Title:
Cycling head support
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cycling head support includes a helmet (43) a tower (44) a helmet fastening system (39,40), a pair of leg loops (37), and a system of straps extending along a cyclist's back between the helmet fastening system at one end and the leg loops at the other end. The system of straps includes a neck strap (21A) that detachably connects to the helmet using the helmet fastening system. The neck strap connects at the lower end to a ladder lock buckle (19A). The ladder lock buckle conects to a back strap (17A) which is attached to a triangular O-ring (35) by means of a slider buckle (33). A pair of hip straps (15A) is attached to the triangular O-ring. A leg loop is attached to the lower end of each hip strap.



Inventors:
Duffy, Niall (Arlington, MA, US)
Application Number:
10/270220
Publication Date:
04/15/2004
Filing Date:
10/15/2002
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/468, 2/421
International Classes:
A42B3/04; B62J99/00; A63B69/00; A63B69/16; (IPC1-7): A42B1/24
View Patent Images:
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20100077534Protective sockApril, 2010Gill
20090193560Hand protecting deviceAugust, 2009Provezano et al.
20060053527Modular hatMarch, 2006Schneider
20080158502Voice control welding/cutting helmet functions and settingsJuly, 2008Becker et al.
20060010556Swimwear as information deviceJanuary, 2006Dickey et al.
20050283879System for motion sickness preventionDecember, 2005Graves
20080022436Protective glove with a removable linerJanuary, 2008Hull



Primary Examiner:
LINDSEY, RODNEY M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIALL DUFFY (ARLINGTON, MA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A head support comprising a back strap assembly having an upper end and a lower end, with at least one strap segment being substantially elastic and stretchable, a means for connecting to an article of head gear is secured to said upper end of said back strap assembly,a means for attachment to a rider is secured to said lower end of said back strap assembly, whereby tension in said back strap assembly urges a forward-facing head posture.

2. The head support of claim 1 further including a means for length adjustment for said back strap assembly.

3. The head support of claim 2 wherein said means for length adjustment is selected from a group consisting of ladder-lock buckles, slider buckles, and cord slides.

4. The head support of claim 1 further including a means for length adjustment for the segment of back strap that is stretchable and a separate means for length adjustment for the segment of back strap that is not stretchable.

5. The head support of claim 1 wherein said means for attachment to said rider is at least one garment clip.

6. The head support of claim 1 wherein said means for attachment to said rider is a pair of leg loops.

7. The head support of claim 1 wherein said means for attachment to said rider is a garment having an integrated pelvic harness.

8. The head support of claim 1 wherein said means for connecting to said article of head gear is detachable.

9. The head support of claim 1 wherein said means for connecting to said article of head gear is break-away detachable.

10. The head support of claim 9 wherein the break-away detachable connection is a hook and loop fastening system having a hook surface piece and a loop surface piece.

11. The head support of claim 10 further including a layer of adhesive substantially covering a back side of said hook and loop fastening system whereby the fastening system can be secured to an existing article of head gear.

12. The head support of claim 1 further including a specialized article of head gear having a fastening system fixture that can detachably connect to the upper end of said back strap assembly.

13. The head support device of claim 12 further including a tower, the lower end of the tower being secured to the article of head gear and the upper end of the tower being secured to a component of said means for connecting to an article of head gear whereby the tower provides offset for increased head lifting leverage.

15. The head support of claim 12 wherein the means of connecting said upper end of said back strap assembly to said specialized article of head gear comprises a snap fastening system.

20. The head support of claim 19 wherein said means for connecting said rod to said bicycle frame comprises one or more clamps.

21. The head support of claim 19 wherein said means for connecting said rod to said bicycle frame is a means for pivotably connecting said rod to said bicycle frame.

22. The head support of claim 19 wherein said means for pivotably connecting said rod to said bicycle frame comprises one or more bracket arms that clamp about a bicycle frame at one end and at the other end have a pivotable mount for the rod.

23. The head support of claim 17 further including a means for cord length adjustment.

24. The head support of claim 23 wherein said means for cord-assembly-length adjustment is a slide.

25. The head support of claim 17 wherein the means for connecting to said article of head gear is detachable.

26. The head support of claim 17 wherein the means for connecting to said article of head gear is break-away detachable.

27. The head support of claim 26 wherein the breakaway detachable connection is a hook and loop fastening system having a hook surface piece and a loop surface piece.

28. The head support of claim 26 further including a layer of adhesive substantially covering a back side of said hook and loop fastening system whereby the fastening system can be secured to an existing article of head gear.

29. The head support of claim 17 further including a specialized article of head gear having a fastening system fixture that can detachably connect to the upper end of the cord assembly.

30. The head support device of claim 29 further including a tower, the lower end of the tower being secured to the article of head gear and the upper end of the tower being secured to a fixture for connecting to the upper end of the cord assembly whereby the tower provides offset to increase head lifting leverage.

31. The head support of claim 29 wherein the means of connecting the article of head gear to the cord assembly comprises a snap fastening system.

32. The head support device of claim 17 further including a holder cord secured at one end to the cord assembly and secured at the other end to a garment clip whereby the garment clip can be attached to a rider's collar to prevent the cord assembly from dangling while the head gear connection is detached.

Description:

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

[0001] Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING PROGRAM

[0002] Not Applicable

BACKGROUND—FIELD OF INVENTION

[0003] This invention relates to bicycles, specifically to a device that promotes a safe, forward-facing head posture, provides for improved cyclist speed and endurance, and reduces the incidence of muscle ache in the neck and upper back.

