Review: Box One Drivetrain

Founded by ex-BMX champion and Hall of Fame inductee Toby Henderson, Box Components have been designing and manufacturing BMX components for several years, but only recently added mountain bike components before releasing their own drivetrain components.

Box Drivetrain sun 1.jpg

 

After what seemed like ages in prototypes, updates, and refinements, Box came to market with a unique take on the modern day mountain bike drivetrain with dedicated 1x components. By their own admission, "Box Components was created with a rebellious vision and towering objective: to chart new courses and promote forward-thinking products".

 

The most obvious change from the norm is the unique single-lever shifter which handles both upshifts and downshifts. Pressing forward on the lever shifts the drivetrain to an easier gear, and then pressing in on the lever with the tip of your thumb shifts into a more difficult gear. This will, however, change in their Generation 2 offering to a more standard two-lever shifter. Unconfirmed, but it seems there may be some intellectual property issues with the current shifter. Shifting to easier gears can be done four at a time, but only one per shift when dropping to harder gears.

 

The rear derailleur comes with the now-common "clutch" tech. Box calls theirs “Cam Clutch technology,” and it’s always on and engaged. It lacks SRAM's "locked" button that helps with rear wheel removal, though. It does have "Pivot Tech" which allows the derailleur to swing back when it suffers a hit, in an attempt to keep the derailleur or the hanger from breaking leaving you stranded mid-ride.

 


Box drivetrain 7.jpg

Box drivetrain 2.jpg


The Box Two cassette is made of hi-tensile steel and 7075-T6 aluminum, the 11-46T cassette features a 418% percent range. Two aluminum carriers hold the largest seven cogs while four individual cogs are separated with aluminum spacers and each cog features ramped teeth for improved shifting. The cassette is compatible with all major 11-speed chains and traditional MTB freehubs, but it is not compatible with SRAM's XD driver. Claimed weight is 480g with the lockring.

 

As mentioned above, there is a generation 2 shifter and derailleur on its way that will add some durability and updated specifications. Most notably the shifter reverts to something a bit more standard and the rear derailleur gets a stiffer clutch. They have added a downhill specific Box Two 7 speed 11 - 24 cassette and Box One DH 7 speed shifter.

 

Box Components offer a lifetime warranty against breakage that covers nearly all of their products.

 

Pricing


  • Box Two CassetteR 1,800
  • Box One ShifterR 1,450
  • Box One DerailleurR 2,950

 

On the Trail


As the shifter is about to be changed, I won't spend too much time on how their system performed. It's actually a pity as shifting was good and unique amongst the S'es. If only different for the sake of being different, as there is not much to fault in how the brands shift. Set up with a SRAM XX1 crank and a 32T Absolute Black direct mount chainring, I have not suffered any dropped chains and shifting has stayed direct even in wet and muddy rides. Other than the shifter, it was quite striking just how much of a non-issue it was riding a brand new offering. One going up against established brands who have been fine-tuning their art for decades. Jumping between bikes with different shifters, there is a short adjustment period while you go looking for the second shift lever.

 

Box Drivetrain sun 2.jpg

 

Much like the shifters, the derailleur does an excellent job of shifting the chain across the cassette. Moving up or down the cassette felt quite effortless and was accurate in the most trying of conditions.

 


Box drivetrain 8.jpg

Box drivetrain 3.jpg


Finally, the 11-speed Box Two cassette. I feel that Box would have made a much bigger impact had they launched with a 12-speed offering. That would have put them in the opposite corner to SRAM and a fight in the big league. Maybe for some this won't be a major issue, but for those looking to upgrade their current drivetrain, it's not simply a decision of which brand. If you go Box you can only go 11 speed. Whether that would be a stumbling block is up to each rider, but they would have done themselves a huge favour by launching 12-speed from the off.

 

Ratio peeping shows a SRAM 11 speed 10-42T cassette with a 32T chainring can be quite evenly matched by Box's 11-46T cassette using a 36T chainring.

 

Box Ratios.png

 

Verdict


As an upgrade kit they are up against SRAM's 12 speed offerings with GX Eagle coming in at a great price point and offering a wider range. Shimano offers similar gearing (11-46T cassette), but not the unique appeal. What Box Components do offer is a solid product that feels well-developed and R&D'ed, so if you're looking to replace some components on your current Shimano drivetrain then Box is certainly worth a look - especially if you're okay with 11 speed and would like something a bit different without skimping on performance and features.

