Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Cane Creek’s Double Barrel shocks, available in coil and air versions, have until now been only available for long travel bikes, finding few homes outside of very aggressive freeride and downhill bikes. As a market segment, that’s fairly small, leaving the vast majority of XC, trail, enduro and all mountain riders without the incredible versatility offered by separate, externally adjustable high and low speed compression and rebound damping or the excellent Climb Switch.

Now, all that’s changed.

The new DB Inline takes all (ALL!!!) of the DB Air’s tech and packages it into a shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes. And, really, those numbers are just suggestions, it’ll fit bikes outside that range, opening it up to virtually all modern bikes for anyone from XC racers to Enduro slayers.

It was no small feat condensing the dual flow, multiple adjustment technology into a smaller package without the external reservoir and control stack. Here’s how they did it…



A little history: Cane Creek and Ohlins, which are practically neighbors in Henderson County, North Carolina, both use twin tube technology in their shocks. And the technology has been around in motorsports far longer than for bicycles. The original DB Coil was developed using a consulting agreement with Ohlins, then finished in house at Cane Creek. All DB shocks since then have been completely developed in house. Each company has their own patents to draw from, and Cane Creek’s tends to carry the user friendly tuning features further.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Twin Tube Damping is the damping circuit architecture for all of their DB shocks, from the original coil version to the DB Air to this new Inline model. It means the inner shaft has two tubes, one inside the other, creating a completely circular path for the oil The benefits of this are multiple. First, it lets them direct the oil through the four distinct damping circuits. Second, because the oil’s flowing along the outside edge of the shaft, it’s continually cooled by dumping heat through the metal body, which then transfers it to the outside air. So, performance is more consistent on long downhill sections.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Since there’s no external reservoir, DB Inline design requires a different approach to maintaining oil pressure. Rather than an IFP (Internal Floating Piston) with a nitrogen charge pushing back against the oil, the Inline uses a bladder above the controls with the nitrogen charge behind it. The benefit of this over a traditional mono-tube shock is that it keeps pressure on the system in both directions of oil flow, which prevents cavitation (i.e. air bubbles forming in the fluid). We’ll see more on this in a bit…

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

The Climb Switch was added to the DB Air in 2013. In hindsight, it may have foretold a shock for shorter travel bikes. Not only does it make far more sense for the 120mm to 150mm travel bikes the Inline is aimed at, but it works fantastically well. It controls pedal bob by simultaneously closing the low speed compression and rebound circuits. That dual function is what separates it from any other “climb” mode on competing shocks that only affect compression damping. And in the true spirit of ultimate tunability, the Climb Switch is non-indexed, letting you slide it anywhere in its range to quickly add the amount of top end damping you want.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Oil flow during compression is shown. Rebound is exactly the same, just flowing in the opposite direction through ports on the other side. Note there are three “incoming” ports, one of which is undamped, and a single one-way return port per side.

It works by using two separate flow ports, one each for compression and rebound. With CS off, low speed circuits are fully open. With CS on, they’re fully closed, which effectively reduces the number of ports that oil can flow through, thus slowing down movement in both directions. Put the switch anywhere between on and off and the ports are degrees of open or closed, which is what lets you fine tune the feel to your liking.

The lever rotates around (but is separate from) the low speed compression adjustment, but internal valving brings the low speed rebound damping through the switch, too. High speed damping in both directions is unaffected, so big hits won’t hurt the shock at all. In fact, head of engineering Josh Coaplen says you could run it with the CS on all the time if you wanted.


It’s worth noting that the internal orifice for the Climb Switch is chosen from four sizes ranging from 0.5 to 1.2 millimeters for OEM placements (or custom, if need be, or with different diameters for rebound versus compression). This tunes the climbing performance for a particular model. For aftermarket units, they split the difference with a 0.8mm port. This provides a good balance for all frames and is the only part of it that’s not user tunable. Josh says it’ll still be very good, but maybe just not 100% optimal. But, remember, you can place the switch anywhere in it’s range, so you actually do still have some control over how it works.

The Air Spring Curve is also adjustable with simple spacers placed inside the air chamber, making the shock more progressive toward the end of the stroke as you add spacers. For OEM placements, the shocks will come with spacers preinstalled if the manufacturer spec’d them to get the ride quality they wanted. For aftermarket units, they’ll come with two large spacers in the accessories bag. The size of the spacers is dependent on the stroke length of the shock. Oh, and you can install them yourself with the shock still on the bike! The spacers even have lines on them, so you can trim them down to really customize the progressivity of the shock.

