Long Term Review: Cane Creek DBInline

Twin-tube, single valve body DBInline a chip off the old block

Components
Cane Creek DBInline set up on a 120mm travel Ibis Ripley.

Cane Creek DBInline set up on a 120mm travel Ibis Ripley.

Big things come in small packages. We’ve all heard it before, and most commonly when someone gives you a birthday gift the size of a matchbox and you’re looking at them with a “WTF is this?” expression on your face.

But just because the new Cane Creek DBInline doesn’t have a piggyback reservoir on it like their much-heralded DBAir, don’t automatically assume the it’s any less capable of a shock. The DBInline is a full twin-tube shock just like the DBAir, it’s just packaged more economically to fit a wider range of 120mm-160mm travel bikes.

What’s truly impressive about the DBInline is its vast adjustability thanks to four customizable settings – Low Speed Compression (LSC), Low Speed Rebound (LSR), High Speed Compression (HSC) and High Speed Rebound (HSR) – plus the handy Climb Switch for extended periods of fighting gravity.

Since I’m a peg and hammer kind of guy, I have been known to receive suspension parts from the factory, bolt them on and just go. No fiddling, no fine-tuning. Yes, I will set the sag and make adjustments to the rebound if it’s too springy, but if there’s more than two dials on the thing, I don’t bother.

The DBInline comes with a handy Tuning Field Guide and a “Base Tune” card indicating the specific bike the shock is optimally tuned for.

The DBInline comes with a handy Tuning Field Guide and a “Base Tune” card indicating the specific bike the shock is optimally tuned for.

So it was quite a relief when my DBInline showed up already tuned from the factory specific to my Ibis Ripley. Confirming this was a Tuning Field Guide and a Base Tune card showing exactly what the factory tune for the Ripley is. For you Ripley-owning suspensionphiles out there, its 0.5 turns of HSC, 4 clicks of LSC, 3 turns of HSR and 10 clicks of LSR. All I had to do was set the 13mm of sag, and I was out the door.

The performance difference between the stock FOX Float CTD shock and the DBInline was immediately noticeable. Before the DBInline, my biggest gripe with the Ripley and its stock Float CTD was its tendency for the rear end to buck when getting air. The saddle would always seem to find its way into my crotch when jumping, an annoyance that I had to compensate for. But the first time I left terra firma on the Ripley with the DBInline, the bike was completely balanced. No compensation needed. I chalked it up to the adjustability of the DBInline, which has 3 of 4.5 turns of HSC already set in the Ripley Base Tune.

With four individual adjustments plus a Climb Switch, the DBInline can be tuned for even the most particular rider. Photo by DerekDiluzio.com

With four individual adjustments plus a Climb Switch, the DBInline can be tuned for even the most particular rider. Photo by DerekDiluzio.com

Small bump sensitivity is enhanced with the DBInline, especially thanks to LSC and LSR adjustability. The Climb Switch is easy to reach from the cockpit, and although it is not a full lockout, it does help improve climbing efficiency thanks to controlling both LSC and LSR. Through super technical uphill rock gardens, however, I still prefer to run the shock open thanks to the remarkably efficient DW Link design of the Ripley. With the shock open, the Ripley simply eats technical climbs alive like no other bike in existence.

The twin tube design of the DBInline makes it a more versatile performer than single tube designs like the Fox CTD.

The twin tube design of the DBInline makes it a more versatile performer than single tube designs like the Fox CTD.

The other obvious area where the DBInline outshines the FOX Float CTD is with performance on long, unrelenting descents. Naturally, the twin-tube design of the DBInline allows for more oil volume, which equates to more effective cooling for fade-free performance on those 4,000-foot vertical downhills.

In addition to have better small bump compliance, the DBInline also performs better at higher speeds thanks to having both a base-valve damper and mid-valve damper in a single tube, delivering a noticeable improvement in recovery from multiple successive hits.

