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The Cadex 65 Disc tubeless wheels are fast, with impressive stats and aerodynamic claims, but stability in the wind can be a problem. And though they feel brilliant at times, they also deliver quite a harsh ride, compromising comfort and performance on longer rides.
If you're interested in the Cadex 65 Discs, check out our guide to the best road bike wheels for more options.
Cadex is a high-end in-house brand of Giant bikes, and its wheelsets sit a tier above the Giant-branded wheels available. The 65 is the deepest of the range, with a hookless rim that is designed to work alongside the Cadex Aero tyre for maximum aerodynamic performance and speed.
As the name suggests, the wheels have a 65mm rim profile front and rear, and while deep rims can often mean an increase in weight, these measure up impressively on the scales at 1,550g, achieved in part by using carbon spokes. They're also available to buy separately, front and rear, giving you the potential to mix depths should you wish.
Unlike many, Cadex still offers a rim brake option in addition to the disc brake model on test. Both are tubeless, with a hookless rim bead that measures 22.4mm internally and 26mm externally. While the internal diameter is on a par with many modern wheels, and conforms to the latest ETRTO guidelines for 25mm tyres (the Cadex Aero is only available in a 25mm width), the external width is the opposite: other premium wheelset options from the likes of Zipp, Hunt, ENVE and Roval – and Giant with its SLR wheel range – all push 30mm or above.
The 65 Discs are built with 21 spokes on the front wheel, laced one-cross on the non-drive side, radial on the drive side, and with 24 spokes on the rear, laced three-cross on the drive side, and one-cross on the brake/non-drive side. Cadex has a name for the lacing: DBL technology. DBL stands for Dynamic Balanced Lacing, and is claimed to provide optimal tension for the forces applied through pedalling and braking. Mechanics and riders handy with a spanner will be pleased to see the use of external alloy nipples, as these should make any adjustments required over time easier.
Cadex markets the hubs as Low Friction, and featuring precision-sealed cartridge bearings. The rear wheel is available with either a Shimano HG or SRAM XDR freehub body, or Campagnolo for an additional cost, and the steel bearing hubs do spin beautifully.
Cadex doesn't give a figure for the freehub ratchet, but I counted 80 points which, if correct, would equal a 4.5-degree pickup. Fans of louder freehubs will be happy, as it is very noticeably loud when freewheeling.
Cadex is clearly trying to establish itself as a high-end brand, with the wheels arriving in a very well-presented box. Everything from the chunky cardboard to the contents and parts required for fitting all give the impression of a boutique component.
Removing the wheels from the chunky box, two things stand out: first, the overall low weight – they feel very light in the hand for such a deep rim – and the chunky carbon spokes, which have an aero profile in the centre but a thick appearance at each end.
Carbon is increasingly being used as a material for spokes, with Hunt also using it in its Limitless UD range of wheels, and Scribe in its Élan wheelsets. All three make similar claims of increased strength and lower weight.
You can use the 65 Discs with any tyre compatible with hookless carbon rims. I tested them with the Cadex Aero tyres in a 25mm width, the only option.
In the product manual Cadex strongly recommends not using a tyre lever, but despite that it does provide a lever with each wheel. This has a narrow hook and a slim design, but there's nothing fundamentally different to other levers that I can see; still, better to play safe and stick with using it, or Giant's Tyre Installation tool.
The recommendation against using a tyre lever is almost certainly because of the minimal wall thickness of 1.8mm. Fitting the Aero 25mm tyres wasn't too difficult, but I did need to use the provided lever, with care.
With the tyres fitted, they inflated without a problem using a normal track pump, and maintained good pressure throughout testing, losing around 10psi over the course of two weeks.
I also fitted a Schwalbe Pro One, which was slightly easier, although again I used the provided tyre lever, and tried fitting a Continental GP5000 TR but gave up for risk of damaging the rim. I suspect it's possible to fit one of the Cadex or Schwalbe tyres without a lever, but it would require someone with stronger thumbs than me.
From the first pedal strokes, the wheels have an instant feel of stiffness and responsiveness. They replaced a pair of similar depth that you would not describe as flexy, but even so there was a marked difference in how they felt when accelerating. It's hard to say if there is a real-world performance benefit, but the feeling alone makes them stand out.
The wheels were perfectly straight and stayed true throughout the test, and are almost certainly pre-tensioned as there were no pinging sounds from the spokes on initial accelerations, which is often the case with new wheels.
The weight is low for deep-section wheels, with an actual weight of 1,550g (690g front, 860g rear) including tape and valves installed, against a claimed 1,501g. This compares well with claims for other premium wheelsets such as the Roval Rapide CLX II at 1,520g, Zipp 858 NSW at 1,530g, Hunt 60 Limitless UD at 1,551g and Scribe Élan 60 at 1,518g. The low weight makes them feel good on the climbs, especially combined with barely any sideways flex.
Cadex has taken a different aerodynamic approach to other brands, with that narrower external rim design, and this is very noticeable with the Aero 25 tyres installed, inflating to a true width of 26.2mm and giving a continuous look from tyre through to rim. As fast as the wheels feel, it would be great to have a wind tunnel to test and see which approach is faster. Cadex doesn't make any claims.
Though they feel fast, the wheels can be a handful at times in the wind. All wheels of this depth will be impacted by crosswinds to some extent, but even on moderately breezy days the Cadex 65 Discs could become a handful and tended to snatch while riding, with any gateways or areas of disturbed wind being the biggest problem. The movement can be unnerving at times, and it also uses up energy, having to fight against it. I would consider myself a confident descender but found myself holding back on faster downhills just in case the wheels caught a gust. Occasionally on flatter sections, I held off reaching for a drink or food for similar reasons.
