Title:
Starting gate for motorcycles and the like
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A starting gate for bikes including a support structure and a gate member movably mounted to the support structure for movement between raised and lowered positions. The starting gate includes a retaining member configured to selectively retain the gate member in the raised position. A pedal is operably coupled to the gate member such that depression of the pedal raises the gate member to the raised position. The starting gate further includes a timer configured to shift the retaining member to release the gate member such that the gate member moves to the lowered position after a predetermined period of time after depression of the pedal.



Inventors:
Johnson, Russell I. (Wayland, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/911909
Publication Date:
02/09/2006
Filing Date:
08/05/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01C11/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PETRAVICK, MEREDITH C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRICE HENEVELD LLP (GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A starting gate for bikes, comprising: a support structure; a gate member movably mounted to the support structure for movement between raised and lowered positions; a retaining member configured to selectively retain the gate member in the raised position; a pedal operably coupled to the gate member such that depression of the pedal raises the gate member to the raised position; and a timer configured to shift the retaining member to release the gate member such that the gate member moves to the lowered position after a predetermined period of time after depression of the pedal.

2. The starting gate of claim 1, wherein: the gate member comprises a U-shaped member having opposite ends pivotably connected to the support structure; and the retaining member is pivotably mounted to the support structure and engages the gate adjacent at least a selected one of the ends to retain the gate member in the raised position.

3. The starting gate of claim 1, including: an indicator coupled to the timer and providing an indication relating to the amount of time left before the gate member moves to the lowered position.

4. The starting gate of claim 3, wherein: the indicator comprises a movable indicator member movably connected to the base structure with at least a portion thereof configured to be visible to a user; and including: a linearly movable member that is movable between first and second positions relative to the base structure and biased into the first position, the pedal coupled to the linearly movable member to shift the linearly movable member to the second position when the pedal is depressed; a cam connected to the linearly movable member; and a follower connected to the indicator member and engaging the cam such that the indicator member moves as the linearly movable member moves from the second position to the first position.

5. The starting gate of claim 4, including: a hook member movably mounted to the support structure for rotation between a locking position and a release position; a linkage assembly including a first link rotatably mounted to the base, the first link operably coupled to the pedal member such that movement of the pedal member shifts the first link from a first position to a second position, the first link including an engagement surface configured to engage the retaining member to move the gate member from the lowered position to the raised position, wherein: the hook member engages the first link when in the locking position to retain the first link in the second position.

6. The starting gate of claim 5, wherein: the hook member is biased into the locking position and includes a slide surface; the first link having a contact surface that engages the slide surface as the first link is moved to the second position, thereby shifting the hook out of the locking position, the first link having a latch that is engaged by the hook member when in the locking position to retain the first link in the second position.

7. The starting gate of claim 6, wherein: the cam comprises a first cam, and including: a second cam connected to the linearly movable member, the second cam engaging the hook member to move the hook member out of the locking position.

8. The starting gate of claim 7, including: a first cable interconnecting the pedal and the linearly movable member; a second cable interconnecting the pedal and the first link.

9. The starting gate of claim 8, wherein: the hook member is rotatably mounted to the support structure; and including: a spring biasing the hook member into the locking position.

10. A starting gate comprising: a support structure; a gate member movably mounted to the support structure for movement between raised and lowered positions; a pedal operably connected to the gate member to raise the gate member when the pedal is depressed; a retaining member configured to releasably retain the gate member in the raised position; a timer coupled to the retaining member, the timer including a resiliently biased member movable between first and second positions, the resiliently biased member coupled to the pedal such that depression of the pedal shifts the resiliently biased member against the bias from first position to the second position, the resiliently biased member releasing the retaining member upon movement of the resiliently biased member due to the bias.

11. The starting gate of claim 10, wherein: the timer includes a damper controlling movement of the resiliently biased member.

12. The starting gate of claim 11, wherein: the gate member comprises a U-shaped member having opposite ends pivotably connected to the support structure; and the retaining member is pivotably mounted to the support structure and engages the gate adjacent at least a selected one of the ends to retain the gate member in the raised position.

