The Cadex 50 Ultra’s stiffness is central to its performance. My fellow tester Miles, a P12 road racer, and I, a B-group rider took advantage of that stiffness in a range of ways during our tests of this wheelset.
Miles used it to cover a lot of accelerations in road races and crits. During one 65-mile road race filled with surges, a promising break went away that he didn’t initially get into. He used the Cadex 50 Ultra’s stiffness on an uphill kicker to close a 10-second gap to that group.
The wheelset inspired confidence in both of us with its quick handling and precise cornering. For Miles, he could more easily pick his way through traffic in crits and dive into downhill corners in lumpy road races.
I was able to avoid a crash thanks to the Cadex 50 Ultra’s cornering precision. The rider I was following over-cooked a downhill turn and I cut a tighter radius on these wheels to safely get inside of his arc. I’m not sure I could have pulled that off with most wheelsets I’ve tested.
Add strong climbing to the list of this wheelset’s assets. Its stiff and relatively lightweight combination of rims, hubs, and carbon spokes (1402g as measured with an HG freehub) undoubtedly contributes to its ability to go uphill.
But, the Cadex 50 Ultra also has liabilities that limit its performance beyond road races and criteriums on rolling terrain.
While it helps get you up to speed very quickly, this wheelset doesn’t carry your speed as well as other, high-end race and all-around ones.
And on even moderately windy days (10 mph/16kph), I found the Cadex 50 Ultra front wheel moving all around. Perhaps they do better at higher speeds as Miles didn’t take issue with their crosswind stability riding this wheelset during his spring training and racing season.
We both agreed that these aren’t very compliant wheels, the kind you’d find comfortable over a 3+ hour ride. As a hookless wheelset that’s wide enough (22.5mm inside width) to ride in the mid-50psi range with 28mm tubeless tires (we used Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR) for our similar 150lb/68kg or so weight, this Cadex’s compliance was disappointing.
At 60psi, the ride was harsh. Below the low 50s, it was mushy. And at the pressures in between in search of the best combination of comfort and handling, you still feel everything through the wheels though aren’t jolted by them.
Blame the below-average compliance of the Cadex 50 Ultra on the carbon spokes Cadex uses to give it above-average responsiveness and handling. While I’ve not tested them all, I’ve yet to ride a wheelset with carbon spokes that is both laterally stiff and vertically compliant.
The freehub Cadex uses on the 50 Ultra is also louder than most. When I apologized for it to the rider in front of me in a paceline, he immediately responded, “Yeah, what is that?” While some cyclists like an audible freehub, the Cadex 50 Ultra is more vocal than a Chris King or i9 and right up there with the most boisterous of those used on the less expensive wheels coming from Chinese factories.
If you regularly compete in lumpy, punchy races where quick maneuvering and repeated accelerations are key to your performance, the Cadex 50 Ultra is a good option. For a broader range of riding and racing, there are better choices in the all-around performance wheelset category.
The Cadex 50 Ultra wheelset retails for US$3500, ?2650, EUR2850 and is available from Cadex Cycling and Giant dealers.
Compare our reviews and ratings of the Cadex 50 Ultra and competitively performing models in my review of the Best All-Around Carbon Disc Wheelset.
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