Giant Cadex ALR

OK. Picture this, having accumulated as many as 11/12 bikes, then realising that I wasn't really getting use from them, and still having a project or two to complete, I started selling a few and reducing numbers a little bit and planned to continue this way for a while. Then, one evening I was browsing Ebay (as you do) and searched on vintage bike frames, auction only, and changed the listing to show those ending soonest - and I saw this Giant Cadex, ending the next day, with no bids and a very low asking price (35 pounds sterling, with another 27 pounds for international postage). Not only that but it came with a bottom bracket, headset, and seat post. Looked in great condition, and even though it was the lowest spec cadex frame of it's day, it had the advantage of aluminium tubes instead of carbon fibre - I don't really trust CF and especially 30 year old CF when I'm not sure they had perfected bonding techniques. Anyway I had always loved the look of Cadex bikes, and to cut a long story short, put in a bid 5 seconds before the auction ended and won it. I was back on N+1 again. Figured I had all the bits and pieces laying around to complete the bike as a friction shifting 8 speed or a modern 10 speed setup with some Tiagra. I decided to go 8 speed friction, although I discovered I had no friction shifters which was a surprise but I picked up a NOS set of Suntour on Ebay very cheap.

The starting position

The frameset arrived a week later, beautifully and securely packaged, and it was georguous. Almost unmarked. A quick examination showed the headset was a bit rough, and the Shimano bottom bracket was, as I feared a 107mm and my planned crankset required a 113mm bottom bracket (After I had won the auction I had deduced that the bike was originally fitted with a 107mm BB which was a very unusual size).

Frameset as delivered - looks fabulous (seatpost not shown)
Day 1 : Enthusiasm

The Bottom Bracket : I immediately tried removing the BB, before I would buy the correct size, but it proved difficult and I didn't want to force a bonded frame too much, so I went for Plan B. The difference between 107mm and 113mm is 6mm, that's 3mm on each side. All this means my available crankset would sit 3mm closer to the bike than designed, and this would move the chainline in by 3mm. To see if I had the space to spare I hand fitted the crankset and estimated how much closer it would go when torqued up. Visually I had lots of room, I rarely use the outside cogs of the rear cassette which is where any effect of chainline would be most felt, and I think the front derailleur will still be able to move the chain from big ring to small ring - at least I hope so, and the only way is to try it. So, Plan B, leave the existing BB in place and only do something about the BB if it becomes necessary.

The Headset : As there was nothing to do with the BB, I decided to have a look at the headset. Very easy to remove and examine and, while there was a little pitting of the headraces, these were not bad. However there was lots of grit/sand particles on the steerer tube of the fork and I think this may have contributed to the roughness when turning the fork. So, cleaned everything up, packed the bearing races with new grease, assembled and spun the fork - not too bad. Will live with this for now.

Headset - condition pretty ok but lots of grit on the steerer tube.
Frame Prep and Touchup

The frame was in too good condition to do anything with, so I just applied car wax to the frame which removed a few of the grimey bits as well and left it at that.

Bike Assembly/Build

Next up was the assembly of the components, and everything was straightforward except for -
Front Derailleur : I had a braze-on fitting FD Shimano Exage 400 which I planned to use, but as it turned out, interfered with the down tube when aligned with the chainset. I think I had the same problem trying to fit this onto my Bamboo bike and that time blamed the Bamboo construction. Upon inspection the FD shell seems designed to wrap around the down tube unlike most 'normal' FDs. Now I have to start looking for one, a cheap and period correct one, on Ebay and elsewhere. Good job I have plenty of time. AND.... as it happens I found the perfect one - a Shimano 105 being auctioned on Ebay by the same seller as sold me the frameset. I knew it had come off the frameset and bought it (last minute as usual) and got it for reasonable money.

Timeline of build

ght in December 2019, the bar tape and brake outer cable were ordered from Ebay on the cheap from China with long delivery dates. I began the build and ordering of missing and unexpectedly missing parts in January 2020. However the bar tape apparently took the slow boat from China, so the build was stopped in January awaiting completion of tape and brake cabling. And as luck would have it, when the tape arrived, I had other things to do. Thus the build was only completed after lockdown commenced for the coronavirus pandemic Covid-19. As a result, this is officially my first bike project of Covid-19. Some accolade indeed.

Completed the bike is specced as follows :

  • Frameset : 1993 Giant Cadex ALR-1 Bonded Alloy
  • Wheelset : Shimano (these I bought new in approx 2007 and used many years on my Alan bike)
  • Groupset : The original would have been all Shimano 105 SC 1056 8 Speed, mine was a total mix as follows :
    • - Headset : YST (as fitted when bought)
    • - Brake Calipers : Shimano 105 5600 dated 2005 (these I bought new in approx 2007 and used many years on my Alan bike)
    • - Rear Derailleur : Shimano Sport LX dated 1988 (came with a Colonago Super and swapped out)
    • - Front Derailleur : Shimano 105 SC 1056 dated 1992 (probably original to the frameset)
    • - Shifters : Suntour Cyclone (mid to late 80s) bought NOS on Ebay. These are minimalist, clean lines, light to use, and suit the bike perfectly - much better than the Campag ones I planned to use.
  • Bars : SR Sakae Modolo Patent Anatomic Bend (as fitted when bought). These have beautiful clean lines - I really like them.
  • Stem : Italmanubri Eclypse : Came off a 1992 SAB bike I now use as Winter Bike (not the most pretty but the objective was to keep price low)
  • Seatpost : Kalloy (as fitted when bought)
  • Saddle : Selle Italia (present from my son as he had no use for it)

The bike as completed (a smashing looking bike - clean and simple lines).
Using the Bike

Bike was setup and road tested around the block after which the steering was centred. First impressions are of this being a great bike, light and responsive. With Covid-19 Lockdown in full swing, the test was brief and further impressions will have to await the relaxing of restrictions.

And then the real test - 18km on hills and twisty roads - and the bike is brilliant. I even set a few PRs on Strava Segments (which might also be partly due to some recent weight loss from fitness training). I can see this bike becoming my favourite vintage bike for taking out when I want real training (most of my vintage bikes are used for coffee shop rides). It's light, responsive, I love the minimalist feel and look of the downtube friction shifting and aero brakes, it feels planted on the road and I could take fast downhill bends confidently. It's gearing is a bit high and I'll definitely struggle a bit on 10% gradients, especially when they continue for a kilometre or more (and there's a few of them locally) so it will not be used for the real serious stuff. But it will get good use and I'll now have to fit a second water bottle holder for longer rides (just as well I have a matching one). Probably the best bang for my buck considering what I spent on it. Happy Days.

End Giant Cadex ALR

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