The Kitsuma shock is the newest addition to Cane Creek's lineup, building on the framework that was laid by the previous Double Barrel Air and Coil models.
The shock's basic layout is the same – it still uses a twin-tube design and still features externally adjustable high- and low-speed compression and rebound, but now there's no need to bust out a mini-tool for trailside tuning sessions. Instead, four golden dials make tool-free adjustments possible, and there's also a three-position lever that's used to firm up the shock for climbing.
• Twin-tube design
• Air and coil options available
• Adjustments: high and low-speed rebound and compression, 3 position climb lever
• Weight: 600 grams (210 x 55mm)
• MSRP: $700 USD
The shock is available in an eyelet mounted version in 210, 230, and 250mm lengths, or a trunnion mounted version in 185, 205, or 225mm lengths. The air version reviewed here is priced at $700 USD, while the coil option is $670 USD, without a spring. What's New?
Cane Creek did more than just slap some shiny new dials on the previous Double Barrel and call it good – several updates were applied to the internals as well. The shaft diameter has been increased to 9.5mm on both air and coil options, and there's a new main piston design, a new oil seal head, and larger shaft quad rings for improved reliability.
Externally, the reservoir tube length has been trimmed by 16mm, and the air can now has a tapered shape that helps ensure the Kitsuma will fit on as many bikes as possible.
One thing that hasn't changed is the fact that Cane Creek wants riders to take their shock to an authorized service center when it needs a rebuild – they unfortunately still don't offer any manuals or instructional videos that would allow home mechanics to take matters into their own hands. Adjustments
Low-speed rebound and compression each get their own smaller dial, with 11 possible positions, or almost one full revolution - the range for the dial is from about 5 o'clock to 7 o'clock. The fact that it's not a complete rotation makes it possible to quickly see where your settings are, similar to the volume dial on a stereo. The larger two dials provide high-speed rebound and compression adjustments, with 14 possible positions, or two full rotations.
The external adjustments are a handy change, but I was a little frustrated by the difference in the amount of force it took to turn each dial. The low-speed compression and high-speed rebound dials took a decent amount of effort to turn, while the other two rotated much more smoothly.
My ideal scenario would have all of the dials rotate smoothly, with a distinct 'click' between each position. That's not the case here, and while it's nice to be able to have easy access to all those adjustments, there's still room for improvement.
I don't have any gripes about the climb lever – the middle position firms things up nicely for off-road riding by closing off the low-speed compression circuit, and the firmest position closes off both the high- and low-speed compression circuits to lock the shock out almost completely, a setting that's best suited for riding on pavement or smooth fire roads.
Reducing the air volume to increase the amount of end-stroke ramp-up is a relatively easy procedure. Once the air is let out of the shock all you need to do is remove an o-ring and then slide the air can down. Cane Creek provides rubber volume spacers that can be trimmed to meet a rider's needs. I'm still partial to the plastic volume reducers that Fox or RockShox use, but Cane Creek's solution does the trick, albeit with a more homemade feel to it. Performance
A Commencal Meta TR served as the test sled for the Kitsuma over the course of the last three months, with several rounds of back-to-back testing added into the mix. The Meta uses a 210 x 55mm shock for its 140mm of travel, which I inflated to 150psi for 25% sag.
After my first shakedown ride, I installed one volume reducer to increase the amount of end stroke ramp-up and ended up sticking with that setting for the rest of the test period. I was still able to use full travel when necessary, but there wasn't any harshness when I reached the end of the stroke.
Although Cane Creek touts the extra-wide range of adjustments available on the Kitsuma, I did find myself running into some limitations. I had to run the low-speed rebound fully open to get the shock to return fast enough for my tastes, and I likely would have sped things up even further if possible. According to Cane Creek, this has been adjusted, and the latest run of shocks should give riders access to faster rebound speeds. That change should also help make the high speed rebound dial a little easier to turn, which would take care of one of my gripes.
I also ended up running the low-speed compression all the way open, and at times it still felt like I was a click or two away from where I wanted to be. Bigger hits and higher speed impacts were dispatched without any trouble; it was at slower speeds in slippery conditions when I found myself wanting the rear wheel to get out of the way a little more easily. Granted, I'm not the heaviest rider out there at 160 pounds, and I'd imagine bigger riders will likely have a wider range of adjustments to work with.
Overall, while the on-trail feel was a little more heavily damped than I would have preferred, I did appreciate the Kitsuma's composure on rougher, chunkier trails. The Meta TR is really an enduro bike disguised as a trail bike, and the Kitsuma felt well suited to its trail manners, remaining consistent and predictable no matter how long the descent.
As far as reliability goes, I haven't reached the 100-hour mark yet, but so far there haven't been any issues. It's still operating smoothly, free of any disconcerting squelching noises or excess oil seepage.How Does It Compare?
The Kitsuma took the place of the 2021 Fox Float X2 that came stock on the Meta TR, a shock that I've been extremely happy with. Did the Kitsuma offer anything that the X2 didn't? Time to find out.Weight:
The Kitsuma gets the point here, with a weight that's 50 grams lighter than the Float X2. Price:
The Float X2 comes in at $30 USD less than the Kitsuma. Adjustments:
Both shocks offer the same number and type of external adjustments, but I was happier with the range and on-trail feel of the X2 compared to the Kitsuma. Yes, two hex keys are required to adjust the X2, but I actually prefer having clearly defined 'clicks' and being able to easily keep track of my settings. I know that's not the case for everyone, so if you'd rather have tool-free dials the Kitsuma might be the ticket. Fitment:
The tapered air can on the Kitsuma does allow for more frame clearance compared to the Float X2, which means that compatibility issues are less likely and, in some cases, it'll also provide a little extra water bottle clearance.Climb switch:
Larger air shocks like the Kitsuma and X2 tend to be a little more eager to sink into their travel during pedaling, which is why it's nice to have a climb switch within easy reach. I was happy with the middle position on both shocks – it firmed things up enough to minimize bobbing while still providing traction for tricker sections of trail. The Kitsuma does have that third extra-firm position, one that I didn't end up using that much, but Cane Creek has you covered if you're on the hunt for a DH-worthy shock that has a fully locked out position.Bottom out resistance:
Both shocks handle big hits well, but I'm giving this one to the Float X2. Its bottom-out bumper lets it sink deep into its travel and then recover without missing a beat, similar to the way a trophy truck sticks to the ground when it lands and then continues onward at mach chicken.
Air can and reservoir shape provides more room for frame and water bottle clearance.+
No tools required to access most adjustments+
Consistent, well damped performance
Low-speed compression range may not be wide enough for lighter riders-
Some of the dials are hard to turn, and the indexing is hard to feel