Cane Creek Double Barrel – Long Term Review
A couple of points before we get started…
- I purchased this shock for retail price in June of last year.
- It has been in several configurations on two different bikes (more later on this).
- This review is solely my opinion on the performance and characteristics.
- I have only ever used steel springs.
- I am not affiliated with Cane Creek or Ohlins Racing.
- During testing period, riding weight ranged from 185 lbs to 195 lbs.
CANE CREEK DOUBLE BARREL BACKGROUND
The Double Barrel was developed by Cane Creek in conjunction with Ohlins Racing. Their goal was to produce the best performing rear shock on the market for a mountain bike. Ohlins Racing’s United States branch office is located in Hendersonville, NC a stone’s throw away from Cane Creek’s headquarters. Ohins Racing is known for producing some of the best shock absorbers on the market and with more than 200 World Championship and other major titles, they have earned the right to claim that they are one of the best in the industry. This partnership with Ohins Racing and Cane Creek has proved to be very beneficial for both parties and the result was the Double Barrel. The Double Barrel also won Mountain Bike’s coveted Product of the Year Award in 2006. Each Double Barrel is handbuilt in North Carolina and goes through a testing process on the dyno before you even get your hands on it.
TECHNOLOGY behind the Cane Creek Double Barrel
The Double Barrel is the first rear shock to use Ohins patented twin tube technology.
From the Cane Creek Website:
The Double Barrel uses a unique Twin Tube design.
- Unique in industry: it totally isolates the rebound circuits from the compression circuits.
- Twin Tube flows more oil through adjustable valves (instead of piston valves) giving you more control.
- Oil moves through the piston only as directed by the external adjusters. In other words, the rider dictates how much oil will be routed through each valve.
For much more detailed information on the technology behind the Double Barrel, you can check out their website. In an attempt to prevent redundancy, I will not repeat all of that information here.
Ventana El Ciclon – 5″ Mode
7.875″ x 2.00″ with a 450# and 500# spring
Ventana El Ciclon – 6″ Mode
7.875″ x 2.25″ with 500# spring
Ventana El Terremoto – 6″ of Travel
7.875″ x 2.25″
Other Bikes Tested
2007 Turner RFX – 7.875″ x 2.25″
Turner Spot (Horst Rear) – 7.50″ x 2.00″
2006 Turner Highline
I was able to switch my shock between 2.00″ stroke and 2.25″ stroke because of a nice feature of my particular size shock. All I had to do was remove the cone base plate (as seen with in the triple picture) with a flat base plate (as seen on the header picture) and change the spring from a 2.00″ stroke to a 2.25″. This proved to be very convenient as I was switching rockers and frames. Not all models are able to do that.
Right now the shock is on my El Terremoto which is a 6 inch four bar from Ventana. It take a 7.875″ x 2.25″ shock, and currently I am running a 450# spring with 3 turns on the preload collar. This gives me about 35-40% sag.
Shocks I have ridden for comparison – Fox DHX-C, Fox DHX-A, Fox RP23, Push’d RP23, Manitou 5th Element, Fox RP3, Avalanche Chubbie w/Hi and Low speed adjustment
The shock came in stock for my El Ciclon with the following settings.
- HS Comp 2 turns from fully open
- LS Comp 8 clicks out from fully closed
- HS rebound 2 turns from fully open
- LS rebound 12 clicks from fully closed
In the box you get your CCDB, manual and the dyno chart of the adjust ability range of your specific shock. As I had mentioned before, every Double Barrel built at Cane Creek gets fully tested on the dyno before it is shipped to you. They send this graph along with your shock.
At first, I was blown away. The shock that the CCDB replace on the Ciclon was a stock RP23, and I was having constant problems with mid stroke wallow. I never really could seem to get it to use it’s travel the way I wanted it to. It was getting to the point that I was going to send the shock off to Push to get the entire treatment done. That entire first ride, I was just looking for hard square edges to run into and drop off of. What surprised me the most was not feeling the rear end. It just seemed to act exactly like a suspension is supposed to. It hit the square edge, soaked up the shock and my body stayed in the same place. What surprised me even more was how easy it climbed. There was almost no pedal induced bob but I still had traction when I needed it. There was very little tuning done during this first ride as I was trying to get used to how the shock felt in it’s shipped form.
After some more time…
While I was very impressed on how the shock performed in it’s stock form, there were several characteristics that I needed to change. I did buy this shock for the extreme adjust ability range it has over any other shock in the market, so I might as well make it act exactly how I want it to.
