At First Glance
BOX Components One/Box Two Hybrid Prime 9 Groupset is the BOX One shifter, derailleur, and chain paired to the durable BOX Two cassette. With drivetrains being expanded out to eleven and twelve speed, we’ve probably seen the extent and maybe 12 speeds are enough? BOX Components takes a different approach, thinking 12 speeds are possibly more than enough, and asks riders to make a change in the way we think. Is less really more?
BOX is calling their new Prime 9 technology an approach that is very much counter intuitive. Thinking back in the not so distant past, less gears and cogs meant a lighter bike, less wear and tear, and less wrenching. So why does it seem everyone is looking for more gears, 12 speeds, and cassettes approaching the diameter of dinner plates? BOX claims that fewer gears lead to a more robust set of drivetrain components, and will then last much longer. 9 gears means less time shifting, and instantly grabbing that right gear for the trail feature ahead.
10, 11, and 12 speed drivetrains are not going away any time soon. The small steps it takes to shift and offer a better cadence for the rider and the wide gear spread of the cassette has allowed the 1x chain ring setup to exist. BOX is offering durability, simplicity and performance with their Prime 9 groupsets, matching or outmatching those small features and benefits of the 10, 11, and 12 speed drivetrains.
On The Trail
With the chain loaded up with Interflon Fin Super Chain Lubricant, it’s time to take the new One/Two Prime 9 for a test spin. What was noticeable right out of the gate was I found myself in the right gear for any approaching trail feature, very quickly and accurately. What was surprising was how easily I adapted to the new setup, and within one ride. The feel was similar to my old XT 1×11 drivetrain, and the range was there. This is not the old 9 speed I recall from more than a decade ago. In fact, there is nothing old about this setup, but, is a modern simplified approach.
Shifting is solid, quick and accurate. After a dozen shifts on the trail, approaching either a climb or decent, it’s noticeable the gear jumps are slightly larger. Keeping it in one gear and note floating about the 1×11 cassette attempting to find the right gear quickly, felt much better. The 42t and 50t rings in the 11-50 cassette provided plenty of range for the extended steep climbs. Spinning in either the 11t or 13t at higher speed I didn’t leave me “wanting” a 10t or something in between. Either driving a bit harder or easing off the pedals a bit provided that small edge.
Descending was a noticeable difference where there is much less going on in the drivetrain. Finding the right gear to send a decent happened much quicker. For this build, I left the chain guide off, and really never had a bash guard anyway. On rough descents, the chain stayed in place, thanks to the Box One Prime 9 X-Wide Rear Derailleur. The adjustable Tri-Pack limited slip clutch, forged inner and outer cage, Pivot-Tech cable stay, sealed bearing pulleys, and 3D forged linkages kept everything together.
Overall, I felt faster through my local trails, being able to find that right gear quicker. I really didn’t have anything to complain about on the first two rides with the new setup.
I’m imagining the issue with going with a 9 speed over a twelve speed for alot of riders, is Shimano’s SLX 12 speed and SRAM’s Eagle are now affordable. (or affordable enough) The decision may lie solely in the simplicity and reliability of a solid 9 speed setup.
Included in this Groupset
- Chain: Box One Prime 9 Chain 126L DLC
- Shifter: Box One Prime 9 Multi Shifter
- Derailleur: Box One Prime 9 X-Wide Rear Derailleur
- Cassette: Box Two Prime 9 Cassette 11-50T
Prime 9 Cassette
The One/Two Prime 9 Groupset comes with a BOX Two 11-50 cassette. The BOX Two cassette is to deliver performance similar to the BOX One, but without the features, which drive the price. The BOX Two also embraces an ultra wide gear range, with consistent progression without adding complexity. The cassette is compatible with HG Freehub Bodies. The cogs themselves are pinned to a lightweight spider. The lock ring tightens the entire assembly onto the freehub body. BOX Components support verified this cassette would work nicely with the Hadley Hub on the Knolly WardenC.
- Range: 11-50t
- Gears: 9sp
- Cogs: 11-13-15-18-22-28-34-42-50
- Color: Black
Prime 9 Chain
With far less gears in this drivetrain, a heavier duty chain with hardened solid pins can be used. However, Box One Prime 9 Chain 126L DLC is compatible with the modern narrow wide chain rings. On this Knolly WardenC build, we are using a Wolf Tooth Components 1x 76 BCD Drop-Stop A / 32T Chainring.
Prime 9 Multi Shifter
This BOX Components Groupset comes with the Box One Prime 9 Multi Shifter. It’s a one piece, die cast, pull lever, which changes up to a maximum of 3 gears per shift. It comes with a lightweight hinged & machined clamp, and die cast top shell. BOX offers two shifter types, multiple or single click versions.
Prime 9 X-Wide Rear Derailleur
The BOX Components derailleur in this Groupset is the Box One Prime 9 X-Wide Rear Derailleur. It looks a bit different than other modern derailleurs with a smaller jockey wheels and a long cage to accommodate the large cassette. Box One features: Adjustable Tri-Pack limited slip clutch, forged inner and outer cage, Pivot-Tech cable stay, sealed bearing pulleys, and 3D forged linkages. This is super stiff and keeps the chain in place. The adjusters and clamps are large and easy to use.
Wolf Tooth Chainring
BOX Components support was very helpful in suggesting a few chainring options for the Knolly WardenC, including Wolf Tooth. With a Wolf Tooth seat dropper lever already installed, why not go with the Wolf Tooth Components 1x 76 BCD Drop-Stop A / 32T Chainring. (1x Direct Mount Chainring is on the way just as an option for the older SRAM XX1 crankset).
BOX has gone against the norm, with their less is more approach. The BOX Groupsets provide a range for any budget. I’m finding the Prime 9 system is all I need for my trail bike. Looking forward to the next ride.