Product Review: 2019 Cannondale CAADX 105 SE

Cannondale’s CAADX line of cyclocross bikes have been around for years. While their SuperX line is designed for pro-level racers, the CAADX line offers more value for weekend riders.  Cannondale advertises the CAADX line as “Cross Trainer” bikes, and although CAADX is in their cyclocross line of bikes, they are also very capable as all-road adventure bikes.

I got my first CAADX in 2017 from Ziggy’s Cycle in Kitchener when they were clearing out the previous year’s models.  My 2016 CAADX was came with Ultegra components and hydraulic disk brakes.  I liked this bike for my gravel-road adventures, but the one thing I didn’t like was that the gearing was more suited to cyclocross racing than the types of adventure rides I was doing.

In late 2019, I replaced that bike with a CAADX 105 SE from 2019 that I also got at Ziggy’s Cycle.  This review is the result of over 1000 km on this bike in the last eight months (although I didn’t ride it much in the winter).

The first thing I noticed about this bike was the gearing.  The 2×11 drive train includes chain rings of 48 and 32 teeth, and a 11-34 Shimano 105 cassette.  This gives me some easy gears to get up those steep dirt roads that I love so much.

The “105” in the bike’s name is for the Shimano 105 groupset.  This bike includes 105 shifters, derailleurs, cassette, while the mechanical disc brakes are Tektro Spyre-C with 160 mm rotors.  This is a slightly lower specification on the brakes, compared to the sweet Bianchi Impulso All-Road that I rented in Vegas in 2019, which included 105 hydraulic disc brakes (and my previous CAADX which had Shimano Ultegra discs).  Still, I like the feel of these mechanical disc brakes, and while they don’t have the soft touch of hydraulic brakes, I’ve never worried about having to stop quickly.

The crankset is Cannondale’s Si model 48/32 with FSA rings.  I was a little disappointed that there are no crank-arm power meter options for this crank, but I haven’t had any issues with this crank to this point.

The shifting is Shimano smooth.  The 105 components are very reliable.  It may be a bit heavier than the Ultegra line and it may not shift quite as smoothly, but it’s reliable and precise.

The tires that came on the bike are 37 mm WSB Riddlers that are tubeless ready (the bike came with tubeless valves, but I’m still running tubes.  I really like these 37 mm tires (my previous gravel bikes had anywhere from 30 mm to 35 mm tires).  The centre of the tire doesn’t have huge knobs so the bike rolls well on pavement.  The corner knobs are decent for cornering on loose surfaces.  I notice the wider tire in the way the bike handles, particularly on packed or loose dirt.  There’s always a feeling of control.

Here are some other specs:

  • Chain: KMC X11
  • Seat post, Handlebar and Stem: Cannondale C3 Alloy
  • Fork: Cannondale CAADX Disc, full carbon with 1-1/4″ to 1-1/8″ taper and thru-axle
  • Frame: Alloy
  • Weight: 21.3 lbs
  • Hubs: Formula RX-512, 12×100 front, CX-22 QR rear
  • Rims: WTB STP, tubeless ready

The “SE” in the bike’s name Special Edition (I think!).  This means that there’s also a CAADX 105, which is more suited to cyclocross racing (the main difference is that the chain rings are 46/36 in the non-SE version, versus 48/32 for this SE bike).  The color is “Deep Teal” and it sparkles in the sun!

I plan to continue to use this bike for my all-road adventures.  It’s a great bike for rides that include some gravel/dirt roads, some pavement, rail trails and even some singletrack (that isn’t too gnarly).

When it first came out, this bike listed for over $2000 (CAD) but now that we’re in to 2020, these 2019 models are on sale if you look hard enough (I’ve seen them for around $1700).

Cannondale also makes a Gravel line of bikes called “Topstone”.  I don’t know the details of this line of bikes, but the gearing (chain rings) are a bit different and I think it can handle wider tires.  Maybe one day….!



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