The first thing you notice when riding the DBAir CS with the CS lever ‘off’ or in the open position, is that it performs exactly the same as the DBAir, giving the bike superb small to medium bump compliance, and excellent composure and plushness. In addition, the set up for the air pressure, and low and high speed compression and rebound is precisely the same, albeit the adjusters are in slightly different locations.
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 any bike better traction, control and efficiency. The Mojo HD and 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 Four by 4 Linkage and Intense VPP which I also tested, but it was still very apparent on any bike suspension system.
Switch the CS lever to its ‘on’ or closed position, and you engage the new climbing circuits, which are comprised of the low-speed compression and rebound damping circuits (LSC2 and LSR2). Although it seems subtle and subdued in a parking lot test and general poking around on smooth trails, its offers an effective alteration in how the shock performs on rougher trails. Instead of wallowing up through climbs on technical terrain, it keeps the bike composed, quiet and neutral.
The rear end of the bike doesn’t get tossed or bounced around during impacts, and it extends and recovers when required, without any undue suspension dropouts. Pedal up stair stepped terrain or roots and the rear stays firmly planted to the ground, giving great traction and control, while still absorbing undulations. Stand up and hammer down, and the CS platform keeps everything nicely composed. Another nice feature of the CS being engaged was when you were climbing up things and started to feel spent (out of gas), you could just keep pedaling and the platform allowed you to squeeze out that the last couple of moves. You could leave the CS ‘on’ during climbs, rolling terrain and an occasional quick downhill, though it felt out of sorts on mellower terrain, where the bike lost its playful and fun characteristics and the joy of swooping into berms.
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.
It would be nice to have a remote to operate the CS, since depending on the terrain being ridden, you might switch it on and off quite often. For fire roads and butt smooth terrain, the CS isn’t a true lock-off, so it still might wallow too much for some people, though I found it a tolerable compromise.
Measured Spec: 553 grams for 215mm x 63mm (8.5” x 2.5”)
The DBAir CS is the best All-Mountain air sprung rear shock I have used, and it provides incredible plushness and ride composure on any terrain, especially in the gnar. The alterable air volume and four-way independent adjustability make for a massive amount of tuning capabilities, allowing great control over the characteristics of the shock’s interaction between the bike, rider and terrain. The addition of the new CS feature offers greatly improved climbing characteristics up technical and rugged terrain, with increased traction and control. Regardless of the suspension systems used, the CS was noticeable on each bike I tested in varying degrees, and it was always a definitive improvement.
I would like to see the availability of a remote, to make it easier to change the lever on the fly. It’s not the lightest air shock, and the tuning is somewhat complex and it’s expensive at $695, but the performance, plushness, composure, adjustability and control make for a superb package.
The DBAir CS is a more polished and greatly improved shock than its predecessor, and the CS mode offers increased pedaling efficiency and riding comfort on difficult climbing terrain.
- Superb small to medium bump compliance
- Plush ride
- Four-way independent adjustability
- Twin-tube technology
- Excellent composure
- CS – offers great traction and control during climbs
- Tuning is complex
- Needs a remote
- 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)
- MSRP: $695 USD
For more information visit https://www.canecreek.com/products/suspension/dbair-cs.