News: Cane Creek’s DB Inline Shock Brings Big Adjustment To A Smaller Package
Trail bikes rejoice as four-way adjustability is finally attainable to them
Cane Creek DB Inline
Avaliable: June 16
Cane Creek introduced its first Double Barrel coil-sprung shock back in 2005, a seemingly strange leap for a headset company. However, it didn’t take long before the Double Barrel grew a cult following. Twin-tube technology and four-way independent adjustability born from high-end automotive suspension brand, Ohlins, made Cane Creek’s shock the most tunable on the market. High and low-speed compression and rebound adjustments could be made externally, with a supllied tool. If you were a discerning rider the Double Barrel was the shock to have on your downhill bike. In 2011 Cane Creek rolled out the DB Air to a salivating crowd of all-mountain riders who demanded more out of their air-sprung units, and last year added Climb Switch, or CS, to the mix.
Even though it now sports a climbing mode, the DB Air is still a massive shock designed for long travel bikes favoring descents. Cane Creek knew there was a hole in its lineup, but wasn’t willing to sacrifice the tune-ability that put them on the map; the tune-ability that Cane Creek customers demand. Making the first-ever twin tube shock without a piggyback was a massive, nearly three year undertaking, but the DB Inline is finally here. We got the opportunity to ride one for three consecutive days on the rocky trails of western North Carolina, where Cane Creek calls home.
Suspension For People, Not Dummies
Suspension has adorned our bikes for over a decade, but somehow even many shop employees don’t understand it. In response to our seeming unwillingness to learn about the springy things on our bikes, major suspension manufacturers have dumbed them down, taking adjustments away. This is perfectly fine with some folks. Hell, I’d rather just go ride than fiddle with my bike, and it’s my job to fiddle with my bike. But I am picky about suspension, and if you’re reading this right now, chances are you are too. The wide adjustment breadth and range can be overwhelming, but it’s Cane Creek’s goal to educate customers, arming them with the information they need to personalize their shock settings. They have a huge database on their website with recommended base tunes for an ever-growing number of bikes to give customers a good starting point. Plus the tuning field guide provided with every shock helps riders understand what each knob does and when to turn it. It even takes you through a step-by-step guide for getting the most out of your Double Barrel. In a few rides, chances are you’ll find the settings that suit you and you’ll learn a whole lot in the process.
There’s no such thing as the “perfect” tune for everyone. You and I might be the same exact weight, have the same exact bike and ride the same exact trails, and I guarantee we’ll have different settings. You might ride faster than me, requiring the shock to rebound more quickly between successive impacts. We have to tune our settings for how fast we’re hitting stuff as well as our personal preferences. In addition, every bike is different. A Giant Trance has different kinematics than an Ibis Ripley. That’s why Cane Creek shocks offer the level of adjustability that they do. One shock can be optimized with external adjustments for nearly any leverage rate, for any rider, while minimizing “factory” tunes.
This is what makes Double Barrels, Double Barrels. It’s this design that makes all the adjustment and Climb Switch possible. The parts that oil flows through remain fixed and are controlled directly. On a mono-tube shock, adjustments have to be made through the long main piston. Twin-tube systems have a larger oil volume, which means more oil flowing through the damping systems, translating to more adjustability and less heat degradation. Oil cavitation is also less likely in a twin-tube design.
I could go on for ages about the technical mumbo jumbo. There are a million small details that separate the DB Inline from other shocks, like how the air can and damper adjustments can be rotated in 360 degrees, clocking things wherever it’s most convenient (although rotating the damper adjusters needs to be done by Cane Creek). What really matters, though, is how it rides. For three days we were able to dial in the feel of the DB Inline on the rocky, rooty terrain in Pisgah and Dupont, Cane Creek’s stomping grounds. Each shock was set to the recommended base tune for the bike it was on. The base tune is determined by Cane Creek engineers riding with the bike manufacturer’s engineers on the bike in question, on trails the bike is designed for. It’s a painstakingly arduous process, but it works phenomenally well. Many of the testers rode the entire three days without making a single adjustment away from the base tune.
I chose to soften the high and low speed compression adjustments a bit to gain traction on the extremely undulating surface made by spiderwebbed roots and weathered granite slabs. These were the only adjustments I made other than setting sag. It turns out that if given a good starting point, major changes may not be necessary for most riders. The point, though, is that they’re there. I was able to choose to adjust my compression finitely to my liking, rather than being forced into a tune that was chosen by someone else. The Double Barrel softly suggests a tune, but doesn’t get offended if you’re not into it.
The DB Inline performed extremely well after dialing in my preferred setup. I was able to balance small and big bump performance on the compression side of things, while feeling satisfied with the high and low-speed rebound base tune. One of the ways I like testing my settings is by remaining seated on sections that I’d normally stand up for. If the shock manages bumps without stacking up or bucking me without the use of my legs to absorb impacts, it’s usually a decent indicator for me. Even during a couple long descents in hot weather the shock felt super consistent, quiet, and responsive.
Most shocks these days have a climbing mode, which for the most part is a low-speed compression adjustment. Cane Creek does things a bit differently. Climb Switch adjusts both low-speed compression and low-speed rebound simultaneously. Why is this good? Because, when you’re climbing, you’re impacting things slower, so the rebound doesn’t need to act as quickly. After riding a shock with CS, other shocks feel like pogo sticks. Something that Cane Creek doesn’t mention in their literature is that the Climb Switch is not just a two-position switch, it’s continuously variable, meaning that throwing the lever a small amount provides a little bit of pedaling support, and throwing it all the way provides more. I found that I only wanted maximum Climb Switch on smooth terrain, since the firm compression setting reduces traction. On technical climbs, I would move the lever only a small amount.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth review in the coming months.