I’ve just spotted this as-of-yet unnamed modular prototype 1×12 mechanical groupset from little-known Italian brand, Ingrid that is designed for use across all cycling disciplines.
Hiding away in a corner of the UK’s biggest handmade bike show Bespoked, the groupset is nearly ready for testing and — for this fan of niche esoterica — was the highlight of the show, bringing some genuinely exciting and new ideas to the groupset market.
Who is Ingrid?
Based close to Pisa, Ingrid is a brand focussed on creating “transmission components for bicycles that offer a niche alternative to the big three, working on build quality, reliability and functionality”.
It has been producing cranksets and super light cassettes for a few years now and is now moving into testing and eventually producing a full drivetrain for both drop bar and mountain bikes.
What is special about Ingrid’s 1×12 groupset?
The groupset has been in development for around three years Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
The adaptable 1×12 groupset has been in development for around three years and is designed for use on everything from enduro bikes right through to drop bar gravel and road bikes.
The rear derailleur is the heart of the system and is designed for use across all disciplines. Cranks and cassettes can then be swapped to suit each style of riding.
The rear derailleur on show features lots of 3D-printed prototype components but, according to the brand, it is nearly ready for testing.
The pulley cage (which is also a 3D printed mockup) is a one-piece construction. This is said to improve stiffness and, as a result, shift accuracy. Ingrid expects to stick with 3D printing for this component come production.
As is expected of any modern derailleur, the unnamed derailleur features a clutch. When pressed for details, Ingrid wasn’t forthcoming about exactly how the clutch works, suggesting there’s some clever magic going on in there.
Ingrid did reveal that the clutch is totally rebuildable — the cap covering the guts of the clutch can be removed using a cassette tool to access the internals.
The drop bar shifter mounts at the apex of the hooks Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
The unique shifters for drop bars are a particular highlight. The trigger shifter-like shifter mounts at the apex of the hooks next to the brake lever clamp.
The shifters are accessible from all positions Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
The lever of the shifter itself is cleverly shaped such that it is accessible from the hoods, tops and drops. It may look a touch awkward in the photos, but in practice, it actually feels quite natural.
Similar systems from WTB and others were trialled in the 90s but this is a much more refined feeling product overall. A more conventional trigger style shifter for flat bars is also available.
It’s worth pointing out that the 12-speed version of the groupset is also compatible with 12-speed SRAM shifters and vice versa.
The cranks are either available in a dimpled finish or… Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
…a funky multicoloured anodised finish Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
The cranks — which have been in Ingrid’s lineup for several years now — are made using a two-piece construction. The two halves are machined separately, with the longer portion of the crank hollowed out. The second part is then bonded in place.
This style of construction also allows Ingrid to easily adapt the cranks to different lengths and do funky things with anodising as each component can be treated separately.
The cranks are available in two different options — a lighter option for XC, gravel, road and other lighter riding alongside a heavy-duty DH/Enduro crankset. The spindles and chainrings are compatible with both systems.
As with the clutch, one of the points Ingrid was keen to stress is that the whole groupset is rebuildable. The cage is fixed by just two bolts and can be replaced very quickly, the clutch is totally rebuildable and the shifters are serviceable too. This is designed to be a groupset that can be maintained for life.
Ingrid has been producing these lightweight 12-speed cassettes for a few years now Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
Two 12-speed cassettes were on show at Bespoked — the 10-48 option weighs a claimed 315g and the 10-46 comes in at a claimed 295g. Both mount to a conventional SRAM XD driver.
When will this groupset be available and how much will it cost?
Real world testing of Ingrid’s as-of-yet unnamed groupset is about to begin, with public availability expected around January 2020. Price is TBC but we get the impression that it will cost €-lots.
However, I suspect the price won’t matter for some — this groupset will never be a mass-market product, and, for those that absolutely must own something that nobody else will, price won’t be an issue.
Why should we care about this drivetrain?
That such a small brand would even attempt to build its own drivetrain is commendable. That Ingrid has brought a host of genuinely new ideas to market in what appears to be a well refined and nearly production-ready package is doubly impressive.
While it’s a much larger brand, I recently reviewed Rotor’s 1×13 hydraulic groupset and scored it favourably in part because it is a truly unique product.
Innovation in cycling should always be celebrated and Ingrid’s drivetrain is no exception. This is one I’ll be watching very closely.