Title:
Mounting Connector for a Cleat
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mounting connector for a cleat includes a noncircular and/or asymmetrical base and a cleat engagement member. The noncircular base may define a perimeter having a truncated edge which renders the base asymmetrical about the axis of the cleat engagement member. The system may further include a cleat configured to mate with the cleat engagement member. The base positions the cleat engagement member (and thus the cleat and/or the cleat center axis) at a maximum distance from the shoe's center of rotation. This, in turn, provides a wider performance track, improving the stability of the shoe.



Inventors:
Mcmullin, Faris W. (Boise, ID, US)
Application Number:
12/403986
Publication Date:
09/17/2009
Filing Date:
03/13/2009
Assignee:
SOFTSPIKES, LLC (Brentwood, TN, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/67D, 36/62
International Classes:
A43B5/00; A43C15/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20020020078Boot with anti-vibration bottom assemblyFebruary, 2002Bressoux et al.
20100024251Attachment System For Shoe UppersFebruary, 2010Delgatty
20030233769Plastic or rubber sole structure with variational stripesDecember, 2003Wu
20090241369LATTICED ELASTIC SHOE COVER WITH CLEATSOctober, 2009Votolato
20080078103Shoe Construction With Double UpperApril, 2008Liles
20080222919Accident Prevention InsoleSeptember, 2008Fenzi
20090031586Transpirant waterproof outer sole for shoesFebruary, 2009Adelchi
20040020077Rubber footwear with neoprene layerFebruary, 2004Thomas et al.
20080244931REPLACEABLE HEEL SYSTEMOctober, 2008Gallegos



Primary Examiner:
DRAKE, TIFFANY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EDELL, SHAPIRO & FINNAN, LLC (Gaithersburg, MD, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A mounting connector for a traction cleat used with an athletic shoe comprising: a noncircular base; and a cleat engagement member extending distally from the base, wherein the cleat engagement member comprises a central axis oriented substantially perpendicular to the base, wherein the base extends asymmetrically about the central axis of the cleat engagement member.

2. The mounting connector of claim 1, wherein: the base comprises a generally planar element having a ground-facing surface and a shoe-facing surface; and the cleat engagement member comprises a threaded socket extending distally from the base.

3. The mounting connector of claim 2, wherein the receptacle includes multiple threads configured to define a single start position and a single final position during cleat insertion.

4. The mounting connector of claim 1, wherein the base includes a peripheral edge defined by a substantially straight edge portion and a generally arcuate edge portion.

5. The mounting connector of claim 1, wherein the base is in the form of a polygon.

6. The mounting connector of claim 1, wherein the base comprises: a circular edge segment defining a generally arcuate edge; and a truncated edge segment defining a substantially straight edge extending between ends of the circular edge segment.

7. The mounting connector of claim 1, wherein: the base comprises a truncated segment defining a truncated edge and a non-truncated segment defining a non-truncated edge; and a radius measured from the central axis of the cleat engagement member to a point along the truncated edge differs from a radius measured from the central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

8. The mounting connector of claim 7, wherein the radius measured from the cleat engagement member central axis to a point along the truncated edge is up to about 15% less than the radius measured from the cleat engagement member central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

9. The mounting connector of claim 7, wherein the radius measured from the cleat engagement member central axis to a point along the truncated edge is about 3 mm less than the radius measured from the cleat engagement member central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

10. The mounting connector of claim 7, wherein the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the truncated edge is approximately 2.0 mm to about 3.50 mm less than the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

11. The mounting connector of claim 10, wherein the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the truncated edge is approximately 2.75 mm less than the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

12. The mounting connector of claim 7, wherein: the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the truncated edge is approximately 8.25 mm; and the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge is approximately 11 mm.

13. The mounting connector claim 1, wherein the base further comprises a plurality of apertures angularly spaced about the base and disposed between the cleat engagement member and the edges of the base.

14. A mounting connector for traction cleat used with an athletic shoe comprising: a noncircular, substantially planar base comprising a truncated segment defining a truncated perimetral edge, and a non-truncated segment defining a non-truncated perimetral edge; and a cleat engagement member extending distally from the base, wherein the cleat engagement member comprises a central axis oriented substantially perpendicular to the base, wherein the base extends asymmetrically about the axis of the cleat engagement member such that a diameter intersecting the central axis and measured in a direction substantially parallel to the truncated edge is greater than a diameter intersecting the central axis and measured in a direction substantially perpendicular to the truncated edge, and wherein the central axis is positioned closer to the truncated edge than the non-truncated edge.

