All your questions about the Box stuff, answered.
For the last month I’ve been getting set up at my new house, building out my shop, and learning my way around the trails in Asheville. Brian and Alexander have been in town too, and during their livestreams a lot of you noticed that something was happening between me and Box Components. Why is there a Box banner in my shop, and why are there Box parts all over my bikes? That’s what this video is about.
Let’s start at the beginning. This winter, I reviewed the Box One, an 11 speed derailleur and shifter made by Box Components. GMBN then also reviewed it, and some of you guys gave them a pretty hard time about that. To be fair I wasn’t the first person to review it. Singletracks, PinkBike, and MTBR all tested it out before I did.
Anyway, back to my review. If you remember I tested the BoxOne for about a month, and gave it both praise and criticism. I was concerned with the clutch, wasn’t sure how I felt about the lever, and noted that for an 11 speed drivetrain it wasn’t exactly cheap. On the positive side, I loved the quality of the shifting, and mentioned how admirable it was to develop a high end drivetrain amidst such formidable competition. Most of all, I liked how robust and serviceable it was.
Most of us replace our derailleurs and shifters when they wear out, but the most demanding users can wear out a clutch or muck up a shifter in one season. The Box One gives users the ability to replace a worn clutch or totally restore a shifter by cleaning a self contained mechanism. To me, features like these are important.
So, I kept in touch with Box and got some more info about the stuff they were working on. I tested their production derailleur and its improved clutch. I also tried their 11 speed cassette and its 46 tooth pie plate. It doesn’t make you stronger, but it helps you feel like you are. I even smashed one of their carbon rims into a rock without so much as a ding. More recently, I spoke directly to the mad scientists in their R&D dungeon, which is something I rarely get to do.
Fast forward a month later, and I’m an official brand ambassador and product tester for Box. That’s why there’s a banner in my shop, and that’s why I’ve got all this Box stuff floating around. I’ll be testing their drivetrain long term, and trying out new products as they become available. As far as this channel is concerned it’ll be business as usual.
For those of you interested in product development, I have something cool to show you.
This is the “Push Push” lever on the Box One. It downshifts like a standard shifter and upshifts with a lateral thumb push. For a guy like me with stubby fingers, I thought this lever could be improved, so I sent Box a rendering I did in photoshop. See how I put the paddle closer to the end? I thought this would make it easier to push. Box responded to me and even complimented my photoshopping skills, but check this out.
Box didn’t cough up these prototype levers without some coaxing. Understandably, they want to keep their product development stuff under wraps, but these old prototypes were made long before I sent them my rendering. After playing around with these, it was clear why Box designed their lever the way they did. See how you don’t need to bend your thumb to access either position? For some reason, I didn’t realize that, and I had my lever way too close. In fact, I had experimented with a lot of positions before finally moving my brake further inwards, and butting the shifter against it inboard.
I prefer all my levers free and clear of my grips. When I’m descending I grip in the center, and can access my brakes just fine. When traversing I tend to hold further inwards where I can reach my shifter and dropper more easily. Originally, I didn’t think I could do this with Box since I’d need to reach to upshift, but that’s actually not the case. I now have gloriously uncluttered cockpit, and nothing encroaching on my grip space.
Anyway, I wouldn’t have spent all this time readjusting my levers if it weren’t for these prototype levers. Plus it’s interesting to me to see this lever’s ancestors. There were likely many designs like these being tested on the trails and revised in Box’s R&D dungeon.
So occasionally I’ll be sharing findings like these, not to jam Box products down your throats but to show you something interesting. I still maintain that you should run whatever feels comfortable, and works with your budget. As for me, I’m kind of biased. I want to help Box write the next chapter in their story, even if it’s only a tiny part. I get excited now when I see this stuff out on the trails. Still, regardless of what you guys are running, I want to know what you think. Is this a story you care about? Do you want to see more tinkering and adjusting bike parts? Or are you the crazy old guy that shows up to the enduro with a single speed? Let me know. Thanks for riding with me today and I’ll see you next time.