Three Top Disc Brake Wheels with Carbon Fiber Spokes From China:CADEX 42, Farsports S4, Vortex N4

Everything about building wheels, glueing tubs, etc.
jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

封面图.jpg

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Disc brakes are becoming ever more popular and dominating in the realm of road cycling. More and more World Tour teams have switched to disc brakes, and the sales of disc brakes of major brands have steadily outnumbered rim brakes. Some may say that disc brakes are a common conspiracy of manufacturers, in order to stimulate sales and increase product prices. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that without a brake track, a wheel can be made better. In this article, we are going to review and introduce three models of disc brake wheels with not only carbon fiber rims but also replaceable carbon spokes. Spoiler alert: they are worth it.

All wheels reviewed have three things in common:
1.Disc brake. In the past few years, I have written a lot of articles about rim brake wheels, and the products to be introduced in this article also have corresponding rim brake versions; but now that I have switched to disc brakes in full, I will only introduce the disc brake version. This change also brought me a huge convenience, I don't need to worry about the braking surface anymore.
2.Replaceable carbon fiber spokes. Carbon spokes are nothing new, and many brands have launched such products in the era of rim brakes. However, the demand for lightweight disc brake wheels is more intense, so more brands have begun to use carbon spokes in order to reduce weight; and the tensile rigidity of carbon spokes also enhances the performance of the wheelset. All of the three protagonists here are equipped with replaceable carbon spokes. In addition, I will also use Lightweight wheels with non-replaceable spokes as a comparison.
3.Tubeless rims: In 2020, tubeless-ready rims are also a must for all major wheel brands. Whether with or without access holes, they will fully support tubeless tires. Some riders hate to clean sealant, but that's fine for me. I used 25mm tubular tires on my rim brake wheels(110psi), but 28mm tubeless tires are effectively more comfortable. So, considering that the carbon spoke wheels usually have poor comfort, I will test them with 28mm tires.

Besides the common characters above, these wheels are all emphasized aerodynamics, made in Greater China, and have excellent quality.

