Cane Creek DBair CS - first look

Shock gets new Climb Switch lever

Cane Creek have added a Climb Switch lever to their successful Double Barrel Air, in a bid to make the rear shock a more capable climber. The new DBair CS weighs a claimed 509g and will cost US$695 when it becomes available as an aftermarket purchase this fall. UK pricing is to be announced.

The company's Double Barrel Air shock has an unmatched range of adjustment, offering users the ability to indepenently tune high- and low-speed rebound and compression damping. It's become a favorite with all-mountain and enduro riders who appreciate its  tunability, smooth performance and ability to dissipate heat during long descents. If it has a weakness, it's that it lacks any form of lockout or pedaling platform.

The result for many riders is that the DBair's performance is hamstrung by the need to set up the shock for climbing as well as descending — two situations that place very different demands on suspension.

The addition of the Climb Switch lever is a solution to this conundrum. It allows riders to tune their shocks for the best downhill performance and, with the flip of a switch, firm up their bike's rear suspension when the time comes to point the bike upwards.

More than just a lockout lever

To be clear, the Climb Switch is not a lockout, nor is it a platform damper in the traditional sense. Most rear shocks ramp up the compression damping to reduce shock movement in the platform and lockout modes. In contrast, the DBair CS adjusts both compression and rebound damping.

“Pedal platforms have only dealt with half of the climbing dynamics (low speed compression), which is an inherent compromise,” said Josh Coaplen, Cane Creek’s vice president of engineering.

“A rider is subject to both compression and extension forces and must physically respond to both when climbing. The advantage of stabilizing the suspension during all phases of the shock’s travel is greater traction and power transfer with less fatigue,” he added.

The DBair CS's compression and rebound tweaks can be made with a 3mm Allen key

The DBair CS can be thought of as standard DBair with an additional set of low-speed compression and low-speed rebound circuits. These are tuned specifically for climbing and are simultaneously engaged when the Climb Switch is flipped to the on position.

The Climb Switch restricts the flow of oil through the second pair of rebound and compression circuits to slow the shock's compression and return speed to better suit the terrain riders encounter while climbing.

Unlike the other four adjusters on the DBair shock, the two circuits that comprise the climbing mode are not user-adjustable. Cane Creek works in conjunction with a number of different companies to tune the feel of the climbing mode to each make and model.

There are currently five different levels of firmness in the climbing mode, which companies can choose from when speccing the shock. Aftermarket customers will need to specify the make and model when purchasing the shock.

First ride impressions

BikeRadar spent a day riding two very different DBair CS-equipped bikes at Keystone Resort in Colorado. Our test platforms were the new Ibis Mojo HDR, set up with 27.5in (650b) wheels and 130mm of travel, and the 160mm travel Knolly Chilcotin.

We were at a lift-served resort but grunted up the climbs to earn our descents

The Mojo HDR, which relies heavily on anti-swat to combat rider-induced suspension movement, uses the lightest of Cane Creek’s five levels of low-speed rebound and compression damping for the Climb Switch. The lever's effect on the rear suspension was subtle but noticeable.

In contrast, the Knolly Chilcotin, which employs a fully active Four by 4 Linkage and uses a BDair CS with a firmer Climb Switch tune, displayed a much more pronounced difference in uphill performance.

While Climb Switch affected the Mojo HDR and Chilcotin to varying degrees, the sensations we felt were the same.

In terms of compression damping, it felt as though we had a few more pounds of air pressure in the shock once we engaged the Climb Switch. The shock remained active but used significantly less travel to absorb trail irregularities. This feeling stands in contrast to many shocks that have an initial firmness in their platform modes that gives way once a certain threshold of force is reached.

In terms of low-speed rebound damping, the shock returned a bit slower with the Climb Switch on, a feeling that was appreciated when we were climbing over large embedded rocks and water bars. The rear end tracked the contours of the trail and never bucked us off the seat while we were climbing in the saddle.

All in all, the BDair CS looks to be a much more well-rounded shock than its predecessor. We look forward to spending more time on it to bring you a long-term review.

For more information visit www.canecreek.com.

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