As if all that wasn’t enough, you can even rotate the air can body to orient the air valve wherever it’s most convenient for you to fill it.

Lost count? Here’s quick recap of user adjustable features:

  • high speed compression damping
  • low speed compression damping
  • high speed rebound damping
  • low speed rebound damping
  • climb mode damping
  • air volume
  • air valve position


Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

We’ll start back at the top, revisiting the high nitrile content custom molded membrane that separates the nitrogen charge from the oil. Unlike an IFP (Internal Floating Piston) that has to slide along the inside of the tube, this creates no internal stiction for smoother performance.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

The design also allowed them to simply hollow out the end eye (shown above, the part that bolts to your frame/linkage) to be used for the nitrogen gas chamber since it didn’t have to be round to accommodate a piston seal, leaving more room for oil. In fact, the Inline shock uses 37% to 48% more oil than similarly sized models from other brands, which also helps it better manage heat build up. Lest you think the membrane is less durable than an IFP, they’ve tested it to more than a million bottom out cycles. Not just a million cycles, but full bottom out cycles that stretch the membrane to it’s roundest dome shape. Oh, and because the end eye is capped on as a separate part, it can be oriented in any angle the OEM customer wants, letting them spec adjustment controls to be aimed up, down or to either side. Once it’s sealed and gets the nitrogen charge, it can’t be rotated by the end user.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Original flat bushings (white) are replaced by L-shaped bushings (blue) that prevent metal-on-metal contact inside the shock. On the right, an original DB oil piston with the original bushings. The L-shaped ones would cover the outer edge of the gold part.

Speaking of a million cycles, the O-rings/Quad Rings used on the air seal and piston seal (right) are backed up by L-shaped bushings that wrap around the aluminum piston heads to prevent them from rubbing directly on the alloy tubes of the shock. That’s particularly important when shocks see a side load. Those are self-lubricating graphite impregnated Teflon and are good for one million full bottom out (i.e. full stroke) cycles. Or, as Josh put it, more riding than you’re going to do in a lifetime.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

The seals inside the air can also get the L-shaped bushings on either side. Note how much more coverage the new ones provide compared to the originals.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

One of the biggest hurdles was packing all of the controls inline with the shock’s cap. Think about what all needs to happen there: Oil needs to flow through four ports on either side, two of which with their own controls and one of those having a secondary shutoff valve from the climb switch. Oh, and the low speed rebound port has to cross over to the compression side to pass by the climb switch, too. That’s a lot of pipes and valves to keep separate and a very small amount of space to do it.

The cap started out as an investment cast part which, which would have saved time by not needing any post production machining. Unfortunately, they couldn’t reliably get all the investment material out of the ports, ending up with some shocks that were awesome on the dyno, and some less so. The solution was forging and machining five pieces and assembling them to create the equivalent of the investment cast part.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

The bottom looks simple enough, just an intake and exit port.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Flip it over and you start to appreciate the intricate plumbing that makes it all work.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Half of the pipes have to run through one or two different control valves, and those valves need an external face so you can adjust them.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

One of the high speed circuit ports, shown before the valve is installed.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Once it’s machined, three welch plugs (left) are popped into place over the holes required to machine all the ports. As they’re flattened into the holes, they seal and lodge into place permanently. The design has been used in carbeurators for years. A fourth cover (right) is then bolted into place and then the nitrogen chamber membrane is put in place and the end eye is bolted on with a larger nut. (Yes, one of the welch plugs is missing in pic on the right)


Compression forces on the shock are far greater than rebound. So, there’s a shim stack on the piston inside the damper tube to provide a primary compression damping effort. The small parts shown there would sit on the end of the piston rod heading into the oil chamber, flexing the shims to let some of the oil bypass at a specific rate. It’s the same on all shocks for all customers, OEM and aftermarket. All fine tuning and customization is done with port sizing and high speed circuit spring selection:


The circuits are divided into two systems, high and low speed. The low speed circuits flow oil through a port with a needle valve. As you turn the low speed control, the needle moves closer or further from the opening. The more open it is, the faster oil will flow and the faster your low speed damping will be.

The high speed circuits use a spring loaded poppet valve (shown above) that blows open under the higher pressure of big hits that move the shock rapidly. Several different spring rates are available to OEM customers to help them tune the ride. If you’re ordering one aftermarket, they’ll put the right spring in based on the bike you have.



Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Honestly, one of the more interesting parts of riding with the crew from Cane Creek over two days was having them help tweak the shock while riding to illustrate what tweaks made what differences. Low speed rebound is what controls most of the shock’s return movement and will have the biggest impact on ride feel. They said most people will open up high speed compression if the shock feels like it’s getting bogged down.

