Introducing the Cane Creek DBair CS


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

Cane Creek designed a new selectable climbing mode feature for their excellent All Mountain Double Barrel rear shock. 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 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.


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


About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, 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 articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • Eric says:

    excellent. I have been waiting for this before buying the DB.

  • m0ngy says:

    Brian, seriously mate, have you ever given a negative ‘review’, or do you just LOVE every single product you’ve ever ‘tested’?

    • Brian Mullin says:

      m0ngy, I don’t love every product I test, I have a pretty full plate of stuff, and since this as a side guest job that I do for the passion of riding and playing with products, I tend not to do as many written reviews of inferior stuff, plus I automatically filter out most of the stuff myself before hand. If I had more time you might see some more less positive reviews, but trust me, I have a few on the way. Amazingly, they’re some great stuff on the market.

  • Luis says:

    You mentioned early in your article that a DBcoil CS will be available, but there is nothing so far in Cane Creek webpage. Any news about this? Thanks

    • Brian Mullin says:

      I pinged CC, and they said that it’s production is on hold since there currently doesn’t seem to be much demand.

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