Hey guys, it's Max with Worldwide Cyclery! Last month I got the opportunity to take an inside look at the Cane Creek facility just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. I have to give a big thanks to Luke and Andrew from the Marketing team, as well as Craig and Alex for taking the time with me so I could bring you guys this in depth look at such a passionate cycling components company. Check it out!
Have you ever wondered what goes in to making the high end suspension on your mountain bike? In this article, we are going to be taking a close look at the Cane Creek Helm fork and Double Barrel shock as well as all other things Cane Creek! From design, manufacturing, production, to assembly, there is one common theme that ties all the moving parts together at Cane Creek, and that is their attention to detail. First we are going to get in to a little history behind the cycling components company and then walk you through their headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina.
Ghost SL AMR Dressed Head to Toe in Cane Creek Product / Helm Conrad Fork and Double Barrel Coil IL Shock
In 1974, the international cycling components company Dia-Compe established their U.S. headquarters in Western North Carolina. Dia Compe had always been known for their brakes previously but the outfit here in North Carolina began to manage the manufacturing and distribution of the Rockshox RS1 fork in 1989. The RS1 fork is celebrated as the first production suspension fork in the world.
In the early 1990s, Rockshox purchased the USA subdivision of Dia-Compe, the employees here in Asheville purchased what was left of the American operation, and Dia-Compe USA was reborn as Cane Creek Cycling Components. Soon after, Cane Creek released the first threadless headset called the AheadSet. This threadless design put Cane Creek on the map and the rest is history. Ever since, the employee owned company has thrived on creating innovative cycling components that have revolutionized the industry.
During my visit at Cane Creek, it was very cool to learn that only cycling components had ever been built in this particular building. Cane Creek still operates in the same facility that Dia-Compe USA built almost 45 years ago.
Cane Creek is most notably known for their threadless headsets, now offering a full line of headsets for each and every bike out there. The original Cane Creek AheadSet used a press fit design that truly revolutionized the industry and the performance consumers have come to expect from their headsets to this day. Now here in 2018, Cane Creek's top of the line headset is the 110 series headset. All of the 110 series headset cups are machined and assembled right here in North Carolina. All of the 110 series headsets are offered in black, red, blue, and silver anodized colors and come with a 110 year warranty! You know that is a product that Cane Creek believes in. I run the 110 headsets on my personal bikes and they just work!
Aluminum Round Bar Ready to be Machined Down Into Headset Cups and Dust Caps
110 Series External Bottom Cups Almost Ready to be Sent Out for Anodizing
Cane Creek's 40 series headsets can be found on a lot of OEM spec bikes and are a more cost friendly headset. The 40 series is designed to offer plenty of durability, value, and the performance we expect from a Cane Creek product. All of Cane Creek's headsets are offered in any combination of External Cup (EC), Zero Stack (ZS), and Integrated (IS). With so many different headtube configurations out there, you can now pick and choose the top and bottom headset cups individually to fit your bike!
Cane Creek's Double Barrel is over the 10 year mark of its history and still going strong. The name Double Barrel comes from the shock's twin tube design giving the shock 4 way external adjustments, its ability to control oil flow and heat dissipation, and in turn more performance. Cane Creek now offers 3 different air shocks and 3 different coil shocks that span a wide variety of disciplines and bikes. So whether you are looking for a coil shock or an air shock, Cane Creek has one suited for your full suspension mountain bike. Check out the video at the bottom of this article to learn more about how the Double Barrel shock works.
During our tour at Cane Creek, most of the time was spent talking with Suspension Manager Alex Dawson. Alex is such an integral part of puzzle at Cane Creek. He manages the production from start to finish on all of the Double Barrel shocks and Helm forks. I was most impressed with Alex's attention to detail that radiates through the entire suspension team. Every single shock gets put on the dyno and must meet Cane Creek's standard on damper performance before going out the door. If any shock doesn't meet the criteria on compression or rebound damping, it is taken back apart, inspected, cleaned, and reassembled. This is in place to ensure that their customers get exactly what they pay for, a top of the line suspension product with both high end performance and reliability. And for those that don't know, Alex is the 2013 Collegiate National Downhill Champion! The guys that build this stuff ride bikes, fast.
Alex "Bosson" Dawson Explaining The Gritty Details on the Double Barrel IL Shocks
The Packaging Inside the DB IL Shocks is Very Impressive
Double Barrel IL Jig Designed for the Oil Filling Station
The Double Barrel IL Features a Bladder Style "IFP" Pressurized With Nitrogen
Each Shock Finds Its Way on to the Dyno and Must Meet Compression and Rebound Damping Criteria - Nothing But Perfection!
Double Barrel IL Air Shocks Ready to Go Out the Door
Cane Creek's first suspension fork launched during the spring of 2017 and made quite the impression! With the big brands Fox and Rockshox dominating the high end suspension market, customers were refreshed to find another top of the line offering out there. And that's exactly what the Cane Creek Helm fork is, a top of the line product on all fronts; quality, performance, and reliability.
