Title:
In-line skate
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An in-line skate having at least a front roller, a rear roller and an intermediate roller carried by a beam. The beam is canted outwardly at the top so that the beam will flex outwardly and at an angle to downward/outward pressure exerted by the skater's foot, creating an arc and resulting in a turn. All of the rollers are mounted to the outer side of the beam. In a preferred embodiment, there are two intermediate rollers that are offset outwardly from the front and rear rollers so that when the skater leans into a turn the intermediate rollers of the outer skate move out of contact with the ground, allowing the beam to flex outwardly at an angle to the force applied to it producing the arc that results in a curved turn. The inner skate rides on the intermediate rollers only, for improved maneuverability.



Inventors:
Owen, David (Toronto, CA)
Application Number:
10/817790
Publication Date:
10/06/2005
Filing Date:
04/06/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C17/04; A63C17/06; (IPC1-7): A63C17/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VANAMAN, FRANK BENNETT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BERESKIN & PARR LLP/S.E.N.C.R.L., s.r.l. (TORONTO, ON, CA)
Claims:
1. A skate comprising: a boot for receiving a wearer's foot and having a sole defining a plane below the foot in use, the boot having an inner side and an outer side corresponding to inner and outer sides respectively of the foot; a beam extending longitudinally of and below the sole and having a first and second end portions; means coupling the beam to the sole intermediate said end portions; and at least three rollers coupled to the beam in positions spaced along the beam and corresponding respectively to a front roller, an intermediate roller and a rear roller; wherein the beam is flexible with respect to said attachment means both in a first plane generally towards and away from the sole and in a second plane generally laterally with respect to the first plane, wherein the beam is oriented with said first plane angled upwardly and outwardly towards said outer side of the boot so that the beam will flex laterally in response to lateral forces exerted on the boot by a skater in use, and wherein the front and rear rollers are disposed in a common plane parallel to the beam and the intermediate roller is offset outwardly from the plane containing the front and rear rollers.

2. A skate as claimed in claim 1, having two said intermediate rollers coupled to the beam in a common plane parallel to the plane containing the front and rear rollers, said intermediate rollers being spaced outwardly along the beam from said means coupling the beam to the sole of the boot.

3. A skate as claimed in claim 2, wherein said intermediate rollers are wider than the front and rear rollers.

4. A skate as claimed in claim 2, wherein all of said rollers are disposed at an outer side of the beam.

5. A skate as claimed in claim 1, wherein said beam comprises a rail of rectangular cross-section which has an upper edge and is canted outwardly towards said upper edge.

6. A skate as claimed in claim 5, wherein said beam is a glass fiber reinforced resin beam.

7. A skate as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first plane is angled upwardly and outwardly with respect to said plane defined by the sole of the boot, at an angle of approximately 110°.

8. A skate as claimed in claim 1, wherein the beam has greater flexibility in said second plane than in said first plane.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to so-called “in-line” skates; that is, skates that are designed to be used on pavement or other hard surfaces and that include a series of rollers or wheels disposed in line.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A conventional in-line skate includes a relatively rigid body or frame in which the wheels are fixed for rotation. The wheels are disposed in a straight-line configuration.

The prior art contains examples of attempts to provide an in-line skate with improved turning performance. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,846 (Soderberg) discloses a skate in which front and rear wheels are carried by a beam and the beam is attached at its center to a backbone frame of the skate. The intention is that the beam will flex from side-to-side in turns so that the wheels or rollers will more closely follow the curve of the turn. The beam is essentially a flat plate disposed on edge in a plane at right angles to the sole of the skate boot. Examples of other prior art patents that were considered in the preparation of this application are:

