The *big two* have gone pretty much unchallenged in mountain biking's derailleur and shifter game for years. Now Box Components is looking the change that with the launch of their Box One PushPush shifter and 11-speed rear derailleur. Box, who has a long history in BMX, took a slightly different approach (much like SRAM did when they first entered the market) when it comes to the typical action of a shifter. The One PushPush shifter features a single lever, as opposed to the traditional two-paddle system, which handles both upshifts and downshifts. This is made possible by a dual-motion design where the lever can be both pushed Read More »
The *big two* have gone pretty much unchallenged in mountain biking's derailleur and shifter game for years. Now Box Components is looking the change that with the launch of their Box One PushPush shifter and 11-speed rear derailleur. Box, who has a long history in BMX, took a slightly different approach (much like SRAM did when they first entered the market) when it comes to the typical action of a shifter. The One PushPush shifter features a single lever, as opposed to the traditional two-paddle system, which handles both upshifts and downshifts. This is made possible by a dual-motion design where the lever can be both pushed forward and inward. The rear derailleur has some unique features like a carbon fiber / nylon composite body as well, Box’s Pivot Tech spring-loaded cable stop, which they claim will reduce damage should you lay the bike over or snag a rock while riding. With a maximum tooth capacity of up to 46 (the common max for most 11-speed drivetrains) we were eager to slap the new drivetrain on our trail bike and get testing.
Box Components One Rear Derailleur Features
- 11-Speed Specific
- Carbon Fiber / Nylon Composite Body
- 6061-T6 Aluminum Cage
- Compatible with Box and Shimano 11-Speed Shifters
- 9-46 Tooth Cassette Range
- Matte and Gloss Black Finish
- Weight: 265 Grams
- Patent-Pending CamClutch Tech
- Patent-Pending Pivot Tech
- MSPR: $174.99 USD
Box Components PushPush Shifter Features
- 11-Speed Specific
- Cold Forged 6061-T6 Aluminum and Carbon Fiber / Nylon Composite Construction
- Adjustable Clamp Allowing 10mm Left / Right Placement
- Compatible with Box and Shimano 11-Speed Derailleurs
- Up to 4 Downshifts at Once with Single Upshifts
- Aluminum Clamp
- Stainless Steel Zinc Oxide Coated Hardware
- Matte and Gloss Black Finish
- Weight: 120g (w/ Clamp)
- MSRP: $74.99 USD
At a total weight of 385g for both the shifter and the derailleur, the Box One drivetrain runs an average of 42 grams heavier when compared to top 11-speed offerings from SRAM and Shimano. Box pricing hovers somewhere between Shimano’s XT and XTR groups and SRAM’s GX and X1 groups. The matte black finish and small orange graphics give them a subtle and stealth appearance, which is never a bad thing in our book. Installing the drivetrain was no different from any other drivetrain we’ve ever worked on, and everything went together as expected.
We paired up Box’s One drivetrain with the SRAM 11-speed 10-42 tooth cassette that was already on the bike. In the stand, shifting was excellent after dialing in the proper cable tension, though it did feel a bit awkward with the single lever design. Having made the switch between multiple shifters in the past, we know it usually takes a few rides to adjust to the new motions.
On The Trail
“A swing and a miss” is the best way to describe our maiden voyage with the Box drivetrain. Muscle memory had us fumbling around a bit when it came to our instinctual motion of going for a shift. Eventually, after concentrating on how to shift for a couple of laps, the motion became natural, and, for the most part, we never had a second thought about it.
In terms of gears per shift, the Box drivetrain is somewhat a hybrid between SRAM and Shimano, in that shifting into the higher gears is one-click-one-gear (like SRAM), and you can cover a four-gear spread while shifting into the lower gears with a full push forward of the paddle (like Shimano). Even on a wide, four-gear shift, the derailleur performed well: no gear wandering, rough shifting, or loud popping noises as long as we shifted properly.
We did drop our chain a couple times over the first month aboard the Box drivetrain, despite using a narrow/wide chainring, and opted to run an upper guide for the duration of the test. We did compare the clutch tension to the SRAM derailleur it replaced and noted that the Box One derailleur's clutch is not quite as forceful as SRAM's. Aside from that, the Box Components drivetrain provided reliable, crisp shifting which was pretty much set-and-forget for the remainder of our test.
Things That Could Be Improved
As we just mentioned, we compared the clutch of the Box One derailleur to SRAM'sand found it to be notably weaker. It's likely this is the culprit when it came to dropped chains. We opted to run a chainguidewith the Box drivetrain to help prevent further lost chains, and we'd say a stronger clutch is called for. We should also mention a compatibility issue we found. Halfway through our test, we received a 9-46t cassette which we installed on our test bike and found the Box One derailleur’s cage couldn’t handle the extended range offered by that tiny 9-tooth cog. The chain had to be cut too short for the derailleur to hold any chain tension while in the highest gear, yet still be long enough for the 46-tooth. While Box does state the minimum tooth count for the derailleur is 9 with the max being 46, an actual cassette with that specific range just didn't work on our experience. Likely a 10-46 tooth range would be fine, but the extreme spread of e*thirteen's TRSr 9-46 cassette was just too much.
Long Term Durability
While we’ve yet to lay the bike over or tag a sizable rock, we can say the Box One drivetrain remains quiet and still functions as well as it did on day one. No strange issues have popped up nor has the drivetrain given us any indication of premature failure. That said, we were unable to test the claims of the Pivot Tech system which prevents bent derailleur hangers and other damage. Time will tell if the system works and we'll update this article if and when the time comes.
What’s The Bottom Line?
One of the hardest parts of this test was searching for the answer of why Box Components designed the dual-motion shifter the way they did. Did we find that it offered a specific advantage over the competition? Not particularly. When SRAM released the dual-thumb triggers, the advantage was obvious: you no longer need to take your index finger off the brake lever to upshift. Shimano recognized that and answered with a similar system. Sure, with the Box system, the dual-thumb technique of shifting continues, it’s just…different. Is that alone enough to sell a product? In our opinion, no. Since they created a solid performer that we found competitive with the "big two" in terms of shifting, weight, and value, they should find some traction in the market. Kudo's to Box for thinking outside of, well, the box, and backing it up with a product that delivers.
For more information, visit www.boxcomponents.com
About The Reviewer
Fred Robinson - Age: 32 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 240-pounds (108.9kg)
"Drop my heels and go." Fred has been on two wheels since he was two-years-old, is deceptively quick for a bigger guy, and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. Several years of shop experience means he's not afraid to tinker. He's very particular when it comes to a bike's suspension performance and stiffness traits.