So, low speed rebound affects the the return over roots, rocks, stutter bumps, etc. Opening it up can prevent the shock from “packing up” over repeated hits. High speed rebound helps the bike come out of deep drops and G-outs so it’ll be ready for the next one, but it only comes into play when the shock is compressed into the last ~20% of its travel. That’s because, like the high speed compression, it needs enough force to open the poppet and force oil through the high speed circuit. And, since rebound forces are position dependent, the highest forces are when the shock is fully compressed. As it rebounds, the air pressure pushing back diminishes, closing the high speed circuit pretty early in the return.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Base Tunes are custom for each bike and come with each shock, whether you’re buying it as part of a complete bike or as an aftermarket part to upgrade your current rig. The latter is a huge benefit compared to competing shock brands, which are generally sold aftermarket with one of one to three standard tunes that will hopefully match up with your particular bike. With the DB Inline, it comes tuned specifically for your bike and should feel good right out of the box.

Like with the other Double Barrel shocks, they’ll have an online database of recommended base tunes for the DB Inline, too. It’s a list that’ll grow as they test it with more bikes, but off the bat they’ll have a good bit of data for bikes that are spec’ing it. Those brands include Specialized, Intense, Ghost, Bianchi, Norco, Ibis and more for starters. In the event they haven’t worked with a particular frame in person, they can take the leverage ratio of your bike and compare it to others in their database to at least provide something close. As they say, this gets you to “happy”.

To get from “happy” to “stoked”, they include their DB Field Guide that walks you through the process of tuning it to max out your own personal stoke meter.

Jim Morrison, senior design engineer, says they’re intentionally set with the low speed compression pretty open so they have a plush feeling on the showroom floor, but that one of the best things to do (after marking down where those settings are) is to open each of the settings all the way then go ride a couple miles and change one setting to all the way closed. Because the adjustments have such a wide range, by cycling through each one, you’ll really learn how each one affects the ride.

With that in mind, they said it was a conscious decision to make each adjustment (other than CS) a tooled effort. By having to take out your mini tool and adjust the shock, you mentally become more aware that you’re tuning the shock and are really thinking about what you’re doing. The low speed circuits have fixed indents (12 for compression, 18 for rebound). The high speed circuits are not indexed, instead getting four complete rotations from end to end. Within the range, changes are linear, providing the same amount of change per movement across the entire spectrum of adjustment. In other words, it’s not going to have a big amount of change in the first couple clicks then no discernible difference for the rest.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

My test rides were on a 2014 Intense Spider 29er Comp. In the spirit of full disclosure, my bike’s first shock had a technical difficulty that prevented proper air movement out of the negative air chamber. The culprit was a damaged quad seal. Fortunately, one of the crew riding with my group swapped his same-size shock on to my bike and the ride continued. In order to get the eyelets to fit, we had to flip the shock, which is why the controls are at the bottom in most of these pics. Normally, they’d be at the top to make the Climb Switch easier to reach. All that said, production shocks go through a full dyno test that would catch issues like this before they ship, and no one else had any problems with their shocks for the duration of the camp. I believe this one was a preproduction fluke, but wanted to mention it. Moving on…

The video shows the DB Inline in action in various situations:

  • start – descending with a few jumps
  • 1:40 – descending with Climb Switch turned ON
  • 2:03 – seated climbing, moving CS through various positions
  • 2:40 – standing climbing, moving CS through various positions

If it isn’t obvious by now, I’ll say it: What sets the Double Barrel shocks apart is the immense control it gives you over your bike’s suspension performance. The individual high and low speed damping controls are amazing enough, the Climb Switch takes it over the top.

Our first big technical section started with a few bigger hits, then finished over small but repetitive root sections. The shock handled the big stuff fine, but seemed to get a bit harsh on the rapid fire small hits. Upon Jim’s suggestion, I opened up the low speed rebound 1/4 of the way and gave the high speed rebound a half turn. We left compression alone initially and the difference was good. The rear end recovered better and didn’t feel as harsh on the little stuff. The low speed compression was set just four clicks from fully open, so I split the difference with two clicks in and it got even better. That kept it feeling smooth over the rough sections with plenty of control in the berms and drops. The outer O-ring indicated I’d used all available travel, yet I never felt it bottom out.

On the inclines, the Climb Switch makes a noticeable difference both seated and standing. It’s not a total lockout, but racers will appreciate its firm feel when switched all the way on. For folks like me who actually want their suspension to work while ascending, I found leaving it about 1/3 of the way open balanced the best mix of bump absorption and pedaling platform. That almost-middle setting also worked well for smoother flat sections and sprinting. I intentionally left it on for a few techy sections and small descents, and it kept the bike under control even if it was noticeably firmer. That’s thanks to the high speed compression being unaffected. But it’s definitely better wide open when gravity’s working in your favor.