Could the flush tyre-to-rim fit be a factor? In my recent experience on two other deep-section rims, the Giant SLR2 and Hollowgram KNØT 64, both feature a rim width that is greater than the diameter of the tyre, and they feel more stable in all wind directions and speeds.
The feeling of stiffness and responsiveness remained impressive throughout the test, but the sideways stiffness is echoed vertically, and they are not the most comfortable wheels to ride. The use of a 25mm tyre might be partly to blame, although the Aeros do have a good specification, with a 170tpi casing, and I ran them at 73psi, the lowest recommended pressure for my weight based on the Cadex tyre pressure guide.
The pressure and tyre width are similar to other setups I use, but they still felt harsh in comparison, and on less-than-perfect roads you can really feel the vibrations in your hands, which can take its toll on longer rides.
You could use a wider tyre, but this might impact aerodynamic performance, with Cadex recommending 25mm tyres for maximum aero gains.
The steps Giant has taken to put the Cadex 65 in among other premium wheelset options have worked to a large extent, with the build quality, presentation, and materials such as the carbon spokes creating a seriously fast wheelset.
The world of high-priced, premium wheelsets is competitive, though, with many well-reviewed options. The £2,499.99 price and specification are almost exactly the same as the top-of-the-range Roval Rapide CLX II wheelset (Specialized also offers the Roval Rapide CL II version – as tested by Nick earlier this year – for £1,500, despite it sharing the same carbon rim).
You can pay more – Zipp's 858 NSW and ENVE's 6.7 SES are both well above £3,000, showing there is clearly a market for exotic wheels – but you don't necessarily need to. Stu reviewed Hunt's 48 Limitless Aero Discs in 2020 and thought they were excellent, and its 60 Limitless Aero Discs are £1,299 while Scribe's Élan 60-Ds are £1,190.
What the figures and specifications can't give is a true reflection of both comfort and real-world performance. The Cadex 65 Discs are rapid but can also feel harsh, with lots of the road surface feeding back to your hands. Perhaps the biggest downside is their performance in the wind, and they can become a real handful, even at wind speeds where you wouldn't expect problems. The specification of the wheelset ticks almost every box, but for £2,500 you might hope for perfection.
Absolutely rapid wheels, but stiffness in all directions costs comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cadex 65 Disc Tubeless Wheels
Size tested: 65mm rim depth
Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"CADEX 65 Disc combines maximum lightweight aero performance with the added control of disc brakes. Featuring a hookless rim design and aero carbon spokes to maximise aerodynamics in shifting winds and to significantly reduce overall weight, the CADEX 65 Disc marries ultra-low friction hubs to disc brakes, bringing superior speed and smooth, controlled stopping power."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
* Hookless rim design helps reduce aerodynamic loss and, through a continuous carbon fibre structure, enhances overall durability
* Custom-tuned aero carbon spokes offer excellent aerodynamic characteristics, superior stability in shifting winds an ultra-light weight
* Custom-tuned Dynamic Balanced Lacing Technology makes a stiffer, more efficient wheel designed for real-world application
* Precision reinforced carbon lay-up places carbon fibre only where needed, creating an exceptionally solid structure without adding any unnecessary grams
* Low friction hub eliminates bearing friction, reducing potential watt loss
Rim Material: Carbon
Rim Type: Hookless Clincher (Tubeless)
Rim Height: 65mm
Rim Outer Width: 26mm
Rim Inner Width: 22.4mm
Front Hub: CADEX Low Friction Hub, Centerlock
Rear Hub: CADEX Low Friction Hub, Ratchet Driver, Centerlock
Freehub Compatibility: SRAM XDR / Shimano HG / Campagnolo
Bearing: Precision Sealed Cartridge
Front Axle: 100x12 TA (not included)
Rear Axle: 142x12 TA (not included)
Spokes (Front): Aero Carbon Spoke
Lacing (Front): DBL, 21H
Spokes (Rear): Aero Carbon Spoke
Lacing (Rear): DBL, 24H
Nipple Type: Alloy
Warranty: 2 year warranty
Incident Replacement: 5 year (registered original owner only)
Weight (Pair): 1501g
WheelSystem Weight Limit: 285 lbs / 129 kg
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Perfectly. The spokes are all equally tensioned, with no problems or noises at all.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Quite tight when fitting the Cadex Aero tyre, but still manageable with the single tyre lever provided.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The valves provided worked well, and the tubeless tape stayed glued in place.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very fast, and incredibly responsive. Less enjoyable in even moderate winds.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The response from initial accelerations is very impressive.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
They are not particularly comfortable, even when compared to some other wheelsets with similar depth and equal tyre width. The way they can snatch as they catch the wind makes them challenging to ride and control at times.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Cadex 65 Discs are a similar price to the Roval Rapide CLX II, though the CL version with the same carbon rim is £1,000 less. They are cheaper than some prestigious brands, such as Zipp with its 454 NSW and Princeton CarbonWorks' Wake 6560 both north of £3,000. But Hunt and Scribe both offer very good deep-section wheelsets for £1,200-£1,300.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes, so long as the winds were light.
Would you consider buying the wheel? Maybe. The weight for the depth and speed provided is impressive.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Maybe. They are a good option for riders who want a premium aero wheelset.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Impressively light, fast and stiff wheelset, but not without its drawbacks. Handling even in moderate breezes can be hard work, and they can feel harsh with the recommended tyres used.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
Matt is an endurance nut who loves big rides and big events. He's a former full-time racer and 24hr event specialist, but now is also happy riding off-road on gravel bikes or XC mountain bikes and exploring the mountains and hills of Mid Wales.