Review: Cane Creek DBAir

Components

Once the high speed was set, they really didn’t need to be changed, and they could be considered, set and forget entities. I do wish the low-speed rebound, and compression had easy hand adjustable dials instead of having to revert to their wrench, as I occasionally liked to play with settings depending on the terrain. The major adjuster is always going to be the air, and I regularly changed it depending on the amount of XC riding I was doing in between the gnar. You could bump the pressure up for a firmer ride, and drop it for more plushness. I would like to have some sort of pedal platform for riding fire roads and smooth singletrack, as it would fill in the gap on the one spot where the shock wallows more than I would prefer.

My personal tunings:

  • Sag – 35% or 22mm
  • HSC – .5 turns
  • HSR – 3 turns (+ .25)
  • LSC – 7 clicks (+2)
  • LSR – 14 clicks (-2)

The kit comes with air volume reduction spacers, which give a more progressive air spring, to prevent harsh or frequent bottoming. You remove the air can with a strap wrench and insert the spacer to decrease the volume. Cane Creek recently came out with a XV (extra volume) air can, made for bikes with a more progressive leverage ratio. You can also rotate the air can for the proper orientation of the air valve, to make it fit a wide range of frames.

Testing Rig and Terrain
I tested the DBair with the Magura TS8 150, the FOX TALAS 160 (27.5″) and VAN 160 forks, on my medium Ibis Mojo HD with the various 26″ and 27.5″ wheels and tires. I am 5’9″, weigh in at 155 lbs, and I have mostly ridden in the West, including vast portions of the Colorado Front Range, Sedona, Moab, Fruita/GJ and many parts of the Colorado mountains. The testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly, loose gravel. I tend to enjoy gnarly technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering are required and intricate follow-through, and full commitment is required.

“The small through medium bump compliance is superb, offering plushness and resiliency…”

Impressions
It likes to sit down deep it its sag, and once it’s there it absorbs everything tossed at it, and keeps the bike nice and level over the ground while the shock undulates, sort of like a mogul skier racing through the bumps. If your climbing gnarly terrain, with stair steps, ledges, rock garden and other heinous obstacles, the shock keeps the rear end plastered to the ground, making bursts up technical terrain seem effortless. Rolling in and out of berms and high speed corners, the shock kept its composure, without any loss of stability or washouts, even when pushed hard. Tossing it off jumps and hucking makes it happy, and it nicely absorbed things, until it lightly ramped up towards the bumpers, all of which made for a plush launcher without any harsh bottoming out problems. When climbing up smooth fire roads, and long butt smooth singletrack, it does wallow slightly unless you increase the air pressure, but it’s one of the few places it doesn’t feel at home.

The small through medium bump compliance is superb, offering plushness and resiliency, while on medium to large encounters, it stiffens up slightly, but it retains a good feel with some decent softness. Towards the end of the stroke, it ramps up, and even though you can hit the bumpers, there seems to still be a tad more left, so you don’t feel like your smashing into a wall. If you jump up and down with some force, you can get some bob, but under normal sprinting situations, there wasn’t an ordinate amount of wallowing. The HD and its DW-link suspension like spirited sprinting, and it did just fine when I hammered hard.

When going downhill this shock is a ripper, and it loves to fly and absorb everything tossed into its path, huck it, crank it though rock gardens, toss it into some super technical terrain, do some slow-speed trial’s moves, and it just rules the roost. Another highlight of the shock is that you can firmly weight the rear end to make a technical maneuver, and the subtle platform that gets created allows you to add some body English to make the move. The word that comes to mind while riding this shock is composure, especially when going downhill and flying along undulating terrain, and it just seems to float through those conditions. The other day I was on a trail in which the terrain had lots of old eroded horse hoof marks, and the bike stayed very neutral while the shock was continually absorbing all the undulations. I took a look down and was amazed of how much work it was doing, while the bike seemed calm and collected in the cockpit. I could extract most of the vestiges of the travel, but I tended to keep the air pressure low (lots of sag).

Specs:

  • measured weight – 550 grams
  • size – 215mm x 63mm (8.5” x 2.5”)
  • measured stroke – 65mm
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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Richard Bishop says:

    Your complaints about the smooth trail and fire road performance of the shock would be better solved by increasing the low speed compression, not by messing with the air pressure. LS compression helps with pedal Bob, set and leave the air pressure.

  • Mutly says:

    I also find it an excellent shock now on my Mojo HD but the questions here about ‘early shocks’ are difficult to answer since Cane Creek certainly got their knickers in a twist over teething problems. Early shocks got slated for far too much progression on progressive rate bikes. So CC offered FOC warranty upgrade, to those who noticed, fitting a fresh inner can allowing higher air pas – this is an imprecise tech description, please forgive me. That cured mine fine. Now they also offer a higher volume outer air can. Mine works fine but both potential iterations could negate the value of CaneCreek’s recommended base tunes etc.

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