Introducing the Cane Creek DBair CS Rear Shock

by Brian Mullin on July 15, 2013

The Climb Switch isn’t a pedal platform, but a climbing mode.

The
Cane Creek Double Barrel is one of the best All Mountain rear shocks on
the market today, and the 4-way tunability has been a hallmark of this
excellent product, but it had some subtle issues when climbing. Cane
Creek designed a new selectable climbing mode feature for the DB, which
kicks that issue right out the door. The lever actuated Climb Switch,
dubbed the CS, offers low speed damping for both compression and rebound
when engaged, and reacts like the existing DB when it’s turned off.
They accomplished this trickery by having six damping circuits, which is
two more than the normal DB.

Per Cane Creek:
Double Barrel
shocks with the CS feature have four low-speed damping circuits: LSC1,
LSC2, LSR1, LSR2 in addition to the 2 high-speed damping circuits: HSC
and HSR. In the “off” position of the Climb Switch, the low speed
damping is controlled by LSC1 and LSR1; this is analogous to traditional
Double Barrel shocks without the CS feature. In the “on” position of
the Climb Switch, the low-speed damping is controlled by LSC2 and LSR2,
the ‘climbing circuits’. These circuits are heavily damped and tuned
specifically to limit low frequency motion of the bike’s suspension, but
not to the extent that traction during climbing is sacrificed.

The
product release took place at the Keystone Resort in Colorado, and it
felt sort of odd walking around in the ghost town of the usually busy
winter ski area. In addition, it was sort of nice to be able to park
freely right next to the main Mountain House. A big shout out to the
Cane Creek staff for putting on the mini press camp, and their marketing
Director Holly Colson, President Scott Sonnone and Vice President of
engineering and product development Josh Coaplen offered some great
hospitality and friendship. We got a brief introduction on the DB CS
shock, and then headed out for rides on the local Keystone Resort trail
system on bikes equipped with the DBair CS’s. Keystone gave us special
permission to ride up the blue and green trails, which are normally
reserved for downhill only traffic. We rode up the trails, and then back
down the more burly ones, and then in the afternoon, after lunch and a
more in depth overview of the CS, we took the lift to the top, which was
a much more enjoyable and less fatiguing experience.

The
CS will be available in both coil and air models (DBcoil CS and DBair
CS), along with the existing non-CS DBcoil and DBair versions.
Unfortunately, the new design is not backward compatible or
retrofittable to the original DB, so you’ll have to buy a DB CS shock if
you want the CS functionality.

As
noted, this isn’t a pedal assist, lockout or low-speed compression
damping, but a combo meal package of low-speed compression and rebound
when engaged, and together they offer efficient pedaling and riding in
both climbing and moderate terrain conditions. The CS prevents
inefficient wallowing and energy loss, while providing better traction
and riding comfort. The amount of the CS’s LSC and LSR damping are
factory preset by Cane Creek for particular bike brands, and they work
closely with the vendors for the most ideal tune. There are five levels
of tunes or firmness for the CS, which companies can spec for their
bikes.

Besides
the additional lever and circuits on the CS models, the new design
required the separation of the low-speed and high speed adjusters. The
shiny gold dials are for tuning the high speed, while the steel gray
ones are for the low-speed. Another great improvement is the switch to a
normal 3mm hex key for adjustment of the dials or knobs, instead of the
funky double ended box wrench of its predecessor.

Impressions
I rode a Knolly Chilcotin with 160mm of travel and the new Ibis Mojo
HDR with 130mm of travel and 27.5″ wheels, both equipped with the DBair
CS on several trails at the Keystone resort in Colorado, getting some
good saddle time climbing, descending, sprinting and spinning on
undulating terrain. Having spent a long time with the normal DBair on my
own Mojo HD, I knew the subtle wallowing and energy inefficiency issues
during climbing, which could be mildly tempered by adding more air to
the shock. It was quite the revelation to feel how well the CS curbed
any sort of those issues, giving both bikes better traction, control and
efficiency. Throw the CS lever into the off or fully open position, and
the shock reverted to its normal superb All Mountain self, sucking up
the terrain with plushness and aplomb. The Mojo HDR, with its dw-link
anti-squat suspension had the lowest CS tune that Cane Creek offers, and
the CS’s effect was more subtle than the Knolly, but it was still
apparent.

The Knolly Chilcotin, with its more active “Four by 4”
suspension linkage, gave a much more discernible difference during
climbing, and the CS really help tame the rear end, keeping things more
stable and firm. Regardless of the suspension systems used, the CS was
noticeable on each bike in various degrees, and was a definitive
improvement.

Another
interesting aspect of the CS is the rebound reaction, which was greatly
appreciated in rough undulating terrain when climbing or just spinning
along, since you could stay seated and fully weight the saddle and not
be bumped out of position. I instinctively would unweight before bumps,
dips and rocks, and it took a few times to stay seated and allow the CS
to do its job.

The new DBair CS is a more polished and greatly
improved shock than its predecessor, and the CS mode offers increased
pedaling efficiency and riding comfort, and I look forward to some long
term testing.

DBair CS  Specs

  • Intended use: trail/all-mountain/enduro
  • Aimed at 130 – 170mm travel bikes
  • Adjustments
    – Air spring rate, High speed compression, Low speed compression, High
    speed rebound, Low speed rebound, Climb Switch On/Off
  • Finish – Anodized and laser-etched
  • Lengths
    – 190 x 50mm (7.5″ x 2.0″), 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 3.0″), 267 x 90mm (10.5″ x
    3.5″)
  • Weight: 509 grams (claimed, varies by size)
  • Availability: August 1st, 2013
  • MSRP: $695 USD

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