BACKGROUND—DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

[0004] Modern high performance bicycles permit the cyclist to “crouch down” into a streamlined posture. The crouched posture reduces aerodynamic drag thereby improving cycle speed. However, the crouched posture makes viewing in the forward direction difficult. To face forward, the cyclist must crane the neck forward by tensing the posterior muscles of the neck and upper back. The effort is tiresome, uncomfortable, and eventually leads to muscle ache. Consequently, it is difficult to maintain the head in a forward-facing posture for extended periods of time. Periodically, the cyclist must rest the neck and back muscles thereby allowing the head to drop into a downward-facing posture. Such lapses in forward vision may lead to accidents.

[0005] A further consequence of the muscle exertion in the neck and upper back is a reduction in speed and endurance. As these muscles tire, it becomes increasingly difficult for the cyclist to maintain a streamlined, crouched-down posture. Periodically, the cyclist must rest by sitting in an upright posture, creating increased aerodynamic drag. It has been estimated that if a professional bike rider could maintain a crouched posture for the entire distance of a 50 miles race, the time for riding that distance could be reduced by several minutes. As such, the cyclist tires prematurely thereby leading to degraded performance.

[0006] To address the problem, inventors have created optical instruments that improve the rider's forward field of view. U.S. Pat. No. 4,647,165 to Lewis describes an optical viewing system that uses prisms to enable the cyclist to view forward from a downward-facing head posture. U.S. Pat. No. 4,679,916 to Roller uses a pair of goggle-mounted mirrors to enable the cyclist to view forward from a downward-facing head posture. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,375,316 to Le Vantine uses a system of mirrors mounted to the handle bar to enable forward viewing from a downward-facing head posture. However, these devices have not gained widespread popularity, perhaps due to the discrepency between the downward direction of the eyes and the forward direction of the image, which slows reflexes and may cause a sense of disorientation.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 6,089,515 to McGlew teaches the use of a padded chin support mounted to a bicycle's handle bars. The rider rests his chin on the device to support a forward-facing head posture. While the device provides the desired head support for the normal crouched posture, it does not support the full range of body postures used by a cyclist over the course of a typical ride. For example, when the rider stands out of the saddle, the rider's chin is too high to be engaged by the chin support. When the rider leans into a turn, the rider's chin is shifted too far to the side to be engaged by the chin support. When the rider climbs a hill, the chin is too far forward to be comfortably engaged by the chin support. In summary, the benefits of the chin support are provided for only a limited range of rider postures.

[0008] A number of devices have been invented to control head and neck posture for sports other than cycling. However, the object of these devices is not to support a particular head posture, but rather to prevent injury. Examples include U.S. Pat. No. 3,818,509 to Romo et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,437,613 to Reggio et al, and U.S. Pat. No. 3,671,974 to Sims. A feature common to these devices is the employment of a strap or wire on the back of the wearer that connects a body harness to a helmet. In each of these devices, the straps have a short length so that forward neck motion is limited to prevent injuries such as flexion-cervical sprain which occurs when the head is snapped forward. While such devices do control neck posture, the limitations on neck movement make them unsuitable for cycling applications. Full motion of the neck is important for the cyclist to permit viewing traffic approaching from behind and to help maintain balance.

[0009] One invention that does not claim to provide head support is disclosed by Bourdon in U.S. Pat. No. 1,136,307. Bourdon's device includes an elastic strap that connects a head piece to either a shoulder strap or to the garment of the wearer. The strap of Bourdon's device does not provide head support, but is intended rather to hold the article of head gear in position.

[0010] As such, there is need of a device for cyclists that promotes a forward-facing head posture, useful for a wide range of body postures, with benefits to include improved forward vision, reduced neck and back strain, and improved comfort.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

[0011] Accordingly, several objects and advantages of my invention are:

[0012] (a) to promote a forward-facing head posture that provides an improved awareness of obstacles ahead;

[0013] (b) to reduce the effort required to maintain the head in a forward-facing posture;

[0014] (c) to provide a more comfortable, relaxed cycling experience;

[0015] (d) to reduce the occurance of accidents caused by fatigue induced lapses in forward-facing head posture;

[0016] (e) to reduce the incidence of muscle ache and pain in the upper back and neck;

[0017] (f) to improve cyclist speed and endurance by extending the duration that the cyclist can maintain a crouched posture;

[0018] (g) to allow full freedom of motion for the cyclist's head, neck and shoulders;

[0019] (h) to reduce compression of the cyclist's spinal column;

[0020] (i) to provide consistent head support over the wide range of cycling conditions encountered on a typical ride;

[0021] (j) to introduce new cycling equipment with wide appeal to both recreational and competitive cyclists.

[0022] Other objects and advantages are

[0023] (a) comfort

[0024] (b) ease-of-use

[0025] (c) low manufacturing costs

[0026] Further objects and advantages of my invention will become apparent from a consideraton of the drawings and ensuing description.

SUMMARY

[0027] The present invention includes a system of straps connecting a cyclist's head gear to an aft anchoring point. The general objective is to support the head such that muscle tension is reduced in the upper back and neck. Additional benefits include enhanced safety, reduced muscle fatigue and improved comfort. An example embodiment includes an elastic, stretchable strap extending between a cyclist's helmet and the lower back. At the upper end, the strap has an attachment mechanism for detachably connecting with the cyclist's helmet and at the lower end the strap connects to a pair of hip straps, with each hip strap ending with a leg loop to attach to the riders's legs. As the cyclist crouches down, the elastic strap stretches, gently lifting the head into an effortless, forward-facing head posture.

DRAWINGS

Drawing Figures

[0028] FIGS. 1A to 1C show a head support employing garment clips.

[0029] FIGS. 2A to 2B show a head support employing leg loops.

[0030] FIGS. 3A to 3B show a head support employing a pelvic harness integrated into a garment.

