Title:
HOLLOW CRANK ARM FOR A BICYCLE AND PROCESS FOR MANUFACTURING THE SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hollow crank arm for a bicycle comprising a body of elongated shape, at the ends of which are formed, respectively, an area for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and an area for connection of the pedal. The body includes a cavity of elongated shape and two solid end portions which are the aforesaid connection areas for the bottom bracket spindle and for the pedal. The crank arm is preferably formed through a forging process.



Inventors:
Valle, Maurizio (Vicenza, IT)
Pasqua, Paolo (Vicenza, IT)
Application Number:
11/837102
Publication Date:
02/14/2008
Filing Date:
08/10/2007
Assignee:
CAMPAGNOLO S.R.L. (Vicenza, IT)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
280/259
International Classes:
G05G1/30; B62M3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JOHNSON, VICKY A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Volpe Koenig (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A crank arm for a bicycle comprising an elongated body at the ends of which are formed, respectively, an area for connection to the bottom bracket spindle and an area for connection of the pedal, wherein the crank arm comprises between the end areas a portion with a hollow cross section and a portion with a solid cross section.

2. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the portion with hollow cross section is adjacent to the area for connection to the bottom bracket spindle.

3. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the portion with solid cross section comprises the area for connection to the pedal.

4. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein, in the portion with hollow cross section, the cavity extends for a predominant part of the section of the crank arm body.

5. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein, in the condition where it is installed on a bicycle, the portion with hollow cross section projects towards the frame of the bicycle more than does the portion with solid cross section.

6. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the portion with hollow cross section is surrounded by a wall with a thickness smaller than the thickness of the portion with solid cross section.

7. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the portion with hollow cross section and the portion with solid cross section each have longitudinal axes that are inclined with respect to one another.

8. A crank arm according to claim 1, which has a predetermined useful length between the centres of the areas for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and for connection of the pedal and a predetermined length of said solid portion, wherein the ratio between said length of the solid portion and said useful length of the crank arm is equal to or greater than 0.2.

9. A crank arm according to claim 8, which has a predetermined useful length between the centres of the areas for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and for connection of the pedal and a predetermined length of said solid portion, wherein the ratio between said length of the solid portion and said useful length of the crank arm is equal to or smaller than 0.5.

10. A crank arm according to claim 1, which has a predetermined useful length between the centres of the areas for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and for connection of the pedal and a predetermined length of said solid portion, wherein the ratio between said length of the solid portion and said useful length of the crank arm is comprised between 0.3 and 0.4.

11. A crank arm according to claim 1, which has a predetermined useful length between the centres of the areas for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and for connection of the pedal and a predetermined length of said hollow portion, wherein the ratio between said length of the hollow portion and said useful length of the crank arm is equal to or greater than 0.3.

12. A crank arm according to claim 1, which has a predetermined useful length between the centres of the areas for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and for connection of the pedal and a predetermined length of said hollow portion, wherein the ratio between said length of the hollow portion and said useful length of the crank arm is equal to or smaller than 0.8.

13. A crank arm according to claim 1, which has a predetermined useful length between the centres of the areas for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and for connection of the pedal and a predetermined length of said hollow portion, wherein the ratio between said length of the hollow portion and said useful length of the crank arm is comprised between 0.6 and 0.7.

14. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein said solid portion has a first predetermined thickness different than a second thickness of the hollow portion.

15. A crank arm according to claim 14, wherein the ratio between said first thickness and said second thickness is equal to or greater than 1.2.

16. A crank arm according to claim 14, wherein the ratio between said first thickness and said second thickness is equal to or smaller than 3.0.

17. A crank arm according to claim 14, wherein the ratio between said first thickness and said second thickness is comprised between 1.5 and 1.7.

18. A crank arm according to claim 14, wherein said portion with hollow cross section has walls having a predetermined thickness and in that the ratio between said wall thickness and the thickness of said portion with hollow cross section is equal to or greater than 0.1.