15. A wide performance track system for an athletic shoe comprising: a shoe outsole including a peripheral edge; and a mounting connector adapted to connect to a cleat including: a base having a peripheral edge, and a cleat engagement member extending distally from the base, wherein the cleat engagement member comprises a central axis oriented substantially perpendicular to the base, wherein the base extends asymmetrically about the axis of the cleat engagement member such that the central axis is positioned closer to one portion of the base peripheral edge than to other portions of the base peripheral edge.

16. The track system of claim 15, wherein: the base comprises a truncated segment defining a truncated edge, and a non-truncated segment defining a non-truncated edge; wherein a radius measured from the central axis of the cleat engagement member to a point along the truncated edge is less than a radius measured from the central axis central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge; and the mounting connector is secured within the outsole such that the truncated edge is oriented proximate the outsole peripheral edge.

17. The track system of claim 15, wherein the base comprises a generally planar element having a ground-facing surface and a shoe-facing surface.

18. The track system of claim 15, wherein the cleat engagement member comprises a threaded socket extending distally from the base.

19. The track system of claim 15, wherein the base is in the form of a polygon.

20. The track system of claim 15, wherein: the base comprises a truncated segment defining a truncated edge and a non-truncated segment defining a non-truncated edge; and the radius measured from the central axis of the cleat engagement member to a point along the truncated edge is up to about 15% less than the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

21. The track system of claim 15, wherein: the base comprises a truncated segment defining a truncated edge and a non-truncated segment defining a non-truncated edge; and the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the truncated edge is approximately 2.0 mm to about 3.50 mm less than the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

22. The track system of claim 21, wherein the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the truncated edge is approximately 2.75 mm less than the radius measured from the central axis to a point along the non-truncated edge.

23. A method of stabilizing the performance track of an outsole including mounting connectors adapted to mate with cleats, the method comprising: (a) positioning a mounting connector in an outsole having a peripheral edge, wherein the mounting connector comprises: a base having a peripheral edge defining a truncated portion; and a cleat engagement member extending distally from the base, wherein the cleat engagement member comprises a central axis oriented substantially perpendicular to the base, wherein the base extends asymmetrically about the axis of the cleat engagement member such that the central axis is positioned closer to the truncated portion of the base peripheral edge than to other portions of the base peripheral edge; and (b) securing the mounting connector within the outsole such that truncated portion of the base peripheral edge faces the outsole peripheral edge.

24. A shoe cleat assembly for providing traction to an athletic shoe on a ground surface, the cleat assembly comprising: a shoe outsole including an outboard peripheral edge; a mounting connector coupled to shoe outsole, the mounting connector comprising: an asymmetrical base comprising a shoe-facing surface and a ground-facing surface, and a cleat engagement member oriented substantially perpendicular to and extending distally from the ground-facing surface of the base, the cleat engagement member defining an central axis oriented substantially perpendicular to the base, wherein the base extends asymmetrically about the central axis of the cleat engagement member; and a cleat operable to removably connect to the mounting connector, wherein the cleat comprises a hub including a traction element and a connector configured to mate with the cleat engagement member in response to mutual engagement between the cleat engagement member and the connector.

25. The cleat assembly of claim 24, wherein: the asymmetrical base comprises: a circular edge segment defining a generally arcuate edge, and a truncated edge segment defining a substantially straight edge extending between ends of the circular edge segment; and wherein a radius measured from the central axis of the cleat engagement member to a point along the substantially straight edge is less than a radial dimension measured from the cleat engagement member central axis to a point on the generally arcuate edge.

26. The cleat assembly of claim 25, wherein the mounting connector is secured within the outsole to position the substantially straight edge proximate and substantially parallel to the outsole peripheral edge.

27. The cleat assembly of claim 24, wherein the cleat comprises: a hub having a shoe-facing surface and a ground-facing surface; a plurality of traction elements cantilevered to the hub and extending distally from the ground-facing surface.

28. The cleat assembly of claim 27, wherein: the cleat engagement member comprises a substantially annular socket; the cleat connector releasably secures the cleat to the mounting connector to align the traction elements in a predetermined orientation with respect to the outsole.

