I tend to the view that while commercially, for the time being it's 'dead' that it won't stay that way forever. There are times when I really wished I was on a 26er instead of a 29er - on some quite technical trails and some events. I think it's only a matter of time until a new generation of younger bikers - who grew up with 29ers - rediscover the joy of a 26er on a tight and difficult trail. Then it will re-commercialised again.
Nick, we (myself and LBS) have mated 10 speed Tiagra hydraulic road shifters to XT derailleur and gear cluster on my Procaliber hybrid. Works perfectly. No tanpan required in that case.
Edit: I haven't really used the bike much since the conversion was done. I took it for a spin yesterday. Looking down at the rear derailleur I saw it now reads 'Tiagra' My apologies. My bike shop was smarter than I was....
A proper bike fit can make a very big difference. It did for me anyway.
As for that 380m long hill outside your driveway, you should be able to work your way up that standing on the pedals and using your weight.
You might be better off starting out on a mountain bike though if you need or want to climb steep hills. At least until your strength and fitness is up and your weight down.
Have you had a proper bike fit done? Maybe go see Richard Baxter at Dunkeld Cycles. Makes a very big difference. Otherwise, as suggested, a good coach can help. And commitment and patience. Depending upon your genetics, it can take some time.
Yes, I have disabled mine. Sometimes it will trigger on the road bike when it shouldn't. But more than that, last time it triggered and my son drew it to my wife's attention she simply looked at him and said 'I wonder what he has gone and done now?". I didn't even get a sympathy call. Which is when I realised that I really am on my own. 🙂 Now I just wear my Discovery bracelet and hope for the best.
What do you want it for and are you looking to buy or to rent or what? I have a 9.6 XL with 2x10 XT drivetrain. It is basically a brand-new bike. I haven't done 200 km on it. I put drop bars on it but still have all the original parts.