If you have eagle eyes and keep your ear to the tracks (or maybe your nose the grindstone), you’ve notice that my lips have not been sealed. I let by some spy shots that were, technically, embargo-busting. The embargo is up, and I didn’t catch too much heck, so let’s talk about these CADEX Classics Tubeless tires I've been wanting to tell you about.
The size I’ve been playing with is the 28mm, but it also comes in 25mm and 32mm. In my opinion, while the 25mm is probably still the dominant size in triathlon, the best among the tri bikes you’ll be buying will accommodate tires up to 28mm nowadays, which fits right into the triathlon wheelhouse of the future. Yes, the Classics is a “Classics” tire. What does that mean? That it’s designed for cobbles, bad pavement, light gravel, rain and slick surfaces, as well as dry smooth road. That it’s designed to take a lickin’ so that you take less of a lickin’, and to resist flatting so that you remain aboard your bike pedaling instead of cursing on the side of the road as your age group adversaries ride past you. That’s this tire’s use case, and the pro in a Spring Classic (e.g., Paris Roubaix) has very similar needs to an age group rider in an Ironman.
There are some special things about this tire, but more so about the whole CADEX wheel/tire combo. I made a little video a few weeks ago of this, couple of minutes long, embedded below, which addresses a peeve of mine. There are – let’s face it – technologies you’re going to get, whether you want them or not. Among them are hydraulic disc brakes and tubeless tires. You and I can whine from here to Dubuque, but this is the tech that’s coming. Me? I don’t mind this. However, what gets lost in the shuffle is how to use this tech.
For example, I wrote the folks at CADEX and mentioned to them (you’ll see this point in the video) that I inflated the 28mm version of this CADEX Classics tire onto a CADEX aero wheel, and almost 2 weeks later the tire still held every pound of pressure I put in it. And it wasn’t a one-off, lucky chance. This is both the front and the rear wheel. But let me get back to the rest of that story in a moment.
CADEX is a partner here at Slowtwitch, and when we first spoke about the contours of the relationship this brand would have with our community I brought up what I knew of Giant’s history with tubeless. As you may know, we’ve got a history with tubeless ourselves, editorially, and on our Reader Forum. I felt probably two years ago that there was going to be this inexorable rush toward road tubeless by tri bike brands, like it or not, and this is pretty much what we see.
We’ve written a lot about this, of course, including What Do They Know That We Don’t? which reminded us all that 7 out of Kona’s top 10 male finishers were on tubeless tires, including the first 4 across the line, and the women in Kona used tubeless at about the same degree. From then on it’s been a steady stream of tubeless progress, ETRTO publishing updates for 2020 Tubeless and Hookless, and on and on. We have a curated, dedicated thread on our Reader Forum simply in service to your road tubeless needs, gripes, challenges, victories (that is about 400 posts long as of this moment). But back to Giant…
CADEX is a Giant brand. Like Bontrager is a Trek brank; like Roval is a Specialized brand. The thing about Giant – and what I mentioned to the CADEX folks in our first meeting – Giant was the first major brand I know of to actually ship tubeless tubeless. Not fake tubeless. Not tubeless with a tube inside. Which is kind of a big deal, because “tubeless ready” (tubeless, but with a tube inside) happens because bike brands can’t figure out how to ship a tubeless system that doesn’t leak down. This is a problem for your LBS, if he has to spend 45 minutes pumping up tires every morning.
So, when I wrote back to the CADEX folks on this topic of, “Hey, your tires don’t leak down,” the answer I got was, “the Giant Group realized that as they made the move toward tubeless – and they wouldn't be shipping bikes with sealant in the tire – they needed to come up with a solution to ensure tires stayed inflated on the show floor. Sealant is for flat protection, not to keep your tire inflated.”
