Cane Creek DBinline

Back in January during the Enduro Compare-O, we tested the Specialized S-Works Enduro29, a bike that ended up winning not one, but two of our five "Golden Pliny" awards for Best Descender and Best Overall Bike. An integral part of what made this bike such a standout was the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS rear shock - an air-sprung, twin-tube damper with individual low-speed compression and rebound and high-speed compression and rebound adjustment capability along with a Climb Switch.

The tunability of the DB Air has made it a popular choice for bigger all-mountain rigs, but what about mid-travel 120-150mm rigs that would like the superior performance and tunability of a twin-tube damper shock without the added bulk and weight?

Cane Creek DBinline

On Monday Cane Creek officially launched the DBinline Air Shock, delivering twin-tube damper performance and adjustability in a single tube shock package. The release of the DBinline Air Shock is a significant step forward in the ongoing suspension wars because it's a shock that's first of its kind, doing away with an external reservoir so it can fit on a wider range of mid-travel bikes.

Without getting too mired in the techy details of this new offering from Cane Creek, let's instead focus on the big picture of what this means for most consumers who don't spend hours tinkering with their suspension. With the DBinline Air Shock, riders with 120-150mm travel bikes will be able to bolt on the bigger-bike performance of a double barrel shock in a compact package without paying a weight penalty.

Additionally, for those who have no interest in messing with dials and settings, Cane Creek works closely with a number of manufacturers including Specialized, Intense, Kona, Ibis and a slew of other brands to tune the DBinline to an ideal "base tune" - optimized for the individual bike it will be outfitted from the factory with.

Cane Creek DBInline Cross

For those suspensionphiles who love to tinker with settings, the factory tune can be enhanced with four setting adjustments: high and low speed compression as well as high and low speed rebound. A 3mm allen key controls all four click settings to dial in suspension to suit individual tastes; a philosophy that Cane Creek strongly believes in. Why a 3mm allen key? Vice President of Engineering, Josh Coaplen, explained it quite sensibly.

"We don't want people just turning dials, not knowing what they'll do. Pulling a tool out of your pack is a commitment to taking time in adjusting the suspension properly."

Cane Creek DBinline Adjust

The CS, or Climb Switch is located in the center of the four adjustment screws, which is relatively easy to reach depending on shock orientation. Cane Creek informed us that a remote handlebar Climb Switch will be available later this year, designed for ergonomic use on bikes with and without front shifters.

Another clever aspect of the DBinline is its adjustable air can that can be rotated depending on frame orientation for easy air valve access and shock pump adjustment. The four-way adjustment assembly can also be rotated at the factory to fit specific frames.

Cane Creek DBinline Aircan

Cane Creek has a resourceful website to not only help people fit the right shock to the right frame, but also to help them tune the shock to recommended settings. The Fit Finder makes life easier for bike builders, The Lounge is a meeting place for folks to discuss tuning tips and tricks and the Base Tunes page lets you select a specific make and model of frame, then shows you the number of turns required on each of the four settings to reach the base tune setting from the factory.

Because of its twin tube design, the DBinline has as much as 48 percent more oil than its monotube competitors. Although this adds about 80 grams in weight to the shock, the added oil volume is much better suited to resisting heat and fade when descents get long and demands of the shock increase, part of what gives the DBinline its bigger-bike suspension feel. Besides, if you're really fretting over 80 grams more weight, you should be riding a hardtail.

Continue to Page 2 for DBinline riding impressions and full photo gallery »

Cane Creek DBinline Head

Photo by DerekDiluzio.com

In order to fit twin-tube performance into a single tube shock, some seriously clever engineering and design had to happen. The number of holes, valves and miniature chambers in the head of the DBinline is truly baffling, making it difficult to conceive how one would even engineer such a creation. But all the technogarble aside, the real test for the DBinline was on the trail. And what better place to test this entirely American-made and assembled shock than in its own backyard in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina.

Photo by DerekDiluzio.com

For the three days of riding in Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Park and Bent Creek Experimental Forest, I decided to keep it real and rock the trusty old 26-inch wheels on an S-Works Enduro equipped with the DBinline. Because I come from primarily a hardtail singlespeed perspective, I opted to trust the infinite wisdom of Cane Creek engineers and stick with the "base tune" specified for the Enduro.

Cane Creek DBinline Climb

Photo by DerekDiluzio.com


Compared to the Enduro29 equipped with the DB Air CS I rode during the Enduro Compare-O, on the very first climb towards the top of Daniel Ridge in the Cove Creek area of Pisgah, the Enduro with the DBinline felt more efficient pedaling uphill with less wasted energy lost into the suspension.

Unlike some other shocks that have a full climbing lockout, the Climb Switch on the DBinline incorporates secondary low-speed compression and rebound, encouraging you to sit into the bike, enhancing traction on the rocky, rooty and notoriously technical trails of western North Carolina.

Cane Creek DBinline Jump

Photo by DerekDiluzio.com

Once pointed downhill, the Enduro suspension behaved almost exactly like the Enduro29 with the DB Air - extremely composed and plush, compliant in chunky sections and progressively supportive through big hits. In short, part of the reason why both the Enduro and Enduro29 are such standout bikes is because of the shocks beneath them - the Cane Creek DB Air and DBinline. These shocks are proving to be among the finest engineered and tuned shocks on the market, delivering incredible performance that further enhances a manufacturer's suspension design.

DBinline Big Air

Photo by DerekDiluzio.com

In summary, the DBinline represents yet another new direction in shock technology. It's the first twin-tube damper inline shock with on-the-trail adjustment capability that enhances both climbing and descending performance. Add in a svelte 295 gram weight, a reasonable $495 retail price, the fact that it's 100 percent American made in North Carolina by a company that shares a wealth of knowledge and resources on its website, the DBinline is a no-brainer for those who want to make their 120-150mm travel rigs ride bigger than advertised. Come June 16 when its officially available in the aftermarket, I know of at least one bike that will be getting a suspension upgrade.

Cane Creek employees Brandon Blakely and Evan Voss shreddin' on the DBinline in Western North Carolina.