19. A crank arm according to claim 14, wherein said portion with hollow cross section has walls having a predetermined thickness and in that the ratio between said wall thickness and the thickness of said portion with hollow cross section is equal to or smaller than 0.3.

20. A crank arm according to claim 14, wherein said portion with hollow cross section has walls having a predetermined thickness and in that the ratio between said wall thickness and the thickness of said portion with hollow cross section is substantially equal to 0.2.

21. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein it is made of a material chosen in the group comprising: aluminium and its alloys, titanium, structural-fibre-based fabric embedded in a matrix of plastic material, in which said fibres are chosen between carbon fibres, glass fibres, aramidic fibres, boron fibres, ceramic fibres, and any combination thereof.

22. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein it comprises, between the end areas, a second portion with solid cross section.

23. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the hollow section with an area outside the crank arm through an opening located on one side of the crank arm in an area comprised between the areas of connection to the bottom bracket spindle and to the pedal.

24. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the hollow section has a blind bottom.

25. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the crank arm comprises a pair of holes for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and of the pedal, in which the holes do not communicate with the hollow section.

26. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the area for connection of the pedal is formed in the solid portion having a longitudinal axis substantially aligned to the longitudinal axis of the hollow section.

27. A crank arm according to claim 1, wherein the area for connection of the pedal is formed in a solid portion having a longitudinal axis inclined with respect to the longitudinal axis of the hollow section.

28. A crank arm for a bicycle comprising an elongated body at the ends of which are formed, respectively, an area for connection to the bottom bracket spindle and an area for connection of the pedal, wherein the crank arm comprises between the end areas a portion with a longitudinally-extending hollow cross section and a portion with a longitudinally-extending solid cross section.

29. The crank arm of claim 28, wherein the longitudinally extending cross-sections overlap in an intermediate portion within the crank arm.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/391,705, filed Mar. 19, 2003, which is incorporated by reference as if fully set forth.

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to a hollow crank arm for a bicycle and a process for its fabrication.

Crank arms for bicycles traditionally consist of a monolithic body made of metal material (typically aluminium or its alloys) provided at its ends with holes for attachment of the pedal and of the bottom bracket spindle.

Various solutions have already been proposed which have the purpose of creating a cavity inside the body of the crank arm in order to reduce its weight.

BACKGROUND

The Japanese document No. 5116670 describes a process for forming an inner cavity in the solid body of a crank arm by extrusion. According to this proposal, the cavity extends up to one end of the crank arm. Consequently, in order to obtain the threaded hole for fixing of the pedal it is necessary to provide an insert fixed in an end area of the crank arm. This solution presents structural strength problems in so far as it gives rise to a basically tubular structure opened at one end. This presents poor resistance to torsional and bending stresses, in particular owing to the fact that the point of application of a load, represented by the area of connection to the pedal, is provided in a hollow part. The U.S. Pat. No. 6,058,803 describes a process for producing a hollow crank arm by casting, in which a sand core is positioned in a die and the molten metal is poured into the die and solidified in order to form a crank arm body with an elongated cavity having a blind bottom and an end that opens to the outside of the hole which is provided for fixing the pedal. Also this solution presents strength problems because the cavity opens into the hole for connection of the pedal and thus weakens that area.

SUMMARY

The purpose of the present invention is to provide a hallow crank arm for a bicycle and a process for its fabrication which will overcome the problems of the prior art.

The invention provides a forged hollow crank arm for a bicycle comprising a first end area for connection to a bottom bracket spindle, a second end area for connection of a pedal and an intermediate area having a defined longitudinal cavity that extends between the ends along a longitudinal axis with an opening that faces to the outside of the crank arm and is offset with respect to the longitudinal axis.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The characteristics and advantages of the present invention will emerge clearly in the course of the ensuing detailed description with reference to the annexed drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a billet of metal material designed to undergo a series of operations of plastic deformation to obtain a crank arm according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates the billet of FIGS. 1 and 2 at the end of a first drawing step;

FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 are, respectively, a front view, a sectional view, and a top-plan view of a preform or intermediate form of a pedal at the end of a second drawing step;

