Trek Patents IsoSpeed Tech

As I was riding my rigid ss 29er on some of my favorite trails this past weekend, I was reminded of the value of suspension for increased traction and decreased fatigue.  Trek’s IsoSpeed Technology has been slowly, and expectedly, working its way from their Domane endurance road line, through their Boone cyclocross line, and finally to their hardtail mountain line. In April, Velonews spotted IsoSpeed Tech on Trek hardtails at USA Cycling US Cup races (available here: USA Cycling), and BikeRumor reports spy shots of Trek’s new rides from the Nové Město World Cup races (full races: womenmen) last weekend.

On October 14, 2014, the USPTO issued US 8,857,841 to Trek for their passive seat tube pivot joint, which is marketed as IsoSpeed Technology.

[T]he non-bonded rigid yet pivotable connection of seat tube 22 with upper frame member 100 allows deflection of seat tube 22 in a vertical plane and in a direction along the longitudinal length of the seat tube 22 so as to allow the frame assembly 12 to provide a limited degree of suspension performance or vertical compliance without altering the orientation of the connection points of any of the frame members relative to one another

Trek FIG. 6

The pivotable connection between the seat tube 22 and the upper frame member 100 (i.e., top tube) is shown in an exploded view in FIG. 5:

Trek FIG. 5

Trek states that the deflection should be nearly unperceivable during most riding conditions, but even absorption of small bumps by the frame in a mostly unnoticeable manner can greatly improve fatigue resistance and comfort when you’re spending hours in the saddle.

Continental Patents their Vectran Breaker

Tires. Again. But, this time: materials.

I am happy to see the industry dedicating resources to innovation specifically for bicycle tires. Much of the IP for tires appears to be associated with the trucking industry. However, in US 9,016,341, issued April 28, 2015, Continental has described a tire construction having a higher puncture resistance and a lower weight.

Marketed as the Vectran Breaker, Continental has a protection layer (the yellow layer in image below) disposed under the tread of the tire out of Vectran, a liquid crystal polymer described by Continental as polyester/polyarylate co-polymer.

Continental Tire

Source: Continental

Vectran forms filaments spun from molten liquid-crystal polymer, and Vectran has the following structure:

Vectran

Filaments are spun to a diameter of less than 40µm, 30 or more filaments are used to make a thread, and then the threads are arranged parallel to each other to make the fabric Vectran Breaker.

Continental provides test results for comparing a single layer of their Vectran Breaker to a double layer of the conventional nylon fabric. As shown below in Table 1, their Vectran Breaker had higher resistance to perforation, lower weight, and lower rolling resistance.

Test Results

Razor’s Handlebar Grip Covers

I saw many riders with handlebar hand warmers over the past winter, and I often wished I had some. These handlebar grip covers may not be insulating, but I kind of find myself wanting to roll up to a race with these:

Scary 1

Talk about intimidation! From US 2015/0114167, filed on October 30, 2013, and published on April 30, 2015, Razor discloses handlebar grip covers with a fun design.

Often, it is desirable for a vehicle or scooter to have visual features that personalize the scooter. It is also desirable to have covers or other accessories on the handlebars to provide visual effect and/or protection to the user. It is also generally desirable that the covers or handlebar accessories do not interfere with the performance of the vehicle or a user’s ability to ride or steer the vehicle. … An aspect of the present invention involves the realization that it is desirable to provide a handlebar accessory that covers a user’s hand and also allows a user to easily ride or steer the vehicle. It is also desirable to have a hand cover to provide visual effect and a unique aesthetic without negatively affecting a user’s ability to ride and steer the vehicle.

Yes, these are actually intended for children’s scooters, and they’re already on the market:

Scary Fig 1Razor Scooter

Source: Shop.Razor.com

But, a lot of people dress up for the Ed Sander Memorial CX race here DC/MD/VA, and these would be perfect for a flat bar bike. Or, maybe the next trend in the bike polo or the fixie community?

