The very large majority of short and mid-travel bikes come spec'd with an air-sprung shock of some sort, usually in the name of weight savings, but also because it's generally accepted that rigs sporting less than 150 or 140mm of travel should be held up by air rather than a coil. But, thanks to evolved geometry and frame design, and changing attitudes towards what a rider can do on a short-travel bike, many of these so-called ''little bikes'' aren't exactly being ridden like little bikes anymore.
Enter Cane Creek's new DBcoil [IL], a slimmer version of their piggyback shock that offers all of the same adjustments that you're used to seeing on a Cane Creek product, including their Climb Switch feature, but in a more compact package. According to Cane Creek, the DBcoil [IL] is designed to, ''bridge the performance gap between trail bikes and long-travel downhill rockets,'' while also bringing, ''all of the function of an external reservoir coil shock into a lighter and sleeker package.'' Picture a DBcoil CS with its piggyback cleaved off to create a smaller silhouette and allow it to fit on even more bikes, and you'll get the idea.
Internally, it employs the Twin-Tube damper that you'd expect to see, and riders can adjust low- and high-speed rebound, as well as low- and high-speed compression via their familiar looking gold dials. There's also the Climb Switch function that applies a boatload of low-speed rebound and compression when activated, to increase pedaling performance without sacrificing traction. The DBcoil [IL] will come stock on select Ghost bikes.
There is surely less demand for a coil-sprung inline shock than there is for an air-sprung version, and Cane Creek admits in their press release that they dismissed the project at first. ''This shock almost never left the R&D lab,'' said design engineer Brandon Blakely, but he built a few prototype test samples in his spare time that ended up being ridden by other employees. Those early shocks must have impressed because the project went from 'no' to 'go' shortly after that. Now, here we are with a much sleeker production model of Blakely's early prototype.
So, what is this shock for? After all, air-sprung shocks are pretty dialed these days, not to mention the ability to easily adjust their spring rate to suit the demands of nearly any rider. Even so, I could see how someone might prefer that coil feel over shedding some weight off their Banshee Spitfire, Kona Process, or Transition Scout - all of which are relatively short-travel bikes that don't mind a bit of partying. Cane Creek's optional VALT steel springs cost $130 USD and drops a considerable amount of weight, compared to a standard coil.
The DBcoil [IL] can be bought with a standard steel spring or Cane Creek's new, $130 USD VALT spring, and it's when you install the latter that the weight starts to get close to that of its air-sprung competition. Much like some other steel springs these days, Cane Creek says that the high-quality steel used to manufacture the VALT allows them to use less material in the coils, and less material equals, you guessed it, less weight.
And how does the new shock ride? A lot like Cane Creeks's piggyback-equipped DBcoil CS, so much so that I doubt anyone could ever tell the two apart. I spent an entire day riding North Carolina's Beech Mountain Ski Resort on a 2017 Ghost with a DBcoil [IL] bolted to it, and it was obvious that anyone who's a fan of the company's original coil-sprung shocks is also going to be a fan of the DBcoil [IL]. The same Twin-Tube feel is there, as is the same effective adjustment range that allows you to make the shock feel exactly how you want. There is, of course, less oil volume due to the [IL] not having a piggyback, but I highly doubt that most riders really do need that increased volume. Unless you are you doing top-to-bottom Garbonzo runs at Whistler on your 140mm-travel bike, then you should be just fine.