29. The cleat assembly of claim 28, wherein: the plurality of traction elements comprise a plurality of static traction elements and a plurality of dynamic traction elements; the hub defines a perimeter; the dynamic traction elements are generally aligned in a set along a first half of the hub perimeter; the static traction elements are generally aligned in a set along the remaining half of the hub perimeter; and the cleat connector positions the static traction elements toward the outsole edge.

30. The cleat assembly of claim 24, wherein: the asymmetrical base comprises a polygon including a first, truncated edge portion facing the outsole peripheral edge and a second, non-truncated edge portion; and wherein a radius measured from the cleat engagement member central axis to a point along the truncated edge is less than a radius measured from the cleat engagement member central axis to a point on the non-truncated edge.

31. A traction cleat system for a shoe, the cleat system comprising: a mounting connector operable to removably secure a cleat to a shoe, the mounting connector including: a substantially planar base comprising a shoe-facing surface, a ground-facing surface, and a peripheral base edge, and a socket extending from the exterior-facing surface of base, the socket including a central socket axis oriented perpendicular to the base, wherein the base extends asymmetrically about the socket axis; and a cleat comprising: a plurality of traction elements, and a connector operable to releasably engage the socket such that the traction elements are positioned in a predetermined orientation with respect to socket.

32. The traction cleat system of claim 31, wherein: the base includes a truncated segment defining a truncated edge; and a first diameter of the base measured in a direction generally perpendicular to truncated edge and intersecting the socket axis is less than a second diameter of the base measured in a direction oriented generally parallel to the truncated edge and intersecting the socket axis.

33. The cleat system of claim 31, wherein: the mounting connector further comprises a plurality of apertures angularly spaced along the base and positioned between the socket and the peripheral base edge; and the apertures are configured to optimize positional stability of the connector in the shoe.

34. The cleat system of claim 31 further comprising an outsole having an outboard peripheral edge, wherein the mounting connector base is encapsulated within the outsole to position the truncated edge toward the outsole peripheral edge.

35. The cleat system of claim 34, wherein: the system comprises a plurality of mounting connectors; each mounting connector comprises a base extending asymmetrically from the central axis of the socket; and each of the bases include a truncated edge and are encapsulated within to the outsole to position the truncated edge toward the outsole peripheral edge.

36. The cleat system of claim 31, wherein the plurality of traction elements is selected from the group consisting of a plurality of static traction elements and a plurality of dynamic traction elements.

37. The cleat system of claim 31, wherein: the plurality of traction elements comprise a plurality of static traction elements and a plurality of dynamic traction elements; the cleat further comprises hub defining a perimeter; the dynamic traction elements are disposed along a first half of the hub perimeter; the static traction elements are disposed along a second half of the hub perimeter; and the cleat connector positions the static traction elements toward the outsole edge.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a nonprovisional application of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/036,161, filed 13 Mar. 2008 and entitled “Mounting Connector for a Cleat,” the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains to a traction cleat system and, in particular, to a mounting connector for replaceable cleats of an athletic shoe such as a golf shoe.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are a variety of forces exerted on an athletic shoe requiring the use of cleats for traction. For example, a golf shoe is exposed to both rotational and lateral forces during game play. Specifically, the shoe is exposed to rotational or torsional twisting during a golf swing, as well as to lateral (side-to-side) forces as the weight of a golfer is shifted from the front foot to the back foot during the backswing and, similarly, from the back foot to the front foot during the downswing and follow through. Other forces are present when the golfer is walking (and not swinging a club). For example, when the golfer walks along an uneven surface or slick terrain, traction is needed from the cleats to minimize the propensity to slip (which is generated by a lateral force). The rotational forces present in the golf swing result from the golfer's foot twisting around the center point of the shoe sole (i.e., the shoe's center of rotation).

A conventional outsole with a cleat system is shown in FIGS. 1A, 1B and 2. The outsole 110 includes a perimetral edge 120 (also called an outsole edge), a forward portion 130, and a rear portion 140. The cleat system includes a plurality of mounting receptacles 150 spaced at predetermined positions about the outsole 110. As shown in FIG. 2, the mounting receptacle 150 includes a base 200 and a socket 210 coaxially or centrally disposed on the base. The base 200 is circular, possessing a diameter of, e.g., 22 mm. The socket 210 is typically internally threaded and securely mates with an externally threaded stem on a cleat 160.

