11 Speed: everyone is doing it. Why are we going to 11? Well, for those of us who have endured the previous "upgrades" of an extra gear we pretty much view it as just another way for Shimano, Campy, and Sram to keep selling more new groups and parts. I remember riding 9 speed thinking, do I really need an extra gear? is it going to make me go faster? Well, here is my two cents in defense of the industry.
I do see an advantage in 11 choices in the rear. Our riding is changing. We believe in cadence, power meters, heart rate monitors, and coaches. The front crank is a double now instead of a triple. The rear cassette having 11 cogs now gives us wider gear options that help us keep our cadence where were want it to be as we shift to accommodate the terrain and speed.
Campy started this push, Sram was the last to catch on, which puts Shimano in the middle, but Shimano has made the best of it. Their new 9000 mechanical group has the best shifting feel I have ever felt in a shifter. The ergonomics of the hoods are fantastic and the long brake levers give you plenty of leverage for braking. I personally made the jump to 11spd not because of the extra gear but due to the amazing shifting performance of the new Shimano Dura Ace. Though, since, I have enjoyed the tighter gearing in my cassettes in both the 11-23 for the flats and crit racing all the way up to the 11-28 used on our trips to the mountains.
11 speed is here to stay and will trickle down soon enough to where all bikes will have it and just when we all have 11 speed, I am sure they will shove 12 speed down our throats...kidding....I hope!