With the DBInline, performance was exactly the same whether it was 100 meters into the downhill or 100 meters from the end. Quite simply, the DBInline makes any bike ride bigger than it is. The Ripley might only have 120mm of travel out back, but with the DBInline, it feels like at least 10mm more.

Ibis Ripley at the top of Livewire, Northstar Bike Park.

Ibis Ripley at the top of Livewire, Northstar Bike Park.

Another big advantage of going with a DBInline, or any Cane Creek suspension product for that matter, is the remarkable amount of customer support available. Since suspension tinkerers love to share their knowledge and findings, Cane Creek has a wealth of information on their site for riders to peruse. The Lounge is a web forum made specifically for riders to share their shock settings on specific bikes with other riders. For those who are app-based, a Tuning Field Guide will soon be available for iPhone and Android coming this winter.

So there are a lot of positives with the DBInline, but what about any potential drawbacks? There’s really only two that come to mind, and both are very minor. The DBInline does come at a slight weight penalty of about 100 grams more than the Fox CTD, but really, for how much more performance the DBInline delivers, the scant weight gain is a total non-issue. Also, the DBInline won’t fit every bike, as it has six lengths ranging from 6.5”x 1.5” to 8.5” x 2.48”. However, this range is more than adequate for most mid-travel bikes, especially the most popular ones from names like Giant, Specialized, Intense and Santa Cruz. Want to find out if your bike works with a DBInline? Just go to The Lounge and look up your bike.

The ASS finished 3rd Overall in Expert 35+ category of the California Enduro Series on a DBInline-equipped Ibis Ripley.

The ASS finished 3rd Overall in Expert 35+ category of the California Enduro Series on a DBInline-equipped Ibis Ripley.

Cane Creek has filled a much-needed void in the market with a versatile shock delivering twin-tube performance in a single valve body to fit the most popular segment of full-suspension bikes. With virtually no direct competitors (as of yet) and a reasonable MSRP of $495, the DBInline is one of the best performance upgrades available for a mid-travel full suspension bike. And for those patriotic souls, it feels good knowing the DBInline is completely machined and assembled in Asheville, North Carolina.

For more information on all the technical details behind the DBInline, read this Gear Review article published back in May. And for an up-close look of how the DBInline is machined and assembled, check out the Cane Creek Factory Tour.


About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • zoso says:

    Not much of a long term review imo. Any problems with the seals? Any leaks? Consistent damping during the duration of testing?
    Also, since I can’t get CC to respond, how much does it cost to do routine air sleeve maintenance on it?
    Thanks.

  • Leonard says:

    Nice review. Your description of how that shock performs is spot on.

  • Bryce Perkins says:

    Hmmm. My comment gets deleted? A bit fishy.

    To repeat:
    This wasn’t much of a long term review, imo. How did the seals hold up? Any leaking? Consistent damping through out the duration of the testing? Did it get stuck down at all?
    Also, how much does it cost to get the air sleeve seals redone? This is standard maintenance and I cannot get CC to tell me what it costs. I have the non-in-line version and it got stuck down. Sent it to QBP (one of the authorized service centers) and they charged me a whopping $150 for air sleeve seals (plus shipping, plus tax).
    Please inform.
    Thanks.

  • Warimono says:

    I was going to post the same thing. This felt more like a Cane Creek Ad than a review. We can get specs and pretty pictures from the CC website. I want to know the same kinds of things as Bryce. Reliability issues, service costs, actual tuning data. I have heard some accounts of reliability issues with these but it would suit my needs so would like to hear more in depth account.

  • Vanguard says:

    So it didn’t blow up on you? Actually, I had expected the review to address that there has been a recall of this product, affecting many customers, particularly those who got it OEM spec’ed on new bikes. I like Cane Creek, and I’d love the Inline’s adjustability, but I’ll wait for next year’s version.

