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Publication numberUS20120000095 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 13/163,647
Publication dateJan 5, 2012
Filing dateJun 17, 2011
Priority dateJun 17, 2010
Also published asCA2802538A1, EP2582260A1, WO2011160058A1
Publication number13163647, 163647, US 2012/0000095 A1, US 2012/000095 A1, US 20120000095 A1, US 20120000095A1, US 2012000095 A1, US 2012000095A1, US-A1-20120000095, US-A1-2012000095, US2012/0000095A1, US2012/000095A1, US20120000095 A1, US20120000095A1, US2012000095 A1, US2012000095A1
InventorsTony L. Torrance
Original AssigneeDashamerica, Inc. D/B/A Pearl Izumi, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Dual rigidity shoe sole
US 20120000095 A1
Abstract
The invention provides bicycling shoes having soles containing materials of at least two different material densities configured to provide improved comfort, and fit for a wearer when walking or running in the shoes, while providing enhanced force transfer from the wearer to a bicycle pedal when bicycling in the shoes.
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Claims(20)
1. A sole for an athletic shoe comprising:
a midsole comprising a metatarsal region and a heel region,
wherein a material of the metatarsal region is a high rigidity material, and wherein
a material of the heel region is a low rigidity material.
2. The sole of claim 1, further comprising a fore midsole region, wherein a material of the fore midsole region is a low rigidity material.
3. The sole of claim 2, wherein the material of the heel region and the material of the fore midsole region are identical.
4. The sole of claim 1, further comprising a rear midsole region, wherein a material of the rear midsole region is a low rigidity material.
5. The sole of claim 2, wherein the material rigidity of the fore midsole and the material rigidity of the heel portion of the midsole are substantially equal and less than the material rigidity of the metatarsal region of the midsole.
6. The sole of claim 1, wherein the metatarsal region is configured to attach to a clipless bicycle cleat.
7. The sole of claim 1, further comprising at least one of a metatarsal insert, an arch insert and a heel insert.
8. The sole of claim 1, further comprising an upper, wherein the upper comprises at least one durable material selected from the group consisting of natural leather, synthetic leather, a polymeric material, a polymeric mixture, a polymeric alloy, a laminate, a natural textile, a synthetic textile material, and a mesh material.
9. The sole of claim 1, wherein the high rigidity material of the metatarsal region is selected from the group consisting of a polymer, a metal, a wood, a composite, a foam, a reinforced polymer, a plurality of carbon fibers, a plurality of carbon fibers configured in a unidirectional alignment and combinations thereof.
10. The sole of claim 1, wherein the low rigidity material of the heel region is selected from the group consisting of a leather, a polyurethane foam, a canvas, a rubber, EVA, a polyester, a nylon, a nylon textile, a thermoplastic polyurethane, a composite, a polymer, a foam, a unidirectional carbon fiber laminate, a polymeric material, a polymeric mixture, a polymeric alloy and combination thereof.
11. The sole of claim 1, wherein the metatarsal region and the heel region are at least two distinct pieces which are nested together to form the midsole.
12. The sole of claim 7, wherein a material of the at least one of the metatarsal insert, the arch insert and the heel insert is selected from the group consisting of a polyurethane a foam, a leather, a canvas, a rubber, an EVA, a polyester, a nylon, a nylon textile, a thermoplastic polyurethane and combinations thereof.
13. The sole of claim 1, further comprising an outersole.
14. The sole of claim 13, wherein the outersole comprises at least one tread element, wherein a material of the tread is selected from the group consisting of a polymeric, a rubber or combinations thereof.
15. A bicycling shoe comprising:
an upper comprising a throat, a tongue and an opening for a user's foot;
a closure system to draw the throat closed with even force across the tongue of the upper, and,
a sole comprising a midsole comprising at least two materials of different rigidity, wherein a material rigidity in a metatarsal region of the midsole is greater than a material rigidity in a heel region of the midsole.
16. The shoe of claim 15, wherein the closure system comprises at least one of shoelaces, a plurality of hook and loop (Velcro™) straps, a zipper, and a cord in conjunction with a dial to tighten the cord.
17. The sole of claim 15, further comprising an upper, wherein the upper comprises at least one durable material selected from the group consisting of natural leather, synthetic leather, a polymeric material, a polymeric mixture, a polymeric alloy, a laminate, a natural textile, a synthetic textile material, and a mesh material.
18. The sole of claim 15, wherein the upper comprises at least one of an advertisement, a team logo and a brand.
19. The sole of claim 1, wherein the high rigidity material of the metatarsal region is selected from the group consisting of a polymer, a metal, a wood, a composite, a foam, a reinforced polymer, a plurality of carbon fibers, a plurality of carbon fibers configured in a unidirectional alignment and combinations thereof.
20. The sole of claim 1, wherein the low rigidity material of the heel region is selected from the group consisting of leather, polyurethane foam, canvas, rubber, EVA, polyester, nylon, nylon textile, thermoplastic polyurethane, composite, polymer, foam, unidirectional carbon fiber laminate, polymeric material, polymeric mixture, polymeric alloy and combinations thereof.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/355,643 filed Jun. 17, 2010, which is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to articles of footwear useful for touring or commuting by bicycle.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

