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)