by Weenie


jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

CADEX 42
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CADEX is a high-end bicycle component and accessory brand under Giant, officially Launched on the eve of Tour de France in 2019. Wheelsets are one of the most important products of the CADEX brand, in addition to saddles, tubeless tires, and cycling clothing. CADEX wheels focus on the high-end, all series are equipped with carbon spokes or full carbon structure. The product positioning is higher than Giant brand wheels. CADEX offers 42/65mm depth, disc/rim brake, tubeless/tubular road wheels to choose from. Noting that the width of CADEX 42 and CADEX 65 are different. CADEX 42 is 23mm wide, and CADEX 65 is 26mm wide. It is clear that these two wheels are designed for alternative purposes. CADEX tubeless wheels have matching tubeless tires, as shown in the picture above. To be fair, all wheels are tested with Schwalbe Pro One 28c.
On the website of CADEX, the wheels are quoted separately for the front and rear wheels. The wheels I received are also individually packaged for the front and rear wheels. If you want to buy front or rear wheel alone, better check with the local dealer.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Farsports S4
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Farsports, mostly known as an OEM, has received a lot of attention for the first product of its own brand, Ventoux C3 / C5. The S series is Farsports' latest high-end series. The most significant improvement is the use of replaceable carbon spokes. C series have unequal rim depths, for instance C3 has 35mm in the front and 40mm in the rear. S series, on the other hand, discarded that feature. S series provides three depth option: 35mm for S3, 45mm for S4 and 56mm for S6. It has one more depth to choose than the other two brands but avoids the popular 38mm-40mm range. Compared with C series, S series have improved in many details such as rim, hub and spoke lacing. Also, S series provide tubular version, unlike C series which only present itself in Tubeless Version.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Vortex N4
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As the high-end product line of Vortex, New Concept series have featured itself with the use of carbon fiber spokes since its first generation issued in 2017. The latest model comes with disc brake, along with a lot of new features. "7" should be a lucky number for Dr. Huang, because the spokes of this generation of Vortex wheels are all multiples of 7, regardless of rim brake and disc brake. Vortex wheels value tension balancing in the spokes, to an extreme. To make every spoke's tension equal, Vortex uses outsize flange and 2: 1 spoke lacing. Product appearance reflect the engineering aesthetics of the founder. In terms of spokes, the latest generation of Vortex wheels uses wider, flatter carbon spokes than the previous models. The aerodynamic performance has been improved, and at the same time, the spokes can be colored like Lightweight. The new generation N series has two rim depths of 40mm (N4) and 60mm (N6). Compared with the original 38mm and 50mm ones, the rim depths are deeper, but the weight does not rise but decreases. The improvement of the product is evident. Both N4 and N6 are available with rim brake / disc brake version, but only N4 provides tubular version in addition to tubeless. N6 is only available in tubeless.
Compared with the other two brands, Vortex focus on wheel products the most, and they have reasons to show super competitiveness.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Lightweight MEILENSTEIN EVO
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Lightweight is a hallowed brand in the wheel industry. It has a very different market positioning from the tested product, and we only review the parameters as a benchmark.
Lightweight is now also in line with the trend of the times, launched the tubeless compatible "EVO" series. In the era of rim brakes, the weight advantage of LW is tremendous. However, in the era of disc brakes, this advantage was greatly weakened. Take MEILENSTEIN EVO as an example. This wheelset weighs 1380g, which is even heavier than CADEX 42 and Vortex N4.
LW is also unique in its spoke linkage. Because the spokes and rims and hubs are glued together, it is a lot harder to repair or maintain than conventional products. This is why the INCOLOR studio keeps several Lightweight wheels to be repaired all year round. Of course, those who should buy LW will still buy LW.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Parameter comparison
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This table compares the various parameters of the four wheelsets, including rims, spokes, hubs, weights, and pricing. This table alone has many interesting points worth analyzing.
First of all, let's take a look at the rim depths. The rim depth of all wheels, including LW, is different! These products are positioned in the middle depth, which are also deeper than the traditional 38mm. Farsports S4 radically reached 45mm, the lightest Vortex N4 is only 40mm. In terms of outer width, Farsports and Vortex chose a more orthodox aero rim width of 26mm, while CADEX 42 is only 23mm. After installing a wide tire, the tire will be significantly wider than the rim. Giant staff told me that the "Mushroom Shape" section is more aerodynamic, which ENVE probably doesn't agree.
How the three models cope with tubeless tires are also different. CADEX 42's rim bed has access holes, but the factory comes with a cushion, you can use the tubeless tire directly. They are also the only ones with a straight edge and hookless design, which is more compatible with their own tubeless tires. To use tubeless tires, you need to buy rim tape and Tubeless Tire Valve separately for Farsports S series (they do provide optional package of tubeless tire including these kits). The total weight of the wheel set including the tape will further increase. Farsports S series have hook on the rim bed, which makes it easier to mount a tubeless tire. Vortex and LW achieve tubeless-ready with a undrilled rim bed, with obvious advantages in light weight. In addition, the asymmetric design of the Vortex rear wheel is also not available in other brands.
In terms of spokes, several brands have not came together, not only the parameters are different, but the spoke patterns are completely different. CADEX 42 uses the most of spokes (21 for front and 24 for rear), it is sparing but robust, pursues rigidity and stability. Farsports shares the spokes supplier with CADEX, only the section is slightly different. With 40 spokes, S4 has the least of spokes. Featuring a front-to-rear 1: 1 spoke pattern different from the other two. Vortex's self-produced spokes have ushered in version 2.0, which is closer to the shape of LW's spokes than the first generation. The hub end of these spokes was changed to a T-head instead of the original threaded installation. In terms of lacing pattern, N4 and Fulcrum Racing Zero Disc are very similar, with 21-spokes and 2: 1 pattern from front to rear. The rear brake-side's radial pattern tests the reliability of the hub flanges, some engineering samples of Fulcrum wheels and N4 have had quality problems. LW uses a 1X symmetrical spoke pattern front and rear, which is good looking.
In terms of hubs, the differences between the three are still huge. CADEX continues to be a style of stability. The flange data is not outstanding. The spoke-inlaid holes are all open on the outside. The hub uses DT's star ratchet structure and lightweight aluminum alloy bearing. Farsports S4's hub is greatly improved compared to its own C series, and its waterproof performance has also been improved. The freehub structure is louder. Customers can choose between the standard steel bearing or CeramicSpeed Version, which cost an additional 3000 RMB. (around 430 US dollar). Vortex's hub flanges are exaggerated, and the use of carbon fiber hub shells is unique in appearance. Vortex build their own star ratchet structure for the hub; this famous patent of DT has expired. In terms of freehub compatibility, each of them supports three mainstream specifications of Campagnolo, Shimano, and Sram XDr. As for maintainability, each one has done a good job.
Weight. I have weighted the front and rear wheels of the three products separately. Considering individual differences, this data and the nominal data (and the actual data of the products actually purchased by the consumer) may differ. CADEX 42 achieves 1340g with its own tape on. It has a weight limit of 130kg, which is 10kg higher than the other wheelsets. Farsports S4 weights 1391g without tape. Counting the tape, it will break through the 1400g mark. Of course, this is related to its deeper rim. The actual weight of Vortex N4 is the same as the nominal one, which is 1320g. This weight is 60g lighter than Lightweight.
In the end, the price of CADEX 42 is 3200 USD, which is twice of Farsports S4 CeramicSpeed Version. The price of Vortex N4 is between the two, which is slightly higher than the Farsports S4 CS Version. As for Lightweight, it is the price of all three combined.
