BOX Components Prototype Drivetrain and Disc Brake - Interbike 2013

Sep 21, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  

In the early to mid-1990s the aftermarket drivetrain world was full of options, with anodized and CNC'd works of art available from the likes of Precision Billet and Paul Components. However, function didn't always follow form, and those upstarts soon faded away or shifted their focus onto other products as industry giants like Shimano and SRAM took over with their less expensive, more reliable offerings. Now, nearly fifteen years later, there is a decided lack of entrants into the drivetrain world, with most companies seeming to be content offering components like chainrings and cranksets that play nicely with offerings from the two big S brands. BOX Components, a branch of Promax, is looking to change that, with a prototype version of their new drivetrain and four piston hydraulic disc brake on display at this year's Interbike trade show.

Prototype Drivetrain
We first learned about BOX's new drivetrain at the Sea Otter Classic, but at that time they only had a shifter on display, and hadn't committed to bringing a rear derailleur to market as well. John Calendrille, the man behind the iconic Grunge Guard derailleur protector prevalent in the mid-1990s, is the brains behind the new drivetrain, which is intended to come in at a price point and quality level similar to Shimano's XT components. The hope is that the new drivetrain will be ready by the spring or early summer of 2014, but Calendrille stressed that they are not rushing anything to market, focusing instead on bringing a fully refined offering to the table right out of the gate.

The way that the shifter lever functions is what makes it stand out – it's a single lever, thumb actuated affair that is pushed forward to shift up through the gears, or is pushed directly inwards using the flat portion at the end of the lever to shift to harder gears. BOX had a bike on display with the shifter installed, and the lever action was very intuitive, only taking a few shifts up and down the cassette to
get the hang of it. BOX will be offering different length shifter levers, and users can further customize the positioning by adding or removing a triangular chip behind where the shift mechanism attaches to the bar mount. This level of adjustability will help ensure that the ergonomics of the lever work with a wide variety of hand shapes and sizes.

The design of the ten speed rear derailleur isn't as groundbreaking as the shifter, but its claimed weight of 235g (for comparison, an XT rear derailleur weighs around 255g) and low profile design should help it be a competitive alternative. The derailleur uses a 30mm wide main pivot and a sturdy looking aluminum arm to affix it to the bike, features intended to add stiffness and strength. A clutch mechanism is currently in the works, and several different cage lengths will be offered as well.


Prototype Four Piston Disc Brake
BOX also had what they hope will become the crown jewel in their disc brake lineup on display, a prototype version of a high end four piston disc brake. The DOT fluid powered brakes were designed by Brian Berthold, a mechanical engineer with extensive time spent working with F1 and Indy race cars, along with a lifetime of mountain biking and moto experience to draw from. During the design process, Berthold's biggest concern was modulation, a crucial factor in making the power that comes from a four piston design useable. He decided to go with two different diameter pistons, which isn't a new concept, but the pad design is where he took things a step further, using a different compound for the front and the rear portions of the pad. This is supposed to create a better ramp up of power for more control on long, sustained sections of braking. The aluminum caliper has extensive machining to promote air flow to keep the system cool in order to prevent overheating and brake fade.

The brake lever has an adjustment dial on the front of it that adjusts the position of the entire lever and master cylinder assembly. Traditional reach adjusters tend to move the brake lever at an angle away from the handlebars, so that at their furthest reaches the outer end of the lever is no longer parallel to the handlebar. BOX's design solves this issue, keeping the lever parallel to the bars throughout the whole range of adjustment by having the whole unit slide inside the portion that extends from the handlebar. There will also be the option to attach the lever directly to lock-on grips, but the lever can also be mounted the traditional way anywhere on the handlebar as well. It's worth noting that the lever pictured here is still very much a prototype, arriving only a few days before the Interbike trade show began.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesMaybe it was the fact that they didn't use the word 'enduro' when discussing their new products, but BOX Component's offerings were a refreshing breath of originality at Interbike. From the way the shifter actuates to the unique sliding brake lever adjustment, we came away intrigued. Production is still months away, but hopefully by next summer we'll be able to see how it all turns out. - Mike Kazimer


www.boxcomponents.com


97 Comments

  • 93 1
 Finally some more competition in the derailleurs....looks like nice stuff!
  • 5 2
 it is cool how light it is, but does it sacrifice strength and durability?
  • 52 1
 "Maybe it was the fact that they didn't use the word 'enduro'