When riding a bicycle, the largest force produced by the bicyclist is transmitted from the knee, through the foot to the bicycle pedal. A recreational bicyclist typically reproduces the pedaling force about 4,500 to about 7,500 times an hour. Unlike many bicycle shoes designed for road bicycle racing, mountain biking or commuter biking shoes typically have recessed cleats and a more flexible sole designed to allow the cyclist to comfortably walk or run when they dismount the bicycle. The flexible rubber sole, while flexible and cushioning for walking or running, unfortunately leads to inefficiencies and a loss of energy expended by the rider when energy from the rider's foot to the pedal, energy is lost in compression or flexing of the sole of the shoe between the rider's foot and the pedal. Though a completely rigid sole material renders a bicycling shoe more efficient by reducing energy loss, it is difficult to use when the rider dismounts the bicycle, for example, during portions of a mountain bike race or while commuting by bicycle.

Thus, there is a desire in the art for a bicycling shoe that can both efficiently transfer energy between the riders' foot and the pedal, while remaining flexible and providing sufficient cushion for comfortable running or walking when the wearer is off of the bicycle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides bicycling shoes, having dual rigidity materials in the soles that are comfortable for walking while providing efficient energy transfer from the rider to the pedal when bicycling. The sole of the invention allows for more rigid or stiff materials in the pedal or cleat region of the shoe, proximate the metatarsal region of the rider's foot, thereby minimizing the energy loss experienced between the rider's foot and pedal when the rider is bicycling. The shoe sole of the invention allows for less rigid or stiff (i.e. more flexible) materials in the heel and toe regions of the foot, providing for greater flexibility and comfort, injury prevention and ease of use when the rider is running or walking dismounted from the bicycle.

It will be appreciated that with respect to most materials used in the fabrication of athletic shoes, and particularly bicycle shoes, the stiffness and rigidity of the material corresponds directly with its density. That is, with respect to most materials, particularly plastic/polymeric materials, the greater the density of the material, the greater is the stiffness/rigidity of the material. It should also be understood, however, that this relationship between density and rigidity does not hold for across every material that can be used in the fabrication of athletic shoes.

Other features, utilities and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description of embodiments of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1, illustrates a side view of a shoe comprising a dual rigidity midsole of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2, illustrates a bottom view of a dual rigidity midsole of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3, illustrates a bottom view of an outersole of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 a, illustrates another bottom view of an outersole of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 b, illustrates a sectional view of an outersole of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5, is a photograph of a side view of a dual rigidity midsole of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 a, illustrates an exploded view of a dual rigidity midsole of one embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 6 b, illustrates a back view of a high rigidity midsole material of one embodiment of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is drawn to an athletic shoe sole that provides enhanced comfort while walking and efficient energy transfer from foot to bicycle pedal when bicycling.

FIGS. 1 to 6 depict embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 1 shows a bicycling shoe 100 including an outersole 116, an upper 108, and a midsole 112 having at least two materials of different densities. The upper 108, may include a closure system 120, that can be any system capable of securing the shoe 100 to the riders' foot. The closure system may include shoelaces, a plurality of hook and loop (Velcro™) straps, zippers, and/or cords in conjunction with a dial to tighten the cords with even force across the throat of the shoe 100.

The upper 108 is attached to the midsole 112, which is attached to the outersole 116. As used throughout this specification, attachments may be made by conventional methods known in the art, such as stitching, welding and adhesive bonding. The upper 108 of the shoe 100 is composed of one or more durable materials. Preferably, the durable material comprises one or more material(s) including but not limited to natural or synthetic leather, a polymeric material, a polymeric mixture, a polymeric alloy, a laminate, a natural or synthetic textile material, a mesh material, or a combination thereof. Preferably, the durable material is a flexible, that is, the material has substantial flexibility to provide tightening and/or securing of the upper 108 about the riders' foot by the closure system 120. In one configuration, the upper 108 (optionally including a tongue 124) is composed of two or more durable materials. For example, the toe box 128 may be composed of one material (such as a mesh material) while the reminder of the upper 108, or any other section of the upper 108, is composed of another material. The upper 108 is suitable for providing manufacturer, team or sponsor logos, as desired.

