Shooting Off Both Barrels

December 10 2010

The Cane Creek Double Barrel (CCDB) came onto the scene a couple of  seasons ago and quickly established itself as the industry leading coil shock. Having high and low speed compression and rebound it was unique in providing independent adjustment that set the benchmark in usability, but also allowed riders a logical setup where common sense prevailed and dials did exactly what they said on the tin. Looking around the Orange Bikes factory and most of the staff have them hanging off their bikes, not just the bigger travel machines but their everyday trail setups where quality not quantity is paramount. So a season in and we thought it was a good time to repost the initial press release on what drew us to offering the supershock, and our experiences riding the Cane Creek offering for another season. Hopefully this post will give you the information you need on whether the Cane Creek Double Barrel is for you.....

Cane Creek Alpine 160

The Cane Creek Double Barrel has stirred things up in the shock market; when custom tune becomes production...

The original press release:

The Cane Creek Double Barrel is one of those few components that causes a genuine stir in the mountain bike world. It hasn’t been hit hard with marketing or hype, it’s quietly come onto the scene and blown everything else out of the water. That’s how it works on the bike too, no crazy graphics or showy dials, it quietly gets on with annihilating the trail and every other shock on the market.

The key to the success of the Double Barrel shock is Öhlins' Twin Tube technology. The system pumps oil through a continuous circuit allowing full control of both rebound and compression movements. Circulating the oil through the valving instead of the main piston allows independent remote adjustment not possible on other shocks. External adjustment eradicates the need for expensive custom tunes and allows easy setup according to track or weather conditions. You no longer need a factory race truck to revalve your shock, you can do it yourself. Öhlins might have made a name for themselves in motorsport, but along with Cane Creek their technology has revolutionised mountain bike suspension setup.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Dials

Dials are there to be twisted, with infinite adjustment you're guaranteed the perfect setup...

There are four key adjustments and two that are often overlooked, here’s a quick summary of what each controls:

Low-speed compression:

Modulates small bump sensitivity and pedal-platform stability to dial in the balance between immediate plushness and pedal load effects.

High-speed compression:

Adjusts how the shock reacts to the initial high-speed impact of a big hit.

Low-speed rebound:

Controls rebound in slow shaft speed situations such as pedaling, exiting corners, G-outs and unloading weight before rough sections of the trail.

High-speed rebound:

Dials in high-speed recovery after big impacts, sudden compressions or shock extension after leaving the lip of a jump.

Preload:

Preload is the amount you compress the spring from its normal state. This effects how much the shock sags when weighted.

Spring rate:

The correct spring rate ensures the usability of travel for riders of a certain weight.

We offer three options per model, with the steel springs provided below as a suggested baseline.

Model Rider Weight (lb) Spring Rate (lb)
Five 140-155 450
  160-175 500
  180-200 550
Blood 135-155 350
  160-175 400
  180-205 500
Alpine 160 135-155 350
  160-200 400
  205-255 500
224-evo 160-185 300
  190-200 400
  205-255 500
 

These have taken into consideration rider weight distribution and preload based on approximately 30% sag at two collar turns.

224-evolution Cane Creek Double Barrel

So why upgrade your Orange to the Cane Creek Double Barrel? True versatility. It “seemingly knows what terrain you are riding over and deals with it in stealth mode” (2010 Dirt 100). The movement is stiction free creating a limitless feel to the travel allowing the damping complete control of the shock and creating unbreakable traction on the trail. If you ride flats and continually bounce off the pedals, the Double Barrel will give you more control and let you hit stutter bumps without the fear. “This is one of, if not THE best piece of mountain bike equipment you can buy. It’s impossible to put into words how good this shock is” (Dirt #87).

Cane Creek Double Barrel Orange Five

Spot the odd one out...

The text above was our original spiel when we released the CCDB as an optional upgrade, but we thought it might be nice to give some feedback after riding the Double Barrel for another complete season. The shock has found its way onto most staff bikes, and many production Alpine 160 and 224 builds leave the factory already equipped, but we wanted to push the option on trail bikes where we feel it arguably makes most difference. 

I've been riding the Five since I started at Orange Bikes two years ago and coming from a Cannondale Prophet I was surprised how differently it rode. The Orange is much livelier, easier to flick around and with a little more length, more comfortable and stable in most trail situations. Already confidence inspiring with the Fox RP23, I wasn't altogether convinced I needed the additional weight of a coil shock and how much more it could offer, i was quickly proven wrong...

Fitting the CCDB was initially frustrating, heavy handedly I wielded my spanner and took the adjustments all over the place, high speed rebound being a particular mystery to me. With time, I got used to the suspension feel and playing around with the dials, I quickly got a better idea of what each damping adjustment translated to on the trail. A long process coming, but after fine tuning I was blown away by what the shock offered in traction. The Five may only be 140mm at the back, but it tracks sublimely and with the rebound and compression dialled it goes up and down with imperceptible but undeniable poise. This comment might sound strange, but the CCDB makes a loud noise of silent performance, yep, not making sense....

