That is the world as we know it now, and for off roaders, it is now a 10 speed world. If you were waiting on that high end, Shimano or SRAM made 11-36T cassette, well, that ship has sailed, my friend. Not gonna happen. 9 speed off road stuff will be supported in the aftermarket, for awhile, but don't expect any innovations. Do expect less choices until that fateful day when "poof"! It's no longer available. Just ask six and seven speed stuff.
Now, moving forward, we have this to deal with and as most things go, it isn't all that bad. However; there are some things that I see as glaring mistakes. In no particular order, here is what I have noted...
- Gearing: Add a cog and take away the lowest possible gear? seems counter-intuitive to a lot of riders. That said, I still think 22 X 36 is ridiculously low, and really unusable for my riding. It does work for some, seemingly, and it would have been easy to just leave that 22T alone in the DynaSys system. SRAM seems to have it, so I guess you can always go that way, except for that....
- Two By Ten Set Up: Here we have the component giants miss stepping again with their offerings for gear combinations. Hopefully these "gaps" get filled in later, but in the meantime, there isn't an XX triple, and there should be. Minor gripe, but there it is.
- Grip Shift Is No More: While most riders will probably never miss it, others that swear by Grip Shift were left out in the cold by the switch to 10 speed. Will SRAM ever offer it in 10's? Maybe, but until then, the small, garage guys are filling that niche.
- Price Of Ownership: As with 10 speed road stuff, 10 speed mountain bike stuff at the higher end is ridiculously expensive. SRAM is particularly conspicuous here with their XX level cassette. I just checked on-line and prices still are well over $200.00 for a steel cassette. (Yes- it is made from a single block of steel, but still...) Even an XTR cassette with titanium, aluminum, and steel construction was less money, (somewhere either side of $200.00), when it was the pinnacle of the mountain bike world. The SRAM offering for X-0 was even less than that. Chains? Not as bad as you might think, but still significantly higher priced for 10 speed.
Other than some ergonomic complaints, I really have been impressed by the DynaSys group's wear and the performance is at least as good as 9spd, but not improved upon it. In the case of SRAM, the XX group is nothing short of amazing in terms of front shifting especially. The rest of the performance there is also at a crisper, more refined level than X-0, as it should be.
In the end, it isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it isn't as necessary as they, (the component giants) would have you think. We could have made a better 9spd, and lived going forward with no real issues. However; I don't think 10 speed is the end of the line either. In a prophetic statement, or early leak, (you choose which), KMC, a chain manufacturer who happens to make most of Shimano's chains, handed out literature recently on their "X11SL" chains. It states that it is a chain compatible with "Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM 11 speed drive train system".
So, enjoy the 10 speed while you can!