|SRAM's X01 has a single-ring crank, and a 7-speed cluster at the|
back,along with a fairly wide built-in spacer and spoke protector
to fit on current-width cassette bodies.
According to proponents and the manufacturers, like SRAM which kicked off this thing with their X01 system, the "theory" behind the 7-sp. cluster is that a lot the gears go unused on a downhill racer, and the 7-sp. cassette provides better jumps between gears. SRAM touts fewer shifts from low to high gears. OneUp Components, which makes a cassette adapter to convert a 10 or 11-sp. cassette into 7-sp. says more or less the same thing: "Get faster, more responsive shifting; no more multiple shifts to find the right gear." Funny thing, but I imagine that the same thing could be said of a lot of bikes that never leave the pavement, too.
|The OneUp DH Block cassette adapter takes the place of the inner-cogs|
of a typical 10 or 11-sp. cassette, without investing in a whole new
drivetrain -- think of it as 7-speeds on a budget. Seems ironic to a retrogrouch.
Not that I care one whit about a few grams here or there, but SRAM also talks about the weight -- pointing out that their 7-sp. cassette is the "Lightest cassette. Ever." Well, yeah -- it's got fewer cogs. Duh.
The thing is, I do have a bike with a relatively modern 10-speed cassette system. Sure, it's nice. But most of my bikes have 5, 6, or 7 speed freewheels, and I've never found them to be any less fun or satisfying to ride despite their fewer gears. They seem less finicky, and more forgiving. I never find myself hunting (or wishing) for a gear that isn't there. I shift less. The slogan for the OneUp DH Block says "Shift Less, Whip More." I don't actually know what that means. But if "Whip More" has something to do with riding, or enjoying the ride, then yeah - I can get behind that.
Riders of classic or vintage bikes, or those seeking a more no-nonsense approach to cycling, have long been questioning the need for more and more gears -- probably since the first 7 and 8-speed cassette systems hit the market in the 80s. It's just funny hearing these "less-is-more" arguments coming from anybody other than us retrogrouches.