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.

New Product Lines coming from Specialized?

It is important to remember that “intellectual property” includes more than just utility and design patents. A healthy IP portfolio will include patents but will also include consideration for your brand – specifically, trademarks. The most (in)famous player in the cycling industry regarding trademarks is probably Specialized. The Cafe Roubaix-Specialized incident has been widely covered.

Regardless of community perception, Specialized has an organized trademark strategy that many other businesses can learn from. Further, because US trademark filings are public, we can learn some about Specialized’s strategy/future products.

Specialized has recently filed the following trademark applications:

LIFT– for Bicycle frames; Bicycles – filed: March 16, 2015

RUZE – for Bicycle frames; Bicycles – filed: March 13, 2015

HELLGA – for Bicycle frames; Bicycles – filed: December 16, 2014

RYHME – for Bicycle frames; Bicycles – filed: November 20, 2014

Neither searching Specialized.com nor the internet turn up any Specialized bikes featuring any of those names. The closest I found was speculation that HELLGA was to be a women specific fat bike.

These applications use similar descriptions of the goods that the trademarks are used on to those registered trademarks of CARVE, CRUX, CAMBER, and VENGE. If Specialized stays true to their previous filings, it looks like we could see new LIFT, RUZE, HELLGA, and RYHME bikes form Specialized.

Note – these are all word marks meaning that there are no fun pictures associated with these yet. Only text. From a trademark perspective, that means that these marks can be used in any style, font, color, etc.

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

SRAM’s Single Chainring

The trend in mountain and cyclocross is to drop your extra chainrings and your front derailleur to run a 1x system. The hope is that removing the front derailleur will increase reliability and decrease weight. And, frankly, it looks pretty sharp.

1x drivetrains used to require a chain guide to keep the chain on the chainring. Clutched rear derailleurs, like Shimano’s Shadow Plus and SRAM’s Type 2, keep tension on the chain to decrease chain dropping.

But, the narrow wide chainring is the final piece of the puzzle to reliably keeping the chain on without requiring a chain guide. Narrow wide is pretty descriptive – teeth of the chainring alternate between having a narrow width and a wide width. The wide teeth grip the links of the chain to hold the chain on the chainring.

After SRAM’s introduction of the XX1 mtb drivetrain, several manufacturers introduced their own narrow wides – for example, RaceFace and Wolf Tooth.

On October 21 and October 28, 2014, SRAM was awarded US design patents D715,699 and D716,191, respectively. Both design patents are drawn to narrow wide chainrings.

From D715,699:

619-2

619 4

619 5 and 6

From D716,191:

191 1

191 2

191 3 and 4

It is important to remember that it is the solid lines in the figures that define the covered, patented subject matter.

Application: 29/471, 384
Application Status: Patented – D715,699, Issued October 21, 2014
Assignee: SRAM, LLC
Related Applications: Continuation of US 13/311,735 (under final rejection)

Application: 29/473, 643
Application Status: Patented – D716,191, Issued October 28, 2014
Assignee: SRAM, LLC
Related Applications: Continuation of US 13/787,276 (under non-final rejection), which is a continuation-in-part of US 13/311,735 (under final rejection)

Bike IP @ NAHBS 2015

We are excited to be presenting at the 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show! NAHBS is March 6-8, 2015, at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, KY.

Nathan Cristler will be presenting “Intellectual Property and the Handmade Bike” on Sunday, March 8, 2015, at 1pm.

After working so hard to distinguish yourself in the market, how do you protect what you’ve built? This presentation will provide an easy-to-understand discussion of intellectual property and its relationship with the bicycle industry and small business. Topics will include descriptions of (and the differences between) utility and design patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets as well as costs and benefits of each.