FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/631,572, allowed, titled the same.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to shoes and, more particularly, to a sport shoe tightening system.
There exist many mechanisms for tightening shoes, boots, skates, and other footwear. Conventional mechanisms for tightening footwear range from simple manual lace tightening to more complex buckles or clamps and the like. Manual lace tightening has many drawbacks including, for example, difficulty in adjusting the lace tightness and uneven distribution of pressure from the tightening. Buckle and clamp style systems, while quicker than manual lace tightening, cause pressure points where the buckles or clamps exist. These pressure points cause localized hot spots and irritation, which can lead to blisters and the like.
VELCROŽ straps can be used in place of buckles and/or laces, but they suffer many of the drawbacks of buckles in they produce localized pressure points and uneven tightness distribution. Further, the straps are prearranged, similar to buckles, inhibiting the shoe from free forming to a user's foot shape. The result is localized pressure points and hotspots that can irritate the foot.
An existing automatic lace tightening system is described by U.S. Pat. No. 6,289,558, issued Sep. 18, 2001, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,599, issued Aug. 10, 1999, both titled FOOTWEAR LACING SYSTEM, both issued to Hammerslag. The Hammerslag patents describe a circular tightening apparatus that is rotated to tighten the laces and locked in place with a ratchet and pawl lock. The laces are loosened by releasing the lock by lifting the pawl and pulling on the laces to loosen them, or using reverse rotation of the ratchet. As can be seen, the Hammerslag patents disclose a conventional shoe having an upper with an open throat. Opposing sides of the upper are tightened using the laces and tightening system of the Hammerslag patents.
The recent trend with Cycling shoes has been to provide a shoe 100 as shown in FIG. 1. Shoe 100 has a conventional sole 102 and a conventional upper 104. Upper 104 comprises a toe box 106, a tongue 108 covering a throat opening (not specifically shown), and a heel 110. As can be seen on shoe 100, a seam 112 attaches the tongue 108 to upper 104 about toe box 106. A canopy 114 with one or more fasteners 116 are coupled to upper 104 on a first side 118 and releasably attached to upper 114 on a second side 120 such that fasteners 116 traverse tongue 108. Conventionally, fasteners 116 comprise hook and loop style fasteners, such as, for example, VELRCOŽ straps. These straps, however, have fixed fastening locations that cause localized pressure points, hotspots, and irritation to the user's foot.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
While it would be desirous to incorporate the lacing system disclosed by the Hammerslag patents into conventional cycling shoes, it has been discovered that incorporating the Hammerslag patents as disclosed into cycling shoes causes localized hotspots, pressure points, and buckling in canopy 114. Thus, it would be desirous to develop an improved shoe tightening system.
To attain the advantages and in accordance with the present invention, a tightening system for a shoe is provided. The shoe comprises a sole and an upper. The upper is formed of at least a toe box, a throat, and a heel. The tightening system comprises a plurality of lace guides on opposing sides of the throat coupled to a symmetrically located tightening apparatus. A lace runs from a tightening apparatus to the guides allowing the canopy to be tightened on the foot of a user.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
The foregoing and other features, utilities and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of a preferred embodiment of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the present invention, and together with the description, serve to explain the principles thereof. Like items in the drawings are referred to using the same numerical reference.
FIG. 1 is an elevation view of a conventional cycling shoe;
FIG. 2 is side elevation views of a shoe constructed in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the shoe of FIG. 2;
FIGS. 4A and 4B are elevation views of opposing sides of another shoe constructed in accordance with the present invention; and
FIGS. 5A and 5B are a top and side elevation view of another shoe constructed in accordance with the present invention.
The present invention will be described with reference to FIGS. 2-5. While the present invention is shown and described with regard to a cycling shoe, one of ordinary skill in the art would recognize on reading the disclosure that alternative shoes styles could use the invention described herein, and the use of a cycling shoe is exemplary and non-limiting.
FIG. 2 shows an elevation view of a cycling shoe 200. Cycling shoe 200 includes a sole 202 with lugs 204 attached to sole 202 and an upper 206 attached to the sole. Lugs 204 are optional. Upper 206 comprises a toe box 208, a throat covering 210 covering the throat opening, a heel 212, and a canopy 214 (which partially obscures throat cover 210). Throat cover 210 could be replaced with a tongue and opening similar to conventional shoes, but the bunching of the tongue and upper may cause irritation. Further, throat cover 210 optionally could be removed and canopy 214 could be stitched directly to upper 206, but it is believed this would introduce additional bunching, localized pressure points, hotspots, and irritation to the user's foot.
