a journal - cycling, sociology, social media

Sunday 13 December 2020

Cadex: Ultra Performance - with heritage

I got an unexpected E mail a couple of weeks ago, one those that I had to read two or three times because not being the sharpest I thought I'd misunderstood it. It was from the marketing department at Giant UK asking if it would be OK if they sent me some of their brand new Cadex ultra performance components to try, wheels and tyres and a saddle that would go really well on my Giant Propel ... oh go on then. 

                                                                                       The cafe whip now looks whippier than ever
 You know when you get a new IPhone or any Apple product for that matter and your blown away by the quality and precision of the packaging, every time, well I was like that a few days later when the Cadex stuff arrived, even the tyres were impressively presented and the Boost saddle was in a beautifully constructed box.
The instruction manuals for the wheels came in Cadex branded wallets and in case you're wondering what was in the cylindrical package on the right of the picture above, it contained a very carefully packed Cadex wind stopper vest ... obviously. I was well impressed straight away, even before I had paid much attention to the actual products.
The Cadex brand was launched or maybe it should be re-launched (see below) during the 2019 Tour De France, above Greg Van Avermaet on his Gold Giant TCR Advanced SL giving it full gas over the cobbles of the Mur De Grammont on Cadex 65's. The CCC team and Van Avermaet in particular played a key role in the development of the Cadex wheel system, the brand launch at the Tour was covered by GCN and you can see their video on the Cadex wheels and components here GCN - CADEX - TDF  

The Cadex brand although part of Giant is a completely separate company which makes sense because naturally they don't want Cadex products just to appeal to Giant owners. Cadex has its own engineers and designers and as it's backed by the company that first developed carbon bikes their intention is to build on Giant's existing knowledge and expertise to produce the very best in cutting edge cycling components.
I have been a big fan of Giant bikes since way back, I got my first carbon TCR for my 50th birthday, here I am suffering on it at the 2007 European Age Group Duathlon Championships. I loved that bike, I really did and I also loved those little stubby clip on aero bars too, in fact, I'm still using them on my Giant Revolt gravel bike. During my multi-sport racing years I was really lucky in that I can remember very few race days when the weather was really bad. I remember this day though for sure, going all in up Arthur's Seat in the centre of Edinburgh five times, with a run before and a run after, all in torrential rain, a painful memory that one. 
                                                                    Even on the gravel I'll take every aero advantage I can get these days
While I am being nostalgic here's another of my TCRs I loved this one too, at the time without a shadow of a doubt the best bike that I had ever owned, a fantastic machine, I wish I'd kept it. 
The Cadex brand name is by no means new and readers of a certain age may remember back to 1987 when Giant introduced the CADEX 980 which was arguably the world's first mass produced carbon road bike. These first carbon bikes were constructed with carbon tubes bonded in to aluminium lugs which now sounds a bit crude but it was revolutionary back then. Giant used the Cadex brand as a 'moonshot' a hugely ambitious project that took the Giant brand way beyond what was available at the time, which is exactly what they are doing this time around with the new Cadex components.  
Above - what ultra performance looked like in 2006, not one of mine this time but my son Jack's TCR the first with a moulded monocoque frame. I remember when he got it, we both thought it was the best looking bike we had ever seen, another one that I wish we had held on to. 

Bonding carbon tubes into lugs didn't really take full advantage of the qualities of carbon fibre so after some pioneering work by legendary bike designer Mike Burrows  Giant developed moulded monocoque construction frames. In manufacturing terms this method was extremely efficient and used far less material but it's limitation was that the moulds were extremely expensive. Giant got around this problem by introducing the Burrows designed TCR (total compact road) frame which had a downward sloping top tube and was produced in just four sizes. By changing the seat post and stem you could, for the first time, create the perfect fit for any height rider which was a ground breaking development at the time. 
Before the Cadex wheels went on to my Propel I first tried them on the dining room table (as you do) for Instagram purposes only obviously and it was bit of a risky shot to pull off to be honest but I got away with it, only because Mrs Rees or to use her official title 'The Team Principle' wasn't home at the time. 
After getting the initial E mail and even after the Cadex stuff arrived, I'm not sure why, but it hadn't actually dawned on me how high end the Cadex products were. My Giant Propel Advanced was already a great bike equipped with Giant's own excellent SLR deep rim carbon wheels but it was instantly transformed by the Cadex components, I couldn't believe how different it felt - in a really good way.
Final shot of the Cadex equipped Giant Propel at one of my regular Instagram locations. I've only done a couple of hundred miles on it since the Cadex upgrades but each time I've ridden it I've been a bit more impressed and noticed some other improved sensation. I've started writing them down so I don't forget. In the new year when I've done a few more miles I'll post a detailed review on what I have already realised are components that are of a much higher standard than anything I've ever used before.


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