WHEN I WAS DAYDREAMING ABOUT THE COMPONENTS I wanted to put on my editor’s choice ‘Dream Build’ for Bike’s December 2013 issue, there was only one option I considered for a rear shock: the Cane Creek DB Air. My dream bike, a Banshee Spitfire, was a perfect match for that shock: A mid-travel, aggressive-geometry trail bike that is an absolute animal on the downhills.
I had about two months of ride time on the Banshee with the original DB Air. I was in love with the performance: sensitive, supportive, yet seemingly bottomless. But yes, it was just as supple and active on the climbs. This is not the end of the world. After all, I just want to go fast downhill, man. When Cane Creek was able to send the new DB Air with a Climb Switch, the difference was dramatic, and it redefined what the Spitfire was capable of on climbs.
What makes this different from other shocks with a climb mode is that the Climb Switch adjusts both the low-speed compression and rebound. Impacts on climbs are much slower than on descents, so why should the shock rebound at the same rate? The goal is not to just crank the compression to 11 and call it good, but rather to optimize the stroke in both directions to maintain the best possible contact between your tires and the dirt, while at the same time providing a substantially more efficient pedaling platform. Sounds good on paper, but does it deliver as promised on the trail? Yes, and it’s damn good at it, too.
It’s particularly noticeable when you get into the shit. You know, those chunky, awkward, technical climbs that on a 26-inch-wheeled bike, like my Spitfire, you might think impossible. What makes the climbing mode so great in these situations is that the shock still does its job absorbing bumps and ensuring that traction and speed are maintained, instead of getting hung up or bogged down. It seems you’re able to roll right over just about anything.
Even with all the added climbing capabilities, nothing is sacrificed on the descents. It’s the same ultra-tunable performance that people have come to love about Cane Creek suspension. It now just comes with a traction switch.
This story originally appeared in the May issue of Bike. To subscribe to the digital or print edition, or purchase a back issue of the magazine, click here.