The location of each mounting receptacle 150 along the outsole 110 follows the general pattern established years ago by metal cleat systems installed into leather outsoles. Regardless of the pattern, a certain amount of clearance must exist between the edge of the base 200 and the outsole peripheral edge 120. This clearance, called a setback or offset distance d, varies among shoe manufacturers. By way of specific example, the setback distance d of the base 200 is typically 2 mm to 10 mm.

The setback distance d controls the orientation of the sockets 210 because the setback distance moves each socket away from the outsole edge 120 and toward the shoe's center of rotation C. In conventional athletic shoes (e.g., men's golf shoes), the center axes of the sockets 210 (and thus the center axes of the cleats 160) along the forward portion 130 of the outsole are spaced an average of 20 mm from the center of rotation C. It is desirable to have this spacing as large as possible because the larger the spacing, the greater the performance track and stability of the shoe for tractional performance. The ability to move the cleat further outward (and further away from the center of rotation C) has been limited for fear of exposing and not fully encapsulating the base 200 at the outsole peripheral edge.

Thus, it would be desirable to provide a cleat system that provides maximum stability to a wearer during a myriad of activities and, in particular, to provide a golfing shoe that provides a more stable platform for the golfer while overcoming the issues discussed above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A cleat system for an athletic shoe is disclosed. The system includes a mounting connector having a noncircular or asymmetrical base and a cleat engagement member. The noncircular base may define a perimeter having a truncated edge which renders the base asymmetrical about the connector axis. The system may further include a cleat configured to mate with the cleat engagement member. The base positions the cleat engagement member (and thus the cleat and/or the cleat center axis) at a maximum distance from the shoe's center of rotation. This, in turn, provides a wider performance track, improving the stability of the shoe.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A illustrates a plan view of a bottom (ground-facing) portion of a prior art outsole.

FIG. 1B illustrates a partial, close-up view of the outsole of FIG. 1A, showing prior art receptacles mounted within the outsole.

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of a prior art receptacle.

FIGS. 3A and 3B, respectively, illustrate top (shoe-facing) and bottom (ground-facing) plan views of a mounting connector in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a bottom perspective view of the mounting connection shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B.

FIG. 5 illustrates the mounting connector of FIG. 3A, showing exemplary parameters associated with the connector.

FIG. 6A illustrates a bottom (ground-facing) view in plan of a shoed including a traction cleat system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention

FIG. 6B illustrates a partial bottom view of the outsole of the shoe of FIG. 6A, showing the placement mounting connectors in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 7A and 7B, respectively, illustrate bottom (ground-facing) and top (shoe-facing) views in plan of a mounting connector in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

Like reference numerals have been used to identify like elements throughout this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIGS. 3A, 3B, and 4, the cleat mounting connector 300 includes a noncircular and/or asymmetric base 305 and a cleat engagement member 310 extending distally from the base. The base 305 may be in the form of a flat, substantially planar element or plate having interior-facing (shoe-facing) side 315 and exterior-facing (ground-facing) side 320 that cooperate define a perimetral edge 325 (also called a base edge).

The base 305 may further include at least one pass-through or aperture 330 formed therein. By way example, a plurality of apertures 330 may be angularly spaced about the base 305 between the base edge 325 and the cleat engagement member 310 The apertures 330 receive the molten polymer or rubber during the molding of the outsole 110, optimizing the positional stability of the mounting connector 300 within the outsole. The number of apertures 330 is not particularly limited. By way of example, the base 305 may typically include between 7-12 apertures 330.

In one embodiment, the base 305 is formed by truncating a portion of a circular base. By way of specific example, the base 305 may be in the form of a disc having a truncated edge 355 extending between the ends of a circular edge segment 357 to define an asymmetric, generally D-shaped structure. Stated another way, the base 305 is in the form of a circle with a segment removed. The truncated edge 355 may define a generally straight edge, or may define a slightly curved or arcuate surface. That is, the truncated edge portion 355 may possess a predetermined large radius of curvature. For example, when the truncated edge 355 faces the outsole peripheral edge 620 (FIG. 6), the slight curvature may correspond to or accommodate the curvature of the outsole 610.