13. The starting gate of claim 10, including: an indicator coupled to the timer and providing an indication relating to the amount of time remaining before the gate member moves to the lowered position.

14. The starting gate of claim 10, wherein: the resiliently biased member comprises a gas cylinder.

15. The starting gate of claim 10, wherein: the timer includes a hook member that is engaged by the resiliently biased member and moves between a locking position and a release position; and including: a link member operably coupled to the pedal such that the link member shifts from a first position to a second position upon depression of the pedal and engages the retaining member such that the retaining member lifts the gate member, the hook member shifting to the locking position upon shifting of the link member to the second position to retain the link member in the second position.

16. The starting gate of claim 15, wherein: the hook is biased into the locking position.

17. The starting gate of claim 10, wherein: the gate member comprises first and second U-shaped members pivotably mounted to the support structure to simultaneously provide for the side-by-side riders.

18. A starting gate comprising: a support structure; a gate member movably mounted to the support structure for movement between raised and lowered positions; a biasing member having an output member movable between first and second positions, the output member being biased into the first position; a manually movable user input member operably coupled to the biasing member and shifting the output member to the second position when the user input member is moved; and a retaining member operably coupled to the output member and selectively retaining the gate member in the raised position when the output member is in the second position and releasing gate member as the output member moves to the first position.

19. The starting gate of claim 18, including: a cam connected to the output member, the cam being operably coupled to the retaining member to release the gate member upon movement of the output member.

20. The starting gate of claim 19, including: an indicating member operably coupled to the output member and providing a visual indication of the position of the output member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Racing of motocross motorcycles and motocross bicycles has become a popular activity. At the start of motocross races, the riders are arranged in a row behind a starting gate. Immediately prior to the race, the starting gates are in an upright position, and the gates simultaneously drop to permit the start of the race, thereby ensuring a fair start to the race.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention is a starting gate for bikes including a support structure and a gate member movably mounted to the support structure for movement between raised and lowered positions. The starting gate includes a retaining member configured to selectively retain the gate member in the raised position. A pedal is operably coupled to the gate member such that depression of the pedal raises the gate member to the raised position. The starting gate further includes a timer configured to shift the retaining member to release the gate member such that the gate member moves to the lowered position after a predetermined period of time after depression of the pedal.

Another aspect of the present invention is a starting gate including a support structure and a gate member movably mounted to the support structure for movement between raised and lowered positions. A pedal is operably connected to the gate member to raise the gate member when the pedal is depressed. The starting gate further includes a retaining member configured to releasably retain the gate member in the raised position. A timer is coupled to the retaining member, and the timer includes a resiliently biased member movable between first and second positions. The resiliently biased member is coupled to the pedal such that depression of the pedal shifts the resiliently biased member against the bias from the first position to the second position. The resiliently biased member releases the retaining member upon movement of the resiliently biased member due to the bias.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is a starting gate including a support structure and a gate member movably mounted to the support structure for movement between raised and lowered positions. The starting gate includes a biasing member having an output member movable between first and second positions, wherein the output member is biased into the first position. The starting gate further includes a manually movable user input member operably coupled to the biasing member and shifting the output member to the second position when the user input member is moved. A retainer member is operably coupled to the output member and selectively retains the gate member in the raised position when the output member is in the second position, and releases the gate member as the output member moves to the first position.

These and other features, advantages, and objects of the present invention will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a starting gate according to one aspect of the present invention, with the starting gate in the lowered position;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the starting gate of FIG. 1 with the gate member in the raised position;

FIG. 3 is a partially fragmentary, side elevational view of the starting gate of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the starting gate;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view of a portion of the starting gate taken along the line V-V; FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a starting gate according to another aspect of the present invention, wherein the starting gate includes two gate members for use by two riders; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the starting gate of FIG. 6 in use by a rider.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

