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First Ride Impressions: CADEX 50 Ultra are just as fast on the gravel as on the road

The CADEX Ultra 50 disc is highly impressive, not only in the looks but the performance. Yes, it’s technically billed as a road wheelset, but it can easily take on rough roads.

All photos: Jordan Villella

Rounding out the CADEX wheel line, the CADEX 50 Ultra Disc is right in the middle, an all-arounder to mix with the CADEX 36, 42, and 65 wheelsets. While the 50mm depth might turn away some weight weenies; the 1382g weight might get their attention.

CADEX 50 Ultra full on

If you missed the whole story, check out our CADEX 50 Ultra/Aero Tubeless Tire piece, detailing everything new and fancy!

CADEX 50 Ultra weight rear hub

First Impressions Review: Setup and dial in

We’re no strangers to CADEX wheels and tires. From our experience, they set up quickly, and bead sits easily without a compressor or tubeless tricks — the CADEX 50 Ultras give a similar experience. In spite of the warning printed on the side of the tire regarding to use of tire levers, I did require assistance from tire levers to get them on the rim. The wheels actually included tire levers, so I used those–but use at your own risk.

CADEX 50 Ultra Aero Tire

The CADEX Aero Tubeless Tires are lighter than expected (262g), especially from the past CADEX tires we’ve ridden. The compound is soft to the touch, and the carcass is supple and pliable, almost like a cotton tire.

CADEX 50 Ultra rear detail

The shape appears normal when out of the packaging, but when mounted, they take on a unique egg/ovalized shape. This egg shape diminishes when you mount the bike and conforms to make the tire/rim surface shape tighter; more aerodynamic. The effect on the handling performance of the tire isn’t noticeable at all.

unnamed file 686

The 25mm tire plumps to an full 26.5-27mm on the CADEX 50 Ultra rim, just enough cushion to hit potholes confidently. If the tire doesn’t inspire confidence, the 4mm hookless bead width will! For pressure, I went light, around 65-68psi for my first rides, which seemed to fit well with my riding style and terrain.

CADEX Ultra 50 — Weights and measurements

CADEX 50 Ultra Aero Tire weight

The CADEX Aero Tires were slightly lighter than the claimed 290g weight at 267g each.

CADEX 50 Ultra weight rear

CADEX 50 Ultra weight

The CADEX 50 Ultra wheelset weighed in slightly more than claimed. The set came in at 1382g but included the rim tape and valves.

CADEX 50 Ultra interal width rim

The rim dimensions are interesting; one would expect the internal width (22.33mm) to be more, considering the 30mm external width. On the other hand, the hookless bead is beefy and confidence-inspiring at 4mm.

CADEX 50 Ultra full rim width

CADEX 50 Ultra bead width

The rounded wide bead gives the tire generous support in the corners and can take its share of knocks from rough roads and cobbles.

CADEX 50 Ultra full bike

First ride review: On the road and gravel

Our first rides on the CADEX 50 Ultra wheelset were on the bumpy roads surrounding Pittsburgh and then the Snowshoe West Virginia mountains. The very different riding conditions yielded many positive riding experiences. The CADEX 50 Ultra has sensations of a much lighter wheel spinning up the climbs but a deeper wheel on the rollers — like an extra gear.

CADEX 50 Ultra front hub logo

The wheels expertly carry speed, especially noted on twisting descents. I felt like I wasn’t losing time in corners but gaining; the stiff sensation of the wheel preserves momentum.

CADEX 50 Ultra front wheels

As for the tires, after I mounted them and hit the road, I didn’t think much of them after — in a good way. I didn’t baby the bike or look for tire-friendly routes, I rode them like any other tire, and the performance has been outstanding. As for the speed and aero-gains, I can only say they are very comfortable and feel like the CADEX Classics blend tire, one of my favorites this season. In the corners, the Aero Tubeless is a perfect counterpart to the robust 50 Ultra rims, rounding out the rigid ride and allowing the rider to feel the road.