The amount of truncation in the base 305 may include, but is not limited to, about 10%-15% of the total diameter of the corresponding circular base. Thus, in a conventional circular base having a diameter of 22 mm, the amount of truncation may be selected to alter the radius from the longitudinal axis of the cleat engagement member 310 toward the truncated edge 355 in the range of from about 2.0 mm to about 3.50 mm. By way of specific example, the amount of truncation in the exemplary base may equal about 2.75 mm. An arc of approximately 80° to 130° may be removed from the circumference of the circular edge 357 by the truncation. Stated another way, the area of the circular segment removed may equal up to approximately 30% of the total area of the circle. For example, the area of the circular segment removed may approximately 20%-30% the total area of the circle (e.g., 25%). Thus, if the area of the circle is approximately 380 mm2, then the area removed (the area of the circular segment) to from the base 305 may be approximately 98 mm2.

FIG. 5 illustrates exemplary parameters of the base 305 shown in FIG. 3B. As shown, the dimension D1 (e.g., diameter) of the circular part of the base 305 measured along the X-direction (i.e., in a direction parallel to the truncated edge 355) may equal about 22 mm. The dimension D2 (e.g., diameter) of the truncated part of the base 305 measured in the Y-direction (i.e., in a direction perpendicular to the truncated edge), in contrast, is less than diameter D1. By way of example, D2 may equal about 19.25 mm. Stated another way, the radii forming D1, R1A and R1B (each measured from the axis P of the cleat engagement member 310), are equal, each being about 11 mm. In contrast, the radii forming D2 (R2A and R2B) are not equal. For example, R2A measured from axis P to the center point of the truncated edge 355 may equal about 8.25 mm, while R2B measured from axis P to the non-truncated edge may equal about 11 mm. Further radii measured from the axis P of the cleat engagement member 310 to the truncated edge portion 355 will similarly have a lower value than radii measured from the axis P to the circular edge portion 357. These differences in diameter/radius result in the truncation and, as such, the asymmetry of the base 200 about the axis P of the cleat engagement member.

The cleat engagement member 310 captures a cleat, securing it to the outsole mounting connector (and, as such the shoe outsole). The cleat engagement member 310 may be in the form of a male or, more typically, a female connection that mates with a corresponding male or female connector on the cleat. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, the cleat engagement member 310 is a generally annular receptacle or socket defined in a cylinder extending distally from the exterior side 320 of the base 305. The socket 310, oriented perpendicular to the base 305, is defined by a proximal flange portion 335 and a distal annular collar portion 340, with the flange portion extending radially beyond the collar. The outer wall of the collar 340, moreover, may include a plurality of locking teeth 345 extending radially from the outer wall surface. The teeth are adapted to selectively engage locking posts on the cleat in the manner described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,974,700; 6,823,613; and 7,107,708, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties. The interior wall of the socket may be threaded 350 to provide releasable engagement between the mounting connector 300 and a cleat stem (which includes a complementary thread). Other forms of connection (both releasable and permanent) may be utilized for the purposes of the present invention.

Alternatively, or in addition, the cleat engagement member 310 may be in the form of a threaded post (FIG. 7A) configured to mate with a cleat connection in the form of a receptacle. As with the above configuration, the cleat socket and/or engagement member post may be threaded to provide releasable engagement. Other forms of connection, moreover, may be utilized.

As mentioned above, the cleat engagement member 310 possesses a central longitudinal axis P oriented perpendicular to the base 200. Thus, in the embodiment of FIGS. 3A and 3B, the socket 310 is generally coaxial with axis P. Similarly, in the embodiment of FIGS. 7A and 7B, the threaded post is coaxial with axis P.

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate an outsole including a cleat system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown, the outsole 610 includes perimetral edge 620 (also called an outsole peripheral edge), a forward portion 630, and a rear portion 640. The cleat system includes a plurality of mounting connectors 300 (FIG. 6B) spaced at predetermined positions about the periphery of the outsole 610. A plurality of cleats 660 is connected to each of the mounting connectors 300. As shown, the cleats 660 may include asymmetrically oriented dynamic traction elements 665 and static traction elements 670 (discussed in greater detail below).

The outsole 610 may be formed by utilizing a molding process, such as the one described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,248,278 (Kelly), the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Briefly, the mounting connector 300 is typically embedded in the sole 610 via molding, in which the apertures 330 typically are filled with molten polymer or rubber forming the sole to optimize positional stability of the connector in the sole. During the molding process, the base 305 is locked into place such that the truncated edge 355 stays oriented outboard, toward the outsole edge 620. That is, the mounting connector is locked into place during the molding process so that the truncated edge 355 stays oriented toward the edge of the athletic shoe (e.g., a golf shoe). The result is that the axis P of the socket is positioned closer to peripheral edge 620 of the outsole 610 than is possible with a fully circular connector.