    • Andrew says:

      You realize the recall was related to a decal that was applied backward, right? “+” and “-” were reversed on one of the indicators, so anyone not familiar with the righty-tighty rule might mis-adjust. That’s the extent of it, and the fix is a new sticker. Not exactly life-threatening.

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    Considering I rode this bike almost every single day for three months and raced it five times in that three months, I’d consider that long-term enough for a review of how the product performs. But perhaps I need to do a year-long test review to appease those who think that I’m in the back pocket of CC and doing this as a giant advertisement for them.

    Bryce and Warimono – if I had problems with leaks, bad seals or the shock getting stuck, you would have read about it. I didn’t, so that’s why you didn’t read about it. And just because you hear it has reliability issues means nothing. Do you actually know someone who has a DBinline with reliability issues, or are you just going based off what some forum trolls heard thirdhand? And I don’t know what an air seal service costs because I service my own stuff.

    Vanguard – do you even know what the recall was for? The recall wasn’t because the shock was blowing up. It was for just a simple graphics issue that had nothing to do with its performance or reliability. I didn’t even think that was worth mentioning because really, I had the pre-recall version and it performed exactly the same. More detail on the recall are here:

    http://www.canecreek.com/products/suspension/dbinline/faqs-dbinline-safety-recall

    – ASS

    • Vanguard says:

      ASS:

      Whatever the recall is for, some of the shocks are blowing up. I have heard from a number of people who had their new Inline shocks blow up during the first rides.

      While I really appreciate you answering, I must say your reply comes forth angry, and that makes you sound like you’re in the back pocket of CC now.

  • Dave says:

    Awesome review, thank you. Made in America Quality, an Engineering and Design Marvel, Amen. I have my HD3 on order with the inline upgrade and I can’t wait. Just an observation, why do we slam our own products yet worship those made in Asia. Lets support made local or we will all be out of work.

  • jared says:

    Whilst I can’t speak personally about the inline, I do have a CCDB air in the updated CS version. It’s horribly unreliable. Loses air. Completely failed after 277km of total riding. The top shock Bush flogs out after a handful of rides. Has been a little over 15 hours since last worked on and it now has no rebound damping and I am left with taking it back again. I really hope the inline proves a better shock as i am no Robinson Crusoe with my experience of CC gear.

    • Ramslam says:

      Hmmmm crazy, I had the first gen DBAIR on my Firebird and the CS DBAIR on my Bronson and havent had a problem with either shock.

  • sara says:

    So, this CAN be serviced at a LBS or live-in mechanic? After being the unfortunate owner of a “brained” shock, I want to make sure service doesn’t include mailing and waiting, and waiting 😉

  • Nick says:

    “Considering I rode this bike almost every single day for three months and raced it five times in that three months, I’d consider that long-term enough for a review of how the product performs. But perhaps I need to do a year-long test review to appease those who think that I’m in the back pocket of CC and doing this as a giant advertisement for them.”

    Woa! Simmer down ASS. Simply stating how long you actually used the product is what most of these commenters were after. No where in the original article did you state how long you used the produce or how much it was used during that time frame. And, with a title stating “Long Term Review,” it should be commonsense for any reviewer to include how long the product was used and to describe the rigors the product was put through. Don’t get all butt hurt because people pointed out that your title seems misleading in light of the article’s content.

  • zoso says:

    Thx ASS for the reply. FWIW, Joe-consumer CANNOT change the seals on the airsleeve. The seal kit isn’t available to the consumer, nor to the LBS. One has to send the shock into one of the many “authorized service centers” (ASC) to get this done. Most opt to have the damper rebuilt as well as it is only a small cost increase. The cost will vary from ASC to ASC, but a helpful employee at CC told me it averages $120-$150 for both the air sleeve service and a damper rebuild (which, btw, includes new bushings, etc). I sent mine to QBP and it cost $180 (total around $220 after shipping and tax–which is 1/3 of the retail cost!, so I’d NOT recommend them). Annoying yes, but personally this shock gives me more smiles than other’s do. Hopefully, I’ll only have to send the thing in annually.