New Details about SRAM’s ETAP Wireless Rear Derailleur

Although unannounced, everybody knows by now that SRAM is coming out with a wireless, electronic drivetrain. In the press, the system has become to be known as “eTap”. Judging from SRAM’s Valentine’s Day 2014 trademark application, which describes SRAM’s intent to use ETAP with “Bicycle parts, namely, gear shifting mechanisms, brakes, cranks and derailleurs,” the groupset will likely be branded as eTap.

Last week, SRAM’s patent application US 14/061138 published as US 2015/0111675, which provides details about SRAM’s new wireless rear derailleur. As BikeRadar has reported, the rear derailleur includes a lithium-ion battery 178:

SRAM Battery 1SRAM Battery 2

And, as seen in the below photos by RoadBikeReview, the battery will be interchangeable between front and rear derailleurs:

rd 1 roadbikereview fd 1 roadbikereview

An interesting innovation disclosed in the application is how the SRAM rear derailleur accounts for impacts without damaging the internal gearing – simply, the connection between the internal gears and the parallelogram includes a dutch spring mechanism that can absorb any impacts without transferring the impact to the internal gears.  In FIGs. 15a, 15b, and 15c below, the views are looking up from below the derailleur such that the rear wheel and in-board direction are to the right.  As shown below, the leg 52a of the spring 52 deflects to absorb an impact from the left.

SRAM 15a

SRAM 15b

SRAM 15c

In the event of a crash or other side impact (a force directed from left to right in FIGS. 15a, b and c), if the force of the impact overcomes the preload in the torsion-type dutch spring 52, the links of the linkage 32 rotate clockwise about their pivot pins 28, deflecting the leg 52a of the spring as shown in FIG. 15b. Thus, the linkage 32 is able to move without imparting any movement to the gears 106 in the gearbox 44. When the impact force is removed from the derailleur 20, the spring leg 52a will push against the drive arm 48 and cause the derailleur to go back to its normal state shown in FIG. 15a.

And, as expected in a wireless system, the derailleur includes a radio chip 194, but not much more than that is disclosed about the radio chip 194 in this application.

Schwalbe’s ProCore System – Another take on Tubeless?

Admittedly, I think too often about tires. I was excited to talk to the guys from Schwalbe, at NAHBS 2015, about their ProCore System.

As seen below, the ProCore System an outer tire (like your normal tire), an inner tire (the blue, smaller tire inside the normal tire), a tube inside the inner tire, and a valve that can fill both the tube and the space between the inner tire and the outer tire.

konstruktion-gb

Source: Schwalbe.com

An analogy is that the ProCore System would be like running a tubed, high pressure road tire inside your low pressure mountain tire.

Source: Schwalbe.com

The innovations that allow the ProCore System to come to market are described in US 20150090385, which published on April 2, 2015.  When the first systems were being talked about, they had 2 stems – one for each of the air chambers.  This would have required to users to drill a second valve stem hole in their rims or rim manufacturers to provide special rims for the system to work.  Schwalbe came up with a two-way valve stem that is capable of filling both the tube and the air chamber between the inner tire and the outer tire.

a two-way valve, wherein a first outlet of the two-way valve is in communication with the interior space of the tube, and a second outlet of the two-way valve in the mounted condition is in communication with the air duct between the rim and the tube, and between the tube and the inner tire up to the through opening in the inner tire

Another innovation provided to ensure that both air chambers are fillable is the ProCore Air Guide, which provides a path from the valve stem to the air chamber between the inner tire and the outer tire.

The inner tire and tube not only protect against pinch flats, they also help keep the beads of the low pressure outer tire in place to prevent burping.

Typically, the tube 233 of the tire assembly according to the invention is filled via the two-way valve 238 with a comparatively high pressure, for example, 6 to 8 bar. This is to ensure that the tire beads 230, 232 of the inner tire 228 are pressed outwards with high force, in FIG. 22 to the left hand side and the right hand side, respectively, and thereby, the tire beads 220, 222 of the wheel tire 214 are as well pressed outwards against the rim edges of the rim 210. This is to ensure that the tire beads 220, 222 of the wheel tire 214 do not disconnect from the rim edges of the rim 210. Such a preload force on the tire beads 222, 220 of the wheel tire 214 allows to fill the intermediate space 234 between the inner tire 228 and the wheel tire 214 with not more than a very low pressure, for example, in the range of 1 bar. Thereby, the wheel tire 214 can provide a very high traction without a risk that the tire beads 220, 222 disconnect from the rim 210 upon occurrence of the severe deformation to be expected of the wheel tire 214.