The base 305 (specifically, the truncated edge 355) is spaced from the outsole edge 620 a setback distance d similar to that described above. For example, the setback distance d may be between 2 and 10 mm. Preferably, the setback distance d of the truncated edge 355 is about 2 to about 4 mm from the edge of the outsole (e.g., about 3 mm). As shown, the truncated edge 355 is oriented facing and generally parallel to the outsole peripheral edge 620.

Each cleat engagement member 310 within the forward portion 630 of the outsole 610 is positioned further away from the shoe's center of rotation C than is the case in the prior art, even when considering manufacturer setbacks/offsets as described above. That is, the distance A′ for the inventive cleat system is greater than the distance A (FIG. 1B) similarly measured for a conventional cleat system (i.e., a conventional system including a circular base). This, in turn, creates a wider traction performance track. By way of example, the base 305 may position the cleat engagement member 310 approximately 10-15% further away from the shoe's center of rotation C in comparison to conventional mounting connectors. The mounting connector 300, moreover, remains positionally fixed in the outsole 610 since the base 200 is fully encapsulated.

The cleat 660 may include a single traction element (e.g., a frusto-conical traction element as used in soccer cleats), or a plurality of traction elements (as used in golf cleats). For example, the cleat 660 may include a hub having a shoe-facing surface and a ground-facing surface. The hub may include a plurality of traction elements cantilevered from the hub. The traction elements engage the ground surface when the shoe to which the cleat is attached is brought down into contact with that surface. By way of specific example, the traction elements may include a plurality of dynamic traction elements 665 and/or a plurality of static traction elements 670 or a combination of the two. The dynamic traction elements 665 are designed to resiliently pivot with respect to the hub and deflect toward the shoe sole when the shoe engages a ground surface, whereas the static traction elements 670 remain substantially rigid and are resistant to deflection upon engaging the ground surface.

The static or dynamic traction elements may be oriented in any suitable manner along the hub. That is, the traction elements may be symmetrically or asymmetrical disposed about the hub. For example, the dynamic traction elements may be aligned in a set along a first half of the hub perimeter, whereas the static traction elements may be generally aligned in a set along the remaining half of the hub perimeter. Additional information regarding this type of cleat is discussed in U.S. Patent No. 6,834,446 (McMullin), the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

A cleat connector may extend from the cleat hub (e.g., from the shoe-facing surface of the hub). The cleat connector engages the cleat engagement member of the mounting connector. As mentioned above, the cleat connector may be in the form of a threaded cylinder/socket or a threaded post.

In addition, the mounting connector 300 may be configured to selectively position the traction elements in a predetermined orientation. Cleats having asymmetrically positioned traction elements typically require orientation in a particular rotational position at specific locations along the outside edge of the outsole in order to provide desired tractional effects. Consequently, the threads of the cleat engagement member 310 may include multiple threads configured in a known manner to define a single start position and a single final position during cleat insertion, thus aligning the traction elements in a predetermined angular orientation with respect to the outsole 620. By way of specific example, and as seen best in FIG. 6A and 6B, the static traction elements 670 may be oriented outward, facing the outsole edge 620.

The introduction of a cleat engagement member 310 with asymmetric threads, as well as the positioning of the truncated edge 355 to the edge 620 of the outsole, allows for the locking of the traction elements in the desired position. Such a system may rotationally orient each cleat 660 within the outsole 610 such that the cleat will have its multiple contact points (via the traction elements 665, 670) with the ground at a maximum distance from the shoe's center of rotation C. In this manner, the asymmetric configuration combined with the noncircular base 305 provides an additional 20% increase in the average distance that the cleats contact the ground vs. the center of rotation of the cleat, providing a combined increase in average distance of about 30%. Stated another way, the distance at which traction elements 665, 670 contact the surface is 30% further from the shoe center of rotation when compared to conventional (circular) mounting connectors utilizing convention (symmetrical) cleats.

