The BOX shift lever is remarkably simple in both operation and in appearance. Swing the paddle forward to downshift and then push the flat section on the tip like a button to up-shift.
Toby Henderson, a pioneer BMX, Dual Slalom and DH Racer, was a the 2013 Sea Otter Classic demonstrating a new push-push trigger shifting system that shows great promise as an alternative to the present double-lever systems from Shimano and SRAM. The right-side lever downshifts by swinging it forward in the same manner as the present two systems, but to upshift to a smaller cog, one only has to push the same lever inward, in-line with the paddle - just like pushing a button. Two distinctly different actions allow the brain to process upshifts and downshifts on the same lever without confusion. It's been a while since a significant development has come forth in the shifting department and this one looks like a winner.The Back Story
The shifter headlines a new company, based in Taiwan and headed by Henderson called BOX components
- which already has been developing cockpit items and accessories for the performance mountain bike market. Henderson says, 'I wanted to show the guys in Taiwan that I could bring a product line to market and make money, so we founded Promax, which was targeted specifically towards BMX - something that I know a lot about and have a strong following. Once we got Promax going, they wanted to develop a line of mountain bike components under Promax - but I said no. I knew that mountain bikers are a different crowd. I wanted to separate our BMX and MTB lines and also, once we had the design-to-production thing going smoothly, I wanted the opportunity to start with high-end products that were competitive with the best mountain bike brands out there. BOX components is starting slowly, so that each time we develop a product, we can make it right.
How it Works
BOX's shift lever stays tucked out of the way when not needed. Up-shifts an be made by simply tapping the end of the lever with your hand (left), or by pushing it with the tip of the thumb.
The new BOX shifter appears close to production, with dedicated hardware, and the lever and housing appear to be final-generation items. Toby said that the impetus for the design was to be able to shift without compromising your grip on the handlebar. Trying the shifter for the first time reveals that it is indeed a natural and intuitive movement. The swing required to downshift is almost exactly the feel and direction of a SRAM X0 downshift paddle, and it can shift up to three gears at a time. While there is only a moderate indexing feel while downshifting to a larger cog, the push-button action of the lever while up-shifting is very distinct, because it's a one-push, one-shift movement. Up-shifts can also be made simply by bumping the lever with the inside of the hand, rather than tapping it with the tip of the thumb, which should offer riders an even more secure mode of shifting when descending physically demanding trails. Presently, the shifter only works with Shimano ten-speed rear derailleurs, but Henderson assures us that a SRAM version will follow. The action of the Box shifter simply screams Downhill and we expect that this will be the arena where it will first gain acceptance.
What PB Thinks
Toby Henderson used his BMX skills to become a fierce competitor on the Dual Slalom circuit. Now Henderson is back in the game with a BOX components.
Henderson says that the ultimate goal of BOX Components is to develop a complete drivetrain, but he is realistic in his assumption that this will be a long time in the making. The short-term plan is to develop the shifter to retrofit SRAM and Shimano - and then to concentrate on making a complete drivetrain one component at a time. While this may seem preposterous to some, the re-emergence of single-chainring transmissions has dramatically simplified the requirements of the rear derailleur. With a proven shifting lever ready for production, BOX has a good chance to field a truly competitive rear derailleur against the likes of Shimano and SRAM. Only time will tell.- RCBrowse BOX Components