Cadex launches 50 Ultra Disc Wheelsystem: New ultralight aero wheels

Cadex 50 Ultra Disc
(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Cadex is a brand under the Giant umbrella but the new Cadex 50 Ultra Disc Wheelset is not a Giant house brand wheelset. Although we've talked about it in the past, Cadex is a brand with roots back to the mid-'80s. At the time, Giant was looking to build a carbon fibre bike frame and it needed a group who could untether themselves from day-to-day business realities. 

Giant needed a moonshot group and Cadex was the answer to the need. Then the brand disappeared until 2019. This time with a range of wheels but with a mission statement that hadn't changed. Described in their own words, "CADEX is the pursuit of what many see as improbable, even impossible." As the lineup has expanded from the initial release, it has continued to mean stunningly light and highly aerodynamic. 

Cadex wheels are some of our favourites and we’ve included the 65mm depth in our list of the best road bike wheels. So far though there's been a hole in the brand's lineup right at the most popular modern depth and today's launch is changing that. The Cadex 50 Ultra Disc Wheelsystem represents an expansion of the available wheel depth. It brings the latest aerodynamic tricks and a new aero-optimized tyre to market for a complete wheel system. 

Cadex Aero Tubeless Tire

The new Cadex aero tyre is the foundation of the new wheelsystem. (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Cadex Aero Tubeless tyre

It makes sense to start with the tyre because it informs the design of the wheel as well. As with all Cadex wheels, the latest iteration uses a hookless design and focuses on lightweight and aerodynamics. Pushing those parameters as far as possible means considering the wheel in the context of a system. Cadex already has tyres on the market for general riding but in an effort to move the goalposts even further, the Cadex Aero tubeless tyre meant specifically to cut through the air. 

Cadex found that a more oval tyre profile improved aerodynamics. The new tyres specifically pair with the wide, 22.4mm internal profile, of the latest wheels for a more oval tyre shape when inflated. For those looking for an advantage with other wheels, the brand states that the "optimized aero profile improves the overall aerodynamic performance of many commercially available wheels."

Of course, aerodynamics is only a small part of the equation when discussing a tyre. The Cadex Aero tubeless tyres use a micro file tread and pairs that with the RR-A Compound rubber. RR-A compound is a silica-based tyre compound with a claimed 15% decrease in rolling resistance, compared to previous Cadex tyres, as well as increased grip in both wet and dry conditions. The single layer "Supple Race Casing (SRC)" helps make for a comfortable ride while the "Race Shield Puncture Protection" handles punctures with a cut-resistant Kevlar material incorporated into the casing. 

Cadex 50 Ultra Disc aero hub

The latest version of the Cadex hub is aero optimized and uses ceramic bearings. (Image credit: Josh Ross)


When it comes to aerodynamics every new wheel has claims of being the fastest but Cadex has a rather transparent and rigorous testing procedure to share along with the claims. It's a four-step process that tests Cadex products against industry leaders in controlled tests. The first step is using the same Cadex aero tyres paired with Cadex 50 Ultra Disc, Enve SES 5.6, Zipp 454 NSW, DTSwiss 50 Arc 1100, and Roval Rapide CLX. The next test then takes the same wheels and pairs them with different tyres. The third test then uses a Giant Propel Advanced SL Disc and measures aerodynamics for the full system. For the last test, the wheels and tyres are the Cadex pieces while three industry-leading race bikes swap out the Giant Propel. Although the wheels in use are not all the latest version, Cadex shows improvement in every instance. 

To get these results, the Cadex 50 Ultra Disc Wheelset relies on a couple of innovations. None are more visible than the redesigned carbon spoke system. Carbon spokes are not a new innovation in the Cadex wheel lineup but for this generation, they've gotten dramatically wider. The basic construction with a bonded alloy nipple remains the same but the "Super Aero Carbon Spoke" design is not only more aerodynamic but also sets the basis for increased rigidity.

Less visible but just as important, the hub used in the Cadex 50 Ultra Disc Wheelset sees an update as well. It continues to be a ratchet system and is visually similar to the hub in the Cadex 65 but the Cadex R3-C40 represents the third generation of the Cadex hub design. It's been externally optimized for aerodynamic performance and internally it's a 40-tooth engagement with Cadex ceramic bearings. For those that care, it's also exceptionally loud beating even Chris King in that regard.

Cadex 50 Ultra Disc hub

Cadex uses a 40-tooth ratchet style hub with ceramic bearings.  (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Stiffness and efficiency

With a wheelset of 1,349 grams, measured at 1,316 grams for our test sample, Cadex is quick to point out that their new wheelsystem isn't the flexy lightweight wheelsets of the past. The updated hubs and spokes both contribute through the use of Dynamic Balanced Lacing (DBL) technology. The system uses a wider bracing angle that evens out spoke tension under pedalling forces. The end result is a claimed "highest lateral stiffness among its competitors." With the front wheel, numbers for the rear are similar, beating the Zipp 454 NSW by 18.8% and Roval Rapide CLX by 40.6% while still weighing less. 

While lateral stiffness determines side-to-side flex of the wheel in response to side load, it's transmission stiffness that determines responsiveness. Applying pedalling force creates a torsional flex to the wheel and resistance to this determines the responsiveness of the wheel. Cadex again claims an advantage here stating that "the CADEX 50 Ultra Disc beats the next best by more than 27%."


Today marks the global launch and look for availability soon from select Cadex retailers worldwide and at

Technical Specifications: Cadex Aero Tubeless Tyre

  • Price: £64.99 / $100
  • Size: 700x25c
  • Max Pressure: 115 PSI / 7.9 BAR
  • Min Pressure: 70 PSI / 4.8 BAR
  • Casing: 170 TPI Supple Race Casing (SRC)
  • Compound: RR-A Low-Rolling Resistance Compound
  • Puncture Protection: Race Shield
  • Weight: 290g

Technical Specifications: Cadex 50 Ultra Disc Wheelset

  • Price: £2,649.98 / $3,500.00
  • Rim Height: 50mm
  • Rim Outer Width: 30mm
  • Rim Inner Width: 22.4mm
  • Front Hub: CADEX R3-C Aero Hub, Centerlock
  • Rear Hub: Low Friction CADEX R3-C40 Aero Hub, 40T Ratchet Driver, Centerlock
  • Axle Spacing: 12x100mm Thru (Front), 12x142 Thru (Rear)
  • Spokes: Super Aero Carbon Spokes (Front & Rear)
  • Lacing: DBL, 21H (Front), DBL,24H (Rear)
  • Recommended Tire Width: 700 x 25c – 700 x 32c
  • Weight: 1349g (Pair), 595g (Front), 754g (Rear)

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Josh Ross

Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 140 lb.
Rides: Salsa Warbird, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx