Cane Creek Kitsuma DB Coil Review


Words & Photos by Bobby Langin

So, my Cane Creek Kitsuma Coil Shock Review started out as a text message to Loam Wolf Head Honcho, Drew Rohde. I was buying a Pivot Firebird and was completely torn on whether I should go with the coil shock or air shock option!? (Can you feel me?) One shock caught my eye in particular, the Cane Creek DB Kitsuma Coil and I was hoping to get some insight. As it turned out, he had not ridden the new model yet, and could not give me an honest opinion. He joked that if I gave him my promise to review the shock, he’d put me in touch with someone at Cane Creek and now we’re here. Before we get into the review, I’d like to say that I had nothing against my air shock, but it just was not cutting it when it came to the higher speeds and hard-hitting rocks that I ride just north of Los Angeles. Plus, I’m sort of known for being a bruiser when it comes to breaking stuff, including bones. With that being said, I rode this shock on my home trails in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley and even raced the shock at the California Enduro Series for the Mt. Shasta, Northstar and China Peak rounds. We had sand, mud, rock, hard sprints, and a variety of long climbs. I’d say it was a true and proper test period. Read on to find out how Cane Creek’s latest and greatest coil shock performed.


• Available in Standard and Trunnion Mounts
• Multitude of size options
• Tool-free, 4 way adjustment
• 3 position Climb Switch
• Progressive Bottom Out
• Coil Spring sold separately


  • Highly Adjustable

  • Excellent Performance

  • Consistent Damping

  • Runs Quiet


  • Fairly Expensive, But Worth It


Cane Creek’s Double Barrel shock technology was one I coveted for my downhill bike back in 2012. Since then things have changed a lot and the shock has seen some revisions and changes. A decade and a year later, I found myself in search of something that was built with performance and reliability in mind. With a minimal amount of research, I was reminded of Cane Creek, and like a blast of nostalgia to the face I quickly dove into Cane Creek’s website to refamiliarize myself with the Kitsuma platform.

Cane Creek Kitsuma DB Coil Review

Cane Creek starts by boosting a shock that is focused around being highly tunable on-trail. With toolless adjustments, the rider can adjust the high speed and low speed compression and rebound settings. The Double Barrel (DB) shocks pack a twin-tube damper, which separates compression and rebound damping circuits allowing for more effective tuning and improved damping consistency. The Kitsuma shocks are given a very wide range of damping adjustment to allow the same shock to suit a wide range of rider weight, styles and preferences. A 3-position climb switch adds uphill efficiency on-the-fly, something that us out of shape enduro riders need for sure.

The DB Kitsuma Coil shock uses a Monoblock oil seal head design, touted to offer improved alignment and durability. The end of the travel is cushioned with a bottom out bumper with tuned progressivity, increasing end-of-stroke support and boosting useability on less progressive frames. For those looking for improved system progression, Cane Creek offers their VALT Progressive springs, which add progression to the last 50% of the shock stroke. At 468g, even the weight weenies may be able to get on board with Cane Creek’s premium coil shock. Of course, the weight of the spring is not included. With a 500lb spring the unit weighs around 967grams.

Cane Creek offers the DB Kitsuma shock in standard Metric and Trunnion options to fit most modern frames, with every shock built to order in their North Carolina facility. Standard retail price is $729.99 for the shock body, with VALT springs running an additional $40-$99 depending on if a standard or progressive spring is desired.

Cane Creek Kitsuma DB Coil Review


Setup | Setting up and mounting the Cane Creek shock was simple, as it came with the proper mounting hardware for my bike. One thing to note is you should know your frame’s leverage ratio when selecting your coil – or at least make sure your shop’s technician does – as this will determine the weight of your spring as well as if you want a standard or Progressive VALT spring. With the Pivot Firebird being a very progressive bike as it is, I opted for the standard spring. I ran a slightly stiffer spring than typically suggested to give myself a firmer 25% sag setting. What can I say, I like it stiff.

Factory settings on the DB Kitsuma are neutral, and it is recommended to start there for riders between 120 and 200lbs. From there riders should adjust one click at a time to fine tune the shock to their preferences. If you are a lighter rider, they recommend to reduce your high-speed settings a half a turn, and heavier riders should increase it in the same manner. The shock adjustment video from Cane Creek is not only helpful for their shock, but I found it great knowledge for all shock tuning.

Testing | Setting out to give the Cane Creek DB Kitsuma Coil a true test throughout my summer review I wanted to be sure to ride in a variety of different atmospheres and conditions. Not just my typical southern California loose, blown-out chunk. The first ride was done in some local mountains with steep climbs to get to fast and tight single tracks.

Now the trails were not super chunky but they are quite fast and loose. On the way up my first climb I had the shock open, and the bike was still climbing really well. I’m sure some of that is the Pivot/DW magic, but it was impressive nonetheless. Once at the top I got going into the first corners, the bike was squatting in and holding traction impressively, giving some extra confidence at speed. The third thing I noticed on that first ride was that the bike sprinted much better. My old legs aren’t powerful, so this was very interesting and a welcome improvement. The traction gained while pedaling and cornering was a big plus for this vet! Day one was a success.

As I continued to abuse my bike throughout the summer in the soft silt that is at Mt. Shasta, the square edge slabs at Northstar and the rowdiness China Peak provides, the Cane Creek DB Kitsuma Coil continued to impress. I was able to fine tune with ease for each situation, although I did not go too far from their neutral settings. The shock repeatedly impressed me in small chatter and any time I had to put the watts down for a sprint. The coil also didn’t lack in the play department. Anytime I wanted to pop off a small rock to make a quick gap or find some fun side jumps to throw the back end out, it answered with confidence. I never felt worried or got myself in any unexpected nose heavy scenarios we never want to be in. Instead, I was provided with unfaltering predictability and consistency.

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden a coil shock and there were a few things that I grew to appreciate during my long-term review of the Kitsuma Coil shock. Even on long, bike park descents in California heat, the rear shock seemed to maintain damping performance. The heat build up and management of a coil shock is better than its air shock counterpart and I appreciated that on the trails. Being a pretty hard and fast rider, I have a tendency to go too big and sending things to flat in a loose sort of way. I liked the bottom out support of the shock as it allowed me to use full travel without a crazy recoil or bounce-back. No doubt the Pivot Firebird’s kinematics have a lot to do with that as well. One of my last takeaways was the overall durability and quietness of the shock. I am notoriously hard on parts, I think the last three wheel companies I’ve ridden for blocked my email address after my sixth broken wheel. Kidding aside, the Cane Creek DB Kitsuma Coil is still quiet, is not leaking and all damping circuits still work! With nearly 60 hours of demanding and dirty use under me, it has surpassed my expectations!

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Cane Creek DB Kitsuma Coil delivered everything they promised, and then some. If you’re looking for an American-made rear shock for your mountain bike that offers adjustability, performance, and durability, I truly think this shock is worth the pricier buy in and weight penalty. Cane Creek continued to impress with the variety of situations I threw at it. It handled the gnar of Northstar, pedaling through the crazy silt at Mt Shasta, and was more than efficient while cranking up the long ascents at China Peak. The only thing that failed through the summer of racing were my legs.

Price: $769.99 (Shock with VALT spring)
Weight: 967g (Shock with 500lbs VALT spring)

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