 






21 Comments

Comments

Headshot, Oct 11 2017 11:29

I read a review of this on NSMB where the rear derailleur actually disintegrated  while riding leading to some wheel damage... Sounds like it might be better to wait for the revamped clutch derailleur ( now manufactured differently)  and shifter which will have 2 levers like everyone else.

Iwan Kemp, Oct 11 2017 11:36

I read a review of this on NSMB where the rear derailleur actually disintegrated  while riding leading to some wheel damage... Sounds like it might be better to wait for the revamped clutch derailleur ( now manufactured differently)  and shifter which will have 2 levers like everyone else.

 

Most reviews to date were done on pre-production samples before Box started using a stiffer spring. The issue you mentioned above were widely reported and prompted Box to takeaction. Maybe worth checking if they mention whether this was production or pre-production.

Grease_Monkey, Oct 11 2017 12:16

Awesome groupset!!! Got about 3000km logged on it so far.

JohanMalan, Oct 11 2017 12:54

Seems pretty good, but also seems like a solution to a problem that does not exist, no particular advantage and SRAM and Shimano are actually very good gears IMHO.
Not lighter, not cheaper, does not shift easier, same range.

Blitzer, Oct 11 2017 01:21

I have only used the 11 speed Sunrace cassette .I mean Box cassette !! .R500 more than a sunrace .Works well .I am using 11 speed currently .I cannot see the advantage of 12 gears yet  

Grease_Monkey, Oct 11 2017 02:19

Seems pretty good, but also seems like a solution to a problem that does not exist, no particular advantage and SRAM and Shimano are actually very good gears IMHO.
Not lighter, not cheaper, does not shift easier, same range.

 

I don't think they are really trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. It's just another option other than Shimano or Sram - always good to have competition and some variety in choice. Would be pretty lame if there were only two brands making frames...

Pure Savage, Oct 11 2017 02:31

Seen a youtuber use this and he has thrashed the thing and has lasted. Good alternative

Grease_Monkey, Oct 11 2017 02:50

Seen a youtuber use this and he has thrashed the thing and has lasted. Good alternative

 

They also come with a life time breakage warranty, so you can smash it, and they replace for mahala - no questions asked.

Iwan Kemp, Oct 11 2017 03:05

They also come with a life time breakage warranty, so you can smash it, and they replace for mahala - no questions asked.

 

That is a major bonus. 

marko35s, Oct 11 2017 05:31

Most reviews to date were done on pre-production samples before Box started using a stiffer spring. The issue you mentioned above were widely reported and prompted Box to takeaction. Maybe worth checking if they mention whether this was production or pre-production.

I read that review and it was a stinker, as far as I could tell it was a production model.

Found it - 

https://nsmb.com/art...ke-park-tested/

TDFN, Oct 11 2017 05:37

Grease_Monkey, on 11 Oct 2017 - 2:50 PM, said:
They also come with a life time breakage warranty, so you can smash it, and they replace for mahala - no questions asked.

That is a major bonus.

 

Not sure how this is a bonus. I have never smashed any RD's or anything pertaining to a groupset in more than 20 years. They just wear out.

Grease_Monkey, Oct 11 2017 06:13

Not sure what sort of riding you do TDFN, but I do the occassional jumps and enduro type of stuff - have written 3 RDs in the last 10 years or so. One from a fall, another from a stray piece of wire lying in the road getting pulled through the pulley of my RD while I was pedaling hard - ripping the thing apart, and the third from pure stupidity during transport.

The last 2 were covered by insurance, but that has caused an increase in my premiums.

BaGearA, Oct 11 2017 09:01

I read a review of this on NSMB where the rear derailleur actually disintegrated  while riding leading to some wheel damage... Sounds like it might be better to wait for the revamped clutch derailleur ( now manufactured differently)  and shifter which will have 2 levers like everyone else.

