Over the last decade or so, Shimano and SRAM have enjoyed quite the duopoly over the mountain bike groupset market. The two giants of the industry have largely gone toe-to-toe with their drivetrain and braking components, and save for some well-reviewed alternatives from the likes of brands such as RaceFace and Hope, no one has been able to offer a fully comprehensive groupset to tackle the Big S’s. That looks set to change very soon however, with Box Components looking to drop a brand new 1x drivetrain and hydraulic disc brake package within a matter of weeks. Details are relatively scant at present, but here’s what we’ve been able to dig up so far…
You may have heard of Box Components in reference to BMX products such as cranks, handlebars, brakes and saddles. The US-based company was set up as a high-end offshoot of Promax, in order to bring a little more desirability to the brand. While they’ve been making a name for themselves in the BMX world, Box Components has also been busy developing some new shifting and braking components that are about to hit the mountain bike market.
They certainly haven’t rushed to the market though. You may remember that we first reported on their innovative trigger shifter and rear derailleur at Interbike in 2013, which was then later refined again at winter PressCamp in 2014. A further two years on and a whole lot of teasing on their Instagram feed, and we’re about to see the finished product.
Of course i’s worth noting that the drivetrain world has experienced significant evolution since 2013, so it’s no wonder that Box Components have held off from releasing their new mountain bike drivetrain. If you’re going to go up against Shimano and SRAM, you’d better be sure you’ve got a rock solid offering that’s for sure. So what exactly will Box Components be bringing to the table that hasn’t already been tried before?
Well from what we can tell from the Box One mini site, they’ll be releasing a complete 1x drivetrain that will be available in both 11-speed and 10-speed options. The 1x drivetrain will feature Box’s own shifter, rear derailleur, cassette and crankset. They’ll also be offering up a left-hand shifter, though it doesn’t look like they’ll be producing a front derailleur or a multi-chainset as of yet.
The original push-push design of the Box trigger shifter is still present, though the unit has been significantly refined and tweaked over the original prototypes. The shifter has a separate clamp with two positions (much like SRAM’s MatchMaker shifter clamp), and it’ll be available in both 10-speed and 11-speed versions. Want to see how that push-push action works? Check out the video below;
As for the derailleur, it retains the skeletal-like appearance of the latest prototypes, with a huge actuation arm that likely suggests it has a high leverage ratio for the gear cable. It also has a unique spring-loaded cable stay – that’s the point where the cable housing stops – which will move out of harms way in the event of a crash or contact with rocks or roots. Box call this patented technology PivotTech™, and we’re intrigued to see how this pans out in the real world. Like Shimano and SRAM’s recent derailleur offerings, Box have applied a friction clutch to reduce chain slap and the chance of your chain derailing on the trail.
While Box Components have been teasing shifters and derailleurs for some time, they’ve been a little quiet about their cassette and crank developments. What we can see here however is a new cassette in both 10-speed and 11-speed options in everyone’s favourite rad finish – black. The cassette uses mostly steel cogs with 7075-T6 aluminum carriers, though the largest cog is also made from 7075-T6. The chain that you see in some of the other photos is not a Box chain – it’s a KMC. So technically Box don’t have a full groupset, but hey, we’re splitting hairs here.
Given Box’s experience working with BMX cranks though, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that they’ll be doing a mountain bike version too. The Direct Drive Hollow Crankset uses hollow-forged alloy arms, though it also gets a trick-looking chainring that is also hollow forged and features a 5-bolt interface. Multiple lengths and chainring tooth sizes will be available, though we’re not quite sure if the chainring uses a thick-thin profile, or it’s designed to be used with a chain device.
And lastly, there will be brakes too. As with the drivetrain, Box appears to be marketing the groupset towards trail riding rather than the skinny XC racer crowd or the downhill crew. The brakes use a 4-piston calliper that sees a combination of 17mm and 14mm pistons utilised in a manner not dissimilar from SRAM’s Guide brakes. The clamp for the brake lever is integrated into the alloy body, so you’ll have to remove your grips before mounting the Box brakes to your handlebars. The brakes have two external adjustments: one for lever reach, and one for bite point. No information about rotors, and we’re yet to find out if the pad design is shared with any other manufacturers.
There’s certainly plenty of exciting details abound with the new Box One groupset, and we’ll be sure to dig up more info for you at Eurobike, when Box Components are set to unveil the groupset in the flesh. In the meantime, you can head to the Box Components mountain bike website to sign up to their newsletter, so you’ll get the word from the horses mouth as soon as it arrives.
What do you think of the Box Components groupset? Should Shimano and SRAM be worried? Do you think Box have some winning features, or are the differences just a gimmick? Let us know in the comments below!