In this article, we’ll be discussing a Quick Release Ball-Lock Pedal Spindle by Lopez, US patent 10,875,600. The patent date is Dec. 29th, 2020 and the filing date is Feb. 26th, 2020. This one has been granted as novel.
Not every invention is from a huge company. This one appears to be from a solo inventor that had a good idea and followed through. This is a short patent, so it’ll be a short article.
Brief Summary (tl;dr)
This patent introduces a square end of a pedal spindle, to replace the threaded end of the spindle. The square end of the pedal has 4 small balls that lock the pedal into place inside the crank arm. When you press a button on the inside part of the pedal, the balls release from the crank and the pedal can slide in and out very easily.
A typical flat pedal is comprised of two main components; a spindle and a platform (spindle housing). The spindle is the part of the pedal that allows the platform to rotate using one or more bearings. At the end of the spindle, there is a threaded section that screws into the crank arms. The image below shows the typical flat pedal, as described above. I’ll plug OneUp right here. I use their aluminum pedals exclusively. Besides the fact that they put lots of holes in my shins, they’re incredible pedals. They even come in plastic to save some bucks.
I’m not a huge fan of taking pedals on and off. I will never get the correct un-screw rotation on the first attempt. After using a bike for a few rides, there are moments where I need to use my impact driver to take them off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the threads break, and I take the pedal’s pins straight to the arm. Damn I hate that shit.
This patent is introducing a new square pedal spindle with a ball-lock quick release system. For those that are unfamiliar with a ball-lock system, the image below shows the most common use of the system; a ball-lock pin. The gold piece on the top of the pin is a button that can be pushed in, which then releases the little balls at the end of the pin to move freely. When the balls are in the out-position, the pin stays in place. Here’s a great little video of how a generic quick release pin works. An umbrella or a telescopic luggage handle use the same idea.
In the case of this patent, the balls are not exposed. Rather, they’re inserted into a crank arm with a groove that keeps the pedal in place.
The intended novelty of this patent is pretty simple. The novelty is the use of a square body and 4 balls in a ball-lock mechanism. All four sides of the square body are equal length and parallel.
There’s some obvious problems with a threaded spindle for a pedal. First and foremost is fucking up the threads on either the pedal or the crank. I’ve been unlucky enough to do that before and had to install a Heli-Coil, which also didn’t work long-term, so the crank got trashed.
Second, as mentioned before, taking pedals off can suck sometimes. They get stuck, and you can round out the Allen part of the spindle, which then leads to sawing the pedal off and doing some mechanic-magic to remove the threads from the crank.
Lastly, in a very specific use-case, taking pedals on and off in a demo-type scenario can also suck for the mechanics; the more they take pedals on and off, the higher chance of damaging pedals or cranks. It’s probably not great for their hands either.
Figure 1 shows an exploded view of the concept. The important part here is square attachment 3 and button 10. The square attachment goes into the crank, and the button can be pressed to release the balls from the groove inside the crank arm. When you let go of the button, the balls go back into place and are held rigidly inside the crank arm.
Here’s exactly how this works:
The spindle’s ball-lock mechanism has three main parts that sit within the interior of the spindle’s tubular shape 1. The pin 6 goes through the spindle’s bore and contains a grooved end for catching ball bearings 5; The spring 8 adds pressure to the pin when pushed from exposed end 10 to release the ball bearings from their sockets 4 on the spindle; The balls 5 lock the pedal spindle in place as they sit in the sockets of the inner peripheral surface of the crank arm FIG. 3. The entire axle 1-11 is fastened to the pedal FIG. 1, and its corresponding parts with two sealed bearings, a washer 9 and nut 11.
Figure 3 shows a view of the inside of an assembled spindle. Note the button on the inside of the pedal and the 4 balls that sit in the square end.
An interesting little line says that a square receiving end 3, on the actual spindle, can be retrofitted to a threaded pedal. So, any threaded pedal may be used with this idea. That seems like a huge part of this idea.
Obviously, a special crank will be useful for this idea. I’ll assume another patent for a square receiving crank will come in the future to accommodate this idea. I can see this being extremely useful at bike demo’s. If you’ve ever been to a big bike demo, you’ll know you have the option to use your own pedals, or have mechanics put some clips or flats on for you. The mechanics setting up bikes over and over again would probably love to be able to just press a little button and the pedal comes off, rather than screwing them in 100 times a day.
I like this one. It’s a cool idea. This is another one of those ideas where people will say “why didn’t I think of that”. I hope this guy can make this work, especially a retrofitted version for a typical pedal.
I’d love to hear from some mechanics on this one. Do you think this is a viable invention?
Lastly, Mr. Inventor, if you’re reading this, I’d love to review this, if you’re able to make any of them.