Cane Creek's DB Air IL has been updated, and not only does it come with a Trunnion mount option but there are a raft of other elements that make this one impressive shock
Hand-assembled in the USA, Cane Creek’s latest IL (inline) shock has been updated, and now comes with new Trunnion mount options. Is it good? Let’s just say it’s now got a place on our best mountain bike rear shocks guide.
There’s the same four-way external adjustability and fully independent compression and rebound circuits of previous versions, and also a new integrated allen tool that simplifies tuning on the trail.
One of the new sizes (165x45mm) meant I could try the damper on my favourite Evil Following as a replacement for the stock RockShox Deluxe Ultimate – a shock that I’ve been perfectly satisfied with so far. Damping adjustability is far more complex, but installation was simple, as Cane Creek’s latest shocks use the same mounting hardware (bushing) size as Fox and Rockshox.
The Double Barrel IL is one of the only shocks available for shorter travel trail bikes offering full control over both rebound and compression damping, and, like the bigger Cane Creek Kitsuma shock, there’s a broad range of adjustment that works for all rider sizes and tastes. You can basically set damping anywhere from hyperactive-fast and bouncy, through to so-damped-it-hardly-moves. And that’s the 195psi that I ended up at for my 83kg weight.
I didn’t add any volume spacers as ramp-up and support felt fine without them, although this will depend on the specific bike it’s fitted to as well as rider preference.
The latest design features a miniature allen key magnetically hidden inside the Climb Switch lever. It’s not as easy to use as the ‘guitar’ dials on the superb Kitsuma I’ve reviewed previously, but it’s simpler than digging out a multi tool and struggling with the limited frame clearance you find on many bikes.
Tweakers will love how the IL gives you precise control over suspension feel, as it’s easy to notice dramatic changes. Beyond the adjustability, the actual performance at similar levels of rebound and compression (in terms of bump absorption and spring return speeds) also brings another dimension over the RockShox Deluxe it replaced.
Absorbing heavy flat landings, or touchdowns after drops – where the bike slaps back at the ground – is way smoother and more controlled with zero bounce or trembling, and the IL also tracks and traces the ground with more fluidity and precision, so you can really follow tiny undulations and choppy terrain.
All this precision brings extra stability to the chassis and noticeably more grip. I already thought the RockShox shock felt supportive and smooth with good control, but there’s an extra level of sensitivity and reactiveness here. It’s not necessarily any better for a stable, fairly pedal-efficient set-up (which the Deluxe does perfectly well), but that shock doesn’t let me transform the Following from ultimate grip and tracking, through to dull and damped with a sluggish, almost slow-motion response, like the Cane Creek can.
If, like me, you do end up with a descent-biased suspension set-up that erases bumps and feels very lively on the rebound side at the expense of more efficient pedalling, Cane Creek’s shock also has a unique and very effective ride-stabilising climb switch that neutralises pedalling weight shifts by dulling both rebound and compression (rather than just compression on rivals).
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Suspension is one of the key ways to transform ride quality on your bike and it often gets overlooked as an upgrade. Yes, this In Line is over £500, but I love how Cane Creek’s shock performs, and reckon the brand’s dampers are a match for any of the more expensive options on the market. And while older-generation Cane Creek air shocks could start to feel notchy down the line, I’ve had zero issues with this sample after several hundred kilometres.