I spent the weekend road riding in Malibu’s Santa Monica Mountains with a posse including my favorite crash test dummy pack mule Paul Thomas. Paul rides big miles, and a lot of vertical, and I doublecheck my product impressions by having Paul act as a counterpoint.
I was surprised when I asked Paul to mount CADEX’s new 32mm road tires on his road wheels (CADEX’s 42mm), because the tires the CADEXes replaced were also 32mm. I’d've thought that 32mm was a borderline bridge too far, a size few would endorse for road, but Paul had some 32mm road tires by Hutchinson on his wheels already.
A year and a half ago I mounted some 30mm Schwalbe Pro Ones on my road bike and I thought those were big. But, truth be told, in the old days (1970s) the tubular tire we rode when we wanted comfort and confidence as well as speed was the Clement Campionato Del Mondo (or just “Del Mundo” for short), and that tire was every bit of 30mm. The Clement “middlin” wide sew-up tire was the Paris Roubaix at 27mm or 28mm, and then the Del Mundo was like riding on a pillow. So, what’s old is new.
What makes this new breed of wider tire ride really well is when they’re ridden tubeless, and they both look and ride nicely on rims with wider inner beads, as in, at least 23mm of distance between the rim walls. The difference between these and the old Del Mundos is you rode those at 100psi and you ride these at about half that pressure.
Let me first tell you the negative about these new tires. Paul and I spent 2 hours with tires all over my workshop, and wheelsets, and we just mounted different tires on different wheels. The CADEX tires are really happiest when mounted on CADEX wheels. The more I ride these wheels and these tires, the more I am convinced that CADEX built a system. This is good and bad. Mind, I haven’t had a problem putting Schwalbe Pro Ones on CADEX wheels, but the CADEX wheels want CADEX rubber and vice versa.
The value is that the system works really well. The downside is that it’s hard to consider CADEX as a tire brand in the same way you’d think of IRC or Continental or Vittoria. It’s a tire that’s built as part of the CADEX wheel/tire system, and this limits CADEX’s utility as a standalone tire. Obviously, though, the wheel can take a variety of tires, as I’d ridden the CADEX wheels with Schwalbe and Paul – as noted – pulled 32mm Hutchinson road tires off the wheel to put the new CADEX tires on there.
Paul and I had a conversation about the tire after the weekend of riding, and here’s what he said.
“I’ve been sold on a wider tire ever since my first Belgian Waffle [gravel-ish race] in 2016. I rode 28s then, tubeless, on HED Jet 4 Plus Black wheels and when I came back home to Tucson I left those 28s on the bike. I couldn’t detect a speed difference, but there was a real comfort and security difference. I’ve not gone back to thinner tires, but I am migrating to larger tires. If I do the Belgian Waffle Ride again, the CADEX 32 is definitely the tire.”
I asked him how he found the CADEX versus the Hutchinson. “A little grippier, though it doesn’t seem any slower, and more supple.”
I had some IRCs on for the weekend’s riding, and I found them quite nice. But I also found them positively skinny even though they were 28mm tires. This is because I have become so used to riding larger tires for road (and road rideable dirt). I think 28mm is the new 25mm, and the 30mm and 32mm tires I’m riding around on have finally gotten me back to those days of the Clement Del Mundos, where you just felt like you were riding on an air hockey table.
I think it should be noted that Paul and I and Ian Murray (who accompanies us on one of our rides, and who curates the Canyon Fit Assistance Thread) and others in my cycling tribe prefer the road less traveled when we ride, which often also means the road less maintained. Paul and I go to the Eastern Sierra Nevadas to ride a couple of times a year (the mountainous spine that travels down the eastern longitude of California) and when we ride up, we invariably ride down roads that feel like riding over railroad ties, because of all the cross-sectional cracks from the freezing/thawing of roads above 9,000 feet in elevation. You just can’t ride those roads without a tire that absorbs some of that energy.
I have a road bike frame on the way to me in a couple of weeks, which I will build up into a bike, and it’s an aero frame. But it’s made to take a 32mm tire. I find this trend fascinating, and welcome, but I didn’t see it coming. Thematically it’s like what 3T is doing with gravel bikes, which is (paraphrasing) "Yes, it’s an offroad or allroad bike, but that’s no reason to eschew aerodynamics." (These are not 3T’s words; it’s me channeling my inner 3T.) Wind resistance doesn’t become a non-thing just because a bike has the capacity to travel in dirt.
There is nothing “trickle up” about CADEX. It’s already “up” there. These are $100 tires. Because CADEX is a member of the Giant family of brands, the CADEX product line follows in Giant's tradition of proof-of-concept moonshots – investing in the design and manufacture of best-in-class products – the DNA of which find their way down into a pocketbook more the size of mine. Because this tire is designed to work perfectly with CADEX wheels, it's "in for a penny in for a pound" if you want the whole CADEX experience.
Mind, these tires are the CADEX Classics line. There is also the CADEX Race line of tires. The Classics line adds some puncture resistance. I wrote about the Classic line last Autumn. I didn’t have the 32mm tire at the time, hence my not writing about this tire until now.
Here is more about this particular tire.