Cane Creek DB Coil IL Review

Cane Creek DB Coil IL

Words by Drew Rohde & Sourpatch // Photos by Sourpatch

Cane Creek had earned a respected reputation long before their suspension products became a household name. The Double Barrel shock solidified the brand in a new way and to a new riding demographic. Despite some problematic years and reliability issues, Cane Creek has continued to plug away, determined to create smart products that work well. With years of evolution behind them, Cane Creek has found another way to make their Double Barrel technology available to a new genre of riders. The DB Coil IL is designed for riders who want coil performance and feel with the weight of an air shock. It delivers on both fronts.

The Shock

Think of the DB Coil IL as the offspring of a DB Coil and DB Inline Shock, at least from a visual point of view. Wanting to maintain the Inline’s climbing prowess, Cane Creek developed a climb switch that would work on the hydraulics to keep the burly all mountain bikes it’s designed for moving up the hill. The Climb Switch optimizes suspension dynamics by changing the low speed damping, with the intent to reduce pedal bob while climbing. The IL also employs Cane Creek’s Twin Tube technology, which circulates the oil continuously through externally adjustable valving instead of the main piston aiding in better tunability. The IL also shares the four-way adjustment set-up found on other Cane Creek shocks. Our Coil IL came equipped with a 2.25 x 450 Cane Creek Valt spring.

The Dirt

We’ve spent quite a bit of time on this shock, which is spec’d on the Ghost SL AMR, a bike we just can’t get enough of. Drew’s first ride aboard the bike and shock was in Whistler Bike Park last fall. The day he rode the Coil IL equipped Ghost he had also ridden a Pivot Firebird, Trek Slash and Rocky Mountain Slayer. Without a doubt, the Ghost thanks in part to this shock handled Whistler’s braking bumps better than anything he’d ridden that day. Even with his glowing review and several more days on the shock early this spring, we had reservations about lifespan and long term reliability. About a month later Drew handed the bike off to me at our gathering in Humboldt. Like Drew, I was instantly impressed. Each trail had everything you could imagine: fast, flowy sections sandwiching steep rutted chutes, insane root gardens and the occasional climb. It’s a great place to test every piece of a bike, not to mention the week of stupidly wet conditions would only expedite any mechanical weakness. Since then I’ve returned to riding my local trails in the wasteland we call Southern California. There’s a few trails in the Santa Monica mountains and Rocky Peak area, that blend high speed chatter, big compression G-outs and steep, leg-burning climbs.

Climbing On mellow ascents, the kind that didn’t require me to get out of the saddle, I found that there was almost zero pedal bob with the Climb Switch engaged. I found the bike settled well into a stable spot in the stroke and held position as long as my power input was steady. On steeper out of the saddle climbs, however, like the wall at Rocky Peak, pedal bob was instantly noted. Then again, it is a coil shock, on a longer travel bike. It’s never going to climb like a locked out air can, and that’s not always a bad thing. Since we value DH performance for climbing efficiency, the little bit of bounce is more than acceptable.

Descending With the nose pointed down hill, the shock truly shines. Whether I was jamming down root sections, slamming into corners, or flying off sweet jumps, the DB Coil IL absorbed the hits and kept me going like the terrain was nothing. The factory suggested tune for the Ghost was pretty close but we did do some tweaking for scientific purposes and found the adjusters to be quite valuable for tuning the ride characteristics to match the terrain. Once we wrote down some of our baseline tunes for types of terrain, it was easy to just sit back and let the bike work. We’ve gone well over the regular service interval on the shock and have not done any maintenance on it yet. In fact we’ve purposely neglected it just to see if we could get it to do something bad. So far this thing just takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.

Cane Creek DB Coil IL Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

Unfortunately a couple of Cane Creek’s recent products have soured some when it comes to the brand’s reliability. The fallout from that may leave the brand with an uphill battle for consumers not willing to forget. On the other hand, Cane Creek has a dedicated and loyal fan base who love the ability to finely tune and control aspects of their suspension in ways others can’t. Despite our own concerns regarding reliability, we remain as impressed by the DB Coil IL as we were the first time we hopped on. With a near perfect out-of-the-box tune, Cane Creek makes dialing in the shock a breeze with thoughtful apps and a robust online support package. We tested the shock with Cane Creek’s Valt lightweight spring and found the 450-pound coil to be a great fit for our 165-173lb riders. When we think about the DB Coil IL, what stands out for us is the shock’s composure over repeated, high speed hits, supple sensitivity that only a coil shock can give and a playful demeanor that can be tuned down when the conditions call for it. This shock will change people’s perception in more ways than one. With performance this good and a minimal weigh penalty, all we can say is we’re excited to see more coil shocks on trail bikes!

Price: $460; Weight: 635g;

We Dig

Shock Speed
Climb Switch

We Don’t

Steep Out of Saddle Climbs

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