For purposes of description herein, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “right,” “left,” “rear,” “front,” “vertical,” “horizontal,” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIG. 1. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and step sequences, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings and described in the following specification are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, a starting gate 1 according to one aspect of the present invention includes a support structure 2 including a frame 3 (see also FIG. 4) and an angle member 4 attached to the frame and extending transversely therefrom. First and second ninety degree angle members 5 and 6, respectively are secured to the opposite ends of the angle member 4, and include upwardly extending walls 7 and 8 that receive pins 9 and 10 to pivotably mount a movable gate member 11 to the support structure 2. Gate member 11 includes a U-shaped tube 12 with ends 13 and 14. Ninety degree angle members 15 and 16 are secured to the ends 13 and 14 of U-shaped tube 12 via threaded fasteners 17. Ninety degree angle member 15 includes an upright wall 18 that is positioned immediately adjacent upwardly extending wall 7 of angle member 5, and ninety degree angle member 16 has a vertical wall 19 that is positioned immediately adjacent upwardly extending wall 8 of ninety degree angle member 6. Pin 9 extends through vertical wall 7 of angle member 5, and through vertical wall 18 of angle member 15, and second pin 10 extends through upwardly extending wall 8 of angle member 6 and through vertical wall 19 of angle member 16 to thereby pivotably connect the gate member 11 to the support structure 2. Frame members 20 and 21 are connected to the angle members 5 and 6, respectively, and a cross frame member 22 extends between and interconnects the frame members 20 and 21.

A shaft 25 is rotatably received in angle member 4, and a plate 26 covers a central portion of the shaft 25 and angle member 4 to protect the shaft 25 and angle member 4 when a motorcycle drives through the starting gate 1. First and second lift or retaining members 27 and 28 are fixed to the shaft 25 and rotate therewith. The lift members 27 and 28 contact the lower surfaces 29 and 30 of angle members 15 and 16, respectively to thereby raise and lower the gate member 11 upon rotation of shaft 25. First link 35 and second link 36 are pivotably mounted to the support structure 2 at pin 37 of bracket 38. A cable 39 is connected to a pedal 42 and first end 40 of second link 36. Cable 39 extends around pulley 41, and pulls the end 40 of link 36 downwardly when the pedal 42 is moved from the upright position (FIG. 1) to the depressed position (FIG. 2). Cable 39 is a Bowdin type cable with an outer sheath 43 that is connected to support structure 2 via a fitting 44, and also connects to a base 45 of pedal assembly 46 via a fitting 47. Cable 39 connects to a link 48 that is connected to lower end 49 of pedal 42 at pin 50. A pin 52 pivotably mounts the pedal 42 to a bracket 51 that extends upwardly from base 45.

Depressing pedal 42 causes cable 39 to pull first end 40 of first link 36 downwardly. Lower edge 54 of link 36 contacts a pin 53 extending transversely from link 35, such that link 35 is also pulled downwardly by cable 39. A circular cam member extends transversely from end 58 of link 35. As the link 35 rotates counterclockwise, the circular extension 57 contacts an arm member 59 that is fixed to the shaft 25. The circular extension 57 thereby pushes on the arm member 59, rotating the shaft 25. As discussed in more detail above, rotation of shaft 25 raises gate member 11 as the lift members 27 and 28 contact the lower side surfaces 29 and 30 of angle members 15 and 16.

A hook member 60 is pivotably mounted to a bracket 61 of support structure 2 via a pin 62. A spring 64 is secured to an end 63 of hook member 60, and biases the hook member 60 in the clockwise direction. Hook member 60 engages a pin 65 extending from link 35 to retain the link 35 in the position illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, and thereby retain the gate member 11 in the raised position. As the pedal 42 is depressed, causing link 35 to rotate in a counterclockwise direction, pin 65 engages edge surface 66 of hook member, thereby rotating the hook member 60 in a counterclockwise direction as the pin 65 slides along the edge surface 66. When the pin 65 passes the tip 67 of hook member 60, the hook member 60 snaps into the position illustrated in FIG. 3 due to the bias of the spring 64.

With reference to FIG. 4, a second Bowdin cable 70 is also connected to the link 48 of pedal assembly 46. Cable 70 is connected to a block 71 that is fixed to a shaft 72 extending from an air cylinder 73. The air cylinder 73 biases the shaft 72 into a retracted position, such that depression of the pedal causes the cable 70 to pull the block 71 and shaft 72 to the extended position.

