Title:
Neck gator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gator for use by motorcyclists to protect them during cycling. The gator is in the form of a membrane having an upper region, middle region and bottom region, the upper region having a connection strip for removably connecting the gator to a motorcyclist's helmet and when connected to the helmet, residing proximate the chin of the motorcyclist. The middle region is characterized as having an elasticized segment for gathering the membrane proximate the neck when worn by a motorcyclist and the bottom region being sized to flare out from the middle region to reside upon the shoulders and upper chest when worn by a motorcyclist.



Inventors:
Clague, John Nielsen (Redwood Valley, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/482446
Publication Date:
01/31/2008
Filing Date:
07/08/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D3/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WELCH, GARY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DERGOSITS & NOAH LLP (SAN FRANCISCO, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A gator for use by those wearing full face protective helmets to protect a user's neck and chest during use, said gator comprising a membrane having an upper region, middle region and bottom region, said upper region having a connection strip for removably connecting the gator to said helmet and when connected to said helmet, residing proximate the chin of a user, only said middle region being characterized as having an elasticized segment for gathering said membrane proximate the neck when worn by said user and said bottom region being sized to flare out from said middle region to reside upon the shoulders and upper chest when worn by a user.

2. The gator of claim 1 wherein said connection strip comprises a hook and loop fastener sized and positioned to engage a hook and loop strip appended to the helmet proximate its bottom edge.

3. The gator of claim 1 wherein said membrane is substantially impervious to rain.

4. The gator of claim 1 wherein said membrane comprises a breathable fabric.

5. The gator of claim 1 wherein said membrane comprises leather.

6. The gator of claim 1 wherein said membrane comprises a substantially planar sheet having a first edge defining the edge of said upper region, a second edge defining said bottom region, said planar sheet having third and fourth edges substantially perpendicular to said first and second edge capable of being releaseably attached to one another to transform said planar membrane to one that is substantially cylindrical for encasing the neck region of a user during use.

7. The gator of claim 6 wherein said third and fourth edges support strips of hook and loop fasteners for removably attaching said edges to one another.

8. The gator of claim 1 wherein said bottom region is provided with a plurality of gussets to increase the flare of the membrane.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention involves a gator for use by motorcyclists to protect them from the elements while cycling. Specifically, the present gator is ideally impervious to rain and other elements likely to be encountered by a motorcyclist during inclement weather and is sized, positioned and constructed in such a way as to provide a comfortable almost custom fit encouraging a motorcyclist to use the gator of the present invention to the exclusion of competing commercial products.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is not surprising that others have suggested skirts or similar flexible membranes to extend below a motorcyclist's helmet to protect the cyclist from wind, rain and flying debris. Although a helmet provides adequate head protection from such foreign matter and a suitably sized leather jacket will do the same for a rider's torso, there exists a portion of the anatomy, principally at or below the chin and above the mid chest region of a rider that, in the best case, would receive the direct impact of wind and rain making the riding experience less pleasant and in a worse case become the target of flying road borne debris that is capable of inflicting significant injury.

An example of such a helmet skirt can be found in the disclosure of U.S. Pat. No. 3,825,952. Although this skirt has been disclosed for the better part of a quarter of a century, it has not been universally adopted for simply the loosely draping fabric would tend to wrap about the user's neck and flap and buffet in the wind causing noise and distraction.

Another approach has been suggested in U.S. Pat. No. 4,042,976 in the form of a rigid shield extending the lower peripheral edge of a helmet for engagement with a connecting strip sewn into a jacket or similar garment. Such a shield arrangement is highly restrictive and would certainly not be adopted by a motorcyclist given any feasible option.

Yet another approach has been suggested in U.S. Pat. No. 6,862,749 in the form of a collar extending down from a helmet somewhat suggestive of a cervical collar used by one suffering a neck injury. Again, such a collar would be not generally employed by a motorcyclist if given the opportunity to adopt a more user-friendly protective membrane.

In light of the limitations of devices suggested by the prior art, it is not surprising that most motorcyclists have decided to reject such options thus risking discomfort and even injury as an alternative.

It is thus an object of the present invention to provide a gator for protecting a motorcyclist's chin, neck and upper chest regions which is much more comfortable to employ than those of the prior art and are thus more likely to be adopted for use by motorcyclists, generally.

This and further objects will be more readily apparent when considering the following disclosure and appended claims.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention involves a gator for use by motorcyclists to protect a motorcyclist's neck and chest during cycling. The gator comprises a membrane having an upper region, middle region and bottom region, said upper region having a connection strip for removably connecting the gator to a motorcyclist's helmet and when connected to said helmet, residing proximate the chin of the motorcyclist. The middle region is characterized has having an elasticized segment for gathering said membrane proximate to the neck when worn by a motorcyclist and said bottom region being sized to flare out from said middle region to reside upon the cyclist's shoulders and upper chest.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a plan view of the gator of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the gator of FIG. 1 depicting its substantially cylindrical form during implementation.

FIG. 3 is a front plan view of the gator of the present invention shown appended to a motorcyclist's helmet for use herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning first to FIG. 1, gator 10 is shown as a substantially planar membrane laid flat against a supporting surface in the plane of the paper. Gator 10 is provided with three basic regions, namely, upper region 1, middle region 2 and bottom region 3.