The upper 108 optionally contains a plurality of vent voids 121 that provide for fluid and air flow into and out of the interior cavity 104. At least most, if not all, of these vent voids 121 are positioned about the tongue 124, toe box 128, vamp and quarter of the bicycling shoe 100. In one embodiment, venting voids 121 are positioned about the tongue 124, vamp and quarter of the bicycling shoe 100. But it should be understood that the venting voids 121 may be placed in any position on the bicycling shoe 100. Furthermore, the venting voids 121 may be any suitable shape or size. The upper may also optionally include advertising, such as for a brand, team or other advertisement.

As used herein the term bicycling shoe means both left and right forms of the bicycling shoe 100. Furthermore, the bicycling shoe 100 comprises a bicycling shoe designed to fit a man, a woman, or both. The bicycling shoe 100 may have a shoe size according to any international shoe size designation standard. For example, without limitation, the shoes of the invention may have a size designation from the United States standard shoe size designations of: 5, 5½, 6, 6½, 7, 7½, 8, 8½, 9, 9½, 10, 10½, 11, 11½, 12, 12½, 13, 13½, 14, 14½, 15, 15½, 16, 16½, 17, 17½, 18, 18½, 19, 19½, and 20 and a width from the United States standard widths of: AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE, EEE, EEEE, F and G.

The sole 132 includes a midsole 112 and an outersole 116 and may include an insole being in an opposing relationship to the outersole 116. In one embodiment, the midsole 112 is composed of at least two materials having different material densities. The sole 132 may also include inserts. These inserts may be located throughout the sole 132. By way of example, the inserts may be located in the arch or heel region of the sole. Inserts may also be located in the metatarsal region and positioned such that they do not interfere with a cleat positioned on the bottom of the shoe.

FIG. 2 shows a bottom view of a midsole 212 of one embodiment of the invention. The midsole 212 may comprise at least two materials having different material densities. The cleat region 236 spans at least a portion of the metatarsal region of the midsole 212 where the sole of the shoe may be engaged with a bicycle pedal and may be any suitable shape. The cleat region 236 of the midsole 212, comprises a material that is dense, and thus more rigid than the material comprising at least the rear midsole region 252 of the midsole 212. The denser material in the cleat region 236 allows for reduced energy loss and increased efficiency when the cyclist is pedaling. The dense material of the cleat region 236 may be any suitably durable material, including but not limited to, a polymer, a metal, wood, a composite, a foam, a reinforced polymer, or combinations thereof. In one embodiment, the cleat region 236 of the midsole 212 contains a rigid plastic material or polymer composite. In another embodiment, the cleat region 236 of the midsole 212 contains a plurality of carbon fibers, and more preferably, a plurality of carbon fibers configured in a unidirectional alignment or layer to form a light, rigid material. Preferably, the material comprising the cleat region 236 of the midsole 212 is a lightweight material. The cleat region 236 of the midsole 212 may be any suitable shape or size to transfer force from the rider to the pedal. The cleat region 236 may also be configured to receive or include a cleat for attaching to a pedal. The cleat region 236 may extend into other regions of the midsole 212. Furthermore, the thickness of the cleat region 236 may vary.

FIG. 2 also illustrates additional regions of the midsole 212, including the central midsole 251, the rear midsole 252, and the fore midsole 253. The material of the central midsole 251, the rear midsole 252 and/or the fore midsole 253 may differ from the material of the cleat region 236. The material may be a lower rigidity material that provides comfort and flexibility to the rider when off of the bicycle, while not interfering with the high rigidity material of the cleat region 236. In other embodiments, the materials of the central midsole 251, the rear midsole 252 and/or the fore midsole 253, may be the same lower rigidity material or they may be composed of different materials or different formulations/densities of the same material in order to form materials having different rigidity or stiffness compared to one another. In optional embodiments, the higher rigidity material of the cleat region 236 may extend to the central midsole 251 and even to portions of the rear midsole 252. Alternatively, the central midsole 251 may be composed of the same low rigidity material as the rear midsole 252 and/or the fore midsole 253.

In a specific embodiment, the fore midsole 253, and the rear midsole 252 comprise a low rigidity material that is comfortable to walk or run in should the rider dismount the bicycle, while the cleat region 236 and the central midsole 251, contains a higher rigidity, rigid material that allows for efficient transfer of force from the rider's foot to the pedal through the central midsole 251 and cleat region 236 of the bicycling shoe.