I can adhere to this brand.
  • 3 2
 Some quality looking product for sure!
  • 36 2
 The best part is that now when you rip your derailleur off, you can go around telling people you smashed your own box.
  • 2 1
 I'd love to try that shifter. I've never been totally into any trigger shifter because I always find the position of one paddle is compromised. Those single lever SRAM ones, the double tap, are a nice idea but I can't see them being great off road. These could be the answer. Now, will they be compatible with dyna sys I wonder? Because that mech looks too expensive to me for such a flimsy part.
  • 1 0
 Was literally going to ask on a thread earlier if their shifter is available yet, the thing is dope, up and down shift with one lever, hell yes please
  • 3 1
 Amen! It's great the innovations big companies make, but we need competition!! Options are the spice of life people.
  • 6 1
 RS/Sram ; Fox/Shimano ; BOS/BOX?
  • 4 15
flag freeride-forever (Sep 22, 2013 at 10:53) (Below Threshold)
 f*ck off. The last thing this world needs is more stupid f*ckin' derailleurs. $hitmano could've done away with the junky things long ago if they weren't so f*ckin' greedy. If you're not gonna help companies like pinion do this shit right, then GFY.
  • 6 1
 Actually, Shimano are one of the few manufacturers who DO make alternatives to derailleurs (the Zerode uses an Alfine gearhub), but hardly anybody actually uses gearbox systems because they're heavier, unstandardised, more expensive and less efficient.
  • 4 6
 Could not have said it better myself Death to the Derailleur! Go the gearbox
  • 2 1
 @freeride-forever, the fact that you are an overly hostile douche-nozzle aside, you can't just make up acronyms. What on earth does "GFY" stand for?
  • 2 0
 @Patrick9-32: I believe it means "good for you!" Actually though, given the context, it's probably "go f*ck yourself."
  • 28 3
 Wow these look great for prototypes. I'm really digging that super pared-down caliper.
  • 26 7
 Everything looks great but that brake lever Eek
  • 2 1
 it is still a prototype. Im hoping they will sort that :/
  • 12 2
 I really like it, reminds me of a moto lever.
  • 5 2
 #It doesn't seem to have a split bar clamp though, any lever that wants taking seriously needs a split or hinged clamp nowadays.
  • 2 1
 It's because the lever and clamp are integrated into the grip. I think there will be a way to run them separately though.
  • 1 3
 you don't need a hinged clamp, old saint didn't have it and that was by far the best gruppo until new saint came out, the lever will look better if they paint or anodize it, not alot of reshaping needed imo
  • 5 3
 Anodize it black, make the knob red, lever silver, and laser etch a logo on it, and it'll look great. Not sure I like the grip integration, seems like the wrong thing to integrate with, vs the shifter, unless all three bolt together. Cool idea though, and shows they're not scared to try something new. It's the DOT fluid that puts me off.
  • 2 3
 D.o.t fluid is awesome, far more efficient, min oil was just made as it doesn't make paint melt off (which dot will take atleast an hour to have an effect so any accidental spills when bleeding can be sorted quick) and is more environmentally friendly
  • 1 1
 I'd imagine mineral oil is cheaper too. Although you probably don't need much to bleed a brake anyway.
  • 3 1
 @elanto, how is DOT fluid more "efficient"?!
  • 10 0
 Efficient, no. Better for brakes, yes, kind of. DOT performs better at extreme temperatures when new and dry, but it's also formulated to absorb water to keep your cars brakes from rusting. As it absorbs water it loses it's ability to perform at extreme temperatures, that's why you're always supposed to use a fresh bottle to bleed your brakes, if it sits on your shelf for a year, it's more or less ruined. It's also why your brakes feel like poop by the end of the season and manufacturers recommend re-bleeding every time you change pads.

Mineral oil is more stable, and while it doesn't perform as well at extreme temps, it performs equally as well as DOT at the temps MTB brakes see. I hate to use this argument, but who are the two companies known for using mineral oil? Who are the two companies with the most R&D time in their braking systems? Shimano and Magura.