FIGS. 7A and 7B illustrate a mounting connector 700 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. As shown, the asymmetrical or noncircular base 705 possesses a generally polygonal shape having a plurality of generally straight edges 710, 720, 730, 740, 750, and 755. The primary, outboard-facing edge 755 may define a truncated edge. As with the previously described embodiment, the diameter measured in the direction generally perpendicular to the truncated edge 755 is less than the diameter measured in the direction generally parallel to the truncated edge. As a result, the inradius R2 to the outward facing edge 755 (from axis P) is less than the inradius to the opposed, inboard-facing edge 730. In a similar manner, the radius and/or inradius measured from the central axis P of the cleat engagement member 310 to the truncated edge 755 will be less than the radius and/or inradius measured from the axis P to the other edges 710, 720, 730, 740, 750.

In another embodiment, instead of a truncation that forms an asymmetric cleat, the noncircular base 305 may be symmetric, but may possess a generally elliptical shape. In operation, the major axis of the ellipse (i.e., its longitudinal axis) is disposed generally parallel to the outsole peripheral edge 620. Thus, a longitudinal edge of the ellipse faces the peripheral edge 620 of the outsole 610, enabling the mounting connector to be positioned nearer the edge when compared to conventional mounting connectors. In addition, other noncircular shapes may be utilized.

The above-described embodiments effectively utilize the concept of a lever in which the computation of energy is (Force)×(Distance). Since a cleat is an attempt to offset energy, the amount of resistance provided by the cleat is also computed as (Force)×(Distance). Rotational forces created during activities such as a golf swing are a result of foot twisting around the center point C of the shoe. Consequently, the further the cleats are moved away from the center of the rotation, the greater the amount of resistance to the twisting energy. In addition, moving from rotational traction to a different force present during the swing (that of the weight shift during the swing and the resulting lateral forces) creates instability for the golfer. Consequently, by placing the cleats 660 further away from the rotational center C of the shoe provides a more stable platform for the golfer. This more stable platform results from the cleat being the foundation of the golfer's connection to the ground. The wider the foundation, the greater is the stability.

Thus, the present system recognizes the benefits of placing the cleat 660 further from the center of rotation. The base 305 enables the placement of the cleat engagement member 310 farther away from the edge 620 of the outsole 610 without encroaching on the clearance required by the shoe manufacturers. An increase in distance of about 10-15% (e.g., an increase of about three millimeters) is significant when compared to the conventional distance of 20 mm from the center of rotation.

In one embodiment, every mounting connector 300 within the outsole 610 (the front 630 and rear 640 portions) is mounted to orient the truncated edge 355 toward the outsole edge 620. In another embodiment, each mounting connector 300 within the front portion 630 of the outsole 610 is mounted to orient the truncated edge toward the outsole edge 620.

The present invention further provides a system in which a desired performance track may be selected to accommodate the traction requirements of the shoe. That is, an outsole may be formed to have a narrow performance track or a wide performance track. In the narrow performance track, the rounded (non-truncated) edge of the base 305 may be oriented outboard, positioning the cleat engagement member 310 closer to the center of rotation C. In the wide performance track configuration, each mounting connector 300 is oriented as described above, with the truncated edge 355 oriented outboard and the cleat engagement member oriented further from the center of rotation C. Thus, a shoe manufacturer may selectively devise a performance track based on the needs of the particular athletic shoe.

While the invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. For example, the mounting connector 300 may possess a unitary structure (i.e., a molded, one-piece unit) or may be formed by separate components coupled together. The asymmetric base may include a base with halves that are not mirror images, as well as a base possessing varying radius measurements (e.g., between truncated and non-truncated portions when measured from the axis of the cleat engagement member) such that the cleat engagement member is oriented closer to one portion of the base peripheral edge. The base then, extends asymmetrically about the axis of the cleat engagement member. The cleat 660 may include various connection means to engage the mounting connection. The connection means may further include a locking mechanism that prevents inadvertent removal of the cleat from the socket. The connection means, furthermore, may be indexable in the sense that the cleat can reside in the socket in a unique (i.e., only one) rotational position. The indexable feature is particularly useful where the traction elements are configured and/or positioned asymmetrically to render the cleat most effective to provide traction when in a particular rotational position.

Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover the modifications and variations of this invention that come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents. It is to be understood that terms such as “left”, “right” “top”, “bottom”, “front”, “rear”, “side”, “height”, “length”, “width”, “upper”, “lower”, “interior”, “exterior”, “inner”, “outer” and the like as may be used herein, merely describe points of reference and do not limit the present invention to any particular orientation or configuration.