In this article, we’ll be discussing a Bicycle Pedal by Shimano, US publication 20220106009. The publication date is April 7th, 2022 and the filing date is Oct 6th, 2020. This patent is not granted, yet.
Been a while. Really busy and not having the IG feels like I’m just talking to myself. Thinking about putting a bounty on information on who got me banned.
4/23 edit: Eli commented that these have been released in July ’21, but I’m not seeing these on Shimano’s website and the very brief press releases don’t have much info, so hopefully this can explain this new pedal a little better.
Brief Summary (tl;dr)
Shimano have developed a new pedal that uses a secondary load-receiving piece that will make contact with the spindle as the pedal flexes. As a result, the load of a rider is distributed more beneficially through the pedal. This new thing also uses a modular design, where the outer pieces are made of resin (plastic) and can be removed and replaced.
I’ve been riding flat pedals for the entirety of my riding life. I just never got along with clips and a good set of flats are good enough 99% of the time. The occasional foot slip does suck pretty hard, though. Anecdotally, I actually had a foot fall off on a jump at Trestle last year, while the other foot didn’t fall off. I landed with one foot causing the other pedal to send one of the pins directly into my shin like a needle. It was a perfect little hole in my shin. Do not recommend – clips would have been nice for that one.
Back on topic, flat pedals have a few key design issues that I think we’ve all become well aware of. Most importantly, we all want lighter pedals, and lighter typically means thinner or less material. Common sense says you can’t just keep removing material while maintaining strength. This additionally leads to smaller pedal shafts and smaller bearings, which can further reduce the strength of the entire assembly.
Conversely, Shimano says there are a few benefits to thinner pedals:
Besides being lighter, a thinner pedal increases the distance from the pedal to the ground, making it difficult for the pedal to hit the ground when the bicycle is tilted. A thinner pedal also improves pedal stability while riding, because the distance from the axis of the pedal shaft to the surface of the pedal body is shortened.
Strength and weight.
Let’s get into it.
FIG. 2 shows a top view of the pedal in question. While this thing looks nifty, this document isn’t about the body of the pedal. Rather, the new part is in the little box below. This is the ‘load-receiving part’, which sits between the spindle and pedal body.
So, this is where the new stuff comes into play. We’ve got a few terms we need to define. First, the load-receiving part receives a load from the rider, which is shown as component 32 above and below. The load receiving part effectively attaches to the pedal body and floats around the spindle. You can see the load-receiving part slides into the pedal body via some ribs 42b (42b+60e).
Next, we have the contact portion, which is the axial innermost radius of the spindle, and is shown as component 24 below. All you need to know is the contact portion is a surface of the spindle, it’s not a separate component.
The load receiving part and the contact portion have a little space between one another under a no-load condition, meaning no rider weight. Then, the load-receiving part and the contact portion are in contact when there is a load condition – a rider’s weight. Why are they doing this?
This enables the rider’s load to be distributed near the bicycle crank 18, thus decreasing the amount of vertical displacement of the pedal body 16 caused by the rider’s load.
Let’s break that down with some pictures. FIG. 5 shows a pedal under a no-load condition; doing nothin with nothin. FIG. 6 then shows a pedal with a rider load applied, shown with the big F. As a result, the pedal flexes (though I think this flex shown in the figure is exaggerated).
In a no-load condition (FIG. 5), the load-receiving part and the contact portion don’t touch each other. Then, when you put your weight on the pedal (FIG. 6), the body and spindle bend, and the contact portion of the spindle and the load-receiving part touch each other, which distributes weight at a small distance away from the crank. Therefore…
In doing so, the load receiving part 32 absorbs at least a portion of a force F applied to the pedal body in a direction perpendicular to the rotational center axis of the pedal shaft 14.
And for the ones that didn’t notice, FIG. 4 suggests some level of concavity. I know the internet likes their concave pedals.
FIGs. 7 and 8 show how these things may be assembled. The interesting part here is the central piece of the body should be made of some kind of metal (they don’t specify), but the outer parts are made of resin and ‘makes the pedal lighter’ and are removable.
FIGs. 14-22 show various different pins that may be available if this thing is ever launched.
This one is an interesting idea, but is this actually going to work? Not sure, but I like it. I really like the fact that the outer pieces can be removed because I constantly smash my pedals against rocks and it’d be cool to replace these every once in a while. Better yet, Shimano could offer different resin parts of different shapes without having to buy a whole new pedal.
I’ve never really had an issue with bending pedals, but I can see two use cases for this design. First, they want to make a mega-light pedal while maintaining strength characteristics of a heavier pedal. I could see this being useful for XC folks. Second, they’ll make a pedal with a weight that’s on-par with the current crop of pedals, but theirs will be stronger/stiffer. They’ll market this to either heavier riders or the DH bros.
As with just about anything Shimano makes, it’ll be effective. Shimano is the every-man’s component manufacturer. Everything they make is well priced, works well, and lasts a long time and I’d bet this won’t be any different.
Thanks for posting this, you aren’t howling into a void.
This seems like bollocks to me. Maybe I’m not following it correctly but the bending moment is a function of the load and the displacement from the support, no amount of “fannying about” between the foot and the crank will change that.
Thin pedals are definitely advantageous but the best solution to this problem is putting the bearings into the end of the crank instead of under the foot, but for some reason Shimano gave up on that approach decades ago (which is a massive shame).
By the way, take all the central pins out of your flat pedals, these are the ones that contribute most to shin damage and do least for grip, with them removed the pedal is more concave too. Win win win.
Thanks George. I agree with that first part. I was hoping someone else would point that out. If you have 5 minutes, read paragraph  in the document. I added a line in this report starting with “In doing so…” from that paragraph.
Very heavy going that patent. I really don’t understand why they would file it. On a second inspection I also noticed that the pedals shown in the embodiments have no axial location of the body to the axle, so, if manufactured as shown, the body would just fall off the end of the axle!
Since they have adopted a similar pattern to the Crank Bros. pedals with the inboard plate fixing to the body to (presumably in the real pedal) provide axial location of the body, maybe this entire patent is a red herring to get around a Crank Bros. patent (if there is one). By claiming that their design is actually non-contact and only comes into play under higher loads (like steps!) and showing drawings where there is no axial location provided by it, maybe they think this will get them round another patent? In which case having such a long, vague and hard-to-understand patent might be part of the strategy?…
That’s what I’m thinking, too. It’s possible this is a workaround.
I’m not sure I get it. So it’s a bushing that is only in play when the pedaling force is enough to deform the pedal body. Seems to me you could go with bearings spread out wide and have a bushing between the two instead. As it is, what’s supposed to go between #14 and #22 in figures 9 and 10? I guess I’ll have to read the patent more closely.
I could see some benefit in a system where the axle somewhat resists spinning until pressure is applied.
Ok so it’s a third bushing that is sometimes engaged. I still don’t see how it’s any better than three bushings always engaged. Free spin when unloaded is hardly something to write home about.
It’s possible someone else has protected something similar, and this is their workaround. Who knows, but I appreciate the insight!
Shimano already released these pedals:
You’re right. Seems like it’s not on Shimano’s website and I’m not seeing any mention of the flexing properties shown in that article. This article should explain more about how they’ll work.