[0031] FIGS. 4A to 4C show a head support employing a bicycle-mounted pivoting rod.

[0032] FIGS. 5A to 5B show a head support employing a bicycle-mounted rod.

REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS

[0033] 11 head support employing garment clips

[0034] 13 garment clips

[0035] 15 hip straps

[0036] 17 back strap

[0037] 19 strap-length-adjustment buckle

[0038] 21 neck strap

[0039] 23 loop surface piece

[0040] 25 hook surface piece

[0041] 29 cycling helmet (not part of present invention)

[0042] 31 head support employing leg loops

[0043] 15A hip straps

[0044] 17A back strap

[0045] 19A neck-strap-length-adjustment buckle

[0046] 21A neck strap

[0047] 33 back-strap-length-adjustment buckle

[0048] 35 triangular O-ring

[0049] 37 leg loops

[0050] 39 snap-fastener-female member

[0051] 41 snap-fastener-male member

[0052] 43 cycling helmet

[0053] 44 helmet tower

[0054] 45 head support employing a garment with an integrated pelvic harness

[0055] 47 holder cord

[0056] 49 collar clip

[0057] 53 cycling garment

[0058] 55 breakaway-connection-male member

[0059] 57 breakaway-connection-female member

[0060] 59 helmet-attachment-loop piece

[0061] 61 leg loops

[0062] 15B hip straps

[0063] 17B back strap

[0064] 63 button hole

[0065] 65 button

[0066] 67 three strap joiner piece

[0067] 71 head support employing a pivotably-mounted rod

[0068] 23A loop surface piece

[0069] 25A hook surface piece

[0070] 73 rod

[0071] 75 head-lifting cord

[0072] 76 mounting-bracket assembly

[0073] 77 support-arm pieces

[0074] 79 pivot pin

[0075] 81 protection sleeve

[0076] 83 machine screws

[0077] 85 ring

[0078] 87 slide

[0079] 91 head support employing a fixed mounted rod

[0080] 23B loop surface piece

[0081] 25B hook surface piece

[0082] 73A rod

[0083] 75A head-lifting cord

[0084] 95 rod mounting clamp

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Overview of Alternative Embodiments

[0085] The present invention employs a novel approach to promoting a safe, forward-facing head posture for cyclists. As such, the invention supports a broad breath of embodiments. In each of the embodiments, a strap in tension connected to a cyclist's head gear is employed to counter the downward-facing tendency of the head. The strap acts in parallel with the posterior muscles of the neck and upper back, enabling the muscles to be relaxed. The embodiments differ in how the aft end of the strap is anchored.

[0086] Three of the example embodiments use a strap that is anchored to the rider. These anchoring methods include the use of garment clips, leg loops, and a harness integrated into the cyclist's clothing. In addition to cycling, these embodiments are also suitable for equestrian and motorcross activities.

[0087] Two of the example embodiments use a strap that is anchored to the bicycle. In both methods, a rod mounted aft of the bicycle saddle is used to anchor the strap. In one embodiment, the rod is pivotably mounted so that it can be tilted aft to provide clearance for the cyclist's leg as the cyclist mounts and dismounts the bicycle. In the other embodiment, the rod is mounted at a swept back angle to provide the desired leg clearance.

[0088] In each of the embodiments, the strap tension works in parallel with the posterior muscles of the upper back and neck. The tension in the strap supports the head, alleviating the need for tension in the muscles. Further, the embodiments reduce compression of the spinal column. Since the straps have a greater offset from the spinal column than the muscles, the desired head lifting moment is acheived with reduced total tension causing a reduction in the total compressive load on the spinal column.

[0089] To improve the clarity of the drawings, the embodiments are illustrated with components that are heavier than necessary. The figures shows straps that are thicker and buckles that are larger than necessary so that the drawings are easier to understand. However, lighter components are advantageous as they provide reduced wind resistance, lighter weight and improved comfort. When viewing the figures, the reader should remember that the embodiments may be of lighter construction than that shown, and in fact, a lighter construction is generally desireable.

[0090] The terms ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ are used to specify a particular end of a component. The term ‘upper’ is used to indicate the end that is closest to the rider's head and the term ‘lower’ is used to indicate the opposite end, being furthest from the rider's head.

[0091] Description—FIG. 1—Head Support Employing Garment Clips

[0092] A head support employing garment clips 11 is illustrated in FIG. 1A as it would appear when not in use and in FIG. 1C as it would appear in use. A buckle used for the embodiment is illustrated as it would appear without the strap in FIG. 1B. The present embodiment is intended for use with existing cycling clothing and helmets.

[0093] The head support includes a pair of garment clips 13 that connect to a cyclist's trousers, a fastening system for attachment to a cycling helmet, and a system of straps extending between the garment clips and the helmet fastening system.

[0094] The helmet is any of the helmets used to provide head protection for cyclists, typically having a hard protective impact resistent shell that covers the top and sides of the wearer's head and a chin strap to secure the helmet to the wearer's head. The helmet is not part of the present embodiment.

[0095] A hook and loop fastening system detachably secures the upper end of a neck strap 21 to the helmet. The fastening system includes a hook surface piece 25 and a loop surface piece 23. The hook surface piece has a layer of adhesive on the back for permanent attachment to the helmet. Before use, the adhesive layer is protected with a covering layer of paper, plastic or other suitable material.

[0096] The loop surface piece is secured to the upper end of the neck strap with stitching. The hook and loop fastening system is used to secure the neck strap to the helmet of FIG. 1C, but is not visible.

