If you're the kind of racer who's a World Cup regular, you likely have a single drivetrain sponsor, possibly one that has suspension or even brakes in their catalog as well. But if you're the kind of racer who'll likely go on to be the winningest male downhiller of all-time, and who does crazy shit like winning a World Cup race without a chain or defying mother nature, you can do things a bit differently.
YT's Aaron Gwin (who else?) has used Shimano and Fox components while on Trek, and then a SRAM and Fox combo during his Specialized days, but his move to YT saw the Californian's bike get a whole lot more eclectic. Last year he had a SRAM X0 DH derailleur and shifter paired with a set of e*thirteen cranks arms, chain guide and wheels, tires by Onza, a set of HT pedals, and stopping done by TRP. Talk about unique, and especially in a world where most top pro's bikes simply get a SRAM or Shimano blanket thrown over them.
It appears as though Gwin's YT is about to get even more out-there, too. Earlier tonight Gwin posted a photo to his personal Instagram account
announcing that he has re-upped his contract to wear Bell helmets for a few more years. Okay, that's not too exciting (sorry, Bell), but take a much closer look at the photo itself, and zoom in especially tight on the right side of his Renthal handlebar. See that shifter? Yeah, that's not a SRAM shifter, and it's not from Shimano, either... You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to know that it's some version of Box's new, downhill-specific clicker.
The shifter's shape is a dead giveaway, but just in case that's not enough proof for you, check out the single visible shift paddle that also looks pretty Box-like to me. The rest of Gwin's bike is out of frame, but he's likely also running their DH-specific derailleur and 7-speed cassette that was debuted last August
Aaron has taken some heat in the comments when it was announced that he'd be sponsored by Onza and TRP, with some saying that Gwin was simply signing with the highest bidders, but I don't think that's what we're seeing. Aaron has said himself that he enjoys the development aspect of working with his sponsors, and Onza's Aquila tire and TRP's G-Spec Quadiem brake are both shaped by his input. The man also seems to like championing less obvious brands, too. In that light, Gwin working with Box starts to make a whole bunch of sense. Update #1: Update #2:
Box (and Gwin) have denied that the odd-looking shifter is one of theirs, and it's almost certainly not a SRAM or Shimano unit, either. There is some chatter that the clicker on Gwin's downhill bike could be a new option from e*thirteen. Sound weird? Maybe, but e*thirteen already has cranks, chain guides, chainrings, and a bunch of cassettes in their catalog, so the addition of a shifter could be on the cards as well. More info as we get it.