BOX Components MTB Drivetrain – First Look

 

So who are Box components?

Box components are an American company based in Southern California, they have been producing high end BMX components and supporting successful BMX riders for a long time so they know the score when it comes to all things two wheeled.

They have recently started producing some innovative mountain bike components and we were pretty stoked to get our hands on their MTB Drivetrain kit.

This MTB drivetrain has been in development for a few years before its release, and obviously the big question is whether it is a true alternative to the big boys – SRAM and Shimano.

The derailleur has a couple of clever features, it has CamClutch™ which uses a one way friction plate to reduce chain movement and it has Pivot Tech™, which means that the cable stop arm on the derailleur is spring loaded and in theory should move in a crash or if you catch something at the side of the trail, reducing damage to the derailleur.

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It can handle cassettes with minimum 10T and maximum 46T, so is well suited to modern wide ratio cassettes.

Jockey wheels have sealed bearings, so in theory they should be smoother and last longer than some of the competition.

Aesthetically, in my opinion, the nylon composite parts on the derailleur look a little out of place amonged the high quality look of the rest of the kit. Whether everyone will like the orange colour scheme or have the bike to match remains to be seen but it’s definitely different.

The shifter is where Box have produced something that is very innovative and different to the competition – there is only one lever. This lever is operated with your thumb, you push in one direction (the same as a “normal” shifter) for easier gears and in another direction (basically at 90 degrees, towards the stem) for harder gears.

This is probably best explained with a Video which we will publish soon to show the shifter in action!

The action to get harder gears feels a little awkward, but we reckon it’s just a case of getting used to it and it will soon become an intuitive action. A minor niggle is that the lever sometimes gets stuck in the forwards position when selecting easier gears and only returns slowly but hopefully this will improve with more use.

The initial impression of the shifting is that it is very crisp and very light, not requiring much effort at the lever.

To fit the shifter you have to remove your grips, which is fine if you run lock-ons but a little annoying if you run glued and wired grips like I do! On the plus side it is very easy to fit or change the gear cable, which is not something you can say for SRAM XO DH, which this is temporarily replacing on my YT industries Capra.

The cassette is quite heavy compared to top end SRAM/Shimano cassettes but is also significantly cheaper. This differs from the derailleur and shifter which are similar in weight to SRAM/Shimano. In my next review I will compare all of the costs and weights.

The cassette is 11 speed and fits a Shimano freewheel, this means that I have gone from a 10T to 11T as my smallest cog and had to change to Shimano freewheels from SRAM XD.

Initial impressions and we’re very impressed with the quality of all the components and looking forward to riding with them a lot more. We’ll have a full review soon.

Words and Images – Jerry Clelford

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