Pedal for a Cycle by SRAM

In this article, we’ll be discussing a Pedal for a Cycle by SRAM, US publication 20210316816. The publication date is Oct 14th, 2021 and the filing date is Mar. 19th, 2021. This patent is not granted, yet.  

Brief Summary (tl;dr)

SRAM are developing a new pedal that incorporates an opening on the outer face. This opening allows easier access to the spindle and the ability to reduce weight. They’re doing this by using two ‘divergent arms’ that travel from the center shaft to the outer wall at an angle. This thing will be concave (as it should be) and will include a double ball bearing system, rather than a single bearing. The double bearings afford the ability to make a thinner pedal. They’ve also got an example with a ‘damping element 17’ (FIG. 4C), which can fill the gap with an elastomer material and can be adjusted for certain dampening properties on your feetsies. This system can also be used for clips.

Background

From a business perspective, it’s usually easier to just buy a company rather than start from scratch. SRAM likes to do this and to improve their portfolio (Rockshox, Zipp, Quarq, etc.). I say this because this is probably going to be released under the name Time, which is a pedal brand they bought earlier this year (2021). Time has been around in France since the 80’s, making various pedals. I’ve never ridden them, but I’ve never heard anything bad about them.

I’d also like to use this as an explanation to those that might not understand the patent process and long-term benefits. In effect, when you own a patent, it is your property (intellectual property). If you’re ever in the position to sell a business or need to borrow money, the value of a company increases as it increases it’s intellectual property portfolio.

So, when SRAM bought Time, they had to also buy the patents, which can have pure sales value or licensing value. If they didn’t have patents, the overall value of a business is less. Companies like SRAM and Shimano have incredible IP portfolios, which will only increase their value as a whole because they can effectively create property from an idea. And yes, patents are like options; they have an expiration so they’re inherently devalued over time.

Here’s an interesting little tidbit I found a while back to show an example of IP value. For whatever reason, JP Morgan owns a few Trek patents as the ‘collateral agent’. My hunch is that Trek wanted to borrow some money and used their patents as collateral. If they don’t pay JPM back, they lose the patent, and JPM sells the patent to the highest bidder to cover losses. So, they created an idea, patented it, and were able to borrow against it.

From what I can tell, Time doesn’t make flat pedals, so this might be the first true development from SRAM under the Time name.

Intended Novelty

This isn’t granted quite yet, but it appears as though the explicit novelty they’re trying to get through is the use of two ‘divergent arms’ that extend from the center shaft to the outer side wall, where the divergent arms create a ‘lateral recess’. I go more into this later, but this is how they’re defining this new pedal.

I’m really surprised that this might actually be novel. SRAM’s IP department and designers know wtf they’re doing, so I’d say this is probably a new idea, when defined exactly as they’ve done. I’m going to go ahead and take a wild guess that they’re going to have to define the divergent arm’s angle in the first claim (currently in claim 9), but I digress, as usual.

Why

There’s a few reasons for these. First, spindle access.

…the lateral recess provides easy access to the spindle and bearings and simplifies the assembly and maintenance operations of the pedal.

They also want to make it lighter while maintaining surface support.

Due to the profile and specific orientation of the reinforcement arms, this lightening does not compromise the overall rigidity and proper mechanical strength… The pedal of the present disclosure thus offers a good compromise between rigidity and lightness.

Lastly, they want to prevent shit from getting inside the pedal. I’m not so sure about this part, but it’s in here.

The lateral recess in the pedal body is not closed, which prevents objects or debris from getting caught in the pedal.

What

FIG. 1a shows an iso-view of the pedal assembly. It looks pretty normal, except for the gap at the end of the spindle. That’s what we’re focusing on.

We also want to focus on the omega angle, from the centerline. That’s an important factor in this novelty as the angle is defined in the claims.

SRAM says this pedal has a ‘parallelepipedal’ cross-section (I just learned that word). This means the shape comprises six parallelograms, shown below. I think most pedals are this shape, these days. They also say this is going to be concave, which is the only way as far as I’m concerned.

So, let’s jump back into the novelty here, because that’s the most interesting part of this. FIG. 2C shows a top view of this thing. We want to focus on the delimiting arms 12a and 12b. These, clearly, extend from the center shaft 11 to the outer edge of the pedal at an angle. SRAM say the angle is going to be between 10° and 45°.

Because these arms are now at an angle, it opens the possibility to remove material from the outer edge of the pedal, which affords weight savings and spindle access. Very cool to see such a simple design change allows for other advantages.

FIG. 3 shows a cross-section of the center of the pedal and spindle. The takeway here is the use of double ball bearings 21, rather than a single bearing. SRAM say this will allow for a thinner pedal compared to a single bearing.

…by replacing the traditional ball bearing with a double ball bearing 21… of smaller dimensions… makes it possible to reduce the thickness of the pedal while retaining good transmission of energy by better distribution of forces.

Here’s a cool little change that we might see in the future. FIG. 4C shows the opening being filled with a ‘damping enhancement element 17’, which will provide some level of dampening to the pedal. This is a little elastomer piece that can either be permanent or replaceable. In the case of a replaceable piece, you’ll be able to adjust the rigidity of the pedal to your liking. They don’t go too far into this, but they’re thinking about doing it.

Lastly, is this pedal limited to flats? Nope. FIG. 4B shows this same design can be used for clippies.

Conclusion

This is an interesting one. At first glance, this seems like it’s been done before, whether it be a single design or a combination of designs. It’s just a gap, right? Well, the combination of the angled arms and opening may be enough to be protected. No matter how small, every idea has the right to be protected, assuming it’s novel.

If you’ve got an idea you want to be protected, shoot me a message. Our company over at Fenix.AI will get you set up without breaking the bank. We’ve got some special sauce that others don’t have, which helps us save you time and money.

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