Just when you thought the Cane Creek Double Barrel shock couldn’t get any more adjustable, Cane Creek goes and does something like this. The Double Barrel Air takes the twin-tube technology and adds the infinite adjustability of an air spring.
Tech features: The Double Barrel features twin-tube technology, which is the most adjustable shock technology we’ve ever worked with. This is the first shock Cane Creek has chosen to build entirely in-house, without the help of their neighbors, Ohlins, who built their original Double Barrel coil shock. It features four-way independent damping for compression and rebound control. It has an 8-millimeter, hollow, aluminum shaft to increase air volume and uses spherical mounting hardware where applicable. The shock is available in sizes from 7.5 inches eye to eye, with 2 inches of stroke, all the way to 10.5 and 3.5 inches of stroke in all the most common sizes. Our test shock, with an 8.75-inch eye-to-eye and 2.75-inch stroke, weighed 1 pound, 3.3 ounces. The shock sells for $650 including hardware.
The Double Barrel technology differs from a conventional damper. It directs oil through two separate tubes in the piggyback portion of the body—one for rebound and one for compression damping. The damping is then separated again by two valves in each tube for high and low shaft speeds. The advantage is that all four adjustments are fully independent of one another, and a single shim stack does not control the adjustments or their range.
Field test results: We installed the Double Barrel Air shock on our Kona Entourage test bike, which had previously run a coil-sprung shock. We immediately set the four damping adjustments in the middle of their range and began the process of dialing them in. (With a shock like this, it’s going to take some trial and error before you land on the ideal settings.) From there, we set the air spring to 30 percent sag and hit the trails. We tested in various scenarios, including heavy-duty cross-country missions and downhill runs on the rockiest trails around Santa Barbara, California.
The Double Barrel Air provides an incredibly adjustable range. The twin-tube technology is designed to provide a shock with an adjustment range for any bike without a “base” factory tune. The air version is not designed to be a replacement for the coil version, but rather a complement to it.
Our initial adjustments provided a more damped feeling than our stock shock, especially in the initial part of the stroke. Fortunately, a slight decrease in the low-speed compression-damping valve provided an ideal feel: ultra supple on high-speed chatter yet firm under pedaling.
The damper on the Double Barrel Air feels like it does more work than other air-sprung shocks. We even experimented with lower air pressures and close to 40 percent sag with great results. When set up properly, the speed- sensitive damping provides excellent support in the initial portion of the stroke and easily digs deep into the stroke for bigger hits and high-speed impacts.
OK, we’ve ridden many great shocks, and the frame design is every bit as important as the shock performance when it comes to suspension feel. What sets this shock apart from the competition is its adaptability. Most manufacturers are forced to pre-tune their shocks and compromise features to fit the greatest number of frame designs. They’re not usually aftermarket, bolt-on upgrades. The Double Barrel Air is an exception. It puts the tuning in your hands. This is not a beginner’s shock. It requires the know-how and willingness to fine-tune and understand suspension; however, it gives you infinite tuning capabilities. It also offers best-in-class damping if you’re willing to go through the setup process.