In this article, we’ll be discussing a Handlebar Assembly for a Bicycle and Accessory Structure by SRAM, US publication 20210371032. The publication date is Dec. 2nd, 2021 and the filing date is May 24th, 2021. This patent is not granted.
Short document, short article.
As with the last SRAM article (about the pedals), this one appears to come from another subsidiary of SRAM, likely Zipp.
Zipp makes a bunch of products, such as wheels, handlebars, and bottle cages for road nerds. Zipp was acquired in 2007, when it was located in Speedway, Indiana. For those that aren’t racecar people, that’s where the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located, which would be an amazing testing center for cycling products and aero stuff.
Currently, SRAM is offering the Vuka Aero bars (above), which I’m pretty sure are the bars in this document. They aren’t claimed as novel; they’re just here to show how this system works.
Additionally, we should all be aware of the Specialized Shiv, which is a god damn beautiful TT bike that has an interesting addition of an aero water bottle sitting behind the rider. This is yet another design with the intent of integration and probable aero gainz. That being said, this new SRAM TT bar is in the same vain, but should be able to be implemented on most bikes.
Although not granted, yet, the novelty here relates to the water bottle attaching to handlebars. In short, they’re claiming the fact that they have a handlebar structure that includes a water bottle structure, and the water bottle structure is:
adapted to be directly connected to the bicycle handlebar and dissociable.
Dissociable meaning it can be removed.
This whole system looks awfully similar to the Profile Design Aeria stem + integrated hydration system, but that’s for them to figure out. It seems like SRAM should be able to successfully argue their design because it attaches ‘directly to the handlebar’, while the Profile Design attaches to a stem. Semantics, I know.
Beyond the fact that this design is more aero and offers the ability for the rider to drink without taking their hands off the bars, SRAM have pointed out a specific (and similar) design by Sienna Group of out Taiwan. They say this design has limited dimensions and isn’t aero enough. Look at this monstrosity.
They also explain that typical designs that attach a water bottle to the stem with brackets are limited in their ability to be used on multiple bike designs. I’m not sure what they’re talking about here, but this new system should be able to be used on many bikes without the use of different bracketry.
Ultimately, this can be used on more bikes that use SRAM’s Vuka bars.
FIG. 1 shows the whole bike with the water bottle structure. Pretty strange looking, I’ll be honest. It’s possible this will look a little different when it’s released.
FIGs. 2 and 3 show the bottle structure and handlebars in a little more detail. We’ve got a few components here. First, the Vuka bars, the bottle assembly 3, and the shield 39. Pretty simple idea, here; the bottle coupling structures (little protrusions) 310 slide into the front of the bars, it’s bolted into place, and the shield is attached to the back of the bottle for aero.
FIGs. 5 and 6 show a close-up of the system. If you already have these bars, this should already make sense. FIG. 5 shows the slots that accept the coupling structures of FIG. 6.
Lastly, FIG. 7 shows a cross-section of the middle of the bottle, looking from the side. The drinking tube 32 attaches to the bottle structure via a set of magnets 34.
This is a lot, right? FIG. 1 doesn’t look great, either. I’m sure it’ll work, though. Racing requires interesting solutions, and appearance isn’t a deal breaker. Losing is a deal breaker. Keep the person hydrated and add a little drag as possible, that’s about it here.