[0097] Neck strap 21 is an assembly of segments of cord, line, webbing, ribbon, rope, filament, or strap. The segments are connected in series with at least one segment 21 being elastic and stretchable. The elasticity of the strap is such that a comfortable strap tension is maintained, pulling the top of the helmet backwards to promote a forward-facing head posture. As the cyclist crouches down, the distance from the head to the hips increases, causing the strap to stretch tighter. As the strap tension increases, the head is gently lifted into a relaxed, easy-to-maintain forward-facing head posture. The neck stap length is typically about one foot or less, depending on the build and preferrence of the rider.

[0098] The neck strap is connected to a back strap 17 with a strap-length-adjustment-buckle 19. The buckle is of the type sometimes referred to as a ladder-lock buckle. This type of buckle is widely used in backpack designs for length adjustment of the shoulder straps. The buckle, shown in FIG. 1B, is basically a rectangular O-ring with two rungs passing through the opening: an upper rung and a lower rung. The lower end of the neck strap is formed into a loop about the upper rung of the buckle and stitched in place to secure the neck strap to the buckle. The upper end of a back strap 17 is passed through the opening between the rungs from below, over the lower rung and down through the opening below the lower rung, exiting on the underside of lower end of the buckle.

[0099] Back strap 17 is a segment of cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing, fabric or strap. The strap is made of a flexible, lightweight material, with a strap length that is generally between one foot and two feet depending on the height of the cyclist.

[0100] The lower end of the back strap is secured to the upper ends of a pair of hip straps 15 with stitching. The hip straps are segments of flexible cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing or strap. The two hip straps have the same length, generally being between five and fifteen centimeters long.

[0101] One garment clip is secured to the lower end of each hip strap. These clips are of a type often used in suspenders to secure the suspender straps to trousers.

[0102] The strength of the straps, buckles, and fasteners of the head support device is generally specified to support tensions of up to about 10 lbs, depending on the wearer's build and preference.

[0103] The present embodiment provides an inexpensive, easy-to-use device intended to introduce cyclists to the head support. Preparation is quick, easy, and requires no tools. The device is ready for use within minutes of purchase and can be used with existing helmets and clothing.

[0104] Description—FIG. 2 Head Support Employing Leg Loops

[0105] An embodiment of a head support employing leg loops 31 is illustrated in FIG. 2A as it would appear when not in use and in FIG. 2B as it would appear in use.

[0106] Head support 31 includes a pair of leg loops 37 that encircle the user's thighs, a cycling helmet 43, and a system of straps extending between the helmet and the leg loops.

[0107] Helmet 43 of the present embodiment is similar to existing cycling helmets, but is fitted with a snap fastener system to provide a detachable connection to a neck strap 21A. A snap-fastener-female member 41 is secured to a helmet tower 44. The tower is mounted to the top of helmet 43 with adhesive, rivets, bolts or screws.

[0108] A snap-fastener-male member 39 is secured to the upper end of the neck strap using stitching, adhesive, or rivets. The snap-fastener system prevents injury by enabling the neck strap to detach should the strap snag on a stationary object such as a tree branch or a fence post.

[0109] The tower is a light-weight structure of plastic, extending an inch or two above the helmet. The function of the tower is to increase the head lifting leverage of the neck strap. An optional reflector surface may be attached to the back side of the tower to make the helmet easier to see at night. The reflector surface is not shown in the figures.

[0110] Neck strap 21A is an assembly of segments of cord, line, webbing, ribbon, rope, filament, or strap. The strap segments are connected in series with at least one segment of the neck strap being elastic and stretchable. The elasticity of the strap is such that a comfortable strap tension is maintained, pulling the top of the helmet backwards to promote a forward-facing head posture.

[0111] The neck strap is connected to a back strap 17A with a neck-strap-length-adjustment buckle 19A. The buckle is of the type sometimes referred to as a ladder-lock buckle. This type of buckle is used for the first embodiment, however, in this embodiment, the direction of the buckle is reversed, with the free end of the neck strap emerging from the upper end of the buckle. The back strap is looped about the lower rung, and secured in place with stitching.

[0112] The back strap is a segment of cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing or strap. The strap is made of a flexible, lightweight material. The strap length is generally less than two feet, depending on the size and body build of the rider.

[0113] The lower end of the back strap is secured to the upper ends of a pair of hip straps 15A with a triangular O-ring 35. The back strap is passed through the triangular O-ring and attached to itself with a back-strap-length-adjustment buckle 33.

[0114] The back-strap-length-adjustment buckle is of a type sometimes referred to as a slider buckle. This type of buckle is used in many satchel designs for adjustment of shoulder strap length. The slider buckle is made of nylon or metal, and has a rectangular form with a rung through the middle. A loop is formed from the lower end of the back strap about the middle rung of the slider buckle and secured in place with stitching.

[0115] As the slider buckle is moved away from the O-ring, the portion of the strap that is doubled-up lengthens, causing the overall length to be reduced. Conversely, as the slider buckle is moved towards the O-ring, the overall length increases. The slider buckle locks into position when the strap is in tension, due to increased friction between the rung and the strap.

[0116] The present embodiment employs two separate strap length adjustments, the ladder-lock buckle and the slider buckle. The ladder-lock buckle adjusts the length of the neck strap, which is stretchable and elastic, and the slider buckle adjusts the length of the back strap, which is not stretchable. Either buckle can be used to adjust the overall length. By having two buckles, the rider can control the length of the elastic strap and separately control the overall strap length. By providing separate length control for the stretchable and non-stretchable sections, the rider can control the rate at which the strap provides support as the rider crouches down.

[0117] The triangular O-ring is a ring of metal or nylon having three straight segments connected together by means of curved segments. At least two of the straight segments have the same length and these form a shape like the letter “V” with the point of the “V” facing downward. The third side is the uppermost segment and is oriented horizontally when in use.