FIG. 1 of the application illustrates the basis of the technology, similar to the above graphic from Schwalbe.com.

Schwalbe FIG. 1

I ride some pretty rocky trails out in western Maryland and could benefit greatly from this system even in cross country riding. Looking forward to this tech hitting the market!

Future of Road Tubeless from Mavic

Several years ago, coming from mtb, I didn’t really know what my friend was talking about when he said that he chose to go with clinchers instead of tubies. At the time, I was still running tubes, not knowing of other options. Today, I’m running tubeless on mtb, hoping to run tubular for cx, and still in tubes for road.

But I may not be hoping for tubulars for much longer. In US 2015/0028660, published on January  29, 2105, Mavic  discloses a new rim that “is as lightweight as a tubular tire wheel and as practical as an open pneumatic tire wheel.”

Mavic FIG. 2

As shown above in FIG. 2, the bead 6 of the tire 2 includes portions that fit into the hook 35 and stop 37 as shown below in FIGs. 6a-6g.

Mavic FIGs. 6

As shown below in FIG. 5, the balance of the forces on the hook 35 and the stop 37 allow the rim and tire combination to withstand pressures of up to 10 bar (~145 psi).

Mavic FIG. 5

Moreover, the design of the rim helps decrease pinch flatting. Shown below in FIG. 7, the base 36 of the rim helps to distribute the forces from impacts in more areas than just the flanges 32 of the sidewalls 33.

Mavic FIG. 7

These features are also intended to be applicable to mountain biking. I hope this technology comes fast so I don’t have to learn how to glue tubulars.

Less Conspicuous Electric-Assist Bicycle from Faraday Bicycles

In view of recent news reports of inspections for mechanical doping, we look at a beautifully designed electric-assist bike from Faraday Bicycles.

Faraday Bicycles

Source: FaradayBikes.com

The Faraday Porteur was reportedly designed with help from Rock Lobster Cycles. And, as any good startup or kickstarter should, Faraday got their IP in order. On February 24, 2015, US 8,960,702 issued, and on April 2, 2013, US 8,408,349 issued to Faraday.

Faraday FIGs 2 and 3

FIGS. 2 and 3 of the ‘349 Patent, above, show that the electronics housing 50 is disposed between the upper top tube 40 and the lower top tube 38 and rearward of the seat tube 16.

Faraday FIG 4

FIG. 4 of the ‘349 Patent shows batteries 42 and 44 extending into the upper top tube 40 and the lower top tube 38, respectively, from the electronics housing 50.

Farady FIG 9

FIG. 9 of the ‘702 Patent shows an another design in which a battery management electronics unit 266 is disposed in the seat tube 244 and the battery pack 254 is disposed in the down tube 242.

Not sure that this bike will be winning any races, but it looks like a great option for getting around town.

Shimano’s Chainstay Derailleur and Chain Tensioner

To complement the SRAM narrow-wide chainring post, I was looking for patents by Shimano drawn to their 1x drivetrain chainrings in view this MBR article. I haven’t come across exactly what I’m looking for but I did find some Shimano patents and applications directed to chainstay derailleurs and chain tensioners. I haven’t seen these things on anything new, but Shimano is at least pursuing IP related to them – Shimano responded, on March 12, 2015, to a restriction requirement issued by the USPTO in US 20140357437.

FIG. 1 from US 2014-0357437 shows Shimano’s current iteration:

shimano app fig 1

And, US 7,905,805, issued to Shimano on March 15, 2011, highlights some of the advantages of placing the derailleur and chain tensioner on the chainstay:

Furthermore, the location of the tension device 250 at about mid-way between the gear changing device 232 and the front sprocket of the bicycle ensures that the expanse of unsupported drive chain 218 [] is minimized, as compared to other designs []. The above factors beneficially reduce the flopping movement [] of the chain 218 during the impact and absorption of the impact force, as compared to other designs.