In each of these embodiments, the less dense material can be any suitable material, including but not limited to, leather, a polyurethane foam, canvas, rubber, EVA, polyester, nylon, nylon textiles, thermoplastic polyurethane, composite, a polymer, foam or combination thereof, or any other suitable material or similar material to provide an appropriate combination of support and comfort to the user. The low rigidity material may contain a unidirectional carbon fiber laminate, which may also contain one or more of a polymeric material, a polymeric mixture, a polymeric alloy or combinations of these polymeric materials. The midsole 212 can be formed as one continuous piece containing the high rigidity and the low rigidity materials, separated into distinct regions of the midsole 212, or it may be formed as two or more distinct pieces that are nested or connected together to form the midsole having distinct regions of lower and higher rigidity.

Optional embodiments that are also illustrated in FIG. 2 allow for one or more of a heel insert 240, a metatarsal insert 250, and/or an arch insert 244, or any combination thereof, within the midsole 212. In these optional embodiments, a heel insert 240, and/or a metatarsal insert 250, and/or an arch insert 244 may be individually or collectively incorporated into the midsole 212. The heel insert 240 can provide additional cushioning and support to the heel portion of the midsole 212. The metatarsal insert 250 can add additional rigidity and support to a portion of the metatarsal region. The arch insert 244 can provide added support to the arch area of the wearer's foot. The inserts of the invention may be chosen to adjust the level of support in the metatarsal, arch and heel regions. In a preferred embodiment, the inserts generally have the same shape as the insert slot that they fit into so that they can be inserted into the slot and substantially fill the slot in order to provide support and comfort for the user. The inserts may be used individually, or they may be stacked with other inserts to vary the thickness of the inserts. The inserts may be any suitable material, but are preferably a substantially pliable material, such as a foam, including a ethylene vinyl acetate foam or other open cell foams or cork or other polymer materials. The inserts may also be made of rubber, canvas, leather, EVA, nylon, polyester, nylon textiles, thermoplastic polyurethane, composites, laminates or other suitable structural material or combinations thereof. The insert(s) may be colored, or may be translucent. In certain embodiments, it is preferable for the inserts to be substantially rigid so as to transfer power, for example, while the user is pedaling a bicycle. In this configuration, the inserts may be a substantially rigid material, including but not limited to a polymer, a metal or wood. Furthermore, the inserts may contain additional materials or material layers for antimicrobial or antifungal protection, or fragrances.

The metatarsal insert 250, the arch insert 244 and the heel insert 240 can individually be incorporated into the midsole 212 of the shoe. The metatarsal insert 250, the arch insert 244 and the heel insert 240 may also individually be present or absent in the midsole such that these inserts can be combined in varying combinations in the midsole or all of these inserts may be incorporated into the midsole. These inserts may also assist in absorbing shock in the sole of the shoe when the rider is walking or running in the shoe, when dismounted from the bicycle. The inserts may be any suitable shape and any suitable material, including but not limited to a polyurethane foam, leather, canvas, rubber, EVA, polyester, nylon, nylon textiles, thermoplastic polyurethane or any other suitable material or similar material to provide an appropriate combination of stiffness/rigidity and flexibility to the user.

If present, the optional metatarsal insert 250 does not interfere with the attachment of a cleat on the bicycle shoe to a bicycle pedal about the cleat region 236 of the midsole. The optional metatarsal insert 250 may contain rigid materials similar or identical to the cleat region 236 of the midsole 212, such that there is minimal detrimental effect or even a beneficial effect on the efficient transfer of force from the wearer's foot to a bicycle pedal in the central midsole region 251.

FIG. 3 illustrates a bottom view of the dual rigidity sole with an outersole 316. The cleat region 336 is robust and allows for a variety of cleat attachment elements, including the specific cleat attachment element 360 depicted in FIG. 3, to securely attach a bicycle cleat or clip to the cleat region 336 of the outersole 316 of the bicycle shoe. The cleat attachment element 360 may be any element adapted to attach to a bicycle pedal. The cleat attachment element 360 is situated on the cleat region 336 of the midsole, but is exposed through the outersole 316, proximate the metatarsal region of the wearer's foot.

FIG. 3 also illustrates an optional tread element 354, which can be located throughout sections of the outersole 316 as desired. The tread element 354 may be composed on the outersole 316 as a continuous piece or the thread element(s) 354 may be individually attached to the outersole 316 in any acceptable manner. Typically, the tread element(s) 354, if present, are molded into the outersole 316 when the outersole 316 is formed. The tread elements 354 may be configured in a variety of different shapes and depths, as desired to accommodate the activities and preferences of the wearer. The outersole 316, and any tread elements present, preferably comprise a polymeric material, typically a rubber or a similar type of material.

