Friday, March 16, 2012

Bike Tech of the Week-New Patents

More signs of spring include a slew of new patents, including several by the bicycle heavy weights.  First up, for you freeride and DHy types, Big Red has a new chainstay guard:
Patent 8,132,824 discloses a bicycle chainstay protector invented by Brandon Sloan, Joseph Buckley and Robert Egger and assigned to Specialized. The '824 stay protector resiliently engages the stay and comprises a body member including a resilient material adapted to resiliently engage the stay, meaning it clips on. It includes a molded image and a guard member that has a different hardness than the resilient material of the body member. I'd like one for my SX Trail.

Next up, a crank mounted shaker/slider generator (think flashlights and auto winding watches) which feeds a pedal mounted light:

Patent 8,132,945 discloses a lighted bicycle pedal invented by Doug Lunde. The '945 invention employs a magnetic component moving slidably inside a tubular structure housed in  a bicycle crank. When the bicycle crank rotates, the magnet slides back and forth through the magnetic coil generating an electric current that is used to power an LED at the pedal end. No provision for a USB port.

Even though this is a reissue patent (clarifying a prior application), this combo motor/battery wheel has some market potential for ease of retrofit or hot swap (think fleets):
Patent RE43,232 describes an electric wheel motor invented by Alexander Pyntikov and Mark Benson and assigned to Matra Manufacturing & Services. An electrically powered vehicle has a motor, controller and power supply contained within a wheel compartment. It features a stator frame coupled to the axle through bearings, with the inside of the stator frame housing the power supply and controller circuitry. A plurality of electromagnet stator segments are mounted on an outer surface of the stator frame and the inner surface of the rotor frame with an air gap between. Batteries surround the outer surface of the rotor frame forming a supporting structure for a vehicle tire. Remember all that rotating mass theory?..I'd imagine these would be good for utility crowd.

Not one to be left out on the bike electronics front, Shimano has developed a BB mounted force sensor:
Patent number 8,117,923, Bungo Sasaki, assigned to Shimano shows a bicycle bottom bracket force sensor. A strain gauge on the crank axle bearing is mounted perpendicular to the rotation axis of the crank axle. In one embodiment it is shown embedded in the drive-side bb cup.  Is this an attempt to compete with SRM or is it designed to support electric bikes?

Not to be left out, Trek has been granted rights to an asymmetric steer(er) tube:

Patent 8,128,112 discloses a bicycle with asymmetric steerer (their spelling, who knew) tube, invented by Steven Moechnig and assigned to the Trek Bicycle Corporation.  The bicycle steerer tube assembly has an oblong asymmetric cross section with a first diameter that is generally aligned with an axis of rotation of the front wheel and a second diameter that is generally aligned with a plane of rotation of the front wheel. The first diameter is greater than the second diameter and provides lateral stiffness to the wheel assembly and the second diameter accommodates longitudinal impact absorption of the fork and wheel assembly.  I'm not so sure that dividing up the steertube functions along 2 axis is a good idea, especially at the transition point between the ovoids, but I'll leave it to Fabian to test the theory.

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