In addition to the above benefits, the rear derailleur device 230 of the embodiment of the present invention allows for a reduction in the size and weight of the device adjacent the rear sprocket 216. For example, note that the gear changing device 232 is smaller in size and weight than the rear derailleur 330 in FIG. 6A. Additionally, the rear derailleur device 230 of the embodiment of the present invention reduces or prevents entanglement of the drive chain with the gear changing device 232 when the tension device 250 pivots due to impact.

I admit that I’ve been fortunate to never have a derailleur go into my rear wheel, but I’ve seen it and the frustration it’s caused. Could the chainstay derailleur and chain tensioner be the solution?

Application: US 14/066,943
Application Status: Response Filed on March 12, 2015, Published as US 2014-0357437
Assignee: Shimano, Inc.
Related Patents/Applications: Continuation in Part of US 13/910,043, under non-final rejection and published as US 2014-0357436.

Application: US 12/101,673
Application Status: Issued on March 15, 2011, as US 7,905,805
Assignee: Shimano, Inc.
Related Patents/Applications: N/A.

Stan’s NoTubes’ Rims

We had a great time meeting everybody at NAHBS 2015, and we learned so much. Even got to ride snow-covered trails at Cherokee Park and underground trails at the Louisville Mega Cavern.

But, now we’re back to the IP. On December 24, 2013, Stan’s NoTubes received US 8,613,485 drawn to their tubeless rims. The interesting part here looks to be in FIG. 2:

NoTubes Hump

Compared to the current design of the Iron Cross, from notubes.com, the differences are clear:

iron cross

The central hump 514, as shown in FIG. 2, does not appear in any of the current offerings on NoTubes.com. The hump 514 increases the strength and stiffness of the rim and helps with tubeless setup, for example:

It can be further observed in FIG. 2 that the troughs 517 on opposite axial sides of the hump 514 effectively form two channels. When a tire is initially mounted on the rim, each of the tire beads will sit in a respective trough region 517. Not only do the hump and troughs serve to keep the tire beads separated and confined prior to and during inflation, the separate channels created by the troughs make it easier to trap air and thus easier to inflate the tire particularly in the case of manual pumping. The hump and troughs also keep the tire spread apart and allow for the valve stem (not shown) to inject the air directly into the center of the tire, easing the inflation process.

Note that the hump is only in dependent claims 5-8, i.e., the hump doesn’t make it into the independent claims.

Application: US 13/219,340
Application Status: Issued Dec. 24, 2013 as US 8,613,485
Assignee: K.G. Motors, Inc.
Related Patents/Applications: Continuation of US 12/420,595 (Issued as US 8,007,053), which is a Continuation of US 12/197,901 (Abandoned), which is a Continuation of US 11/965, 153 (Abandoned), which is a Continuation of US 10/959,743 (Issued as US 7,334,846).

Chris King’s Headset

Chris King, for years, has been synonymous with quality. Since 1976, Chris King has been making sealed bearing headsets. After such a long and successful period in the industry, Chris King is still innovating.

On March 4, 2014, US Patent 8,662,517 issued and is drawn to a headset that decouples the forces therein to preserve the structural integrity of carbon steerer tubes.

At completion of installation, an axial force transmission path 20 is connected through the stacked components: 4, 5, 22, 23, 10, 9, and 12. Compression ring 24 and resilient element 25 are intentionally excluded from axial force transmission path 20. Therefore, forces 31 and 32 and the resulting gripping of compression ring 24 to steerer tube 11 are unaffected by changes in axial forces along axial force transmission path 20. Any added axial forces due to riding do not increase radial force 32. The magnitude of radial force 32 is dictated by the choice of resilient element 25 and geometry of compression ring 24. By design, radial force 32 is decoupled from the influence of added axial forces after installation is complete.

See FIG. 5:

king '517

There, the axial force transmission path 20 transfers force between the stem 4 and the fork (not shown in FIG. 5) via the head tube 12. However, the radial force 32, or compression on the steerer tube, is separate from the axial forces of path 20.

Application: US 13/191,191
Application Status: Issued on March 4, 2014, as US 8,662,517
Assignee: King Cycle Group, Inc.
Related Patents/Applications: N/A