Consumers will also be concerned about after-sale issues. After all, if you buy a high-priced product, you will need more protection after sale. CADEX has a traditional warranty period of 2 years, and if the product is artificially damaged or replaced within 5 years, it can be discounted by 50% on the purchase invoice. This is a revolutionary warranty. (go to http://www.cadex-cycling.com.cn/index.p ... ranty.html for more information). Farsports and Vortex both offer 30% discounted price warranty. Farsports' warranty is up to 3 years.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Product details - CADEX 42
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The workmanship of CADEX 42 represents the highest level of Giant, whether it is the internal and external flatness of the rims, the lightness of the spokes, or the structure of the hub. The rim brake version of the CADEX wheels may have the problem that the brake tracks are not rough enough, while the disc brake version does not need to consider this at all. Note that the valve and the rim of the tubeless version of the CADEX 42 have a very close fit. This workmanship is also the best of the three pairs of wheels.
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Despite the holes in the tire bed, CADEX 42 comes with a built-in tape, so you can use a tubeless tire directly. Note that the inside of the rim is hookless, so the tire is required to be airtight. In my opinion, the greater significance of the hookless design is to facilitate the pro-team to disassemble and assemble tires in batches. After all, according to the current trend, it is also a matter of time before the CCC Team uses the tubeless version of CADEX.
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The spokes looked the same as ordinary steel aero spokes, with a flattening treatment in the middle, and their shapes are similar. In fact, if you don't look closely, you can't tell that this is a carbon spoke. That's why the CCC Team used # Overachieve-look Prototype CADEX for a long time and nobody noticed that they were using carbon spoke wheels.
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Looking at the front hub design, the hub shell is very round, with spoke holes on the outside, and the spokes are mounted to the flange via metal spoke caps.
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CADEX's lacing pattern is relatively conservative, using the most spokes and the most crossovers. Since the hub of carbon spoke wheelset needs more space to deal with the spoke cap, the design is more technical. The first attempt at CADEX has yielded excellent answers.
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Inside the rear hub, a star ratchet freewheel system.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Farsports S4
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Farsports used the undrilled tire bed and silk appearance in the C series, but the tubeless version of the S series come without these features. From the point of view of technology, the rims of the S4 have also achieved the domestic top level-smooth appearance, no trace of transition, and perfect compatibility with tubeless tires. This exquisiteness can be felt intuitively from the moment you open the box and pull out the wheelset. The big "FAR" logo of the S series is a gleaming golden watermark. Compared to the other two wheelsets and its own C series, it is more dazzling and stronger, but it is less fun to change the sticker to change the appearance.
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The S series uses stickers to display the trademark and model at the valve hole. This sticker also has a certain role of fixing the valve.
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The S series uses stickers to display the trademark and model at the valve hole. This sticker also has a certain role of fixing the valve.
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The spoke lacing pattern used on the non-brake side of the front wheel is slightly different from the traditional radial. The spokes and the radius have an angle of about 20°. Therefore, the front wheel of the S4 is not 2: 1, but 1: 1, with 20 spokes.
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The rear wheel of S4 has also 20 spokes, 1: 1. The S series is not only completely different from the other two, but also completely different from its own C series disc brake version. Farsports takes differentiation strategy seriously.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Vortex N4
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The most Industrial-Style Vortex has made great progress compared to the previous generation. The wheels are not only excellent in workmanship, but also extremely lightweight. This generation of disc brake tubeless version N4 is actually lighter than the last generation rim brake clincher version 38mm New Concept, and featuring a undrilled tubeless ready rim bed. The spokes are also one of the biggest highlights of this generation of N series. Its width has reached 5mm, which is close to 5.5mm of LW; not only the strength has been improved, but the space for personalization has also increased. My N4 replaced 4 yellow spokes after some customer remodeling, with the dark mark of the rim, it looked very sharp.
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Vortex comes with five-color stickers from the first generation, which is convenient for users to match the bike, but I personally think that the new dark label is actually the most tasteful.
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The valve hole of N4 is the simplest and roughest here, and it needs to be used with a tubeless valve with strong air tightness.
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Drain hole
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The rim bed of N4 almost feels silky, which is compatible with the mainstream tubeless tires on the market. The outer width of 26mm is matched with the inner width of 19mm, so that when it is installed with the 28c Schwabe Pro One, the actual width will reach 30mm.
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The hub of the Vortex N series, the carbon fiber shell is glued to the aluminum flange. The spokes are inlaid on the flanges through a "T-Head", which is different from the other two products (and the own old models). This can reduce the weight of the spoke caps by half and the risk of falling off.
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In terms of packaging, Vortex is the most understated of the 3 brands. But they are provided with a two-wheeled wheel bag, which is very practical.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Lightweight MEILENSTEIN EVO
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I don't have Lightweight at hand. Here are some photos. (provided by HXsport)
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jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Test ride
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CADEX 42 is the wheelset I tried first. This pair of wheels was very impressive to me at first, it was very light, and the acceleration was very sharp. The carbon fiber spokes bring strong lateral stiffness, and the riding feel is completely different from the other mid-depth carbon wheels. When riding in the peloton, it requires more power than CADEX 65, but the advantage is that it is steady when facing a crosswind. Because the two products have obvious differences from rim depth to width, the positioning distinction is quite clear. In terms of performance alone, the CADEX 42 can completely replace any mid-depth wheelset you have ever ride.
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Schwabe Pro One 28c tubeless tire, when mounted, is actually nearly 30mm wide. Much wider than the 23mm rim. Theoretically, the comfort is improved after changing tires, but I started to notice the uncomfortable side of the wheelset. When passing through bumpy roads, the wheelset will give you a feeling of stubbornness, "adversely obedient". Of course, the shock will be transformed into jumping under its light body, which is still very different from the blunt impact of a pile-driver-like traditional aluminum wheels.
From a design perspective, CADEX is seeking stability. It uses the most spokes, DT style hub, and excellent vertical strength, so confident that the nominal rider weight limit is 130kg. Rear wheel adopts conservative double-sided cross lacing, which also guarantees its driving / braking performance. This is a pair of top-level wheels on the World Tour, and its strength parameters must meet the requirements of the competition; even so, it still has a significant lightweight advantage over other metal spoke wheels, this is intuitive for common users.
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While trying out the wheelset, I also used the CADEX Boost saddle for a while. My biggest feeling is, short nosed saddles such as Power, Power Arc are very different. Boost is more like the “short nosed version”of Fizik Arione 00, which is very lightweight, strong support, flexible front-to-rear movement, and the front nose shape meets the needs of most users. If you are looking for competitions, especially short-distance climbing races, Boost is perfect for you. However, if you often ride long distances and bumpy roads, its stiff and unopened base will make you more uncomfortable. Also worthy of praise is that Boost comes with integrated taillight and fender, which are not found in other 99% of saddles.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