While there's nothing really "wrong" with DOT brake fluid, it's simply not the route I'd go if I were designing a brake from the ground up. As a consumer, I prefer mineral oil, and vastly prefer brakes with mineral oil over DOT.

plus I'm still bitter about the cracked fitting on an HFX9 that ruined the powdercoat on my Kona bear back in '02.
  • 1 1
 Well said that man. There is really no need for dot on a mtb brake. There are plenty of reasons not to use it. As a mechanic I will happily charge you slightly more to bleed a DOT system than a mineral system, just cause its a pain to store, it ruins the clear hoses i use to bleed brakes, and if I accidentally drip any anywhere, it causes real problems, rather than just needing wiping up. Just one more reason I think Shimano is one of the best companies out there.

p.s. Is it just me or does that caliper look flexy as hell? Even if it can provide reliable power without being affected too much by heat, I'd be interested if it can still do that after a couple of years hard use. Even after a fresh bleed.
  • 7 0
 Finally a manufacture has the balls to go against the big boys!! Looking pretty good!! I hope to see what they can really bring on.
  • 9 5
 Is it just me or has interbike been incredibly boring, there seems like nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing innovative. Like all I see are pedals with a fancy colour, will I buy it ? - no. Not to mention stems,
Handlebars, etc. and when there are things like the 'box' products it doesn't even nearly get me excited, there just the same or near about as avid or shimano, except its impractical due to lbs and standard parts. What happened to innovation ....
  • 18 6
 innovation these days is pretty much bike companies forcing us to ride bigger wheels altough nobody realy wants them
  • 4 2
 @ridethree, "nobody realy wants them", I don't want bigger wheels myself, but I undestand that there is a growing market for them and that is why more and more products are coming out for the big rigs Big Grin
  • 6 2
 ^^ You mean 'smaller' wheels - 27.5 is smaller than 29". Smile
  • 4 0
 Mountain biking has been around a long time, most things worth trying have already been done so genuine innovation is very hard. Especially when genuine innovation comes along like that ugly looking bike this year at interbike, the reaction from people is that they want all the new products to look like the old ones??

I think with lightVille using different size wheels is a good start if more people are willing to accept it (I know it has been done before)

I think companies need to look at good things from the past and look at making them nowadays with the new technologies we have available. Elastomer suspension is a case in point, very close to the weight of an air spring, with a feel much closer to a coil. Its the best of both worlds. but no one would consider it because its "old tech"
  • 4 2
 If MTB is at the point where advancement has slowed, I guess it is a sign that MTBs are about as good as they are ever going to get.
  • 3 0
 flexstem revival ahoy! Wink
  • 1 0
 I've just been wondering what company's r and d have been doing over the last year. Like they must scroll through last years products and say fk it make it red, blue, green. These trade shows are a time to show off to the world what you've got. A few years ago I loved the news from these trade shows, there would be genuine improvements to products that I thought couldn't get better, and these days I feel like wer just slapping carbon this and that to things, and calling it an improvement and getting ripped off.
Eg. The black box handle bars reviewed a while back, the wer a dozen or so grams lighter then alu but $200, when top alu is $70.
Wtf has happened ....
  • 5 1
 " nobody on pinkbike, which is totally representative of the real world, wants them"

