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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.