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It’s in! After a few years of tweaking, adding a speed, and a lot of anticipation, Box Components has finally gotten the Box One clutch derailleur and PushPush shifter in the public’s… well, my hands. This is a pre-production set that I will get to put through the paces to give some early feedback.

This is a pretty big deal as we haven’t seen another player make a worthy attempt to enter the tightly held drivetrain category for mountain bikes since Suntour and Campagnolo succumbed to the competition back in the 90’s. Check out some close-up pics and details along with actual weights past the break…

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photos: Trey Richardson

In case you’ve been living under a rock… or a steel single speed, Box Components, has been working on a drivetrain for mountain bikes for a few years now. Founded by BMX legend Toby Henderson, Box Components is an already well-established brand on the BMX side of things and started poking the fire deciding to develop a drivetrain for mountain bikes.

Things were progressing well… then 11-speed emerged. Coming out with what would have been a product with last year’s specs would have been the kiss of innovative death so back to the drawing board. Though it took some time (remember, this is a microscopic size company compared to who they’re competing against), it’s here and without even trying it, there are a lot of things I like about it. It’s gone through quite a few changes since three years ago, almost to the day I got this set in the mail. The fit and finish on these look to be about 100% done aesthetically but the paperwork that included an extensive tech guide (more on that in a bit), said these were pre-production and mentioned some specs may still be “in process”.

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Out of the box, the feel of these parts are robust, but not heavy falling right in line with the “big two’s” top offerings. They weigh in right at the claimed 265 / 120 grams and price-wise you’re looking at $174.99 and $74.99 for the 11-speed rear derailleur and shifter. Considering where these (appear to) fall performance and weight wise, this set up could be a great bang for your buck.

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The build quality of the Box One rear derailleur seems as though it’s ready to rumble with its aluminum & nylon/carbon fiber composite body flexing some seriously wide & thick pivot joints. Check out the clutch cover with the three little 2mm hex screws. The rear derailleur’s “CamClutch” operates like a clutch should in maintaining chain tension but is made to be removed so it can be cleaned or replaced. According to the tech guide, it’s not all that involved and uses common tools. I’ve had one issue with a clutch derailleur a few years ago, and while not common, being able to easily fix it at home would have been a better alternative than having to go through the warranty process and having to wait. I know… 1st world problems and all but my wrenching soul covets all that is user serviceable, so Box gets some extra credit there.

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One stand-out piece of this 11-speed puzzle is the “Pivot-Tech” cable stay which routes the cable more inside so to keep it out of harm’s way. It has a unique spring loaded cable stop that offers a place of “give” in the event of getting smacked during a crash to recuce the chances of something breaking.

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When Toby showed me the PushPush shifter a few years ago, I was admittedly scratching my head. It shifts down (to a bigger cog) in the traditional ‘push it with your thumb” way, but rather than having a secondary trigger that shifts it in the other direction, the shift lever pushes in laterally rather than pivots to shift back. It has been redesigned ergonomic wise from the original design and after tinkering with it a few times at shows, I’ve concluded that it’ll probably be something I’ll adapt to with about five minutes of ride time. ‘Will I like it?’ is a question that has yet to be answered and I’ll be sure to express my feelings on that during the full blown review.

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Here’s its undercarriage. The shift lever, though pretty protected under the bar is easily replaceable in case it gets broken. I can also imagine one of many makers of all things CNC/molded carbon/3D-printed may be so inclined to make an alternative or even adjustable *hint hint* replacement lever… in pretty colors even! Another great feature, like the Box One rear derailleur, the PushPush shifter is easily user serviceable. By removing the four small Torx screws, the shifter’s innards simply drop out allowing you to clean, blow out and re-lube everything thus restoring that fresh new feeling. (double bonus points).

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Another feature I like is that is has a detachable clamp leaving it open to potential “matching up” with other bar accessories in the future.

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Lastly, cable changes are easy. Simply pop the little rubber cover off, and push the cable through.

This industry is far overdue for another drivetrain option for mountain bikes. In a segment that has outgrown the skinny tire one (who currently has three big players and a couple of smaller ones), I am glad to see riders getting to have another choice, and if it works as good as it looks at this price point… well look at SRAM years after they started out with just a shifter.

BoxComponents.com

24 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve got to admit I feel intrigued by Box’s proposal since its first appearance. The whole push-push approach to the shifting ergonomics has me puzzled, but being a long time SRAM user, it’s not a complete departure from my usual full-thumb experience.