Fixed that for you.
  • 2 0
 Magnetic suspension, let me see them innovate that shit for bikes
  • 3 1
 elastomer suspension sucks. In the winter the elastomer freezes up and gets hard. Then it's like driving with lock out every where. Wich is nice if you like bumpy rides and crashing over a treeroot...
  • 1 0
 which is why I said It would be nice for companies to revisit the idea with modern materials and create a more temperature stable elastomer
  • 4 0
 i had the brief chance to tool around a parking lot with these shifters on a bike last summer. The gentlemen was from VIVO sport vision and im not entirely sure if he was doing some leg work from BOX going shop to shop getting feedback from employees and mechs. They felt really nice and the lever action was great. The only issue i remember having with them was that the paddles shape could use alittle work whether it be in the form of texturing the surface or simply curving the paddle slightly differently so your thumb would better stick to the paddle. But it was serious nitpicking to be honest, the gentlemen did want honest feedback so i felt the need to scrutinize it seriously. Being someone that rides with gripshift, even on the dh bike, i would seriously consider these once they go into production.
  • 3 0
 I'm quite interested in it. I like the idea of a single lever, and the push button idea for shifting one of the ways also appeals to me.
  • 2 0
 Gripshift ftw!!!
  • 1 0
 The shifter looks like it would be a great shape for someone like me with hitchhiker thumbs. May not be a good shape for people with normal thumbs. Unless maybe you're supposed to bump it with the back of your thumb? In any case, I'm pretty curious to give it a shot. Seems like the idea is spot on.
  • 12 6
 Not sure integrating brake lever to grip is a good idea though. The levers would be too close to the handlebar ends.
  • 5 0
 Looks like its just a demo setup to show how the lever works? The first picture it isn't attached to the grip.
  • 4 1
 I like them calipers. Beefy bolts for the two halves, looks really stiff. I'm not sure the way the brake line comes off the caliper is going to play nice with all the frames + cable routing though.

Who cares if the brake clamp acts like grip clamp? remove grip, put it where you want, run normal grip. Problem solved.
  • 2 0
 I'd bet on that being changed for a banjo fitting for production models. It's a surprise to see something so interesting coming from Promax of all places, I went and looked on their site and they've got some gorgeous cranks too, that's a sudden turnaround.
  • 2 0
 I think all of their components needs some nice paint on them, as they look old school and bit cheap stuff, but hey, if they do that, it means they will have to add few grams on components and they don't really want that.
Let's just hope that the prices are not going to be up to the MOON and they really show some good results, after that maybe, MAYBE, I will try them, but so far I'm happy with my SRAM and few part's from Shimano
Smile
  • 2 0
 This reminded me of some great looking derailleurs from Sunrace and Microshift about 4 years ago on Shanghai Bicycle Expo. But those products seemed never made it to the market. The space for these small-scale brands are really not big enough.
  • 1 0
 they did make it to market. I know a guy that tested the sunrace drivetrain for a while. They were about slx level at xt price. they were reliable and strong, but parts were hard to get so he got rid of them... Sampson had those kind of drivetrains aswell. There was a race bike tested in 'fiets' magazine with the top end microshift drivetrain and that was something between ultegra and dura-ace at price as well as function. I think they are still goiing, but finding parts when something goes wrong can be a pain in the ass. Sunrace an microshift aren't that small aswell. Sunrace is even one of the biggest suppliers of parts when it comes to cheap stuff. Aspecially in asia. I had once a cheap sunrace cassette, it didn't shift very well, but lasted for about 8000 miles....
  • 1 0
 Yes, I understand that Sunrace and Microshift are not small, but compared to the market share of Shimano and Sram in aftermarket, they are really small. We can get Sunrace cassettes and Microshift derailleurs here in China in a good price, but mostly from on-line shopping. But those nice shifters and derailleurs I mentioned in my original post have never been seen here in China. And yes, the parts are really a problem when they go wrong. Anyway, really hope there would be more choices in this market, that would be good for all riders.
  • 1 0
 you're right. Smile strange that the top-end nice parts are not available. my lbs had the top end sunrace mtb and race drivetrain for sale and at display in the shop, but nobody bought them, so he stopt selling them...
  • 2 0
 That brake caliper is a work of machined down art. Hose connection looks a little exposed though? I'm sure I read somewhere that either SRAM or shimano are trialling a very similar 1 lever shifter. What is the shift ratio on these parts? Can they be mixed n matched with shimano or sram?
  • 1 0
 The brake levers pivot point looks a little bit to far away from the bars for my liking. Also, those rotors look like carbon in the photos. I'm sure there not as it wasn't mentioned but wouldn't that be cool? The do them for cars so why not for bikes? I couldn't see them costing over 150$ and surely they would last for ages just like the car ones do.
  • 4 0
 there they exist kettlecycles.com/?btp_product=siccc-sfl-bicycle-brake-rotors and the price start for $99
  • 2 1
 Do we really need another disc brake? There are already so many to choose from. This isnt the old days where just about every component was shit.