FIGS. 7, 8 and 9 are, respectively, a front view, a sectional view, and a top-plan view of a preform or intermediate form of a pedal at the end of a third drawing step;

FIGS. 10 and 11 are, respectively, an elevation and a sectional view of a preform or intermediate form of a pedal at the end of a fourth drawing step;

FIGS. 12, 13 and 14 are, respectively, a front elevation, a side elevation, and a sectional view of a finished crank according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a sectional view illustrating another embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 16 and 17 are cross sections illustrating two additional embodiments of the present invention;

FIGS. 18 to 23 illustrate another embodiment of the invention which is formed by folding over flaps or extensions to form an internal cavity; and

FIGS. 24 to 26 illustrated the embodiment of FIGS. 18 to 23 with the further addition of a weld bead along the folds forming the internal cavity.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Designated by 20 in FIGS. 1 and 2 is a billet made of light metal material such as aluminium, its alloys, or similar light alloys, which constitutes the starting element for obtaining a hollow crank arm according to the present invention. The billet 20 preferably has the shape of a solid cylinder with a circular cross section, preferably obtained starting from a cylindrical bar by making a cut in the direction orthogonal to the longitudinal axis of the bar. The billet 20 undergoes a first operation of hot plastic deformation, preferably a forging in a press, which draws the billet and results in the formation of a cylindrical cavity having a blind end or bottom, designated by 22 in FIG. 3. The cylindrical cavity opens out onto an end 24 of the billet. FIG. 3 illustrates the billet 20 at the end of the first drawing step. This billet is subjected to a second drawing step, at the end of which a preform or intermediate form of the crank arm 26 is obtained, with basically the shape illustrated in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6. The crank arm preform 26 has a cavity with a blind bottom 22 having an open end 24. A solid portion 28 is set between the bottom 30 of the cavity 22 and a first end 32 of the crank arm preform 26. A projecting portion 34 extends laterally with respect to the cavity 22 and projects beyond the open end 24 of the cavity 22 on the opposite side with respect to the cavity 22.

The crank arm preform 26 undergoes a third forging step, at the end of which the semi-finished product illustrated in FIGS. 7, 8 and 9 is obtained. This semi-finished product has a projecting portion 34 that extends laterally with respect to the cavity 22 and is set on the opposite side of said cavity. This drawing step elongates the cavity 22 and renders the thickness of the wall surrounding the cavity 22 uniform.

By means of a further forging step the semi-finished product 26 assumes the shape illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11. In this further forging step, the cavity 22 is elongated and restricted, whilst the solid portion 28 is shaped so as to form an area of connection to the bottom bracket spindle. The projecting portion 34 is always set laterally with respect to the cavity 22 and, at the end of this fourth forging step, is slightly inclined outwards. It may be noted that in all the foregoing forging steps the projecting portion 34 is positioned in relation to the cavity 22 in such a way as not to obstruct the insertion and extraction of a drawing punch, as will be known to those skilled in the art that is inserted inside the cavity 22 during each forging step. That is, the cavity 22 has a longitudinal axis that extends between portions 28 and 34 and the centre of the opening of the opening 24 is on the longitudinal axis.

The semi-finished product 26 then undergoes a fifth and final fabrication step of hot plastic deformation, which results in a crank arm body 36 having the final shape illustrated in FIGS. 12, 13 and 14. As a result of this deformation, the opening 24 of the cavity 22 is biased toward the side 54 and opening 24 becomes offset with respect to the longitudinal axis of the cavity 22.

The finished crank arm body 36 comprises a solid area 28 for connection to the bottom bracket spindle and a solid area 40 for connection of the pedal, in which respective holes 42, 44 are formed by machining away material. The hole 44 for connection of the pedal 44 is usually threaded, whereas the hole 42 for connection to the bottom bracket spindle has a shape, for example square, designed to transmit torque when coupled with a complementary part of the bottom bracket spindle. The crank arm body has a hollow section 50 and a solid section 52 which extend between the aforesaid areas 28 and 40 for connection to the bottom bracket spindle and connection of the pedal. The solid section 52 includes the solid area 40 for connection of the pedal. The hollow section is adjacent to the solid area 28 for connection to the bottom bracket spindle. In said hollow section, the walls are thin and the cavity has a predominant dimension with respect to the thickness of the walls.