Low Speed Compression
With the low speed compression at 8 clicks out from fully closed, the bike climbs unbelievably well, but you loose that low shaft speed sensitivity on drops and smaller hits. I have also found that on fully active suspensions (especially four bars like my Ciclon and Terremoto), you can really control pedal bob by concentrating on even and consistent pedal strokes. This is something that every rider should be working on anyway in my opinion. I opened up the LSC 4 clicks from fully open and a whole new world opened up. The rear tire was glued to the ground and this was traction that I have never felt on this bike before. I literally could not feel any jarring hits from the rear end. It just seemed to float over everything. This is the feeling I was looking for all along. On climbs, I had a lot more traction, but there was the pedal induced bob that I was referencing towards earlier. With some work on my climbing skills, this has gone away for the most part. The change in the shocks performance in the flats and on downhill runs totally makes up for the little loss of efficiency climbing. For long extended climbs, I can always use the flat head on my multi-tool to dial up the LSC some. I normally do this on climbs that are long enough that I get pretty tired. I find the more exhausted I am…the more my form takes a hike, so letting the shock do some of the work in that situation is not a bad thing.
High Speed Compression
So far, I have left this setting in it’s shipped setting. The larger fast hits seem to be sucked up perfectly without any hint of bottom out. I have noticed on some runs (mostly shuttle runs), that the dirt is off the top of the bottom out bumper. I believe this is happening during fast, chunky rock gardens and larger drops where the shaft speed overtakes the LSC circuit. As long as I am not feeling harsh bottom outs and I am still getting full travel, I believe I have the LSC and HSC dialed in about perfectly for my needs.
Low Speed Rebound
This is the other setting I left in it’s stock form. I might end up messing with it some more since I have the other three settings right where I want them, but for now…the stock setting is great. The recovery from low speed shaft hits is fast enough where the shock is not packing up, but slow enough that it keeps the plushness that I like.
High Speed Rebound
On the HSR, I opened it up another 1/2 turn from the stock position. I wanted a little faster recovery time in those extended, fast rock gardens so the shock would not pack up. There is a specific rock garden that I test this setting out on locally. It’s about 30 feet long with a 4 foot rock drop at the exit. Blowing through your travel and not being able to recover it would not be a good situation on this run, but with the setting a 1/2 turn out…it seems to work perfectly.
Overall, I am extremely happy with the CCDB. Out of everything else I have ridden, it is the best performer by a mile. It just acts how I believe a shock should, and a lot of this has to do with the ability to make the shock feel exactly the way you want it to. The CCDB also seems to act it’s best working in the middle of it’s stroke. Increasing your sag height over what you are used to running will probably surprise you. Once I brought the say down in the 35-40% range, the shock really came alive. Keeping it up in the 25-30% range doesn’t really open up the circuits like they were intended in my opinion. Where all of the other shocks I have ridden have lacked (mid-stroke), this shock seems to perform it’s best.
The CCDB can be a set and forget shock if you want it to be, but you wouldn’t be unloading it’s true potential. One thing to remember…one click makes a difference. I was very used to the Fox shocks where you had to adjust full turns to get any kind of reaction. That is not the case with the CCDB, so make small incremental changes.
Any negatives that I can think of? Well only really three…
- It’s expensive – In the world of mountain biking, you get what you pay for. The CCDB is one of the most expensive shocks on the market. I believe that it is worth every penny, but others might not. Throwing a shock on that is worth more than your frame may not be an option. Also, if you swap frames several times a year, you may not want to pay for something that your next frame may not take.
- It’s heavy – I threw away the notion that weight was a bad thing a long time ago after a friend of mine smoked me up a climb on a 41 lbs Bullit on flats. Heavy coil shocks may not be in the cards for you if weight is an issue. The closest shock perfomancewise would be the Push’d RP23 if you are concerned about weight. A ti spring is also an option, but the weight vs. cost is just not there for me. I also like to play with different spring rates, and that would get very expensive with ti.
- Adjust ability – This wide of an adjustment range can be a problem for some people. You can get this shock out of wack as fast as you can get it as smooth as butter. Keep the stock settings written down so if you get off track, you can always get back to square one.
A side note on Cane Creek…this company, in all seriousness, probably has the best customer service in the business. If you have any questions or concerns, they are more than willing to help you out or walk you through it. When you buy a part from them, you really are investing a long term relationship with their company and employees. Their quality control and testing are extremely important, so you always get a top notch product every time. I also use their 110 headsets that you can see in another post. Malcolm is the Double Barrel guru…so if you have any questions…I would drop him an email or a phone call and he will walk you through it.