I use nearly all the gears at the back, but will only drop the front off the largest ring and onto the middle one if I want to climb a very steep hill or when I'm racing away from the lights.
Then again, if I would be able to safely put the chain on the large-large combination, I wouldn't use the middle ring either.
You obviously don't ride anywhere with any steep and/or long climbs then?
It may not be very noticeable when you're off-road, but let's be realistic here. Most of our bikes spend the majority of their time either commuting or cruising at near-constant speeds.
Non of mine spend time commuting or cruising at constant speeds - I thought that this was a mountainbike forum?
Anyway - I can do most of my riding (say 90%?) on a singlespeed, and for other than racing I'd like a three speed, off road capable hub geared at something like 1.6, 1.0 and 0.6:1 with a genuine direct 1:1 ratio (not like the Alfine which isn't direct, even at 1:1.)
Make it high quality, light, robust, easy to service, as fast engaging as a Hope trials hub and cost less than £400 and I'd have one tomorrow.
Until then I like 8 speed Alfines - they plough through mud, undergrowth, heather, change while coasting and trackstanding, and geared at around 32:22 or 28:18 do all I need them to. I much prefer them to a derailleur system.