US Des. 355,235 (Homma)
US Des. 355,945 (Homma)
U.S. Pat. No. 3,684,305 (McDonald et al.)
U.S. Pat. No. 4,134,598 (Urisaka)
U.S. Pat. No. 4,572,528 (McBride)
U.S. Pat. No. 4,768,793 (Spencer)
U.S. Pat. No. 4,886,298 (Shols)
U.S. Pat. No. 4,898,403 (Johnson)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,183,276 (Pratt)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,195,781 (Osawa)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,251,920 (McHale)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,382,031 (Marconato et al.)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,388,623 (Homma et al.)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,492,352 (St. Clair)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,549,309 (Gleichmann)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,673,941 (Osawa)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,855,385 (Hambsch)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,901,981 (Lucht)
U.S. Pat. No. 5,975,542 (Kaufman)
U.S. Pat. No. 6,042,123 (Eck, Sr.)
U.S. Pat. No. 6,241,264 (Page)
U.S. Pat. No. 6,435,558 (Osawa)
DE 30 37 498.2
FR 2 585 260 (Bect)
EP 0 169 185 (Hoog)

An object of the present invention is to provide an in-line skate which will have enhanced turning characteristics akin to those that are experienced when a skier “carves” a turn on snow.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The skate provided by the invention includes a boot for receiving a wearer's foot and having a sole which defines a plane below the foot. The boot has an inner side and an outer side corresponding to inner and outer sides respectively of the wearer's foot. A beam extends longitudinally of and beneath the sole of the boot and has front and rear end portions and means coupling the beam to the sole intermediate the end portions. At least three rollers or wheels are provided and are coupled to the beam at positions spaced longitudinally thereof so that there is a front roller, an intermediate roller and a rear roller. The beam is flexible with respect to the attachment means both in a first plane generally towards and away from the sole and in a second plane generally laterally with respect to the first plane. The beam is oriented with the first plane angled upwardly towards the outer side of the boot so that the beam will flex laterally in response to outwardly-directed lateral forces exerted on the boot by a skater in use. The front and rear rollers are disposed in a common plane parallel to the beam and the intermediate roller is offset outwardly from that plane.

An important feature of the invention is the fact that the beam is flexible in the second plane referred to above. For example, in an embodiment in which the beam has the configuration of a flat rail of rectangular cross-section, the beam will be disposed on edge but tilted or canted outwardly at the top. As such, when the skater is standing upright and imposing a vertical load on the beam, the load will be applied to the center region of the beam, so that the beam would bow outwardly at its center but for the presence of the intermediate roller. The outward offset of the intermediate roller with respect to the front and rear rollers means that, when the skater leans into a turn, the intermediate roller of the outer skate moves out of contact with the ground, allowing the beam to bend. The load imposed on the beam will be a vector comprising a component of the weight of the skater, and the effect of centrifugal force as the skater goes around the turn. In other words, this design ensures that the beam does indeed bend in a turn.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, there are two intermediate rollers disposed outwardly along the beam from its attachment point to the boot.

While it is possible for the rollers to be mounted to the inside and/or to the outside of the beam, in a preferred embodiment, the rollers are mounted on the outside of the beam and there are two intermediate rollers that are offset outwardly with respect to the front and rear rollers. In a turn, the inside skate will be tilted towards the outer side of the wearer's foot, which means that the intermediate rollers will take all of the weight of the skater for that inside foot and the front and rear rollers will move out of contact with the ground. This will provide the inside skate with greater maneuverability since the contact patches between the skate and the ground will be relatively close to the point of attachment of the beam to the boot. In other words, the skate will have a much shorter effective wheelbase than when all of the rollers are on the ground.

