Maybe, maybe not. It's not the design that's an issue, it's the inherent efficiency of gearbox versus chain drive. It is a big deal when you only have a fraction of a horsepower to work with. IMO the maintenance issue and costs with the current system are no big deal in any case. Simple, light, efficient - an engineers wet dream.
Agreed. Gear box is a pipe dream. Derailleurs will always be more efficient, lighter and cheaper for the same quality.
Hey, I get as annoyed as the next guy when I smash a rear derailleur - I go through about 1/year (I really need to switch to Shimano. SRAM get sloppy easily, but that's another thread). But how many X9 or XT can you buy for the cost of a Rohloff or Pinion?