Cane Creek DBcoil [IL] shock first ride review

New lightweight coil shock with massive adjustability

Last summer at the Eurobike tradeshow, Cane Creek teased a prototype of a new coil shock the company was working on. It was a slimmed down version of the DBcoil CS, minus the piggyback reservoir. This new shock, officially known as the DBcoil [IL], is now ready for prime time.

We visited Cane Creek’s headquarters in Fletcher, North Carolina to learn more about the company’s latest suspension offering and spend some quality time getting acquainted with the shock on Cane Creek’s proving grounds.

DBcoil [IL] highlights

  • High- and low-speed compression adjustments
  • High- and low-speed rebound adjustments
  • Cane Creek’s Climb Switch
  • Intended for short to mid-travel trail bikes
  • Comes with new, lightweight Valt coil spring
  • DBcoil [IL] pricing is set at £TBC / US$550 / AU$TBC
  • Valt spring pricing is £TBC / US$130 / AU$TBC
  • Available now

This new inline coil shock has the same adjustments as Cane Creek’s air-sprung DBinline, DBair CS and DBcoil CS.

There are dual independent high- and low-speed rebound and compression damping circuits along with Cane Creek's Climb Switch.

Instead of fully locking out the shock, the Climb Switch increases low-speed compression damping to firm up the suspension and increases low-speed rebound damping to slow the shock's return after compressions. These two adjustments, made with the simple flip of a switch, optimize the rear suspension for the slower speeds encountered when riding uphill.

Development details

Early prototypes of the DBcoil [IL]. (We doubt the RockShox and Truvativ stickers threw many people off...)
Early prototypes of the DBcoil [IL]. (We doubt the RockShox and Truvativ stickers threw many people off...)

This new slimmed down coil was born from a desire to tinker. The shock came about because Cane Creek design engineer Brandon Blakely sought to fit a coil shock into a frame that didn’t have quite enough clearance for the DBcoil CS.

The first prototype was cobbled together from a DBinline body. More refined iterations soon followed.

Because Cane Creek manufactures and assembles the majority of its products at its headquarters in North Carolina, it was easy to fabricate the parts necessary to pull this off. According to Cane Creek, if not for the company’s in-house manufacturing, this product might never have made it to market.

Springing forward

In addition to the new shock, Cane Creek has a new lightweight coil spring. The Valt is claimed to shave 50-221g off stock springs
In addition to the new shock, Cane Creek has a new lightweight coil spring. The Valt is claimed to shave 50-221g off stock springs

Introduced alongside the DBcoil [IL]] is a new lighter weight coil spring. The Valt is a high performance steel spring that shaves 50-221g off stock springs (depending on shock stroke and weight). The Valt comes standard on the DB Coil [IL].

Cane Creek will offer the Valt as a $130 upgrade for its other coil shocks. It will also fit a number of other manufacturers’ shocks including Manitou, Marzocchi, X-Fusion, ELKA/MRP, BOS, and DSP. It will also fit Fox shocks with the addition of a spring clip adapter, supplied by Cane Creek.

Visit the Cane Creek website for a full list of weights and lengths.

First ride impressions

The BDcoil [IL] is an in-line coil designed to fit trail and enduro bikes
The BDcoil [IL] is an in-line coil designed to fit trail and enduro bikes

The test rig for the DBcoil [IL] was a 160mm-travel Ghost Riot. The test tracks were a series of trails in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest. There were equal parts climbing and descending through rock and root-infested terrain.

The DBcoil [IL] does not disappoint, it allows the rider to push just a bit further through the corners before worrying about breaking traction

If you’re not accustomed to riding a coil, which most riders aren’t nowadays, the most striking characteristic will be how incredibly supple the initial stroke is. With fewer seals to deal with there’s significantly less friction. 

It would be interesting to pit the DBinline against the DBcoil [IL] to get a true comparison of the performance differences between air and coil springs. 

Even without back-to-back testing, the feel of the DBcoil [IL] isn’t a dramatic departure from any of Cane Creek’s other shocks. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since this new coil uses similar twin tube architecture with identical adjustments to Cane Creek’s other top-end air and coil shocks.

I find the increase in traction over air-sprung shocks is most noticeable when trying to carry as must speed as possible through flat turns. With no berms to rely on, it all comes down to timing, lean angle and the ability of the bike to garner as much grip as possible.

The DBcoil [IL] does not disappoint, it allows the rider to push just a bit further through the corners before worrying about breaking traction.

The DBcoil [IL] has independent high- and low-speed rebound and compression adjustment, along with Cane Creek's Climb Switch
The DBcoil [IL] has independent high- and low-speed rebound and compression adjustment, along with Cane Creek's Climb Switch

Technical climbs are another area where coil shocks can have an advantage. With the Climb Switch engaged, the Ghost was an eager ascender. Roots and loose rocks that can cause slip-ups were easy to navigate on the DBcoil [IL].

On the downside, the DBcoil [IL] does come with a weight penalty over a standard air can. (The exact weight difference will vary depending on spring weight and shock length.)

This weight gain is offset by the fact that overall weights for trail and enduro continue to plummet. If you’re going to add a heavier component, it should be one that comes with a performance benefit, which is the primary reason we’re seeing a renewed interest in coil shocks.

This is a promising lightweight coil shock for trail riders, so stay tuned for a long-term test of the DBcoil [IL].

Josh Patterson

Tech Editor, US
Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Age: 35
  • Height: 170cm / 5'7"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 72cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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