When I built my Cleland-inspired mountainbike with drum brakes, I found a lot of people saying "Drum brakes? Are you mad?". No-one I knew had ever actually used them for offroading.
And the truth about drum brakes, and brakes on steel rims is this: yes, they don't stop you as well as discs, but actually, not half as badly as most people would have you believe. It's all about anticipation.
I think these braking and gearing systems that work, sometimes for decades, with almost no attention at all have been sadly ignored by an industry who tried to make every cyclist emulate the racer.
You make some interesting points there, Chris.
There are several factors that people overlook with hub brakes. First is the naming of the different kinds.
Drum, disc, roller, band and coaster are all hub brakes.
The Leleu drum brakes I used to fit to the early Clelands were the only kind of drum brake that proved at all reliable, but even then, they had rare occasions when they would work less than at their best. Nevertheless, their performance was far better than any rim brake on the market.
I now use roller brakes. The pair on my current bike work perfectly; that is to say, they give me the braking feedback that I demand, totally reliable feathering. They are three years old and have had no maintenance, apart from greasing a couple of times.
The principle drawbacks for hub braking systems generally is weight and cost. But when one considers the cost of renewing the blocks on rim brakes, and after a while, replacing your rims, along with wheelbuilding, the cost element becomes far less of an issue.
When I consider the maintenance aspect ~ after all, my bike is for riding, not fixing, I am very happy indeed to carry that little extra weight!
Chris ~ any pictures of your Cleland-inspired mountain bike????