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Andrew - I like what you did with the bait and trap in the articles. Throw out the crazy idea of less gears* in Part 1 and then back it up with some data in Part 2.
\* what sort of mad man would suggest less gears when we have been moving towards cassettes with more cogs for decades.... (Where as in reality we have been moving towards less gears for a while - my first mtb had 21 gears and my current geared bike has 10...)
I'm on a single speed and 10 speed so would be more than happy with 5. 11-42 /32 gives me all the range I need I Surrey, UK and even in Wales. I don't use the 11 much so that's up for grabs and ditto the cogs in the middle. I could live with slightly clunky changes as you aren't going to change as often so timing becomes more important (no more changing under power mid tech climb). Wider spaced cogs and wider chains also probably make changing more precise.
You forgot to mention (or I missed it) the benefits of improved suspension performance with less weight hanging off you rear wheel. Every review I have read of gear box bikes rave about how good the rear suspension performs with less undamped mass. Wide 5 could easily half cassette weight plus smaller hence lighter free hubs.
Hopefully this article will reach the right (progressively minded) people in the industry and the wide 5 will be a reality (albeit probably aftermarket as I can't see this being a marketable OEM feature as it goes against everything we have been fed for the last few decades....)
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