When it comes to drive trains there are two big names that come to mind, SRAM and Shimano. These two players have dominated the industry for some time now, but Box components is here to stay and offer an alternative to the big names. We took a closer look at their Box One 1 x 11 drive train, here’s our view on their top of the line 11 speed offering.…
Product: Box One 11 speed drive train
RRP: $281 USD ($409 AUD)
Who Are Box Components?
Box Components is the brain child of company president Toby Henderson and has slotted itself into the drive train market for both BMX and mountain biking. Taking on the two big names of Shimano and SRAM is no easy feat and with a history steeped in mountain biking and BMX, company president Toby Henderson is steering the company towards success. Launching it’s first 1 x 11 drive train in 2017, Box Components has made short work of establishing itself as a name to be reckoned with and with the new Prime 9 system launching, it seems they are here to stay. We took a good, hard look at their premium 1 x 11 Box One drive train and were suitably impressed.
The Nitty Gritty
The Box One 11 speed drive train includes a shifter, derailleur, cassette and chain; everything minus the cranks.
The Box One derailleur is available in wide range or extra wide range, 11-46 or 11-50. It’s made of 6061 T6 Alloy with a mix of carbon and nylon, a forged inner and outer cage, Adjustable clutch, Pivot Tech technology to make sure the cable line is optimal at all times.
Box One 11 speed shifter is made of light wieght 6061 T6 with carbon nylon composite, weighs 127g up to 5 shifts towards the low gears in one throw.
Box Two Cassette 480g, 11-46, a whopping 418% gear range. Ramped teeth with linear progression helps keep the shifting smooth with great transitions.
Box One Chain: 116 Link, heat treated allow steel, with hollow pins, and nickel finish 243 grams
After a few months testing on both the race track and under normal riding conditions we are happy to say we certainly warmed to the Box One 11 speed drive train. Initially it took a little bit of getting used to after using SRAM and Shimano shifters for so long, the shifting is a touch firmer on the Box One shifter but once you were used to the feel it shifts like butter. The ability to downshift up to five gears in one throw is an awesome addition, great for those of us that like to ride trails blind and may not remember that pinch around the corner.
“…once you are used to the feel, it shifts like butter.”
The shifting performance is great and once indexed properly it shifts perfectly each and every time. The range on the cassette allows for less differentiation than Shimano XT 11-46, with smaller jumps between the last two cogs, 40-46 rather than 37-46. This allows you to maintain cadence and and gives you a much better feel, instead of what feels like a 46 tooth added to a 11-36 cassette with Shimano XT. We were only able to test the Box Two cassette but if that is the performance of Box Two cassettes then we look forward to seeing Box One.
The derailleur not only shifted well, it took a beating and looked good doing it. Our tester definitely put it through it’s paces and a few crashes were had on race runs that saw the ‘Pivot Tech’ kick into gear, the Box One derailleur still shifted like a dream afterwards. If there is one thing we can say about the Box One derailleur is that it looks good and certainly brings some healthy competition to SRAM and Shimano. Our only issue with the derailleur is the clutch mechanism remains on at all times and this can make removing the back wheel a bit of a pain at times.
The Final Word
With the advent of 12 speed drive trains is there really a place for 11 speed? The answer is a loud and firm yes from us. Twelve speed drive trains can be expensive to replace parts, difficult to index and less reliable, whilst 11 speed is cheaper, smoother, requires less maintenance and is here to stay. Box have brought the goods with their Box One drive train and we were certainly impressed. Smooth, quiet, easy to set up and no shortage of range; all great things when it comes to drive trains. With their 11 speed system performing so well we are looking forward to seeing what Box’s latest addition to the line-up, Prime 9 will be like?
After two months of testing on technical terrain in both race and normal riding conditions, it’s safe to say we were impressed. Not a single chain drop in two months and smooth, crisp shifting that left us focusing on the ride ahead with not a thought about poor shifting or skipping gears. Looks like Box is here to stay and from what we have seen so far, they are bringing quality products to the table with a lifetime warranty…. so why not choose Box?