The intermediate rollers may be wider than the front and rear rollers. The intermediate rollers then have a wider contact patch with the ground than the front and rear rollers and, consequently, more grip.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order that the invention may be more clearly understood, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings which illustrate a particular preferred embodiment of the invention by way of example, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view from below and the inner side of a skate in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a corresponding elevational view from the outer side of the skate;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view from the rear showing a pair of skates in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 4 is a view corresponding to FIG. 3 but from the front and showing the skates oriented as in a turn;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view from above of the outer skate in a turn;

FIG. 6 is a schematic underneath plan view showing both skates in the turn;

FIGS. 7 and 8 are detail elevational views from the rear (i.e. as in FIG. 3) showing the left-hand skate respectively unloaded and loaded as in normal use;

FIGS. 9a and 9b are detail views showing the front or rear roller of the left-hand skate boot as seen in FIG. 3, in which the beam is angled to respectively different amounts; and,

FIG. 10 is a view corresponding to FIG. 6 illustrating an alternative embodiment of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring first to FIG. 1, a skate in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention is generally indicated by reference numeral 20. The skate includes a boot 22 for receiving a wearer's foot and having a sole 24. A rail or beam 26 extends longitudinally of and below the sole 24. The beam carries a series of in-line rollers, comprising a front roller 28, a rear roller 30 and two intermediate rollers 32 and 34. The beam 26 is coupled generally at the center of its length to the sole of the boot by a carrier 36.

The drawings show at 22 a typical moulded boot such as might be used for skis or in-line skates. It is to be understood that the particular style of boot shown is by way of illustration only and that many different styles or types of boot may be used in accordance with the invention. In FIG. 1, the skate is seen from the inner side 22a of the boot, corresponding to the inner side of a wearer's foot. FIG. 3 shows a pair of skates as seen from the rear. FIG. 1 corresponds to a view of the left-hand skate as seen in the direction of arrow “A” in FIG. 3. FIG. 2 on the other hand is a view as seen from the outer side 22b of the right boot, corresponding to the outer side of a wearer's foot. The skates in a pair are essentially a mirror image of one another. FIG. 2 corresponds to an elevational view of the right-hand boot in FIG. 3 as seen in the direction of arrow “B”. The same reference numerals are used to denote the same part of the skate, whether referring to the left or right skate.

The sole of each skate boot defines a plane below the wearer's foot, which is denoted P in the case of the left skate and seen in FIG. 3. In the illustrated embodiment, this plane is the bottom surface of the sole, i.e. the surface to which the carrier 36 is coupled. Carrier 36 may be a plastic moulding (e.g. in the case of a plastic moulded boot) or a metal fabrication. In any event, the carrier includes a sole plate 37 and a depending beam holder portion 38 generally at the center of the length of the boot. In the illustrated embodiment, the beam 26 is a flat rail of rectangular cross-section and is straight in the unloaded condition of the skate. In this particular embodiment, the beam is a fiberglass reinforced resin and is formed, for example, by pultrusion. The beam is held by the carrier 36 in a defined orientation with respect to the plane P defined by the sole of the boot. The beam is flexible with respect to the carrier 36 in two planes that are denoted 40 and 42 in FIG. 3. The first plane 40 indicates flexibility in a direction towards and away from the sole plane P, while the second plane 42 indicates flexibility laterally with respect to the first plane 40. The beam is oriented (i.e. held by the carrier 36) so that the first plane is angled upwardly and outwardly (i.e. towards the outer side 22b of the boot). While the angle of inclination may vary within a wide range as indicated below, in a typical example, plane 40 is angled about 10° with respect to the vertical (i.e. a plane normal to plane P). Stated differently, the obtuse angle a between plane 40 and plane P is approximately 100°.

This beam orientation ensures that, when the skate is loaded outwardly in a turn, the beam 26 will flex into a curved configuration creating the curve of the turn, which gives the skater enhanced control and a sensation similar to “carving” on skis. This is unlike the performance of a conventional in-line skate in which the rollers remain truly in line even during a turn.

FIG. 3 shows the skates in an unloaded condition, i.e. with no weight on the skates themselves. In this condition, the two intermediate rollers 32 and 34 are slightly clear of the ground G (or other support surface) on which the skate is supported by the front and rear rollers. The resulting gap provides some “give” when the skate is loaded. This gap also tends to increase the pressure exerted by the end rollers on the ground (as compared with the intermediate rollers) and make the skate “track” more positively, i.e. tend to go in a straight line. This is opposite to the “rocker effect” optional with standard in-line skates, whereby the two intermediate rollers on such skates can be positioned somewhat lower than their end rollers, decreasing pressure on the end rollers, making the skate easier to swivel underfoot and more maneuverable.

