Box Components caused a stir when they first released details of their One derailleur and shifter, and it was obvious that many riders were happy to see an alternative to SRAM and Shimano's offerings. The performance is there, too, at least with my pre-production test units that I rode and reviewed last year that performed well, weak clutch spring aside. Most interesting is - or rather was - their unique PushPush shifter that employed a single paddle that was either rotated or pushed in towards the shifter to move through the gears.
The novel PushPush single paddle design has been retired, regardless of it working pretty well, in favor of a more traditional two-paddle setup with dual-direction release. The issue with the PushPush design, I'm told, is "IP concerns,'' and I doubt we'll see it return given that Box is now offering a completely different shifter. Will the more familiar shifter operation win over riders whose fingers run on instinct? Probably, but I would have said that the distinctive PushPush action was important as Box need to set themselves apart from the two drivetrain giants
They'll also need to offer a much wider range of components if they ever hope to become a household name, let alone gain original equipment spec that they're surely hoping to have over the coming years. And that's exactly what Box is doing, with the release of a downhill-specific 7-speed derailleur, shifter, and cassette, as well as their lower price-point Box Two range. They've also been working on a new downhill/park-specific seat and post interface that is said to eliminate any and all slipping.
Box is also doing something that's very noteworthy: a lifetime warranty against breakage that covers nearly all of their products. Smash your derailleur to pieces on a rock? No problem; Box will replace it. Bike fall off your car rack at 100kph? Box will still look after you. ''This new feature is designed to provide consumers with a measure of additional protection and support in the event of a product failure,'' Box stated in their press release. ''This updated feature goes into effect immediately and applies to all original owners.'' Why the unheard, no-questions-asked warranty? The catalyst for Box's impressive warranty coverage was a spate of production One derailleurs that saw their knuckles fail due to some manufacturing issues, something that Box says they've since sorted out.
“It is no secret that we have had some challenges with the toughness of our rear derailleur. Innovation isn’t free from risk after all,'' Box President Toby Henderson explained in their PR. ''Learning from this, our team has made an honest effort to listen to feedback from the market and change. As a result, we have recently made substantial improvements to our product line, and feel it is now time to pass the benefits of these on to the consumer. What better way to do this than a lifetime warranty against breakage?"
We'll have more details and ride impressions of the near components soon, but for now you can see all of the details below.
Box One DH 7-Speed Twin Shifter and Derailleur
Downhill racing, or even just bike park use, puts some unique demands on a drivetrain, and while a standard setup can certainly work well, there's something to be said for a compact gearing range and the shorter, burlier derailleur that it allows. Box has followed that recipe for their new One DH Twin Shifter and Derailleur, with it making use of a much shorter cage than the standard One derailleur, an updated clutch system that hopefully provides much more chain tension, and forged construction.
The new derailleur is meant to be paired with 7-speed Box Two cassette that features an integrated spoke guard, much like an X01 DH block, and the fresh 7-speed Twin shifter. Cog spacing remains the same as on an 11-speed cassette, so their standard chain will still play nice. The 7-speed derailleur will retail for $174.99 USD (which is the same as their standard 11-speed One derailleur), while the Box Two 11 - 24 cassette costs a reasonable $49.99 USD. Box Two 11-Speed Twin Shifter and Derailleur
Box Two is a step down from One in their component hierarchy, with more price conscious construction making for a $109.99 USD price tag compared to the One's $174.99 MSRP. It comes down to different materials (there's no carbon fiber on the Two derailleur) and less expensive hardware, but both 11-speed derailleurs work with either Box's or Shimano's shifters, just in case you feel like mixing and matching. The Box Two shifter sells for $44.99 USD, whereas the Box One unit goes for $69.99 USD.
There are three options when it comes to Box's 11-speed chains. The top of the range $79.99 USD Hex Lab chain gets a TiCN coating that is said to increase its lifespan while reducing friction, and moving down one step to the One chain sees hollow pins used (but no TiNC coating) and a $39.99 USD price tag. The Two chain skips the fancy coating and hollow pins, and it costs $29.99 USD as a result. T-Channel Gravity Seat and Seat Post
While we knew that Box was working on a number of fresh drivetrain components, their new T-Channel Gravity seat and seat post design comes as more of a surprise. Mountain bikers are generally a wary bunch when it comes to proprietary bits, and rightfully so, but Box clearly believe that their rail-less seat and post design is worth the departure from the norm. The name hints to the design, with the seat interfacing with the post via a T-shaped insert that is slid into a channel in the seat's shell and then clamped down onto the seat post head. Box says that the dual-bolt clamp still allows for -3 to +11 degrees of angle adjustment, which is enough for any crazy frame out there, as well as 48mm of fore/aft range.
The ridged seat top is an idea lifted from the motocross world, where seats often have custom shapes cut into them to help with rider positioning and traction, and the rear-most portion is designed to maximize tire clearance at bottom-out. Just like with their other components, the T-Channel Gravity seat and post come with a lifetime warranty against breakage.Box Acquires True Precision Components' Stealth Hubs
There's yet more news from Box with them acquiring the specific cycling assets of True Precision Components, makers of the silent and instant engaging Stealth hub. This excludes all of True Precision Components' non-bicycle hub products, however. The move by Box signals serious commitment to BMX and mountain bike drivetrains, and it's surely only a matter of time until we see Stealth hubs at the center of Box's novel looking carbon fiber wheelsets.
''We recognize the advantages the Stealth hub provides, such as instant engagement, silent coasting, and durability,'' Toby Henderson said in the press release. ''With this acquisition, we’re well positioned to accelerate the expansion of this technology into our ever-growing drivetrain ecosystem.'' In other words, expect more from Box in the future as far as wheels and drivetrain components go.