I ran the Box 7sp DH group all last year with a 36T on the outside of the spider of a Saint crank. Simple and bombproof! I switched from singlespeed just to retry the gears thing out again, so the not-so-low granny gear didn't bother me at all. I'm going to try a 30T ring soon. Fewer gears, better chainline, lighter weight, and smaller dangly shifty bits should be the future.
I recently rode around the yard carrying my 1 year old daughter just for fun, which naturally prompted my wife to take some pictures. While I enjoyed seeing the pics and smile on my daughters face, I was equally surprised to see how far in my hands were on the grip, even though I was gripping the bars the same way I do every ride!
Between that and now this article, I will be breaking out the tape and hacksaw. Thanks, Andrew!
Side note: The above situation was just a small happenstance, but from previous experience, seeing yourself from a third person perspective in pics or video can be eye opening for realizing and adjusting your own setup and/or riding form/technique.
I think the "crank-contained gearbox system that can be mounted on any bike" is the holy grail. Emphasis on the "mounted on any bike." If you could squeeze a cassette's worth of range into a package that you can take with you from bike to bike, oh man...
I'm a structural engineer, but I think I've burned through the most lead sketching ideas for this very concept. I think it's possible.
If you finally got it figured out and had a functioning prototype, the hard part would be deciding whether to actually manufacture it for the good of the MTB community, or deciding how many zeroes the big S would write on a check for the patent!
As long as I'm riding consistently (i.e. staying fit/strong), I don't think I'll be coaxed back to a derailleur-based geared system any time soon. Singlespeed is just too damn fun and hastle-free each and every ride. Incredibly cheap to maintain and "rebuild" to boot.
You can reduce the number of gears all you want, but you still have a dangly, vulnerable gear changer hanging in the line of fire that, at least in my experience (poor luck?), will always find a way to ruin a ride or four at some point during peak riding season.
It's a small detail, but I appreciate that a drawing of what each frame size looks like is shown on the website (Tech page).
Performance definitely tops the "what matters" list, but whether we like to admit it or not, aesthetics play a big role, too. Knowing what the frame size you'd be riding looks like compared to what gets reviewed/introduced/shown in pictures is nice.