25/05/2024
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Shame you’ll never see this radical new Cadex tri bike at the Tour de France?

I wondered what many people did when Giant first released images of this bike.  That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.  Not only has it been banned by the UCI, but there is also a case for the UN to step in.

The new Cadex Tri bike

However, triathlon (opens in a new tab) is not regulated by the UCI or the UN.  And while there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s not the best-looking bike, looking good isn’t fast.  As the brand’s social media manager quipped: “Best doesn’t win races.”

And to be fair it won the Ironman World Championship in May and then broke the seven-hour barrier for the first time in June.

Since it starts from a position of aesthetic disadvantage, the Cadex tri bike needs a series of redeeming factors to be worth the ยฃ6,499 frameset price tag.  It really has some great qualities and if you’re a triathlete this model competes with top bikes like the Ventum One, Canyon Speedmax and Cervelo PX โ€“ among others.

Christian Blumenfelt paces the first sub-seven-hour Ironman by riders including Chris Fennell.

Following its release I was interested to see how the British time trial scene reacted.  The bike is of course legal in time trials run under Cycling Time Trials rules and regs and in addition some top UK riders have ridden Norwegian Olympic gold medalist and double world champion in the recent Sub7/Sub8 sponsored Cadex sponsored Christian Blumenfeldt.  (Opens in a new tab) breaks the world Ironman record.

One of these was Chris Fennell, who did some obscene numbers to win the recent national 50-mile championships, racking up 360 watts for 90 minutes on his way to a 1:37:38 ride โ€” but notably not in his cadence.

I asked him about this and he was told it was a choice between the exclusive Shiv and the Cadex.  The Cadex is perfect for long triathlons and time trials, he said, adding that it’s an impressive bike that handles when fully loaded (with nutrition, bottles and a full hydration system) as well as empty.

Generally, I got the feeling that Chris really liked this bike.  Getting his opinion was very helpful, as it was tricky to find someone who had done the ride, but wasn’t paid to say good things about it.

Aero performance and features

Cadex Tri Bike Three Quarter View (Image credit: Cadex)

I’m always sceptical of quoting aero data from press releases or generalising aero data.  As we know, the aerodynamic performance of a bike is a part of the bike-rider system, so when we see the statement “this bike is 10W faster than its competitors” we can be suspicious.

To its credit, Cadex doesn’t cherry-pick data to make its bike look good.  He says his bike is “one of the fastest non-UCI triathlon bikes” and plots the Cadex, Canyon SpeedMax and Cervelo P5X from what angles they’re being tested in the wind tunnel (that’s the wind angle of -20 to 20 degrees of symmetry versus the watts required to ride in these conditions.

The bikes are running broadly in line with each other on Cadex’s graph.  If you’re looking to buy a non-UCI bike and you want fast, you’ll need to figure out which one is fastest for you as these three are roughly in line.

The lack of a top tube is an aero feature and is a feature found on other contemporary non-UCI bikes such as the Ventum.  It’s interesting to see the performances of bikes without a top-tube stacked against each other.

Cadex Tri Bike Front View (Image credit: Cadex)

On top of this, there’s a wider fork that’s been described as a rip-off of the Hope bike launched last year.  Of course, if you’re designing a bike and you test wider forks using computational fluid dynamics and they come out faster – you make them wider.  This will perhaps become a craze in the next few years.  He was described by Blummenfelt as “wild looking”.  They “evidently make the bike quicker,” he says.  He also praised how the bike feels on descents and corners.

Fit and comfort

Cadex Tri Bike Cockpit (Image credit: Cadex)

The main selling point of this bike is its compatibility.  From a compatibility point of view Cadex has included a very impressive list of features for this bike.

The largest amount of aerodynamic drag is down to the rider’s body, and much of it is the position the rider can get himself into.  There are two aspects to adjustment – what positions can actually be achieved and how easily this can be done.  While the cockpit’s adjustability looks impressive on paper, Cadex describes it as integrated with independent setups.  The idea that cable routing can be left in place while adjustments are made โ€“ that’s music to the ears of bike fitters and anyone who likes to tinker with their position.

There is 80mm stock height adjustment and spacers can be placed above and below the base bar.  It also has 90mm of reach adjustment and a larger width adjustment than the Shiva, P5X and Speedmax.

This bike is primarily designed for Ironman Triathlon.  In this type of racing we know that the race is not over when you get off the bike.  The saying in triathlon is ‘bike for show, run for dough’ which we saw in the Sub7 Ironman world record attempt – where Blummenfelt got off the bike and ran minutes past Joe Skipper to take the overall victory, breaking the world record.  6.44.25.

For this reason saddle adjustment is versatile, allowing you to get into a position that means you can bike efficiently then run faster.

Integration and nutrition

Cadex tri bike side of frame detail shot (Image credit: Cadex)

Any iron-distance triathlon bike has an impressive snack box, secret tool box and drinks bottle hidden in the frame somehow, and the Cadex is no different.

Its removable bento-box is designed to hold 10 (most won’t hold anywhere near this amount) gels, which is very impressive, and a removable bladder that holds between 1000 and 600ml of water โ€“ depending on fixture dimensions.

Above the bottom bracket sits the toolbox, which is pretty well hidden (probably the aero feature as I think aesthetics played a secondary role in the design process).

When someone who rode this bike was asked how it handled ‘full’ and empty, they said they couldn’t tell the difference.

Voyage features

Cadex tri bike, its bike Image credit: Cadex)

Triathletes, amateur and professional alike, are always on the move.  A lot of people go to destination races and there is a lot of money in the sport so this is a feature that many brands are starting to design into their bikes.  This, again, is taken a step further from Cadex by including a literal travel box with the frame.  The box looks very nice.

The risk of a pre-race mechanic is significantly reduced although the bike can mostly stay together in the box, which in my opinion is a major positive for this bike.

Limiting factors

The Cadex is an unadulterated triathlon beast that comes with a very impressive list of features but two major limiting factors come as a result.  Looks are obviously a limiting factor as they clearly divide opinion.  If you’re spending more than six grand on a frame, not everyone will be happy to buy one that looks like this โ€“ especially if it only tests in line with other traditional-looking high-end bikes and isn’t noticeably faster.

As a result of the unusual geometry the frame only accommodates a 55 tooth chainring, which is a problem for those riding time trials on the dual carriageways at the edge of the field.

Interpretation

This bike has an impressive list of features and comes with its own specially designed travel case.  It handles very well by all accounts, full and empty, as well as being easily adjustable.  Many people have ridden this bike and have spoken highly of it.  Many people have seen this and the opposite is true.  By all accounts, it’s a perfect triathlon bike if you can get past the looks but I’m not sure I couldโ€ฆ

You name a UCI equipment regulation and this bike breaks it… but has the WorldTour lost such an amazing machine?

sources Image credit: Cadex)

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