I read some where that the "  upper "linkage of the mechs were always cast alu but this was britle and tended to break they have now switched over to CNC'ed alu and the issue seems to be solved     ** I don't have A box drive train it's just what I stumbled across somewhere on the interwebs

Stefan Cremer, Oct 12 2017 05:05

Looks significantly cheaper than SRAM casette, but I'm comparing to XX and XO level cassette.
Open SRAM's website to check weight of the above mentioned cassettes, way more svelte. Comparison no longer applicable.
What about GX then? 385g for XG 1175 and 394g for the XC 1150 - getting closer, but these are around 20% lighter than the Box casette.
NX then? That's 538g, but only 11-42, not 10 on the small ring as it's more expensive brothers, as such not something I will consider due to the reduced gear range.
Comparing the GX then (XG1150): CWC has it advertised for R2199, that's R399 more thatn the Box offering with (slightly) superior gear range and lighter weight.

I've probably answered a question no one else was asking...

To the editor: a useful comparison you could have added is a a comparison between the Box, SRAM and Shimano casettes in terms of the % change between the gears from 1-11. SRAM in my opinion is superior in this regard to Shimano, as the Shimano 11-46 cassette has massive changes in the low range gears.

Blitzer, Oct 12 2017 09:15

Looks significantly cheaper than SRAM casette, but I'm comparing to XX and XO level cassette.
Open SRAM's website to check weight of the above mentioned cassettes, way more svelte. Comparison no longer applicable.
What about GX then? 385g for XG 1175 and 394g for the XC 1150 - getting closer, but these are around 20% lighter than the Box casette.
NX then? That's 538g, but only 11-42, not 10 on the small ring as it's more expensive brothers, as such not something I will consider due to the reduced gear range.
Comparing the GX then (XG1150): CWC has it advertised for R2199, that's R399 more thatn the Box offering with (slightly) superior gear range and lighter weight.

I've probably answered a question no one else was asking...

To the editor: a useful comparison you could have added is a a comparison between the Box, SRAM and Shimano casettes in terms of the % change between the gears from 1-11. SRAM in my opinion is superior in this regard to Shimano, as the Shimano 11-46 cassette has massive changes in the low range gears.

I am running a Sun race 11 speed and a Box 11 speed cassette currently on different bikes .They are exactly the same product other than the name printed on them .The ratio,s  are still better than shimano,s IMO .I rode Berg& Bush over the weekend and was very happy that i did not have a front derailleur this year due to the mud .Last year i rode spioenkop with 2 x 11 and this year i managed with 34 x 11/46 cassette to ride all the climbs again 

GrahamS2, Oct 12 2017 12:40

I considered Box for my latest build. To be honest the push-push shifting just didn't work for me at all though.  

Grease_Monkey, Oct 12 2017 02:23

I considered Box for my latest build. To be honest the push-push shifting just didn't work for me at all though.  

 

They have ditched the push push shifter - now being sold with an index finger and thumb shifter like Shimano.

GrahamS2, Oct 12 2017 02:47

They have ditched the push push shifter - now being sold with an index finger and thumb shifter like Shimano.

Saw that but the build is finished. Also not keen on first release products.

fusion01, Oct 12 2017 07:31

"Whether that would be a stumbling block is up to each rider, but they would have done themselves a huge favour by launching 12-speed from the off."

 

Really?! Cost was obvioulsy their consideration (can be had for R1.5k if you look around).

 

F**k any cassette costing in the region of R3.5k (new Eagle GX)! I ride a bike to NOT work, not work my ass off to ride a bike!!

JuanLouw, Oct 14 2017 10:15

I used the box shifter and derailleur for a while and here were my findings: I used it on the shimano XT 11-46 cassette. 

 

  • Had to remove a chainlink and cut a new outer cable because mine was too short.
  • Shifter was very sharp to the thumb and the upshift was not as crisp as shimano XT M8000
  • Dropped 1 chain because the chain was slightly sloppy in the 11 cog (I did not want to remove another link or my chain would be too short when I put the XT back)
  • When I took it off and put the XT back on I felt the difference in how much crisper the XT is. 
  • Loaned it to a friend and he said exactly the same after putting his XT back on.
  • Selling it on monday for a profit

Overall not bad as their first drivetrain really. The only thing I am disappointed in is the fact that they turned to Sunrace to brand and make their cassettes. I have bent a sunrace cassette and mine rusted. Shifting is also not the best and the was lube I used (squirt) leaves a horrible residue on the cassette.