MBA Product Test: Box Two 11-Speed Drivetrain
Box Two 11-Speed Drivetrain
Box Components was founded by former professional racer and industry veteran Toby Henderson who was looking to bring riders high-quality components at a more affordable price. Box originally started out with BMX components but has pushed into the mountain bike market with handlebars, seatposts, wheels and drivetrains. Box released an entirely new drivetrain a couple of years back called the Box One to compete with companies like SRAM and Shimano. Following the success of the Box One, Box released an even more affordable Box Two drivetrain. Box sent us out a new drivetrain to see if it could hold up to our abuse.
The Box Two 11-speed drivetrain is made up of a shifter, rear derailleur, cassette and chain, and is 1x-specific. Starting with the shifter, Box uses a more conventional thumb paddle to push the gears up and down. The Box One used a slightly different system that wasn’t quite as ergonomic. The Box Two uses an access screw on the outboard side of the shifter for easy access when installing a new cable. This shifter has a standard clamp with a fiberglass/nylon composite makeup.
There are two rear derailleurs available for the Box Two drivetrain—wide and extra wide. The wide version will work with cassettes up to a 46-tooth rear cog, with the extra-wide going up to 50. Both derailleurs use Box’s Pivot Tech arm that allows the cable and housing stop to move in the event of an impact to prevent further damage. For proper chain retention, the rear derailleurs use Box’s Tri-Pack Limited Slip clutch with several layered friction discs stacked on top of each other to help maintain control of the chain when riding. Last, the Box Two derailleurs use 3D-forged linkages to help increase impact strength.
To match the two rear derailleur options, Box offers two different cassettes—11-46 and 11-50. Both cassettes are 11-speed compatible and work with Shimano’s freehub body with the use of a lockring. The cassettes use a combination of steel and aluminum cogs with generous ergonomic steps between each gear.
Breaking the price points, the shifter has a retail price of $45 with the derailleurs starting at $109 and topping out at $119 for the extra wide. The cassettes start at $99 and top out at $119 for the 11-50. The Box Two chain retails for $25. Riders can have a whole drivetrain for as little as $278. All of these components have a lifetime warranty built into the price tag.
On the trail:
We installed the Box Two drivetrain on our go-to test bikes for long-term use. Installing the cable into the shifter was similar to Shimano taking out the large screw just under the thumb levers. Pulling the port cover out, the shifter cable was easy to install and seat properly. Installing the rear derailleur, the clutch felt quite stiff even before we installed the chain. With all of the parts installed, dialing in the cable tension and limit screws was fairly straightforward and didn’t require any extra work.
Hitting the trails, we immediately liked the improved ergonomics of the shifter compared to the Box One drivetrain we had tested back in 2016. The shifter paddles were easy to find and didn’t force us to change our hand position to shift. Downshifting, the rear derailleur was quick to respond and hit each gear confidently, not overshooting the cogs once properly adjusted. Shifting up the derailleur could cover up to four gears in one throw, which was an added bonus when coming up to a steep section of trail.
Once the drivetrain wore in and was properly adjusted, we didn’t have any issues. After a couple of months of regular riding, the Box Two drivetrain proved to be reliable and showed normal signs of wear but nothing excessive that raised concerns. If you are looking for an affordable drivetrain outside of the norm, the Box Two should be near the top of your list. www.boxcomponents.com
• Incredibly affordable
• Wide range of gears
• No clamp compatibility or integration with other systems