    I’l be waiting eagerly for a full review, thanks for following up on this!

  2. Drivetrain in the bicycle industry is an anomaly in that even though there’s an apparent duopoly, the technology is robust, works, and is affordable. I don’t think you can say that Shimano and/or SRAM are resting on their laurels.

    I hope Box comes in strong and wins customers based on price and performance, not antipathy towards the incumbents.

  3. I’m wondering which cable movement did they choose for each shift.
    The Shimano or the SRAM one? Oh nooo, not another one 🙂

    The ability of the rear derailleur to resist better to a shocks attracts me, but not the shifter.
    If I can couple it with either an XTR or a Gripshift, I will give it a try at my next rear derailleur breakage.

  4. “This is a pretty big deal as we haven’t seen another player make a worthy attempt to enter the tightly held drivetrain category for mountain bikes since Suntour and Campagnolo”

    There has been at least one other entry into the category since then… Sram, maybe you’re heard of them?

    • Reading comprehension fail. I was about to aid your comment by mentioning Microshift, but then I realized you weren’t on the same page.

  5. The Shimano clutch is serviceable and replaceable too. Also – it’s proven.

    Best of luck to Box, but will be surprised if it stacks upagainst the established options.

  6. I’m really excited about this. The derailleur is priced very well and the shifter is too but it sure looks like it should be half the price. That says nothing of the functionality at all, I’m sure it’s great but it looks very very cheap

    • Because looks are important when you’re riding! I know when I’m riding singletrack I spend most of my time staring down and backwards at my read derailleur. I could care less how it looks. How it works is all that matters to me. 😉

  7. Not a fan of the aesthetics, in particular because it all seems so bulky. I’ll have to reserve judgment until I see a set in person. But like you said in the writeup, Suntour never really tried to mix it up in the mtb domain since the early 8speed days, and Campy didn’t stick around in the mtb department very long either. So this is rather welcome.

  8. Can’t wait to read Lennard Zinn’s column about these part’s compatibility: “I have a Box shifter and it works great except I recently lost three fingers in an industrial accident and I now want to use an old Suntour thumb shifter I found in the bottom of my tool chest….”

  9. If Box plays their cards right, by controlling distribution and enforcing pricing policies the moment these parts drop into the market, they will have an easier time gaining respect of IBDs.
    Box, just look at what is going on with Shimano and SRAM. Shimano doesn’t give a crap about the IBD and SRAM is slightly making an attempt. Now is the time you guys choose how you want to be perceived in the market. If IBDs don’t like you, you’ll have a hard time getting parts on OEM bikes.
    Just saying …

  10. I’m intrigued. Designing a drivetrain is tough. Not because a derailleur is a difficult thing to design (it’s actually pretty simple) but rather because getting around all the patents held by Shimano, Sram and Campy is REALLY difficult. Avoiding existing patents while still building something that will work with current dropouts, chains and cassettes isn’t easy.

    I do wonder how long it will be till we see a return to chainstay mounted derailleurs such as the old Nivex and Cyclo designs. SunTour attempted one back in the 80s. Does have some advantages, especially for MTBs. Longer term I think people will soon start focusing more on internally geared hubs. Much more durable/crash worthy and eliminates many of the problems with mega cassettes. Lot of room for improvement innovation there.

  11. Nice attempt at getting a piece of the market, but this is “so yesterday”. Who cares about the novelty of a better cable actuated derailleur when the industry leaders are fighting for electronic and wireless drivetrains? Box should raise the standard, not compete with a “new” product in an “old product category”. Probably they are already aware of this and see today as their last chance releasing this thing before their efforts are left totally outdated.
    Box, if you want in on the market, go electronic, wireless, at least 12 speed, premium materials (forget the plastic), and ceramic bearings as a standard. Yes it will be expensive, but it will be a relevant product making an impact on today’s and tomorrow’s buyers with the $ to spend.

  12. I “tried” it at interbike. Love the price, and the shift quality was great. My one gripe: on the tradeshow floor, on the display bike, I found a funny thing in the shifter. When the lever is pushed forward through the empty stroke it can no longer upshift (to a smaller cog). It is a small detail and I would love to have had a test bike that I could ride because it might be a nothing issue.

  13. Does anyone know of a right handed or convertible operated rear shifter for a person without full use of right thumb/ hand ?

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