) technology yields a lateral stiffness-to-weight ratio that is 39 percent better than Zipp and 36 percent better than Roval in their testing.

Cadex also claims that these wheels perform 45 percent better than Zipp 303 Firecrest TL and 41 percent better than the Roval Alpinist CLX in a transmission stiffness-to-weight comparison: “For transmission stiffness testing, the rear wheel is secured at the axle, the valve hole in the rim is fixed and torsional force is applied to the freehub. The more the hub rotates, or ‘winds up,’ within the wheel torsionally, the less transmission stiffness the wheel has. For lateral stiffness, both the front and the rear wheel are locked at the axle and lateral force is applied to the rim. The more distance the rim moves laterally, the less lateral stiffness it has.”

During the design phase, Cadex had initially set out to lace these wheels with steel spokes, but after research and testing the choice was made to go with carbon spokes for the best ride quality at the lowest weight. While the wheels should not come out of true during normal use according to a public relations representative of Cadex, the spokes can be adjusted — trued — or replaced if necessary at an authorized Giant/Cadex shop.

No hook, no problem

The hookless rim design allows for a stronger and more durable rim design and less material compared with traditional clincher rim shapes. This design also offers a smooth, low-drag profile where the tire and rim mate. Schneider said that hookless is a mature technology used for automobiles and motorcycles. When used with Cadex tires, the seal between the tire and rim is so effective sealant is not necessary, other than as insurance against small punctures.

The Cadex 36 WheelSystem disc wheels come with a rimstrip and valve already installed.
The Cadex 36 WheelSystem disc wheels come with a rim strip and valve already installed. Photo: Greg Kaplan

“Hookless is used on cars and it’s used on motorcycles. It’s about maintaining the tolerances of the diameter of the rim and the diameter of the tire and not allowing them to go awry. So we use carbon in our [tire] bead, and we actually have a kevlar-carbon composite of the two materials, so you don’t get stretch out of the bead. It won’t stretch over time.”

Cadex’s R1-C30 hub, spinning on ceramic bearings, accommodates Shimano 11, SRAM XDR 12, or Campagnolo freehub bodies.

Cadex 36 WheelSystem disc wheels with a Shimano 11 speed driver.
Cadex 36 WheelSystem disc wheels with a Shimano 11 speed driver. Photo: Greg Kaplan

These center-lock disc brake rotor wheels, with 100×12 and 142×12 thru-axles, have a 30-point engagement system. For those who want an even faster response to pedaling input, a 60-tooth engagement system will be available as an upgrade to these wheels.

Giant offers a limited five-year crash replacement warranty for the original wheel owners.