[0118] The hip straps are attached to each of the two lower sides of the triangular O-ring. The attachments are made by forming loops in the hip straps about the O-ring, and securing the loops with stitching.

[0119] The hip straps are segments of flexible cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing or strap. Both hip straps have the same length, generally being between two and fifteen centimeters long.

[0120] One leg loop is secured to the lower end of each hip strap. The leg loops are segments of flexible cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing or strap. The free-ends of each segment are stitched together to form the loop. The loop circumference is sized to fit loosely around the cyclist's thighs.

[0121] The straps, buckles, fasteners, and leg loops are intended to support tension loads of up to 10 lbs, depending on the wearer's preference and body build.

[0122] The cyclist's head support eases the effort required to maintain a forward-facing head posture from the crouched-down position. The benefits include enhanced safety, improved speed and reduced muscle ache in the neck and upper back.

[0123] The leg loops of the present embodiment can be used with most existing cycling clothing to provide a secure, comfortable means of anchoring the lower end of the head support to the rider. The use of two buckles for length-adjustment provides for improved support over a wide range of rider postures. The helmet is equipped with a helmet tower to provide increased leverage thereby permitting an effortless forward-facing head posture with reduced compression of the spinal column.

[0124] Description—FIG. 3 Head Support Employing a Garment with an Integrated Pelvic Harness

[0125] An embodiment of a head support employing a garment with an integrated pelvic harness 45 is illustrated in FIG. 3A as it would appear when not in use and in FIG. 3B as it would appear when in use.

[0126] The head support includes a cycling garment 53, a helmet-attachment-loop piece 59 for attachment to helmet 29, and a system of straps extending between the cycling garment and the helmet fastening system. The helmet is any of the helmets used to provide head protection for cyclists. The helmet is not part of the present embodiment.

[0127] Helmet attachment loop piece 59 is a segment of cord, ribbon or strap, in which the ends are connected together by means of stitching. A breakaway connection is used to fasten helmet attachment loop piece 59 to the upper end of a back strap 17B.

[0128] The breakaway connnection includes a breakaway-connection-male member 55 that is secured to the lower end of the helmet attachment loop and a breakaway-connection-female member 57 that is secured to the upper end of the back strap. The male member fits snugly inside the female member. The fit is specified to enable the connection to break at a preset tension. The breakaway tension is selected to be sufficient to provide adequate head support, but not so great that a snagged strap can cause neck injury. Typically, the breakaway tension setting will be in the range of 1 to 10 lbs, depending on the body build and support preference of the rider.

[0129] Back strap 17B is similar to the back straps of the aforementioned embodiments, being an assembly of segments of cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing, fabric, or strap. The strap segments are made of flexible, lightweight materials with at least one segment being stretchable and elastic. The overall back strap length is generally between one foot and three feet depending on the body build of the rider.

[0130] A holder cord 47 is secured to back strap 17B near the upper end of the back strap. A collar clip 49 is secured to the other end of the holder cord. The holder cord is a segment of cord with a length of about fifteen centimeters. The collar clip is a small clamp intended to be fastened to clothing, such as the collar of the cyclist's shirt. The collar clip is of a type found in many suspender designs for attachment to trousers.

[0131] The lower end of the back strap is attached to a pair of hip straps 15B with a three strap joiner piece 67. The joiner piece is a three sided piece of leather or plastic. The straps are secured to the joiner piece with stitching or adhesive.

[0132] The lower ends of the hip straps each have a button 65 for attachment to a cycling garment 53. The cycling garment includes a conventional cycling garment such as trousers, shorts or a body suit and a pelvic harness comprising a pair of leg loops 61 that are sewn into the garment.

[0133] The harness loops are secured to the inside of the garment in the region of the lower back by means of stitching. A pair of flaps are mounted on the outside of the garment, directly behind the loop-garment attachment. Stitching for the flap attachment secures the flap to the garment and secures the garment to the loop ends. Each flap is about an inch long and has a button hole 63 for receiving the buttons of the hip straps.

[0134] By design, flap is attached directly behind the garment-loop, any tension applied to the flap is transferred directly to the leg loops. The leg loops are sized such that when the flaps are pulled upwards, tension is supported by the leg loops rather than by the crotch of the garment.

[0135] While the present embodiment is more complicated and more expensive to produce than the aforementioned embodiments, it offers potential for greater convenience in that the rider need not put on leg loops or attach garment clips before use. Further, the leg loops integrated into the garment offer potential for greater comfort. The collar clip and holder cord provide a means to prevent the back strap from dangling should the helmet connection become detached.

[0136] Description—FIG. 4 Head Support Employing a Pivotably-Mounted Rod

[0137] An embodiment of a head support employing a pivotably-mounted rod 71 is illustrated in FIG. 4A as it would appear when not in use and in FIG. 4C as it would appear when in use.

[0138] The head support 71 includes a bicycle-mounted rod 73, a helmet fastening system, and a head-lifting cord 75 extending between the helmet fastening system and the bicycle-mounted rod.

[0139] Rod 73 is made from a light-weight, flexible material such as fiberglass, composites, bamboo, or plastic. The cross sectional shape of rod 73 is circular. The rod length is about 4 feet; long enough to prevent the cord from rubbing against the back of the crouched rider.

[0140] The helmet fastening system detachably connects a helmet 29 to cord 75. Helmet 29 is any of the helmets used to provide head protection for cyclists. The helmet is not part of the present embodiment.

[0141] The helmet fastening system includes a loop surface piece 23A and a hook surface piece 25A. A layer of adhesive is attached to the back of the hook surface piece for attachment to the helmet. (A similar helmet attachment system is used for the embodiment of FIG. 1.)