The Five for me became the king of versatility, as stable as a DH bike on soft loamy corners and providing massive traction on loose rocky sections that see an air shock piling up. Now the biggest fan of the Five, I decided to enrol myself as a willing volunteer in entering three No Fuss events all on the same bike. A six hour endurance race down the Fort William World Cup DH track, a ten hour endurance race at Kirroughtree, and a stage race around Ben Nevis, not difficult then...

The Hope sponsored No Fuss Endurance DH was the first event and after entering last year, I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for. One criticism I'd had riding the CCDB was the front end of the bike, with the buttery feel at the rear the air forks seemed underwhelming in comparison, they began holding the bike up. The top of the track is a little bumpy at Fort William so I tracked down some open bath Fox 36 Van R forks to keep things planted. The build went rather well...

Surprisingly I wasn't much slower on the Five and finished the six hours only one run short of the winner. Flukily I ended up placing reasonably well and confident the bike had performed admirably, I was over the moon with my trail bike decision. The Five with a Fox RP23 is a brilliant bike, and in most situations perfect for my needs, but with the CCDB it had become a World Cup track eating DH monster. There's a helmet cam here to show just how brutal the track is for riders who aren't familiar with the barrage of boulders, but to say it's punishing is an understatement. However, all was not well...

No Fuss Endurance DH Five

Big and small bumps, Fort William makes a good test for a trail bike...

The week after and we were heading down to Wales for a dealer day, Ben who was looking after demo bikes at the time decided to give my bike a spruce up (nice guy I know). It transpired I'd put a rather nasty crack in my down-tube and my trail DH bike bragging rights were shattered. Thinking back and I know exactly what happened; in my first practise run I was chasing Stu Thomson, ex-World Cup racer and now MTBcut mastermind and filmmaker, down the motorway section. I hit the jump above and not going fast enough, I decided the best plan was jump as high as I could to reach the downslope just out of picture. The laws of physics escaped me as I pedalled hard at it, but the higher you go, the shorter you come up on the landing! I bottomed the bike ridiculously hard and launched myself down the landing and bottomed it again, similarly hard. In my defence I was way out of my depth and following a rider I probably shouldn't have, but if it wasn't for that first disastrous attempt it would have survived unscathed. The scarey part; I rode one of the World's most punishing tracks on a cracked trail bike for six hours! The Five is hard as nails, but I guess even this frame has its limits...you can't say we don't test them.

Front triangle repaired and I had decisions to make about the other events, but first a holiday in Morzine beckoned with the guys from Endlessride. Initially tempted to take an Alpine 160, the Endurance DH made me rather attached to my Five/CCDB setup. It performed admirably and even on the roughest of tracks, the shock gave the illusion the frame had far more travel. One particularly long descent off the Grand Platieres, high above Flaine to Samoen deep in the valley, brought it home just how much I love this combo; loose rocks, fast singletrack, loamy forest switchbacks and the DH tracks; get the right setup and you never need to touch it. The climb back up to the lift station, get the tune just right and you won't be bouncing around either. For all but the most extreme Alpine riding, the Five never gets out of its depth.

David Flynn and Carl Barnes Orange Five

The Five is at home in the mountains regardless of shock, the CCDB just adds that edge...

Coming back from France and the bike went back on a diet, I switched from the Fox 36 Van R fork and CCDB to a standard 140mm Fox fork and prototype Monarch air shock. The bike definitely lightened up, but the feel was gone, the Five went back to being a sprightly mile muncher rather than the traction giving bull dozer I'd built it into at the start of the summer. Completing the Tour de Ben Nevis, I wouldn't say I missed the CCDB, but the difference is noticeable after spending a summer on the best setup around. To me, the upgrade is worth the expense for those prepared to carry around a little extra weight for a massive increase in performance. Coil shocks may have been pushed on DH and freeride bikes, but the CCDB will be bolted back on my trail bike come spring. Expensive, but worth every penny if you intend to push your bike to its (or your) limit. The only disadvantage, you MUST be prepared to take the time to tweak the shock until it's working optimally for you. It's worth committing an afternoon to hitting a section of trail you're familiar with and putting the fancy Cane Creek spanner to good use. If you're investing your money, you also need to invest your time.

Orange Five Cane Creek Double Barrel

No wheelie good jokes here...

On a final note, if you are a frequent flyer to the Alps or anywhere known for its technical terrain, the Five with two suspension setups is the perfect arrangement. Some of my riding would have been more appropriate on an Alpine 160, but the Five with air shocks for lightweight XC riding, and coil for harder trail and DH use, it's the perfect compromise for those who only want one bike. Two shocks and two sets of forks is admittedly a massive luxury, but throw in a chain device and you have a setup no matter what you're riding. 

Oh yeah, and don't flat-land a high-speed jump from too high up, Ben in warranty knows what happens now...

Cane Creek Double Barrel

Thanks to Sian Hughes for the photos, see you next summer...

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