Review: Cane Creek DBAir

Components

The Best All Mountain Rear Shock?

Let’s get to the point, I liked this rear shock a lot, as it has many great attributes and characteristics, including a massive amount of tuning capabilities, superb small to medium bump compliance, and excellent composure and plushness. This baby likes to slice, and dice down the gnarliest trails you can toss it at, yet it’s still happy to motor around on milder terrain.

I have been using the Double Barrel Air or DBair for quite a long time on my Ibis Mojo HD, and it is one of the best rear shocks I have used, especially in regard to All Trail and All Mountain riding. It has a vast range of tuning settings, with separate adjustments for air, low and high speed compression, and low and high speed rebound. The DBair is an air sprung rear shock, with four-way independent adjustability, an auto-adjust negative air spring, tunable air volume, and Twin Tube damping technology. It comes in eight different lengths and strokes from 190 x 50mm (7.5” x 2.0”) to 267 x 90mm (10.5” x 3.5”) and three XV (extra volume) sizes, and weighs in at 530 grams, and retails for $650.

DBAIR Twin Tube Technology
Their Twin Tube Technology, which is the same basic configuration that the coil version of the DBair uses, refers to the construction of the damping section, and it’s comprised of the main chamber where the piston resides, and then an outer chamber in which the oil can circulate back and forth. During the compression stage, oil gets pushed by the piston up through the cylinder head, down through the compression valve, up through the rebound check valve, and down the outer Twin Tube chamber, and finally exiting through some holes into the rebound chamber. During the rebound stage, the piston pushes oil back out through the bottom holes, up the outer Twin Tube chamber, down through the rebound valve, up through the compression check valve, and back into the compression chamber. It does this continuous circulation of the oil as the piston fluctuates between the compression and rebound stroke, reversing direction between each of those circuits. This system allows for effective and functional external tuning via the low and high speed compression, and low and high speed rebound adjusters, without having to resort to internal valving or shim stack changes. Although the shock got the base technology from its coil brethren, they sort of tossed out the book, and created a full-on air shock, not some bastardized coil version.

“the extra edge, control and precision you can get from tweaking things are where the shock really shines…”

Tuning
The Dbair’s four independent damping adjustments are the low and high speed rebound, and the low and high speed compression, whose knobs are altered using the supplied double ended wrench. The low-speed adjusters are the upper smaller hex nut, while the high-speed’s are the larger hex ones. They’re clearly labeled, which is a good thing since I always seem to forget which one is which. The adjusters allow a huge spectrum of tuning, both good and bad, so once your outside of Cane Creeks suggested settings, you need to be careful of getting carried away. I found the easiest way to get within the ballpark for your personal preferences for tuning, was to repeat a short section of difficult or rough terrain, and tweak the adjusters back and forth until you narrow it down to a good discernible setting.

It takes some extra work to get it tuned properly for your weight, riding style and personal preferences, and although it’s not a hugely complex process, it takes some patience and tinkering. The base tune’s that they offer on their website for particular bikes works extremely well, and you could easily live with that functional setup, but the extra edge, control and precision you can get from tweaking things are where the shock really shines. This is especially true if you are outside the typical weight range (light or heavy), or have a particular riding style or frequent a certain type of terrain. Cane Creek has a private forum named the Lounge, where Double Barrel owners can gather, share and collaborate, ask questions and chat with Cane Creek engineers, sponsored riders and various bike companies.

Review: Cane Creek DBAir Gallery
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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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