[0142] Head-lifting cord 75 is an assembly of segments of cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing or strap, connected in series. One segment of the cord is elastic and stretchable. The combined flexure of the cord and rod is such that a comfortable strap tension is maintained. As the cyclist crouches down, tension in the cord increases, gently lifting the head to support a forward-facing head posture.

[0143] The lower end of cord 75 is passed through a ring 85 and secured to itself by means of a slide 87. An opening is provided in the rod, near the upper end, for receiving the ring. The ring is a cylindrically shaped segment of metal that is passed through the rod opening, and formed into a ring, such that the segment ends contact each other.

[0144] The slide is of a type commonly used to adjust the length of guy lines for small portable tents. The slide, shown in FIG. 4B as it would appear without the cord, consists of a thin elongated piece of nylon, having three circular openings, with a diameter slightly larger than the diameter of cord 75. Two of the openings are near the lower end, a lower end opening and an middle opening. The third opening is near the upper end.

[0145] The lower end of the cord is passed through upper-end opening of the slide and then passed through the slide middle opening. The cord end is then passed through ring 85 and then through the slide lower end opening. A knot is made at the end of the cord to prevent it from being pulled through the lower end opening.

[0146] The rod is mounted to the bicycle behind the saddle using a mounting-bracket assembly 76. The bicycle is any of the bicycles in which the cyclist uses a conventional, non-reclining posture. The bicycle is not part of the present invention.

[0147] The mounting-bracket assembly includes a pair of support-arm pieces 77, a protection sleeve 81, a set of three screws 83, and a pivot pin 79.

[0148] The lower end of rod 73 is pivotably mounted between the pair of support-arm pieces. The support-arm pieces are thin elongated pieces of metal, nylon or any other strong, lightweight material. The pieces are curved and bent to enable the forward end of the support-arm pieces to be tightened about the seat post of the bicycle. To protect the bicycle finish, protection sleeve 81 is inserted between the bicycle frame and the support-arm pieces. The protection sleeve is a sheet of soft plastic material such as polypropylene.

[0149] The rear end of the support-arm pieces are sandwiched about the rod. To accomodate a pivot 79, aligned openings are provided in the left-support-arm piece, the rod, and the right-support-arm piece. The pivot is a smoothly finished, cyclindrically-shaped piece of metal with threading at one end and a flange at the other end. A slot is provided on the outside of the flange to receive a flathead screwdriver. The pivot opening on the right-support-arm piece is unthreaded and the opening on the left-support-arm piece is threaded.

[0150] Openings are provided in the support-arm pieces to receive screws for securing the support-arm pieces together about the seat post of the bicycle. The forward ends of the right and left support-arm pieces are clamped together about the seat post of the bicycle using screws 83. The right-side-support-arm piece has unthreaded holes and the left-side-support-arm piece has threaded holes to receive the screws.

[0151] The upper edges of the bracket pieces are shaped so that the edges come together in front of the rod. The shaping forms a pivot stop that limits pivot motion in the forward direction, enabling the rod to support a load when tension is applied to cord 75.

[0152] The rod is pivotably mounted so that it can be tilted backwards to provide leg clearance when the bicycle is mounted or dismounted. During a ride, the rod is pivoted to the forwardmost position, against the pivot stop, so that it can support tension in the head support.

[0153] The present embodiment is more expensive to manufacture than the aforementioned embodiments since it includes more elaborate hardware components such as the mounting bracket and rod. Further, the present embodiment is more difficult to prepare for use since the rod assembly must first be mounted to the bicycle. However, once installed, the present embodiment is easier to use than the aforementioned embodiments in that the rider need not wear special clothing, attach garment clips or wear leg loops. All that is required prior to use is to connect the detachable helmet fastener to the helmet. The rider is then ready for a comfortable cycling experience with reduced muscle ache in the neck and upper back.

[0154] Description—FIG. 5—Head Support Employing a Fixed-Mounted Rod

[0155] An embodiment of a head support employing a fixed-mounted rod 91 is illustrated in FIG. 5A as it would appear when in use. An enlargement of a rod-mounting bracket is illustrated in FIG. 5B.

[0156] The head support 91 includes a helmet fastening system, a bicycle-mounted rod 73A, and a head-lifting cord 75A extending between the helmet fastening system and the bicycle-mounted rod.

[0157] A hook and loop fastening system detachably secures the upper end of head-lifting cord 75A to helmet 29. The helmet is any of the helmets used to provide head protection for cyclists. The helmet is not part of the present embodiment.

[0158] The helmet fastening system includes a hook surface piece 25B and a loop surface piece 23B. The hook surface piece has a layer of adhesive on the back for attachment to the helmet. (A similar helmet attachment system is used for the embodiments of FIG. 1. and FIG. 4.)

[0159] Head-lifting cord 75A is a segment of cord, ribbon, rope, filament, line, webbing or strap. The cord may be at least partially elastic and stretchable depending on the flexibility of the rod. The combined flexure of the cord and rod is such that a comfortable strap tension is maintained. As the cyclist crouches down, tension in the cord increases, gently lifting the head to support a forward-facing head posture.

[0160] Rod 73A is made from a light-weight, flexible material such as fiberglass, composites, bamboo, or plastic with a circular cross sectional shape. The rod is bowed forward so that the top is positioned forward where it can be easily reached by the rider; yet, the lower end of the rod is positioned aft to provide sufficient clearance for the rider's leg to be swung over the saddle when the bicycle is mounted or dismounted.

[0161] The rod length is about 5 feet; long enough to provide ample height for the cord to pass above the crouched riders back.