Upper region 1 is provided with connection strip 8 preferably in the form of a strip of hook and loop fastener sewn, adhered or otherwise appended to first edge 31 defining the edge of upper region 1. Alternatively, strip 8 could be replaced by snaps or a zipper mating with similar attachment means located at the bottom edge of helmet 20 shown as hook and loop strip 41 (FIG. 3). In the embodiment as shown, it is quite apparent that connection strip 8 in the form of a hook and loop strip is sized and positioned to engage hook and loop strip 41 appended to motorcycle helmet 20 as shown in FIG. 3.

Turning once again to FIG. 1, gator 10 is further provided with middle region 2 having an elasticized segment for gathering membrane material. In this illustration, elasticized cords 7 define the substantial outer boundary of middle region 2 creating a gathered membrane 16 therebetween. When in use, middle region 2 will reside approximate the neck of a motorcyclist to enhance a degree of comfort and ease of movement unavailable from gators currently being marketed.

Finally with regard to FIG. 1, gator 10 is provided with bottom region 3 which, ideally, has a plurality of gussets 6 to provide the membrane with a flared periphery to enhance the gator comfortably fitting over the shoulders and upper chest of a motorcyclist beneath an outer garment such as a leather jacket.

Membrane material constituting the present gator should be impervious to rain and wind resistance. An ideal fabric for constituting the present membrane is Gortex® which is a breathable fabric and yet water resistant. The membrane could also be made of, for example, leather which is again breathable and yet resistant to climatic conditions.

Reference is now made to FIGS. 2 and 3 in order to provide an additional appreciation for the present invention and its use in conjunction with a motorcycle helmet. As previously noted, gator 10 can be laid flat to provide a substantially planar orientation (FIG. 1). In considering gator 10, it is noted that the membrane is provided with a first edge 31 defining the edge of the region 1 and a second edge 34 defining bottom region 3. The membrane is also provided with third and fourth edges 32 and 33, respectively, which extends substantially perpendicularly to first edge 31 and second edge 34.

In employing the present invention, gator 10 is applied to helmet 20 by mating hook and loop strip 8 to corresponding hook and loop strip 41. As gator 10 wraps around the substantially circular lower edge of helmet 20, edges 32 and 33 join one another enabling hook and loop strip 9 to join hook and loop strip 15 once helmet 20 has been securely positioned on the head of a motorcyclist. As such, gator 10 wraps about the motorcyclist chin, neck and shoulder regions by fastening strip 9 to strip 15 when in place. By doing so, the motorcyclist need not be forced to slip his or her head within a closed or cylindrical gator membrane which could prove troublesome particularly in confronting middle region 2 and its elasticized elements 7 and 8 and gathered membrane 16. When removing the membrane from the upper torso and head region of a motorcyclist, one would simply reverse the process by first disengaging connecting strips 9 and 15 to open gator 10 thus facilitating removal of helmet 20.

To summarize, the present invention is intended attach to a full face helmet 20 including visor 22 and optional air vents 21. Previously described skirted helmet made the subject of U.S. Pat. No. 3,825,952 is taught to merely attach to an existing helmet and allow to drape over a motorcyclist's shoulders. Excess material wraps around a user's neck and will flap and buffet in the wind and cause considerable wind noise and annoyance to a wearer. By providing elasticized middle region 2, excess material is gathered (element 16 of FIG. 1) to closely conform to a user's neck, such articulation making it more rigid to eliminate buffeting and noise. Making the protective element more rigid, such as that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,862,749, results in a device which is intended to be worn outside of a rider's clothing with no attachment to the clothing itself. By design, the '749 device will allow wind and noise from the environment to reach the rider. By being made of a stiffer material, it will clearly be more cumbersome and less comfortable to the rider and also make it more difficult for a motorcyclist to look to the rear thus increasing the dangers inherent in motorcycle riding.

By providing gathered material 16 within middle region 2, restrictions in head movement inherent in prior art gators has been substantially eliminated. Elasticizing middle region 2 facilitates gator 10 to closely hug or conform to the neck of a rider. This articulation makes the neck area resistant to wind by design and also allows more freedom of movement for riders than currently available and previously suggested products. Further, adding multiple gussets 6 to bottom region 3 allows gator 10 to flare out and sit more comfortably on the wearer's shoulders and again, facilitate more freedom of movement.

Elasticizing middle region 2 also facilitates gator 10 being worn under a rider's outer garments without inhibiting the rider's ability to turn his or her head freely. This also enables gator 10 to follow the shape of the rider more closely thus reducing the surface area exposed to wind and rain and thus reducing forces of nature on a rider and noise reaching the rider. This, in turn, facilitates a wider use of helmet intercoms or blue tooth devices as wind noise is substantially eliminated within the rider's helmet.

As is clearly obvious from reviewing FIG. 3, gator 10, once properly installed in conjunction with a motorcycle helmet, is of a contour that closely conforms to the rider's torso in transitioning from a rider's chin, through his or her neck and ending in the shoulder area. This close contour eliminates large pockets of air thus enhancing the present gator's ability to warm more rapidly in capturing warmth from the motorcyclist and to remain at body temperature. An optional ventilation system such as shown in FIG. 3 as elements 21 can be used to prevent fogging as the heat from the neck region of a rider rises and is cooled by the cool air injected through helmet vents. This also helps to prevent the overheating of a rider.

Aesthetically, it is proposed that the present invention will be found to be more appealing to riders than comparable products of the prior art. By shaping middle region 2 the gator 10 appears to be more fashionable than other such products and can be made of thinner materials causing less fatigue to the wearer.