Cane Creek DBInline shock review£385.00

Potentially class-leading shock marred by reliability issues

BikeRadar score2.5/5

When Cane Creek fitted all the adjustability and Twin Tube damping sensitivity of its legendary Double Barrel piggyback damper shocks into the compact and affordable DBInline shock last year, it reset the benchmark for trail shock control and adjustability. Reliability has proved questionable though, and more user-friendly but comparably controlled shocks are starting to steal its thunder.

Related: Six of the best MTB air shocks

Twin Tube dampers were first introduced to mountain biking by Romic over a decade ago. They work by using a constantly recirculating oil flow through a second damper tube for a more consistent performance.

This is particularly noticeable in the midstroke of the shock when you’re carving corners hard across ridged, rocky or rutted surfaces where the DBinline stays incredibly controlled with outstanding handling poise and traction to match. Add separate adjustment of low speed and high speed compression and low and high speed rebound and you’ve got a vast range of fine tuning potential.

The ‘bug eyed’ design puts the hot high speed valves where they’ll cool fastest, which gives impressive heat resistance on long descents for a non piggyback shock. The Climb switch not only increases low-speed compression damping but rebound damping as well, sticking the rear wheel down under power and resisting the tendency of the chain torque to yank the wheel off the ground and lose traction. It’s incremental rather than just on/off too so you can get very subtle changes in feel on the fly.

The result is a shock that’s been enough to transform the control levels of some bikes we’ve retrofitted it to from good to truly great – and it certainly underpins the extremely impressive performance of Specialized’s current Enduro bikes. The base feel of the shock is very linear though, and the initial sensitivity isn’t as good as EVOL or DebonAir. This makes installation of the supplied volume spacer for a more ramped spring feel and lower operating pressures essential for most bikes.

While the compression damping is reasonably easy to balance if you’re patient, rebound adjustment – particularly the low speed – is more time consuming and it took us a long time to find a sweet spot between responsive return without kick up and top out on the Giant Trance SX we used for our recent 'best-of' shocks grouptest. The potentially helpful online setup guide doesn’t list many current bikes either.

Most worryingly, our DBInline samples and those of other trusted users have also been significantly less reliable than other shocks. This includes a variety of issues from oil leaks and pressure balancing problems to complete damping circuit failure, particularly under heavier or more aggressive riders. While Cane Creek assures us all early production issues are now sorted, the DBInline has work to do restoring its reliability reputation.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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