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.

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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!

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)

Patenting Pockets by Specialized

Storage. Water. Air. Tools. SWAT. Specialized’s SWAT technology is providing convenience, ease, and comfort to riders. Consider their Mountain Bib Liner with SWAT. For various reasons, many mountain bikers shy away from the Lycra – even pro XC racers like Marco Fontana  and Manuel Fumic. However, avoiding the Lycra also avoids the benefits of wearing a kit like a roadie – the pockets, which are most often found on the lower back of the classic cycling jersey.

More often in mountain biking that road, Camelbak Hydration Packs are used to carry tools, calories, and hydration.

Specialized proposes the Mountain Bib Liner with 5 SWAT Integrated Pockets as an alternative to riding with a backpack while providing the convenience similar to the conventional cycling kit but in the form of baggies. VitalMTB has a great review of Specialized’s SWAT apparel and produced the below film about its development:

Specialized’s Mountain Bib Liner with SWAT:

Screen shot 2015-02-10 at 7.15.08 PMScreen shot 2015-02-10 at 7.15.25 PM

And, Specialized is pursuing patent protection for those pockets.

Screen shot 2015-02-10 at 7.15.46 PM

US Patent Application 13/802,245, filed March 13, 2013, is currently pending but has not yet been acted upon by the USPTO.

[T]he pocket 200 comprises a secured portion 205 and a hanging portion 210. … the secured portion 205 is located above the natural position for a waistband 310 of a pair of loose fitting shorts 300. … FIGS. 2A-2B illustrate a pair of loose fitting shorts 300 worn with the waistband 310 at a natural position on a user. The hanging portion 210 of the pocket 200 allows some of the pocket 200 to overhang the waistband 310 of the loose fitting shorts 300 since there is no connection between the hanging portion 210 of the pocket 200 and the athletic garment 100. As illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2B, the waist band 310 of the loose fitting shorts 300 at its natural location occupies the space between the athletic garment 100 and the hanging portion 210 of the pocket 200. The hanging portion 210 allows the loose fitting shorts 300 and the pocket 200 to occupy the same area near the user’s lower back, allowing the loose fitting shorts 300 to sit at their natural position and not be forced downwards by a loaded pocket 200 while the pocket 200 is located in an ideal location for the user to access the contents of the pocket 200.

Screen shot 2015-02-10 at 7.34.43 PM

FIGS. 2A, 2B, and 5 (below) show the hanging portion 210 of the pocket 200 hanging over the waistband 310 of the loose fitting shorts 300. In other words, pockets on your lower back (like a traditional cycling jersey) that hang over the waistband of your baggies.

Screen shot 2015-02-10 at 7.16.02 PM

Application: US 13/802,245
Application Status: Pending, No Action on the Merits, IDS filed on December 12, 2014
Assignee: Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc.
Related Patents/Applications: N/A

Trek’s Externally-Geared, Belt-Driven Mountain Bike

Conventional wisdom in the belt drive arena tells us that belt drive is only for single speed setups, and an internally geared hub or a gearbox is needed to change gear ratios.

Not so according to Trek. Trek is pursing a US patent application that shows a hardtail mountain bike with both belt drive and a rear derailleur. In March of 2012, Trek was issued a US design patent drawn to the chainring for this implementation.

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 1.36.59 PM

One or both of the crankset and wheel hub cogs can include more than one cog having different circumferential sizes so as to alter the mechanical advantage provided between the pedals and the driven hub. … It is envisioned that, when provided in a multiple geared format, bicycle 30 be equipped with a front and/or a rear derailleur assembly to facilitate the manual lateral manipulation of the flexible drive member 80 in effectuating shifting of the gearing arrangement of bicycle 30 such that flexible drive member 80 cooperate with one of cogs 120200, or 300 as desired.”

In other words, Trek envisions belt-driven bikes to have both front and rear derailleurs.

Here’s a portion of Trek’s belt drive cassette:

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 1.39.39 PM

In the cross-section of the cassette, you can see that the belt 80 is engaged in the largest cog and moveable to the right as indicated by arrow 434.

And, here’s a better look at the design of the cogs:

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 1.43.50 PM

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 1.43.22 PM

Looks like belt drive may be finding more applications soon.

Application: US 12/985,166
Application Status: Final Rejection – Early Response Due February 12, 2015
Assignee: Trek Bicycle Corp. (original assignee)
Related Patents/Applications: D655,225 (issued March 6, 2012)

Shimano’s Di2 Synchro-Shift

As much as I love all bikes, I’m a mountain biker at heart. And, I’m excited to see Shimano’s Di2 coming to XTR. Synchro-Shift operates both the front and rear derailleurs in response to input from one shifter. Or, another way, the rider only says, “I need a higher/lower gear,” and Synchro-Shift says, “Okay. We’ll move the front and rear derailleurs like this for you.” It’s like having a 1x drivetrain but with a front derailleur that you don’t have to mess with.

Shimano provides the below video showing Synchro-Shift for 2×11 and 3×11 drivetrains.

Last November, Shimano received US 8,882,122 drawn to this technology. The illustrated example provided in the patent is only for a 3×10 drivetrain, but you can see the similarities. FIG. 4 of the patent compared to 2:10 of the video:

FIG. 4

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 1.13.53 PM

2:10

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 1.53.29 PM

In the 3×11, at least in these examples, less time overall is spent in the smallest chainring – 3 gears when upshifting and 2 gears when downshifting vs. 5 gears up and 2 down for the 3×10.

Application: US 13/857,570
Application Status: Patented – US 8,882,122
A
ssignee: Shimano, Inc.
Related Patents/Applications: N/A