To which I say, Huzzah! Because, this is a major gripe of mine, when sealant is not used as flat protection, but as spackle, because the tire doesn’t properly seal onto the rim (or the rim tape is bad, or it’s application is faulty, or the tubeless valve is leaky). So regardless of anything else, my big Stetson off to the CADEX folks, for recognizing that tubeless systems should remain inflated before any sealant is placed in the tire. That said…
Is the tire ready for you, for your racing? Because, you need the tire to move over the medium on which it is suspended: Rolling resistance. You need it to move quickly through the other medium it faces: Aerodynamics. Of course there is a weight issue and, finally, it’s extremely inconvenient if you get a flat in a race. How does this tire do?
I’m good; but I’m only so good; and I don’t pretend more than what I am. What I am not is someone who can *feel* speed in a tire when I’m riding it. Yes, I can repeat field trials, but I have nothing to report to you on which you can hang your Stetson. What CADEX’s Jeff Schneider, Product Head, does say is this: “When tire manufacturers talk about tires, there’s a tendency to focus on rolling resistance. That’s a great measurement to reference if you’re talking about riding on a smooth track or the painted line. But, it’s just not a reliable figure for understanding how a tire will perform in real-world conditions where uneven sections of tarmac, cracks, potholes, and patches all combine to slow the rider down. Here at CADEX, we don’t ignore rolling resistance; we just place a greater emphasis on lowering the tire’s vibration acceleration. Improve that, and the result is a tire that maintains better forward momentum and, ultimately, allows the rider to go faster.”
Okay. That established, we will all be watching the various testing sites for data. As of now, the leaders of the pack are Vittoria’s Corsa Speed and Schwalbe’s Pro One TT (Sebastian Kienle’s tire). These are the only tires at or under the 7.5 watt threshold. Conti’s Grand Prix 5000TL is at 8.3w. We don’t have numbers yet on the CADEX tires from Bicycle Rolling Resistance. I’ll also be interested to see what Tim Van Berkel or Sam Appleton (Giant athletes) are riding but, even more so, Gustav Iden. To me, Gustav is the man of the hour. If Gustav moves to CADEX Classics tires, and he keeps on killing it in his racing, that will speak to me.
About puncture resistance. CADEX has a narrative for compounds (for rolling resistance), and casings, for ride quality (suppleness), and puncture resistance. What it says is, “Race Shield+ for 34% more puncture protection without compromising on speed or ride quality.” Okay. we’ll see. I haven’t flatted yet. But I don’t flat that often. So far so good on these tires.
There are some issues, and we’ll see how CADEX navigates these. First, they are not giving these tires away, by any means. $99 MSRP. The tire must be special to command this price. Schwalbe’s Pro One TT is $75 or thereabouts, Vittoria Corsa Speed tubeless around that same price (street price). This tire will need to earn its place.
When I mention the other tires with which this tire will compete, the Schwalbe Pro One TT and the Corsa Speed, these are not “Classics” tires. They’re lighter duty. Where I do think this CADEX tire may find a niche is among those who value speed, but that offers some user-friendly benefits, like: superior puncture resistance; and no leakdown. What I don’t know yet is whether this tire is equally leakdown-proof on a different (non-CADEX) wheel. When I have enough data on that I’ll report back.
Secondly, this tire will need to be available to you and me when and where we want to buy it. You take Specialized as an example, I can’t get that Turbo Cotton everywhere I might want to, because Specialized (I assume) is bent by the gravitational pull of its IBD network of resellers. Giant is a bike maker, like Specialized, and has a retailer base, like Specialized. Tires are consumables I want to buy online. Let’s see what the availability of this tire is, as we move through the winter and this tire moves into distribution.
Certain wheel makers have become, or are becoming, tire makers as well. ENVE. Zipp. And now CADEX. Right now in road tubeless the brands that rule the roost are Schwalbe (my go-to), Conti and Vittoria. We'll see which of these wheel brands that have introduced tires elbow their way into this top tier. I’m guardedly confident that CADEX is going to carve a spot, because of the Giant Group’s capacity to engineer, and because of its commitment to values and features that match what I think are the needs of the serious triathlon enthusiast. As you all move over to tubeless – which is just a better tech, and triathletes are going to prove this out before road racer do (as we often do) – you’re going to find out what a blessing it is not to have to constantly inflate your tires, one of several features of this tire that I appreciate.