Tho a rival to the main two gear kit manufacturers is a bonus i'd rather see someone come up with a dedicated 6 speed shifter and mech set up for dh bikes allowing us to have a wider gap between the spoke flanges and let us have a stronger wheel.
  • 1 0
 You wouldn't need a 6 speed mech and shifter, just a hub which you can slide 6/10 of a 10 speed cassette on .Then you just trim the derailleur in.
  • 1 0
 I tried using less cogs and setting up a 9 speed shifter to do the job with less gears but because the shifter had 9 clicks it still wanted to pull the mech up too far if you accidentely pushed it again. It really does need a dedicated shifter set up to be spot on.
  • 1 0
 That's how I've set up my front derailleur, I'm using a triple shifter for a double crankset. I just trimmed out the third position, works fine.
  • 1 0
 I like this stuff, it looks like you could use it for anything... light enough for races and looks strong enough to deal with the rest of us weekend warriors smashing it about as if we know how to ride bikes Smile could be a high seller if they are able to pitch against shimano and sram, unless they go in for a niche but am unsure where that would be Razz . However, everyone wants to try new things, and this looks awesome, so I guess the answer is why not!!
  • 1 1
 The leaver is attached to the grip box have been doing this for a while in bmx. fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc3/1098333_682300118466195_1923802344_n.jpg If any of these products are made to the same standards that they make their bmx parts too then they will be taking the mtb world by storm in the next few years.
  • 2 0
 "If any of these products are made to the same standards that they make their bmx parts too then they will be taking the mtb world by storm in the next few years."

Seriously? From a bike shop perspective BMX is the last place anyone in the bike industry would ever look for innovation for mtb products. It's a long standing joke in our shop that 10+ year old tech is finally making into BMX. ie. 2-piece cranks with external bottom brackets, new tech?
  • 1 0
 Looks good to me. The more competitors the better. That huge adjuster knob on the brake lever concerns me though. Im sure on my first crash with it that knob will be long gone.
  • 1 0
 If its good stuff then there can never be enough manufacturers, choice of parts is always a great thing, and its kind of limited when it comes to things especially like derailleurs Razz
  • 2 0
 If this stuff sells cheaper than competitors they will be millionaires within the first week of their release.
  • 2 0
 All that fancy cnc work and they couldnt put a decent weld on the display stand for the lever..............
  • 2 0
 like the look of that trigger shifter
  • 4 4
 makes me want to kill the trails
  • 1 0
 More like a hammer shifter.
  • 2 1
 they had a pic on vital of the brake attached to the grip, seems kinda wonky, but I do like the derailleur shifter idea!
  • 1 0
 So another brand doing the same old tested derailleur gram more or less is innovation??? Viva zerode!
  • 1 0
 I wonder what is the cable pull ratio?

I would not mind trying to use their lever together with Zee derailler.
  • 1 0
 looking forward to seeing it. sounds like a good system, maybe even would cause some competition and price drops.
  • 1 0
 All this looks solid! great pictures and write up!
  • 2 0
 Don't like it at all
  • 1 0
 Looks pretty good.
  • 1 1
 Any idea where all this stuff will be made ?
  • 3 7
flag Lilshredman (Sep 21, 2013 at 14:40) (Below Threshold)
 Hopefully Murica!
  • 1 1
 hopefully Europe Razz
  • 7 1
 MADE IN TAIWAN of course, what do you think guys, Am I right !?
  • 2 1
 brakes look awesome
  • 1 0
 the brakes look good
  • 3 0
 I like the callipers but the levers just destroy it for me...
  • 1 0
 I'm sold.
  • 2 1
 Not feeling BOX.
  • 3 0
 I love feeling BOX!
  • 2 0
 @Abbie I had a feeling someone would say that
  • 2 0
 Couldn't resist! Just had to!
  • 1 2
 Hey look more highly over priced parts that all you have to do I give one body part to be able to afford them.
  • 1 1
 looks sweet, hope theres a short cage
  • 1 1
 10 or 11 speed rear derailleur?
  • 2 0
 Ah sorry should have read more carefully it is 10 speed.
  • 1 1
 Also, the caliper looks 'flexy'.
  • 2 3
 All this means nothing unless its for sale somewhere!
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