Canopy 214 has a fixed side 216, which is not specifically shown, on the instep of shoe 200, and a free side 218 opposite fixed side 216. A body 220 of canopy 214 traverses tongue 208 between fixed side 216 and free side 218, which is best seen in FIG. 3. Shoe 200 and canopy 214 are shown in FIG. 3 with a top plan view for ease of reference. Canopy 214 has fixed side 216 and free side 218 with body 220 extending there between. As shown, body 220 has a slit 222 or gap extending from free side 218 to an interior portion of body 220 to form at least two lobes 224 in body 220. Lobes 224 can move relatively independently of each other. An edge 226 on each lobe 224 contains a canopy cable guide 228. Optionally, canopy cable guide 228 can reside on lobes 224 proximate edge 226 instead of on edge 226. Generally, canopy cable guide 228 comprises a lumen or channel and is made of a low friction plastic, cloth, or the like. As shown, fixed side 216 resides on an instep side of shoe 200, but fixed side 216 and free side 218 could be reversed as desired.
Referring back to FIG. 2, at least one additional upper cable guide 230 is attached to shoe 200. Upper cable guide 230 comprises a lumen or channel and is made of a low friction material as well. Upper cable guide 230 is generally attached on upper 206. As can be seen, lace 232 (which is shown in phantom inside cable guides 228 and 230) runs from tightening apparatus 234 through canopy cable guides 228 and upper cable guides 230 in a zigzag pattern. Generally, there will exist one more canopy cable guide 228 than upper cable guide 230. Moreover, canopy cable guides 228 generally align with tightening apparatus 234 and upper cable guide 230. The specifics of tightening apparatus 234 are further described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,289,558 and 5,934,599, incorporated herein by reference.
Lobes 224 move somewhat independently to each other and are not releasably attached in a fixed location, unlike either a buckle or VELCRO strap. In other words, lobes 224 (and portions of canopy 214) move and form to a user's foot unlike a buckle or VELCRO strap that is fixed to a predetermined location irrespective of the individual user's foot. The independent movement allows canopy 214 to form to a user's foot by giving canopy 214 an additional degree of freedom. By forming to the user's foot, pressure is more evenly distributed reducing localized hotspots and irritation.
The Hammerslag patents disclose mounting tightening apparatus 234 specifically on a tongue or behind a heel of a shoe. Largely, this placement is sufficient for the device disclosed in the Hammerslag patents because the tightening apparatus is designed to work with a symmetrical shoe having an upper with two symmetrical closure flaps that are being secured about a throat opening and tongue. But shoe 200 is asymmetrical and does not have a tongue, but rather throat cover 210 and canopy 214. Although shoe 200 could have tightening apparatus 234 attached at the heel or tongue area, it has been found that placing tightening apparatus about the shoe arch support area on a side opposite the instep facilitates operation of the device. Thus, it is believed placing tightening apparatus 234 substantially aligned with an axis 236 of lobes 224 facilitates operation of the device. Further, to move tightening apparatus 234 to a different location, which would inhibit operation of the device, would likely require additional material, such as, for example, an additional upper cable guide to correct route the lace.
Referring now to FIGS. 4A and 4B, another shoe 400 is shown. Shoe 400 includes a sole 402 with, optionally, one or more lugs 404 and an upper 406. Upper 406 comprises a toe box 408, a throat cover 410, and a heel 412. Throat cover 410 could be replaced with a throat opening with or without a tongue. Throat cover 410 is attached to upper 406 along seam 414. In this case, a canopy 416 traversing throat cover 410 comprises a plurality of independent straps 418 separated by a plurality of gaps 420. Each strap has a fixed end 422 attached to one side of upper 406 and a free end 424. Free ends 424 are proximate tightening apparatus 426, which is generally located opposite the instep and substantially in line with an axis 428 of one of the plurality of free ends 424. Each free end 424 has a canopy cable guide 430. As one of skill in the art will recognize, aligning tightening apparatus 426 with axis 428 is a general placement suggestion and not a requirement of placement. Also existing proximate tightening apparatus 426 are upper cable guides 432. Lace 434 is shown laced between tightening apparatus 426, canopy cable guides 430 and upper cable guides 432. As can be seen in FIG. 4A, tightening apparatus 426 includes a rotating ratchet and pawl 440 and a release 442. Ratchet and pawl 440 operates such that it normally tightens lace 434 by rotating in a singular direction. Release 442 can be, for example, a lever that lifts the pawl of ratchet and pawl 440 to allow rotation in the opposite direction or simply releases the locking effect so that lace 434 can be loosened.
