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…
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.