FIG. 4 a illustrates another embodiment of an outersole 416 of the invention. In this embodiment, the cleat region 436 of the midsole is covered with an outer cleat region cover 464. The outer cleat region cover 464 covers the cleat region 436 and is preferably composed of a durable polymeric material that may be similar or identical to the material forming the outersole 416. The cleat cover may be removable by the user to attach a cleat to the shoe. This embodiment may still provide sufficient force transfer by providing a high rigidity material in the sole of the shoe. Optional tread elements 454 may be included on the outersole 416.

FIG. 4 b is a sectional side view of the sole of FIG. 4 a. This sectional view of FIG. 4 b shows the sole 432, including the outersole 416 and the midsole 412. The cleat region 436 is covered with a cleat region cover 464. FIG. 4 b also illustrates an embodiment including the optional heel insert 440, optional metatarsal insert 450, and optional arch insert 444 within the midsole 412. Also illustrated are the fore midsole 453, the central midsole 451 and the rear midsole 452 regions of the midsole 412. The rigidity of the material of the cleat region 436 is higher than the rigidity of the material in the rear midsole 452 region of the midsole 412. The difference in densities allow for good force transfer between the riders' foot and pedal in the cleat region 436 while providing greater flexibility and comfort in the remaining regions of the midsole 412.

FIG. 5 is a side view of a preferred embodiment of a sole 500 comprising midsole 512 and outersole 516. The midsole 512 includes a heel insert 540, a low rigidity material 518, which contacts the upper of a shoe. The midsole 512 further comprises a high rigidity material 517, which extends from the metatarsal region, above the cleat region of the midsole of the shoe, through the arch portion of the midsole 512.

FIG. 6 a shows an expanded top view of one embodiment of a sole 600. The top view of the outersole 616 illustrates an opening 637 for the cleat region 636 of the high rigidity material 617. An optional advertising opening 642 is included in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6 a. The advertising opening 642 allows for advertisements, team logos or brands located on a corresponding region of the high rigidity material 617 to show through the outersole 616 of the shoe. The advertising opening 642 may be any suitable shape or size and may be located throughout the outersole 616 or at multiple locations in the outersole 616. The advertising opening 642 does not interfere with the opening 637. The outersole 616 may also comprise fitting shapes 690 that are recessed such that the high rigidity fitted shape 692 and/or inserts, including the heel insert 640 can fit into the fitting shapes 690 and hold the high rigidity material 617 and/or the inserts in place.

The high rigidity material 617 includes the cleat region 636 of the high rigidity material 617. The high rigidity material 617 can extend through a portion of the metatarsal region, through the arch region and to the rear of the midsole. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 6 a, the metatarsal region does not extend to the heel region of the midsole. Optional high rigidity fitted shape 692 may be used to align the high rigidity material 617 with the fitted shapes 690 of the outersole 616. The high rigidity fitted shape 692 and the fitting shape 690 may be any suitable shape and may be located at one or more location(s) in the sole 600. The heel insert 640 is also illustrated in the expanded view of sole 600. The low rigidity material 618 with an optional opening 643 allows for the cleat region 636 of the high rigidity material 617 to contact the upper of the shoe, allowing for better contact between the rider and a bicycle pedal.

FIG. 6 b illustrates the bottom view of the high rigidity material 617 that forms part of the sole 600 illustrated in FIG. 6 a. Optional advertising may be placed on the high rigidity material 617 at location 695. Also illustrated is the cleat region 636 of the high rigidity material 617. The pedal region 636 of the high rigidity material 617 may be exposed through the outersole such that good contact may be made between the midsole and a bicycle pedal. The thickness of the high rigidity material 617 may vary.

Though the specification discusses the use of the invention as it relates to bicycling shoes, it is understood that aspects of the invention may be used in other footwear, which also fall within the description of the invention.

The foregoing description of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. Furthermore, the description is not intended to limit the invention to the form disclosed herein. Consequently, variations and modifications commensurate with the above teachings, and the skill or knowledge of the relevant art, are within the scope of the present invention. The embodiments described hereinabove are further intended to explain the best mode known for practicing the invention and to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention in such, or other, embodiments and with various modifications required by the particular applications or uses of the present invention. It is intended that the appended claims be construed to include alternative embodiments to the extent permitted by the prior art.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification36/132, 36/114, 36/32.00R, 36/25.00R
International ClassificationA43B5/14, A43B13/04, A43B13/00, A43B23/24
Cooperative ClassificationA43B13/125, A43B13/026, A43B13/16, A43B5/14
European ClassificationA43B13/12M, A43B13/16, A43B13/02C, A43B5/14