During the last formation step, the projecting portion 34 is bent and shaped so that the hollow section 50 and the solid section 52 are substantially aligned on the longitudinal axis 60 of the crank arm body. Alternatively, the solid section 52 may be slightly inclined towards the inner side of the crank arm, as illustrated in the variants of FIGS. 16 and 17 in order to exploit in an optimal way the space available when the crank arm is mounted on a bicycle. In this way, in fact, a shorter bottom bracket spindle can be made, which leads to a better transmission of motion.

With respect to the forging process the temperatures can range between 260 and 480 degrees Celsius. For the aluminium alloy of the present embodiments, temperatures between 390 and 400 degrees Celsius render the metal plastically deformable in all steps. As will be recognized by those skilled in the art, the actual temperatures and formation pressures will depend on the selected material, tooling and equipment used in the process.

Again with reference to FIGS. 12, 13 and 14, the crank arm body 36 has a wide inner side 54, a wide outer side 56 and two narrow sides 58. The hollow section 50 has a cavity 22 that communicates with the outside through the opening 24 located on one of the aforesaid sides in an area comprised between the aforesaid areas 28, 40 for connection to the bottom bracket spindle and for connection with the pedal. In the embodiment illustrated in the figures, the opening 24 is located on the wide inner side 54.

The cavity 22 has an elongated shape with an axis that substantially coincides with the longitudinal axis 60 of the crank arm body. From the point of view of the structural strength of the crank arm, it is particularly important that the areas for connection of the bottom bracket spindle and of the pedal should be made in solid areas that do not communicate with the cavity 22. This provides a greater structural strength in the connection areas. The cavity 22 is substantially closed, except for the opening 24, and this provides high stiffness and high resistance to torsional and flexural stresses to be obtained.

The opening 24 may be closed, to prevent any penetration of dust, water or dirt into the cavity 22, with a closing element that need not make any contribution to the structural strength of the crank arm.

If desired the opening 24 may be closed with the purpose of improving the structural strength of the crank arm. A way of so closing the opening 24 is illustrated in FIG. 15 and consists in forming an integral flap 62 that is closed and fixed against the open edge of the opening 24. Fixing is performed in the area indicated by 64, for instance by welding or bonding. Closing the cavity 22 is believed to be advantageous from the standpoint of the structural strength, since it is known that a closed structure has a higher moment of inertia and is able to distribute the stresses more evenly.

The crank arm according to the present invention can be produced with processes different from the one described previously. For example, FIG. 16 illustrates a crank arm with a cavity 22 that is completely closed, the said crank arm being obtainable with a process of casting of molten metal material, such as aluminium or its alloys or titanium, into a die. To form the closed cavity 22 the use of a core (not illustrated) is envisaged, the said core having a shape corresponding to the shape of the cavity 22. The core may consist of a vitreous material with a density and specific weight smaller than that of the material constituting the crank arm body, and may remain englobed in the crank arm body. Alternatively, the core could be made from a granular material which is extracted at the end of solidification of the molten material, for example through an opening that can be closed, as indicated previously.

FIG. 17 illustrates a further alternative for producing a crank arm according to the invention. This consists in forming a crank arm body with an open lowered area 66 that is closed by a closing element 68, which covers the entire lowered area 66 in order to form a closed cavity. In the above variant the crank arm body 36 may be obtained by plastic deformation, casting or by machining-away of material, and the closing element 68 may be fixed by welding or bonding.