CADEX 50 Ultra gravel CRUX

After some enjoyable rides on the tarmac, I decided to mount my fresh CADEX Classic 32mm tires for some gravel action. Measuring the rim, I was more confident that the 50 Ultras could handle a few bumps, and I’m glad I did.

CADEX 50 Ultra gravel

The 32mm CADEX Classics tire plumped up to a voluminous 33mm and at 45 psi rides like a dream over chunky gravel. A 50mm deep wheelset with ceramic bearings and wider road-style tires felt like a rocket ship. I’m used to a nice pop of acceleration on my race wheels, but the CADEX 50 Ultras have a little extra. The wheels soaked up a lot of chatter on the gravel, but I felt the best on the wide-open fire road. The wheels held speed and helped my tired legs reach beyond.

CADEX 50 Ultra rear gravel

The wheels have been great thus far; the price, on the other hand, is slightly more than attainable for most. At $3,500.00 for the pair, the Ultra-premium CADEX 50 is one heck of a pricy upgrade.

CADEX 50 Ultra carbon spoke

Lasting first impressions

My first weeks on the CADEX 50 Ultras were enough to want more time on the wheels in varying conditions. The price is premium, but so is the performance; stay tuned for a long-term review as we put the 50 Ultras through the paces and some cyclocross racing.

For more information, check out: Cadex-cycling.com.

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83 COMMENTS

    • I couldnt agree less. These CADEX 50 Ultra bikes are just another overhyped gimmick. Road or gravel, they wont make a difference if you lack skill and determination. Save your money and focus on improving yourself instead.

    • Well, its about time you discovered the joys of gravel riding. Where have you been all this time? Those of us in the know have been tearing up the trails and leaving road riders in our dust for ages. Welcome to the real adventure!

    • Actually, many experienced cyclists have known this for years. Road bike tires with wider profiles and lower pressure can handle gravel quite well. Its not a game changer, just common knowledge. But hey, glad youre excited about it! Keep riding and discovering new things.

    • Are you serious? Bike tires being versatile is not news. And of course, a high-end tire like the CADEX 50 Ultra performs well, thats what you pay for! Save your boss talk for something actually impressive.

    • Sorry, but I have to disagree. Ive tried the CADEX 50 Ultra wheels on both gravel and road, and they didnt live up to the hype. They lacked the stability and performance I was looking for. Maybe I had a different experience, but I wouldnt call them impressive.

    • I totally agree! The CADEX 50 Ultra is a game-changer. Its like having two sets of tires in one – perfect for any terrain. Whether youre hitting the gravel or cruising on the road, these tires give you the ultimate performance. Cant wait to get my hands on them!

  1. Wow, these CADEX 50 Ultra wheels are like the James Bond of cycling! Theyre smooth on the road and unstoppable on gravel. Who needs a car anymore?

  2. Comment: Wow, these CADEX 50 Ultra wheels are like the chameleons of the cycling world! Gravel or road, theyve got the need for speed!

    • Are you serious? Gravel is not even close to being as fast as the road. Stick to the facts, buddy. Dont let your mind wander too far.

    • Sorry to burst your bubble, but the CADEX 50 Ultra might not live up to your expectations. Ive heard from a friend who tried them that theyre nothing but overpriced hype. Maybe do some more research before getting your hopes up.

  3. Im sorry, but I strongly disagree. The CADEX 50 Ultras are overhyped. They might be decent on the road, but their performance on gravel is mediocre at best. There are far better options out there for tackling both terrains. Dont believe the marketing hype!

  4. I hate to burst your bubble, but these CADEX 50 Ultra wheels are far from being unicorns. They might be versatile, but there are plenty of other options out there that can do the same job, if not better. Dont believe the hype.

    • Nah, those wheels are just overhyped marketing gimmicks. There are plenty of other options out there that perform just as well, if not better. Dont let the fancy name fool you, do your research before splurging on them.

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