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Farsports S4 is one of the main wheels I used on Yunnan Gran Fondo. In this mountainous endurance race, its total weight of 1400g + (counting the tapes) seemed a bit of a loss; but the reality is that the S4 made me ride faster most of the time. Unless you have group-riding phobias, in this long-distance race, other performance must give way to cruise. If you fall out of the peloton, comfort and stiffness means nothing. To survive in a group of 20+ people, drafting others is a very important way to saving energy or speeding up. The S4's cruising performance is completely matching 50mm-level carbon wheels; its performance of maintaining speed is more useful when going downhill. I can crouch down over the top tube for three or four kilometers without paddling and let the wheels take me to pass many others.
At the same time, the S4 does not drag like a traditional 50mm carbon wheelset when climbing uphill. It is a pair of wheels that can move whenever you sit or stand. Of course, it also has a sister model more suitable for pure climbing— the S3, no mention the rim brake tubular version is even lighter.
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The popularity of tubeless tires is inseparable from their low rolling resistance and high comfort. Because of this, tubeless wide tires and carbon spoke wheels form a good partnership, the former makes up for the latter's shortcomings in comfort, and increased aerodynamics together. I even want to install Gravel 32c tubeless tires on the S4, so this is really the best combination of Yunnan Gran Fondo (or even Paris-Roubaix Challenge).
In the tubeless tires I have used (also CADEX, GP 5000TL, etc.), Pro One is the most commonly spitting sealant. (I believe it is just because of its popularity). As long as it doesn't get flatted, it is still an outstanding representative of tubeless tires. Today, Pro One has came with its successor. It is said that various performances have been improved. I look forward to review the products in the future.
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Do larger pulley wheels actually enhance your performance? People dispute on it. You may believe that a high quality pulley can save you 3 ~ 6w of power, although it can't be feel. but in fact, when you use a oversized pulley, you only pray for it to run smoothly, and hope it don't increase weight. Oh, and let others know your bike is extremely expensive. Neutron does exactly that.
It should be noted that in order to save weight, not only does the pulley wheels have a missing-tooth design, the cage is also missing one side, the chain might fall when assembling or disassembling the wheelset. be sure to put the chain in place before riding, otherwise it might jam.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