[0162] The lower end of cord 75A is joined to the upper end of rod 73A by means of a snugly fitting metal sleeve that extends around both pieces, binding them together.

[0163] Rod 73A is mounted to the bicycle with a pair of rod mounting clamps 95. The clamps are rings of metal, nylon or plastic that secure rod 73A to the bicycle frame. The clamps are of a design similar to those used to secure automotive radiator hoses. The clamps are rings of metal which can be opened, closed, and tightened around both the rod and the frame members of the bicycle. Clamp 95 includes a liner of a soft material such as polypropylene to protect the bicycle from scratching. The liner is not shown.

[0164] The present embodiment shares many of the advantages and disadvantages of the embodiment of FIG. 4. The present embodiment alleviates the need for the rider to wear special clothing, to put on leg loops or to attach garment clips. The present embodiment is simpler to manufacture than the embodiment using the pivotably mounted rod and can probably be manufactured at a lower cost. However, the present embodiment uses a longer rod that creates increased wind resistence.

[0165] Operation—FIG. 1—Head Support Employing Garment Clips

[0166] The head support employing garment clips is intended for use with existing cycling helmets. The helmet is prepared for use by pressing the adhesive side of hook surface piece 25 against helmet 29. The adhesive provides a secure, permanent connection between the helmet and the hook surface piece.

[0167] The rider opens garment clips 13, and closes them about the clothing covering the lower back, whether it be shorts, pants, or a body suit. The garment clips provide a means of anchoring the lower end of the support to the rider in the region of the lower back.

[0168] The cyclist puts on the prepared helmet, secures it in place with the helmet chin strap, and attaches the neck strap to the helmet by pressing the loop surface piece of the neck strap onto the helmet hook surface piece to provide a secure, detachable helmet connection.

[0169] The desired head-lifting tension is set by adjusting strap length. To increase strap tension, the strap is shortened. To reduce strap tension, the strap is lengthened. Ideally, strap tension is sufficient to provide the desired head-lifting support yet does not restrict the riders ability to face downward.

[0170] To shorten the strap, the free end of back strap 17 is pulled down, causing the strap to pass through the buckle. To increase the length, the lower end of the buckle is lifted in an outward direction, thereby allowing the strap to slide out of the ladder rungs. The tension setting depends on the rider's preference, but is typically sufficient such that little or no effort is required to face the head forward. The strap length adjustment can be made with one hand, while the head support is in use.

[0171] Since the strap has greater offset from the spinal column than the posterior muscles of the upper back and neck, the tension required to lift the head is less than the tension requirment using muscle alone. Consequently, the head support provides an overall reduction in compression of the spinal column.

[0172] After the ride, the rider dismounts the bicycle in the normal fashion. The helmet is disconnected by pulling the loop surface piece at the end of the neck strap away from the hook surface piece on the helmet. The head support is removed by disconnecting the garment clips from the rider's trousers.

[0173] Operation—FIG. 2—Head Support Employing Leg Loops

[0174] No preparation is required for the present embodiment before use. The rider puts on the helmet and fastens the neck strap. Next the rider puts on the head support by stepping into the leg loops and pulling the loops up over the thighs. The rider grasps the neck strap, lifts the end of the strap toward the rider's head and connects the snap-fastener-female member of the neck strap to the snap-fastener-male member on the tower of the helmet.

[0175] The rider controls the degree of head support by adjusting either of two buckles. The neck-strap-length-adjustment buckle adjusts the length of the neck strap, which is elastic and stretchable, and back-strap-length-adjustment buckle adjusts the length of the back strap, which is not stretchable. By having two buckles, the rider can control the length of the elastic strap and separately control the overall strap length.

[0176] As the rider crouches down, the distance between the leg loops and the helmet increases, causing the strap tension to increase. If the elastic portion of the support is too long, the tension will not increase sufficiently to provide the desired support. If the elastic portion is too short, the tension will increase too suddenly as the cyclist crouches down, limiting the riders ability to face downward.

[0177] The neck-strap-adjustment buckle uses a ladder-lock type buckle. The neck strap is lengthened by pulling the upper end of the buckle downward and outward to relieve the strap friction, enabling the strap to slide through the ladder rungs. The strap is shortened by pulling the lower end of the neck strap upwards.

[0178] The back-strap-adjustment buckle uses a slider-type buckle for adjustment of the inelastic back strap. Sliding the buckle up towards the head lengthens the strap, sliding the buckle down towards the lower back shortens the strap. Before the buckle can be moved, strap tension must first be relieved by having the cyclist rise to an upright posture.

[0179] Periodically the back strap tension is re-adjusted to accomodate the changing support preferences of the cyclist over the duration of the ride.

[0180] After the ride, the rider dismounts the bicycle, disconnects the snap fastener system from the helmet, and pulls the leg loops down to remove them from the legs.

[0181] Operation—FIG. 3—Head Support a Employing Garment with an Integrated Pelvic Harness

[0182] Prior to use the rider prepares the helmet by attaching loop piece 59. The attachment is made by passing the break-away connection of the loop in through one vent hole and out through another vent hole, and then back out through the loop piece. This arrangement secures the loop to the helmet.

[0183] The rider wears the prepared helmet and cycling garment 57. The female and male breakaway connections are joined, and the hip strap buttons 63 are passed through button holes 65 of the cycling garment. Collar clip 49 is attached to the collar of the rider. The purpose of the collar clip and holder cord is to prevent back strap 17B from dangling and possibly becoming tangled in the wheels should the breakaway connection detach. This particular embodiment has no means for adjusting strap tension.

[0184] The rider cycles in the usual fashion, except that the head support provides an effortless forward-facing head posture. The tension of the back strap is comfortably supported by the leg loops incorporated into the cycling garment of the present embodiment.