Shoe 400 is slightly more form fitting than shoe 200 because straps 418 move completely independent of each other, while for shoe 200 only lobes 224, and a portion of canopy 214, move somewhat independently of each other.
Lace 232 and lace 434 should be formed of a low friction material as disclosed by the Hammerslag patents. But it is believed a low friction material alone is not sufficient for ideal operation of the tightening system. In particular, the design of the tightening system is such that replacement of the lace would be difficult. To minimize replacement, it is believed a low friction, high tensile strength lace should be used, such as, for example, a lace made out of SPECTRAŽ as produced by Honeywell. The SPECTRA material is actually a form of plastic known as Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene. Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene also is abrasion resistant.
Shoe 200 contains throat cover 210 and shoe 400 contains throat cover 410 that replaces a throat opening and tongue. It is believed using the throat cover in place of a throat opening and tongue in the upper will reduce localized pressure points, hotspots, and irritation. To aid in this reduction, covers 210 and 410 are made out of a stretchable material, such as neoprene or a stretchable mesh fabric. Of course, other textiles, synthetic fabrics, or composites could be used. For increased comfort, a more breathable open foam construction may be used and or wicking material or absorbent material may be added to the cover as is generally known in the art. Having a stretchable material facilitates with the shoe fitting the user's foot without buckling or pressure points, etc. Assisting in the slipper fit described above. To fit most cyclist, throat cover should have a length L of about 95 mm to about 155 mm, but preferably has a length L of about 125 mm. Length L, however, can range anywhere from about 40 mm to 185 mm to accommodate various ages, sexes, and foot sizes. Similarly, throat cover should have a width W of about 50 mm to about 120 mm, but preferably has a width W of about 70 mm (as measured at the top opening). Width W, however, can range anywhere from about 30 mm to about 200 mm to accommodate various ages, sexes, and foot sizes. Length L and width W will also vary depending on the stretch ability of the material. Finally, shoe 200 and shoe 400 has the top opening with a length L′, which is conventional, and ranges from 60 mm to 90 mm, with 70 mm to 80 mm being the most common sizes, but preferably the length L′ is about 70 mm.
Referring now to FIGS. 5A and 5B another shoe 500 consistent with the present invention is shown. Shoe 500 includes sole 502, with optional lugs 504, attached to an upper 506. Upper 506 includes a toe box 508, a throat 510, and a heel 512. Heel 512 defines an ankle opening 514. A tongue 516 is attached to the toe box 508 at seam 518, which is preferably on an external surface 520 of the shoe and extends from the toe box 508 to the ankle opening 514 traversing the throat 510. Upper 506 has first side 522 and second side 524 on opposite sides of throat 510. A plurality of first lace guides 526 reside on first side 522 and a corresponding plurality of second lace guides 528 reside on second side 524. A tightening apparatus 530 resides on heel 512 opposite toe box 508 and is aligned with a longitudinal axis CL of shoe 500. First concave ankle guide 532 and second concave ankle guide 534 extend about first side 536 and second side 538 of ankle opening 514. First concave ankle guide 532 and second concave ankle guide 534 are concave so the lace travels below, preferably slightly below, the ankle bone of a users foot. Laces 540 are threaded in a zigzag pattern through first lace guides 526 and second lace guides 528 and first concave ankle guide 532 and second concave ankle guide 534 to couple with tightening apparatus 530. Such that operation of tightening apparatus 530, as described above, evenly tightens shoe 500 on a wearer's foot. The first concave ankle guide 532 and second concave ankle guide 534 may be one concave part or multiple straight parts forming an overall concave shape.
While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to an embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various other changes in the form and details may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.