A crank arm having the shape illustrated in FIGS. 12 to 17 may be obtained by crosslinking, in a die, of a structural-fibre-based fabric embedded in a matrix of plastic material. The fibres may be chosen in the group comprising carbon fibres, glass fibres, aramidic fibres, boron fibres, ceramic fibres, or any combination thereof. In this case, the cavity 22 may be formed by providing an expandable core on which the fabric englobed in a non-crosslinked matrix is wound. During crosslinking of the material, the core applies a forming pressure on the inner surfaces of the cavity and is extracted from the crank arm body at the end of crosslinking of the material. The expandable core may consist of a thermally dilatable material such as Teflon or the like. Alternatively, the cavity may be formed by providing an inflatable element for forming the inner surfaces of the cavity.

With reference to FIGS. 12 to 17, the crank arm according to the present invention, irrespective of the process and of the material used for its fabrication, is characterized by certain dimensional ratios that enable optimal results to be obtained in terms of mechanical strength and lightness. In the figures, the letter l indicates the useful length of the crank arm, defined as the distance between the centres of the holes 42 and 44; the letter l1 indicates the distance between the outer end of the opening 24 and the centre of the hole 42; l2 indicates the distance between the outer end of the opening 24 and the hole 44; l3 indicates the distance between the inner edge of the opening 24 and the centre of the hole 42; and l4 indicates the distance between the outer edge and the inner edge of the opening 24, all these distances being measured in the direction of the longitudinal axis 60 of the crank arm. According to the present invention, the ratio l2/l (which expresses the length of the solid section in proportion to the useful length of the crank arm) is comprised between 0.2 and 0.5, and preferably between 0.3 and 0.4; the ratio l3/l (i.e. the ratio between the length in the “closed” hollow section and the useful length of the crank arm) is comprised between 0.3 and 0.8, and preferably between 0.5 and 0.7; the ratio l4/l (i.e. the length of the opening in proportion to the useful length) is comprised between 0.1 and 0.25, and preferably between 0.15 and 0.22; and the ratio l1/l (i.e. the ratio between the overall length of the hollow section and the useful length of the crank arm) is comprised between 0.3 and 0.8, and preferably between 0.6 and 0.7.

As is illustrated in FIG. 12, according to a preferred aspect of the present invention, the areas 28 and 40 for connection to the bottom bracket spindle and for connection of the pedal, and the area bearing the opening 24 have a width, designated by b2, greater than the width of the hollow section 50 and of the solid section 52 designated by b1. In particular, the ratio b2/b1 is comprised between 1.1 and 1.5, and preferably between 1.2 and 1.3.

A further particularly important ratio of dimensions is that of the thicknesses, sc (thickness of the hollow section 50), sp (thickness of the solid section 52) and s1 (thickness of the wall surrounding the cavity 22), indicated in FIGS. 13, 14 and 17. According to a preferred aspect of the present invention, the ratio sc/sp is comprised between 1.2 and 3.0, and preferably between 1.5 and 1.7, whilst the ratio s1/sp is comprised between 0.1 and 0.3, and is preferably 0.2. In addition, the variation in the wall thickness from s1 to sp must preferably be gradual with smooth curves without any sharp edges, in order to prevent stress concentrations from forming at the opening 24, this being one of the most critical areas from the point of view of the risk of failure since it has an open section.

The foregoing description refers to a process for the production of what is commonly recognized as a left-hand crank arm. It will understood that the process applies equally to a right-hand crank arm.

The crank arm according to the present invention and the process for its fabrication may be varied. For example, the cavity 22 could open onto the outside in two different points, for instance on both of the wide sides, 54 and 56, of the crank arm. Furthermore, the crank arm 136 may also be obtained from a U-shaped forging as illustrated in FIGS. 18-26. In the initial forging 126 for the crank arm 136, the intermediate portion between the end portions 128 and 134 is formed with the flaps or extensions 129 spaced on either side of the longitudinal axis through the crank arm perform 126. Subsequently, the flaps 129 are formed over toward the longitudinal axis and produce the cavity 122 in the crank arm 136, see FIGS. 21-23. Preferably, the resulting structure 136 is then closed or fixed by welding bead 138 along the edges of the formed over flaps or extensions 129 as illustrated in FIGS. 24-26. This formation technique yields a crank arm having the features of the previously described embodiments.