FIG. 3 also shows the fact that the two intermediate rollers 32, 34 are much wider (approximately twice as wide) as the front and rear rollers (28 and 30) and are laterally offset outwardly with respect to the front and rear rollers. Referring in this case to the right skate, the centerline of the rear roller 30 is indicated at 44 and the centerline of the rearmost intermediate roller 34 is indicated at 46. The front and rear rollers are in line with one another and the two intermediate rollers are in line with one another.

FIG. 4 shows the two skates as seen from the front in typical orientations for executing a turn to the left. FIG. 6 shows the same pair of skates as seen in underneath plan, whereas FIG. 5 shows the right-hand skate as seen from the inner side. In FIG. 6, the bottom edge of the beam is denoted 26a. FIGS. 7 and 8 are detail views illustrating deflection of the beam and the load on the right skate in FIG. 4 (i.e. the outer skate in a turn to the left).

To execute a turn to the left the skater will step laterally to the right, transferring more weight to that foot while at the same time leaning to the inside, with the left foot assuming a position further to the inside of the turn, following a path roughly concentric with that of the right foot. As this happens, the load imposed on the beam through the boot and the carrier 36 gradually increases. The load is a vector comprising a component of the weight of the skater exerted generally downwardly through the skater's body, and a lateral component produced by centrifugal force. This deflects the beam laterally outwardly in the direction of plane 40 in FIG. 3. FIG. 7 shows a starting condition in which there is essentially no load on the skate, while FIG. 8 shows the skate fully loaded. As seen in FIG. 7, the front roller 28 and the rear roller 30 (not visible) are both in contact with the ground. However the intermediate rollers 32 and 34 are clear of the ground. As the load on the skate increases, the beam 26 flexes both laterally outwardly (in the direction of plane 40) and downwardly (in the direction of plane 42). In FIG. 8, the beam 26 is shown in full lines as seen from the front end of the skate, i.e. in fixed relation to the front roller 28 and in dotted line at 26a at its position of maximum deflection (i.e. in the region of the intermediate rollers 32, 34). It will be seen that the beam has not only curved laterally outwardly but has also flexed downwardly. This downward movement brings the intermediate rollers 32 and 34 into contact with the ground surface.

FIG. 5 shows the right skate boot with the beam 26 in this outwardly curved configuration while FIG. 6 shows both skates at this time. The shaded areas denoted CP represent contact patches between the respective rollers and the ground. It will be seen that the right (outer) skate has four contact patches arranged in a curved configuration corresponding generally to the curvature of the turn. This allows the outer skate to track the curvature of the turn.

In the case of the inside (left) skate on the other hand, only the two intermediate rollers are in contact with the ground (only two contact patches are shown).

FIG. 4 illustrates the reason for this. It will be seen that, as the skater leans into the turn, the inner (left) skate angles inwardly. Since the two intermediate rollers 32, 34 are wider than the front and rear rollers and are offset outwardly, the skate effectively rides up onto these rollers only and the front and rear rollers 28, 30 are clear of the ground. Reverting to FIG. 6, it will be seen that the resultant contact patches CP are much closer to the center of the skate than is the case with the outer skate. This gives the skater improved ability to maneuver the inside skate (e.g. rotate about an upright axis) for controlling the turn.

The result of these actions is that the skater is able to “carve” the turn much in the manner that a skier carves a turn on snow. The turn radius is of course determined by the user by altering the speed and degree of lean.

