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.