    • sara says:

      Thanks zoso! Not the answer I wanted, but good to know! I wonder how often (how many riding hours) they suggest it gets serviced. Being without a bike for a couple weeks mid-season ruins it for me 🙁

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    I wouldn’t be the ASS if I didn’t get irritated every now and again, so my apologies if my response came off a bit rough. Just wanted to make sure people were not confusing shocks blowing up with the recall, because that’s not what the recall was for.

    And yes you’re right, I failed to mention in the review how long I had been riding the shock for. I thought I mentioned it in the article, but I don’t see it, so again, my apologies.

    And as for the servicing, the DBinline hasn’t been out long enough for me to use it to the point of servicing, so I can’t comment on that process. Thanks zoso for pointing out the details of the servicing process.

    Okay, it seems the ASS needs a little time out in the corner until he can stop being cranky.

    – ASS

  • Nick says:

    Ha ha, I enjoy reading your stuff ASS. Really, this is the best review of this product that I have read so far. I am somewhat considering the DBInline and seeing reviews like this make me edge that much closer to biting the bullet on one.

  • Vanguard says:

    After all, you’re the ANGRY Singlespeeder. So it is part of your brand equity, even though it is a double-edged sword sometimes. We all have our cranky days, but often we don’t admit. Kudos for doing that.

  • Jon Yates says:

    Tallboy LTc – 200ish miles on mine, no issues to speak of other than the constant desire to tinker and the endless options to do so. At every tuning combination my notes have always been “hot damn this thing is better than my float”

  • Maverick Suspension says:

    Being a Denver based suspension shop and a Cane Creek fan (not paid by them!) I will put my .02 into this. We have sold and serviced many in-lines. The issue we have come to find is Cane Creek has some assembly quality problems. The mechanical and parts are just fine. They need to be greased/lubed from the box. We recommend replacing the main air seal on the in-lines as we have seen many cut from the factory (but hold air ok, most of the time). This does require a more in-depth service compared to it’s bigger brother. We always do this before one goes out the door! This, what i would call minor in our shop’s eyes, is not a reason not to get any cane creek shock, they are just to good!

  • Maverick Suspension says:

    Yes we can Sara! Not trying touting our biz on MTBR freely. We are just such fans of the CC shocks. And it was no different with Maverick, great stuff just some production glitches to say the least. I do not see a way to PM from this page, so if MTBR lets me do this, e-mail me, [email protected]

  • E says:

    Just got one on my Ripley and its been great. Zero issues. Very active and conformable without a lack of control like on older fox shocks when run in an active mode. Very nicely paired with a pike on the front. I like that an active setting is still in the middle of the adjustment instead of the edge of the range on my previous fox rear shock. Fox’s makes nice products also, but great to see more companies in the game pushing everyone towards better products.

  • Case says:

    I have a 2015 specialized enduro with the db inline 160mm travel and I blew the shock up after about 20-30 rides (6 months). The shock sat in the middle of the travel and didn’t function for crap. My specialized dealer stated the first 1000 came with crap seals (mine was not one of these 1000 yet still failed). The problem was supposedly fixed but my shop still suggested buying an ohlins or rockshox. As for the sevice it is really easy to sevice the air can. Takes all of 10min and an $11 seal kit.

  • Case says:

    I would have to say that customer service will warranty the faulty issues and that the kinks they worked out have solved the reliability issues. These guys have really earned my respect on the customer service and support side of things.

  • cam says:

    I had one on a 2015 Enduro 650b stick down mid travel just riding around after a few months. I got that replaced under warranty, new one had a chirp / squeak noise then lost low speed compression after a few months. getting that one replaced now or possibly swapped out with RS monarch plus. downhill performance is amazing but climbing sucks, but that was probably because of the LS compression issues.

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