Being at the Cane Creek facility and getting to see how much effort goes in to getting each and every fork out the door was remarkable. These forks are each assembled and tested by a solid crew of driven employees all striving for the same goal. That was really cool to see!
If you want to learn more about Cane Creek's latest fork, check out the Cane Creek Helm 29 product overview.
Steerer Tubes to be Pressed in to Helm Fork Crowns
The Fork Bushings Get Pressed and Sized in One Step
The Helm Fork's Damper Assembly Begins at one Station While the Crowns and Stanchions Are Prepared at Another
The Helm fork uses an air spring design that allows you to change the positive and negative air springs independently, unlike other current competing forks like the Rockshox Lyrik and Fox 36. In order to equalize the positive and negative air spring chambers, first you pump up the positive air spring on top of the fork with a shock pump. Then reach down and loosen the needle cap on the bottom of the fork leg. Press the needle valve in, allowing the correct amount of air to pass from the positive to the negative air spring. In the end, this allows the rider to independently tune both the positive and negative air springs changing either how sensitive or supportive the fork rides.
The air spring also allows you to internally adjust the fork travel from 100mm to 170mm in 10mm increments using travel spacers provided. Notice the red anodized travel spacer on the air spring assembly in the photo below.
The Helm Fork's Air Spring Assembly
Jake Smith, Cane Creek Suspension Tech and Enduro World Series Competitor, Instals the Air Spring and Damper Here
After each and every fork is assembled, it goes under the same scrutiny and critique that all of the Double Barrel shocks go through. Time to get on the dyno. It was truly amazing to see how much time, energy, and care goes in to each and every one of these forks. First on the hand dyno, each fork is cycled to check for any irregularities in damper performance and potential hiccups during assembly. The hand dyno is also the place where the suspension tech will double check that bottom out bumpers were installed.
Once off the hand dyno, each and every fork goes through two different tests on the suspension dyno. First the fork is cycled a few times at slower shaft speeds to ensure that each fork stays within parameters for compression and rebound damping. This process is very similar to what is done with the shocks except that each fork's compression and rebound adjustments are set in the middle of their range. If the fork's compression and rebound damping is outside of Cane Creek's guidelines, either being too firm or too soft, it is taken off the dyno to be reviewed. Nothing goes out the door that isn't perfect! The photo below shows the compression and rebound forces after cycling the fork one time through its full travel.
Alex Makes Sure Every Helm Fork Meets Their Standards on Compression and Rebound Damping
The second test on the suspension dyno cycles each fork hundreds of times to ensure both reliability and performance before it gets sent to the shipping department. Here damping information is collected and overlaid on itself so that a failure can easily be identified. This attention to detail is what makes purchasing such a high end product worth it. The photo below shows the suspension dyno setup.
Each and Every Helm Fork Hits the Dyno Before Going Out the Door
Be sure to check out the video at the bottom of the article telling the story behind the Helm fork featuring product manager, Sam Anderson.
For those who don't know, Cane Creek has been producing the Thudbuster seatposts for over 15 years. It's a product where the design hasn't changed all that much over the years but its purpose has changed a lot. Before the dropper post was introduced, the Thudbuster was around to give you a little bit more comfort on those long rides. Now that the resurgence of hardtail riding has come back full circle, the Thudbuster is just as popular as ever. These suspension seatposts are perfect for the rider looking to get a little more comfort out their high posted bike, whether that's a mountain bike, road bike, or commuter rig.
The Thudbuster is available in either a short travel and long travel model with adjustable elastomers giving you the tunabilty as a rider to get your ride dialed in with your weight and intended use in mind. Check them out!
Thudbuster Short Travel Seatposts Ready For New Owners
In 2017, Cane Creek established a long term partnership with the founder of eeCycleworks, Craig Edwards, to manufacture, market, and distribute these high end components. Most notably known for their eeBrakes, the team at Cane Creek have now been working together alongside Craig to continue developing revolutionary products. Cane Creek is doing much more than just stamping their name on someone else's products. It's a true partnership and that is something unique in today's world. Cane Creek is now machining and assembling all of the eeBrakes G4 brake calipers in house. Check them out below.
Cane Creek's latest product launch was their full titanium eeWings crankset. With 30% more stiffness compared to top of the line carbon cranksets from Sram and RaceFace, the eeWings still manage to weigh only 400 grams! The eeWings utilizes Sram's direct mount chainring system, making it easy to find whatever your favorite chainring is. To learn more, check out our eeWings Product Overview. We can't wait to get a pair in the shop!
The G4 Calipers are Lightweight, Powerful, and Look Great in Black!
Made Right Here in House
Occasionally Cane Creek Will Offer the eeBrakes in a Special Colorway - the El Diablo Colorway Sure is Nice
Cane Creek eeWings Full Titanium Crankset