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Vortex N4 seems to come out of a comic book. It is very different from the other two wheelsets in appearance. The flat and wide spokes, the sharply contoured hub, and the capricious logo. The first time you see this you might think: What the hell is this crazy scientist doing? But after the first ride it might be: Shit, it's pretty good to ride!
The weight of 1320g is almost the ultimate in similar products. Whether starting at zero speed or climbing, it's as if wielding a sharp dagger. Compared with CADEX 42, it has almost no disadvantages, at most it just drifts a little when downhill or in the crosswind. It's hard to imagine what other wheels can do like N4, with almost no loss of performance under significant weight loss.
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Since it is compared with CADEX, product reliability is the most critical. For the front wheels, both products are 21-spoke 2: 1, radial on one side and two-cross on the other side. No big difference. However, the rear wheels of the two are very different. The Vortex N4 rear wheels only have 21 spokes, three fewer than the CADEX 42, and the brake side boldly uses radial lacing. This has caused much larger pull on the brake side. In the laboratory environment, the hub may be able to bear it, but in reality, when facing high-speed downhill + bumps + hard braking, is N4's confidence sufficient? So, you can understand why the CADEX rear wheel for the professional team uses such a conservative lacing pattern. There is no absolute good or bad spoke pattern, as long as the hub flanges are strong enough, it is not a problem for me so far.
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During the trial, I also performed a "mid-term change" on the N4. The significant change is that the logo has become a dark mark, and eight custom-made yellow spokes. The insignificant change is that the hub improves the strength of the flanges and the axle. I'm happy with both improvements. I believe that many Vortex users have different ideas on aesthetic with the engineer founder of Vortex, but if you have any ideas of the appearance of the wheelset, such as logo style or spoke color, you can ask the brand to make it for you.

jewelzzz
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:47 am

by jewelzzz

Summary
I believe that the readers here will feel that the above three wheels are all too good to choose from. Although they have a huge improvement over traditional steel spoke carbon wheels, they are difficult to distinguish between each other. Finally, briefly summarize the pros and cons.

CADEX 42
Pros: Good quality, better rider weight limit, fast acceleration, lightweight, good warranty terms
Cons: bumpy, poor cruise, expensive

Farsports S4
Pros: Cruise like 50mm but climb like 38mm, stable, good inertia, good quality and low price, long warranty time
Cons: A bit heavier, high price with CeramicSpeed Version

Vortex N4
Pros: Super light, fast acceleration, unique look, room for customize
Cons: Very bumpy, unstable in crosswind, low inertia


Buying advice
In general, the common advantages of the three wheels are lightweight, acceleration and lateral stiffness, and the common disadvantages are bumpy. The three have their own emphasis on other performance aspects.
If you want to experience the revolutionary experience of carbon spoke wheels at the lowest price, Farsports S series is the best option. If you are a Giant fan, heavy weight or tend to damage things (and you have an ample budget) you can consider CADEX 42. If you have a preference for creative products, pursue the ultimate parameters, and like to accelerate, Vortex N4 will become your new religion.
What would I choose? I would use S4 with 30mm tires on my endurance bike for daily rides, then use N4 and SkyPivot Crankset to build an weight-weenie bike for blague.

by Weenie


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