No, the number of speeds in the headline is not a typo. Also, it is not 1998.
Late last year Box finally began shipping their Prime 9 mountain bike drivetrain system featuring just nine gears, yet offering a comparable gearing range to systems with 11 or even 12 gears. The brand packages the drivetrain in groups at four different price points, with the Box One being the highest level, and Box Four being the most affordable. It’s a lot of numbers, and hopefully you’re with me so far because there are a few more important ones to go.
Now, as the most affordable group, the Box Four Prime 9 cassette actually offers just eight gears, and until now, the brand didn’t offer an 8-speed specific chainring. Box’s latest offering, the Box Four 8 speed Wide/Narrow Chainring 104BCD offers exactly what the name implies. The teeth are said to offer improved chain retention thanks to the narrow-wide design, and the ring uses 104BCD spacing to work with many of the 1X cranksets on the market. Currently the chainring is only offered in a 32T size.
Of course it’s possible to dig deep in that parts bin to find an old 8-speed ring, but chances are what you find will not have the right spacing, and it certainly won’t have a narrow-wide design. In fact, Box claims this is the “first 8-speed specific chainring designed to optimize chain retention when using 8-speed chains.” The Box Four 8-speed chain is said to work best, though presumably any 8-speed chain should be compatible.
The new chainring is priced at just $19.99, while the rest of the Box Four Prime 9 drivetrain group will set buyers back about $160, though the Box website is currently listing the full group as “sold out.”
More info at Box.
Do you know how this is different than other narrow-wide? Their website didn’t have any additional details. I have had two 8 speed 1X systems both with N-W chain rings and one each with and without a clutch on the derailleur. I haven’t had much problem with chain retention (especially with the clutch on). For the price, it is worth trying. I wonder if I have to run their chain though.
Interesting. Who made the 8-speed n/w chainring and derailleur? AFAIK the big brands (Shimano and SRAM) never bothered going back to add a clutch to even their 9spd derailleurs.
Hi Jeff – I’m on the Microshift Advent 8 speed. This seems to have been discontinued with the introduction of the Acolyte groupset. I have a 12-42 cassette and a SRAM 34t nw ring. Will likely buy the Acolyte 12-46 cassette when it comes out. Really have no complaints so far seems tough and easy to work on. 42 has been ok for everything local but 46 will be nice on steeper stuff.