FIG. 10 is a view similar to FIG. 6 but illustrating an embodiment of the invention in which the intermediate rollers (here denoted 32′ and 34′) are the same as the front and rear rollers 28, 30, but are still offset outwardly with respect to the front and rear rollers. This arrangement may be preferred for some skate designs in that the contact patches for all of the rollers are identical. At the same time, the inner skate in a turn rides on the intermediate rollers only, for improved maneuverability as discussed previously.

Finally, FIGS. 9a and 9b show a typical arrangement for mounting one of the rollers of the skate on the beam, in two different angular. orientations of the beam. Essentially the same mounting arrangement applies whichever roller configuration is being considered (i.e. relatively narrow front and rear rollers or wider intermediate rollers).

In FIGS. 9a and 9b, the body of the roller itself is denoted 48 and is mounted for rotation on an axle 50 through the intermediary of bearings 52. The axle 50 is fixed in a carrier block 54 formed with a slot 56 that receives the beam. A bolt is threaded into the carrier block and passes through the beam so as to effectively clamp the block to the beam. This arrangement allows the wheelbase to be changed easily simply by removing the bolt 58 and sliding the end carrier blocks along the beam to alternate hole(s). Alternatively, carrier blocks can be affixed to the beam permanently without bolts using industrial adhesives, such as LOCTITE™. FIG. 9b shows essentially the same arrangement but with a beam 26 that is much less steeply angled than the beam shown in FIG. 9a.

The mounting of the rollers with the axle held by one end only (instead of at both ends as with conventional in-line skates) allows for easier, quicker roller changes, while also allowing for the option of wider rollers and increased grip.

In summary, the skate design provided by the invention offers a number of advantages in terms of improved “feel” to the skater and more precision in turning. At the same time, it should be understood that the preceding description relates to particular preferred embodiments of the invention and that many modifications are possible, some of which have been indicated previously and others of which will be apparent to a person skilled in the art.

A principal modification that may be made is in the orientation and configuration of the beam itself. The preceding description indicates that wide variations are possible in the angular orientation of the beam. Increasing the angle of the beam to, say, 45 degrees would result in a skate that would initiate a turn by leaning alone (without “stepping out” to the side) much the way modern “parabolic” skis turn today under certain conditions.

It should be noted that differences are also possible in the configuration of the beam and its structure. While a narrow rectangular shape has been shown and is believed to be preferred, there is no limitation in principle on the shapes that can be used.

The beam should be able to flex more easily in the lateral direction than in the vertical direction. This can be achieved by suitable “engineering” of the beam structure or by shape, e.g. oblong, lozenge, ellipse or tall triangle. Suitable engineering could provide the required characteristics in a beam of, for example, a cylindrical rod-shaped configuration or a square cross-sectional shape. While a fiberglass reinforced resin structure has been described, other composite materials can also be used. Conversely, less exotic materials may be used, for example, spring steel or a moulded plastic material.

As to the rollers or wheels, many variations are possible. The drawings show an arrangement in which there is a front roller, a rear roller and two intermediate rollers. Other possibilities are only a single intermediate roller or additional end rollers.

Further, in the illustrated embodiment, all of the rollers are mounted on the outer side of the beam or rail. Clearly, this offers a number of advantages in terms of the preferred embodiment shown. However, it is not essential within the broad scope of the invention. For example, the front and rear rollers could be on the inner side of the beam and the intermediate roller or rollers on the outer side of the beam, or all rollers could be mounted on the inner side.

As noted previously, the turn radius is not predetermined, but rather, is determined by the user during use by altering the speed and the degree of lean. At the same time, the offset of the intermediate rollers can be changed with shim washers, altering the turn radius for a given angle of lean. Greater offset results in sharper turns, less offset results in longer radius turns and more stability.

The offset effect can even be achieved by using wider end rollers and narrower intermediate rollers. With wider, relatively flat profile end rollers and narrow intermediate rollers all with their tread centers in line, when the user leans over, the contact patch of the end rollers would tend to move to the inside (to the inside edge of the end rollers) thereby effectively creating an “offset” to the inside relative to the intermediate rollers.





 
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