[0185] After the ride, the rider dismounts the bicycle, disconnects the breakaway helmet connection, unclips garment clip 49 from the rider's collar, and unbuttons the hip straps to detach them from the trousers.

[0186] Operation—FIG. 4—Head Support Employing a Pivotably-Mounted Rod

[0187] Prior to use, rod mounting-bracket assembly 76 is mounted to the bicycle frame using the following steps. First, protection sleeve 81 is wrapped about the bicycle-saddle-post tube. Support-arm pieces 77 are placed on each side of the sleeve. Once in place, screws 83 are inserted and tightened to secure mounting-bracket assembly 76 to the bicycle. Rod 73 is positioned so that the support-arm-pivot opening aligns with the opening at the lower end of the rod. Pivot pin 79 is passed through the right-side-support-arm-pivot opening, through the rod, and turned with a screw driver to engage the threading of the pivot with the threading of the left-side-support-arm-pivot opening.

[0188] The rod is pivoted backwards so that the rider can swing his leg over the saddle as he mounts the bicycle. After mounting, the cyclist grasps the rod, and pulls it forward. The loop surface piece at the end of the cord is grasped and pressed against the hook surface on the helmet. The head support is ready for use.

[0189] The rider is ready to begin cycling. As the rider crouches down, the head-support tension increases, lifting the head into an effortless, forward-facing posture. The cyclist rides the bicycle in the usual fashion, but in greater comfort. After the ride, the cyclist detaches the loop surface piece from the helmet, pivots the rod backwards, and dismounts the bicycle in the usual fashion.

[0190] Operation—FIG. 5—Head Support Employing a Fixed Mounted Rod

[0191] Prior to use, the rod is attached to the bicycle frame using mounting rings 95. The rings are fully opened and wrapped around the bicycle frame and the rod. The rod is positioned such that the lower end passes through the rings, and the rod is aligned roughly vertically, with a slight tilt backwards. The rings are loosely tightened to hold the rod in place. The cyclist then mounts the bicycle to test the rod position.

[0192] Ideally the cyclist's leg can be swung over the saddle without being obstructed by the rod. If the rod obstructs the leg when the rider mounts the bicycle, the rod must be repositioned, with a greater tilt-back angle to increase leg clearance. The tilt-back angle should not be too great, or the cyclist will not be able to reach the cord when it is hanging down before attachment to the helmet. If the cord cannot be reached, the rod should be slanted further forward, bringing the cord closer to the rider. When the rod is positioned correctly, the fastening rings are tightened to secure the rod in place.

[0193] The helmet is prepared for use by pressing the adhesive side of hook surface piece 25B against helmet 29. The adhesive provides a secure, permanent connection between the helmet and the hook surface piece.

[0194] The rider mounts the bicycle in the usual fashion. The rider reaches back and grabs the head-lifting cord and presses the loop-surface piece against the helmet hook-surface piece to provide a breakaway connection between the cord and the helmet.

[0195] The cyclist rides the bicycle in the usual manner with an effortless, forward-facing head posture. After the ride, the loop surface piece is pulled off the helmet, and the rider dismounts the bicycle in the normal fashion.

[0196] Conclusions, Ramifications, and Scope

[0197] Accordingly, the reader will see that the head supports of this invention provide improved ride comfort, reduced muscle ache in the neck and upper back, and potential to improve speed, endurance and safety. The devices are simple, easy-to-produce, inexpensive-to-manufacture, and easy-to-use.

[0198] Although the description above contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. For example, the head support may connect to types of head gear other than a helmet such as goggles, head bands, motorcycle helmets, horse riding helmets, skull caps and other types of head gear.

[0199] The example embodiments described in this application illustrate a number of different components suitable for use in the cycling head support. The embodiments illustrate how particular components can be used, but are not intended to limit which combinations of components are suitable. Rather, the components should be considered interchangeable from one embodiment to another. For example, the helmet tower of the embodiment of FIG. 2 is equally suitable with any of the other embodiments. Similarly, the use of two strap-length adjustments, used in the embodiment of FIG. 2, provides similar benefits when used the other embodiments. Further, the holder cord and collar clip of the embodiment of FIG. 3 are also suitable for use with each of the other embodiments. As such, the various components descrived herein can be mixed and matched to provide additional embodiments of the present invention.

[0200] Further, the hip straps of the first embodiment may be omitted by extending the length of the back strap and securing a single garment clip to the lower end. The hip straps of the second embodiment may be omitted by increasing the length of the leg loops so that the upper ends of the leg loops can be connected to each other and then directly to the lower end of the back strap. Further, for each of the embodiments employing hip straps, the hip strap length may be extended without loss of performance.

[0201] The embodiments of the present invention employ several different of means for adjusting the length of straps and cords including slider buckles, ladder-lock buckles and slides. However, there exist a variety of additional means for length adjustment that are also suitable for the invention including side release buckles, military style belt buckles, pin buckles, cord locks, hook and loop strap connections and helmet-mounted cleats. Further, the different options for strap-length adjustment are interchangeable among the different embodiments.

[0202] Lastly, in the detachable helmet fastening systems, the fastening elements can be interchanged. For example, the hook and loop fastening system has equal effectiveness if the loop-surface piece has adhesive for attachment to the helmet and the hook-surface piece is stitched to the neck strap. Similarly, the snap fastener pieces can be switched such that the snap-fastener-male member is secured to the helmet and the snap-fastener-female member is secured to the neck strap. Further, the breakaway connection male and female pieces can be interchanged, such that the female piece is secured to the loop piece and the male member is secured to the back strap.

[0203] Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.