Photo: Derek Diluzio

Photo: Derek Diluzio

First impressions are very good. The Intense Spider’s stiff carbon frame and slightly slack head angle made a great bike for shredding the trails in Dupont and Asheville. Its VPP suspension was a solid platform for showing off the shock’s versatility, taking the inherent pedaling performance and dialing it up a bit with CS on. I’ve found that VPP designs are typically pretty good at wiggling over the little stuff as well as taking a big hit in stride, and the pairing worked very well here for logging first impressions.

If control is an illusion, then the DB Inline is your peek behind the curtain. It’ll open your eyes to what’s possible. And now that I have seen the light, I want this on my own bike.


Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline mountain bike shock for 120mm to 150mm travel mountain bikes

Just some of the many different ways you can mount the DB Inline shock.

Claimed weight is 295g for the smallest size. That’s about 200g to 250g lighter than the DB Air CS, but probably about 100g heavier than a comparable Fox CTD shock. As such, it’s not aimed at the XC weight weenie in the marketing, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work there. They’re calling out 120mm to 150mm travel bikes, but they had it mounted to a 100mm travel Bianchi Methane XC full suspension bike at the launch. They also had it on a 165mm travel Specialized Enduro (26″). So, if the shock fits and you want its features, there’s no reason you can’t use it. It’s available in the following sizes:

  • 165 x 38mm (6.5” x 1.5”) BAD0430
  • 184 x 44mm (7.25” x 1.73”) BAD0932
  • 190 x 50mm (7.48” x 1.96”) BAD0431
  • 200 x 50mm (7.87” x 1.96”) BAD0432
  • 200 x 57mm (7.87” x 2.24”) BAD0433
  • 216 x 63mm (8.5” x 2.48”) BAD0944

It, like the rest of their line, is meant to be best in class and the $495 retail price reflects that. There won’t be any watered down models to hit lower price points. They’re shipping to distributors June 16 for aftermarket availability. Look for OEM placements on 2015 bikes from the brands mentioned here and more throughout the fall.

The shocks are all assembled in house in their North Carolina facility. And the engineering department is one wall away from the production line, so any time there’s an issue, everyone knows about it immediately. Cane Creek is 100% employee owned, so when they talk about improving their processes and making things better, know that everyone there is fully vested in making it happen.


  1. David on

    VERY pleased with my olde skool regular CCDBA. Wife has one on her 140mm travel bike because wikked moar fasterer. Also put one on my DH bike. I’ll be first in line when they start making forks.

  2. hbelly13 on

    I have a DB Air and I am interested in purchasing a DB Air CS for my bike. The new Inline model is less expensive and weighs less, but otherwise seems to be the same as it’s bigger brother. Is their any benefit to selecting a DB Air CS versus the new Inline? My bike is on the larger end of the travel spectrum that the Inline is rated for at 160mm of travel, but that does not seem to be an issue per the article.

  3. Peter on

    Perhaps I missed this in the article, but the key question for many potential customers is to what extent this shock has been designed to mitigate heating issues on long descents. i.e. what’s the tradeoff vs the piggyback version’s relatively large damping oil volume?

  4. Tyler Benedict on

    Peter – The oil flows along the outside edge of the damping chamber, which has a lot of contact with outside air, helping dissipate heat. The diagrams show the amount of surface area for cooling compared to a traditional single tube shock. Our longest descents were probably about 2.5 to 3 minutes, and not as extreme as a DH course, but as the video shows there was plenty of movement. I never felt the shock ramp up from oil heat expansion. The tradeoff is being able to fit this shock on non-DH bikes and still get all the tuning. Either way, one could argue that it provides better heat management and better tuning than standard shocks, so it’s a win-win for the types of bikes it’s designed for. If you’re going bigger, just get the DB Air.

  5. ginsu on

    @Peter & Tyler – Interestingly, mono-tube shocks are preferred in automotive applications because they help cool oil BETTER than a twin-tube design, so I’m not buying that as a benefit in this application.

    Check out the following link for more info:

    Now, I’m pretty darned sure that this shock is an excellent design and will preform very well. I just don’t really like the way some of the jargon is thrown around in the bike world and used as if one design is superior than another without complications, thus taking advantage of user ignorance. There are benefits and compromises to mono-tubes and twin-tubes, it’s not black and white. What’s good in one application may not necessarily be good in another. It just may be that the CCDB is perhaps BETTER for long-travel DH bikes, and not necessarily as much for trail bikes. That being said, I doubt you’ll find a high quality 4-way adjustable damper out there and if I had the money to pitch at it, I would definitely try it out myself.

