Man, as short as this winter was, it felt really long. Just before the snow started to fall on the slopes, Cane Creek sent down some gear for testing, including the Double Barrel rear shock.
I was super stoked to give this shock a go! Coming from a racing background, I have worked with suspension for a long time and have a real affinity for it. The DB caught my attention when it made its very first appearance back in 2005, when Cane Creek teamed up with Öhlins to develop it. At that time I said to my friends, “Finally, a real shock.” Unfortunately, the first few were crazy expensive to buy up here in Ontario.
What attracted me to the Cane Creek in the first place was the 4-way adjustment, with names that I recognized: high and low speed compression (HSC, LSC), high and low speed rebound (HSR, LSR). Simple, easy to understand, and no need to guess what the manufacturer really means. No need to worry about at what point in the travel you will get a change and no need to turn to this angle or that for adjustment–just +/ – and the adjustment. Most importantly, all the adjustments are in one spot, using one tool, with definitive clicks.
The function of the double barrel is remarkable to behold. This video explains how it works:
One thing I really like about this design is the cross-flow of fluid through the circuits so that one doesn’t affect the other. This thinking is similar to a high-paced restaurant with an “In” door and an “Out” door to the kitchen. With this design, everything can stay in one spot for easy adjustment.
As stated before, you have the two compression settings and the two rebound settings which are super easy and clear to adjust with the supplied tool from Cane Creek:
You do have two more adjustments but they are mostly just one-time deals. Those would be selecting spring rate and setting the preload on the spring. Both are very important for the proper operation of this shock. Again, the supplied tool makes for easy adjustment of the preload on the coil as it applies additional leverage on the spring adjustment nut.
Another excellent feature, not found on the shock but rather on Cane Creek’s website, is the comprehensive (and still growing) tuning tips page and base tune guides. I haven’t found a slicker program out there yet! The only problem with the guides is that they don’t really take into account the rider’s weight for the shock setting. The only part that does take your weight into account is the spring calculator. Nevertheless, it’s a great start. Just keep in mind that if you’re a heavier rider you need to up most of the settings a few clicks.
The nearly all-alloy construction keeps the twin tube shock weight as low as possible at about 442 grams (depending on size). The 8mm 4130 induction-hardened shaft doesn’t add too much weight, and the thinner diameter of the shaft improves small bump sensitivity.
Installing the Cane Creek Double Barrel is pretty easy–the only real worry is ordering the correct mounting hardware and length. Installing the spring (sold separately) is pretty easy: turn the spring adjustment nut all the way up to allow the spring to fit in place and then correctly align the spring clip.
The next step required some assistance: I had my wife help out and measure the eye-to-eye distance while I was standing on the bike in riding position.
After playing with the preload settings for a while and one spring change, I finally got the 35% sag I was looking for. As for setting up the dampening circuits, I followed Cane Creek’s base settings but added 2 extra clicks on the LSC, and a half turn on the HSC and HSR.
Out on the Slopes
I decided to test the Double Barrel out on my Santa Cruz V10C.
I have to say: the first few runs were a real learning curve for me. The rear end of the bike basically tossed me right off (more than once) due to the full turn I added to the HSR and a click to the LSR.
Hitting the jumps, my initial adjustments did make a big difference, but there was still an issue of instability in the air. I chalked that up to improper positioning of the front of the bike, so I rolled the bar back a bit, lowered the fork stanchions on the BoXXer, and added a bit more bottom-out resistance and half a turn on HSC on the front end. That really tamed things down so I could further improve the bike’s handling.
In the end, I removed a quarter turn from the HSR and added a half-turn more on the HSC on the Double Barrel and it was golden. Not only did the bike jump and absorb the hits nice and evenly with no bucking, but on the higher-speed berms the bike felt solid underneath without a sinking / wallowing feeling coming out of the corners. Over the roots and rocks the rear tracked nicely, providing good grip in the rock gardens.
The Double Barrel is available for about $650 plus $35 for the spring and for that you’re getting a superior shock that stays true to its race-bred heritage! Every ride is a great ride and the easy-to-follow tutorials and tuning guide allow the rider to truly tune bike performance to its best.
The only thing I wish for is this exact shock at a total weight of 450 grams. But wait… the new DBair is now available and is shipping to retailers as I type this! One could only hope…
Many thanks to Cane Creek for sending out the Double Barrel shock for review!