Cane Creek DB Air – Interbike 2011

by Brian Mullin on September 18, 2011

Cane Creek had their new 2012 Double Barrel Air rear shock on display at the outdoor demo. The DB Air includes their twin-tube technology, with its four-way independent adjustability, which gives it adjustability for low speed and high speed compression and rebound, although the valving was heavily altered due to the air designs particularities. The air damped shock carries over much of their technical knowledge base from its coil brethren, and uses an auto charging negative air spring.

Cane Creek’s suspension design engineer, Devon Sullivan, gave me a brief technical overview of the product, and he said their intent wasn’t to build a race shock, but to build a high end air shock, that could be used by multiple bike types, and travel lengths, with the fine tuning performed by the four-way adjustment system. Cane Creek wanted to mimic many of the characteristics of a coil, such as the air-spring curve and the plushness, suppleness and feel, without the obvious weight penalties. In addition, a coil might not be optimal for many bikes, as their leverage curve and linear spring rate might not mesh properly with the bike’s suspension design.

The canister can rotate, to accommodate more complex frame geometries, such as carbon-fiber designs. The canister is also removable, so different sleeves, which choke the volume, can be installed for varying requirements of manufacturers geometries and suspension designs, so there isn’t a need for multiple models of the same shock size. The final product will have some minor tweaks, including a different finish or coating on the stanchion, and should weigh around 530 grams, and be available in the early part of next year.

First Impressions
I took a prototype DB Air for a long spin, and was pleasantly surprised of how nice the shock felt. I had Malcolm Hadley of Cane Creek, set it up in a very plush mode (my personal preference), with around 30-35% sag, and a supple setting for the compression. On the flatter and smoother portions of the Bootleg Canyon trails, it didn’t really seem any different than other shocks, but as soon as I took it into some gnarly rocky terrain, it became superb, and soaked up anything I tossed at it, climbing up rock gardens like it had Velcro attached to the tires. When I turned it around for the downhill portion of the ride, it just floated along the terrain, and never tossed me or bucked me off my chosen line. I spoke with Malcolm about the adjustability of the shock, and he said that by altering the air pressure and the four-way settings, you can fine-tune the ride for personal preference, whether that might be Cross Country or All Mountain types, or anything in-between. Cane Creek has a real winner on their hands with this shock, and I can’t wait to do a long-term test on my local terrain.

Specs:

  • 190 x 50mm (7.5″ x 2″)
  • 200 x 50mm (7.87″ x 2.0″)
  • 200 x 57mm (7.87″ x 2.25″)
  • 215 x 63mm (8.5″ x 2.5″)
  • 222 x 63mm (8.75″ x 2.5″)
  • 222 x 70mm (8.75″ x 2.75″)
  • 240 x 76mm (9.5″ x 3.5″)
  • 267 x 90mm (10.5″ x 3.5″)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay February 26, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Whats your thoughts on this shock on a bike like the yeti sb 66? I find I blow through the rp23 way to easy, fox wants to revalve it, I just want a shock that works!

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet February 28, 2012 at 12:57 am

I think the DB Air would be good on any bike. It has a lot more tune-ability, and you won't blow through it like the RP23. The RP23 has the same issue that a lot of the single canister shocks on long travel bikes. Getting the RP23 pushed would help, but it's not a cure-all

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