    Also, I’m thinking with a VPP suspension you could really benefit from a position-sensitive damper.

    One question, any chance for a coil version of this coming out?

  6. ian spivack on

    very good article. I think there is one error in it:
    “And, since rebound forces are position dependent, the highest forces are when the shock is fully compressed. ”
    Rebound forces are dependent on velocity and position in mass/spring/damper systems.
    So you can adjust the shock force based on your spring and dampening coefficients. That is why there is so much adjustment available (like the needle valve) in this shock to really fine tune the shock force.
    I would like to see some more companies work on developing electronically controlled shocks. I think that is the next big thing for mountain bikes.

  7. ginsu on

    @ian – I don’t think that is actually an error in the article per se, just a simplified statement of a highly techinical subject. Here’s a long-winded explanation of what I believe the author was trying to say with that particular comment you pointed out.

    All a damper an effectively do is control the velocity of a system it is installed into. In that paragraph the author is talking about the damper’s ability to control high speed rebound. The damper’s high speed circuit will not be effective at low shaft velocities (that’s the way it’s designed), so there is an effective amount of inertia built into the valve so that it will not open at lower velocities, this means the fluid needs to gain enough momentum in order for the damper to be able to control it’s flow. The fluid can only gain this momentum after the piston has moved for a certain amount of time. At higher speeds this amount of time means that a large amount of travel has been used up before the poppet will open a help control the fluid flow.

    While it is a somewhat confusing comment, I don’t see it being an error in the author’s comment, but rather just simplification in describing a complex system.

  8. Greg on

    Does anyone know the shock overall diameter?
    Wanting to work out if it will fit into my frame when it becomes available

  9. ginsu on

    Hey Tyler, there is another review saying the CS is indeed a ‘switch’ with a two-position ON/OFF mode and not adjustable. Is this true? I’d like to think you’re right on this one, but the name is ‘Climb Switch’ after all and would seem to indicate that it is a two-position device. I know the original CCDB Air is definitely like that, it would seem that this one would be the same. Thanks!

  10. duder on

    @ginsu I think the articles you mentioned and CC are using the term ‘twin-tube’ to refer to 2 different things. The articles you refer to use the term ‘twin-tube’ to refer to open reservoir shocks where the air and oil can mix. This is not possible in the CC DB, which uses a membrane to separate the oil from the nitrogen charge. CC is using the term ‘twin-tube’ to refer to the oil flow within a closed circuit that causes the rebound and compression valving to be more isolated from each other than other shocks.

  11. Shawn Harrington on

    I’d love to buy a 200×57 size for my Santa Cruz Nickel. But, they don’t have a base tune, and I would have no idea where to start. That would probably keep me from buying this.

  12. duder on

    @Shawn, actually if you rtfa it says they do have base tunes. You tell them which bike you have, and they sell you a shock with the appropriate spring rate in the high speed valves.

  13. Chriso on

    @Shawn – Mate its only a base tune. Every rider and their shock tuning requirements are different so you’re going to have to tune it anyway. Set it to medium and use your brain to work it out. If that fails just read the instructions. Actually – do us all a favor keep the shock you have because if your afraid to make a tuning mistake then this shock is not for you.

  14. Wilhelm on

    What are the service intervals? I always thought Fox shocks were pretty short between service. The Cane Creek would be worth it not just for performance but longer intervals between service. And also because Asheville.

  15. Alex on

    According to this article there’s no 216×57, which is the fit size for a Specialized Enduro 29, which was the test sled for the NSMB and Pinkbike articles. The Cane Creek website says such a shock is available.

  16. ginsu on

    @icedtea – Unfortunately, the Cane Creek website directly contradicts what you and this article are implying regarding the ‘Climb Switch’. I think there should be a clarification or revision to the article. It’s also possible that the author was testing a model that was not yet in production. I’m all ears.

    Adjustments Four-way independent adjustment:

    High-speed compression
    Low-speed compression
    High-speed rebound
    Low-speed rebound
    Climb Switch on/off

  17. WannaBeSTi on

    If you rotate the shock, do the adjustments change? For example:
    High-Speed Compression would become Low-Speed Rebound?
    How would this change the dampering?
    Would the settings change if I took my bike to Australia, but I set the shock up in ‘merica?

    J/K, I know there’s 2 P’s in dampping…


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