An indicator member 75 is pivotably connected to the support structure 2 at a pin 76. A pin member 77 extends transversely from indicator member 75, and forms a cam follower that contacts the cam surface 78 on block 71. As the block 71 is shifted horizontally, the follower pin 77 slides along the cam surface 78, thereby raising and lowering the indicator member 75. As the pedal member 42 is depressed, the block 71 shifts towards the end 79 of support structure 2, and the follower pin 77 slides upwardly along cam surface 78, thereby raising the indicator member 75 from the lowered position (FIG. 1) to the raised position (FIG. 2). Indicator member 75 extends through a slot 81 (see also FIG. 5) in a front face 82 of a housing 80 that is secured to the support structure 2. As illustrated in FIG. 5, the front face 82 of housing 80 includes indicia such as colored bands 83, 84 and 85 on the face 82 of housing 80. In a preferred embodiment, band 83 is red, band 84 is yellow, and band 85 is green. After depressing the pedal to raise the indicator to the position illustrated in FIG. 2, the air cylinder 73 retracts, thereby pulling block 71 away from end 79 of support structure 2. As the air cylinder retracts, the follower pin 77 of indicator member 75 slides down the cam surface 78, thereby shifting the indicator member 75 from the position illustrated in FIG. 2 to the position illustrated in FIG. 1. As discussed in more detail below, when the air cylinder 73 is fully retracted, the gate member 11 is released, and drops from the raised position of FIG. 2 to the lowered position of FIG. 1. The indicator bands 83, 84 and 85, thereby provide a visual indication to the driver of the time remaining before the gate drops. When indicator member 75 reaches the green band 85 and stops, the rider has about 3-8 seconds until the gate member 11 drops.

A release cam member 90 is also mounted to block 71, and moves with the block 71 as the air cylinder 73 is extended and retracted. Cam member 90 includes a cam surface 91 that contacts a follower pin 92 extending transversely from hook member 60. As the air cylinder retracts, the follower pin 92 slides along the cam surface 91, thereby raising pin 92 and rotating hook member 60 in a counterclockwise direction (FIG. 3) to move the hook member 60 to a release position wherein the hook member 60 disengages from pin 65 of link 35. When the hook member 60 disengages pin 65, the weight of the gate member 11 and other components causes the gate member 11 to drop to the lowered position. When link 35 is released, the force of arm member 59 acting on circular extension 57 of link 35 causes link 35 to rotate in a clockwise direction. As shaft 25 rotates, the lift members 27 and 28 also shift, thereby allowing gate member 11 to drop to the lowered position.

FIG. 6 illustrates a starting gate 100 according to another aspect of the present invention. The starting gate 100 is similar to the starting gate 1 described in detail above, except that the starting gate 100 includes a first gate member 11A and a second gate member 11B for use by side-by-side riders. Starting gate 100 includes a shaft 101 that is substantially the same as shaft 25 described in more detail above, except that shaft 101 extends through the support structure 2, across both the first gate member 11A and second gate member 11B. The shaft 101 thereby provides for simultaneous operation of the first and second gate members 11A and 11B. The operation of the double starting gate 100 is otherwise substantially identical to the operation of the starting gate 1 described in detail above.

The starting gates of the present application permit a rider to practice starts for races and the like. During operation (FIG. 7), a rider positions him or herself in front of the gate 1, adjacent the pedal assembly 46. When the rider is ready, he depresses the pedal 42, thereby raising the gate member 11 to the raised position. The rider can then watch the indicator 75 as it lowers. Once the gate member 11 drops, the rider can drive over the gate member 11, cross member 22, and plate 26, thereby simulating an actual race start. The starting gate 1 can be operated by a single rider, without requiring help from other individuals. Also, the starting gate 1 is relatively lightweight and compact, such that it can readily be transported to a riding location. The starting gate 1 can then be readily set up and used by a rider.

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Such modifications are to be considered as included in the following claims, unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.