Title:
AERODYNAMIC CLOTHING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An athletic jersey or speed suit containing a winged element to reduce drag associated with resistance from a fluid passing over the body of an athlete wearing the jersey when participating in an athletic event. The winged element is defined by material that extends from along the arm of the athletic clothing to the torso of the athletic clothing. In specific embodiments, the winged element is continuous. In another embodiment, the winged element connects from a portion the arm of the athletic clothing to a portion of the torso area, such that a winged element is created, but it is not continuous along the torso and arm of the athletic clothing. In specific embodiments, the winged element is made from a flexible fabric material.



Inventors:
Rod III, Ronald Francis (Boulder, CO, US)
Yu, Jennie (Golden, CO, US)
Application Number:
13/638942
Publication Date:
08/08/2013
Filing Date:
05/16/2011
Assignee:
ROD, III RONALD FRANCIS
YU JENNIE
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/69
International Classes:
A41D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HADEN, SALLY CLINE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sheridan Ross PC (Denver, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An aerodynamic athletic jersey, comprising: a body panel, a forearm sleeve; and a winged element formed between the body panel and the forearm sleeve.

2. The jersey of claim 1, further comprising pants attached to a body panel.

3. The jersey of claim 2, wherein the pants extend to approximately the ankle of the wearer.

4. The jersey of claim 1, wherein the winged element extends from a point between the forearm sleeve and a bicep panel to the body panel.

5. The jersey of claim 1, wherein the forearm sleeve further comprises a glove.

6. The jersey of claim 1, wherein the forearm sleeve further comprises a thumb loop.

7. The jersey of claim 1, further comprising a bicep panel.

8. The jersey of claim 7, wherein the bicep panel comprises a fabric having three-dimensional dimpled wave pattern.

9. The jersey of claim 8, wherein a material comprising a three-dimensional dimpled weave pattern is used for the area of at least one of the winged element, the forearm sleeve and the body panel.

10. The jersey of claim 1, wherein the winged element extends from approximately a location along a bicep region of the jersey to a location along a side of the body panel.

11. The jersey of claim 1, wherein the body panel further comprises at least one ribbed component.

12. The jersey of claim 11, wherein the at least one ribbed component comprises a polymer adhered to a surface of the front panel.

13. The jersey of claim 11, wherein the at least one ribbed component is positioned symmetrically on two sides of the front panel.

14. The jersey of claims 11, wherein the at least one ribbed component is hemispherical with an upper radius limit of about 3 cm.

15. The jersey of claims 11, wherein the ribbed component is a tube having an upper radius limit of about 3 cm.

16. A method for making a jersey, comprising: joining a forearm panel to a bicep panel to create a partial sleeve; joining the partial sleeve to a front panel and a back panel, wherein the back panel and the front panel are shaped to create a winged element; joining another forearm panel and another bicep panel to another front panel and back panel, wherein the other front panel and the back panel are shaped to create another winged element; and joining the front panels with a zipper.

17. The method for making a jersey of claim 16, further comprising attaching a ribbed component to the front panels.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/345,104 filed May 15, 2010, which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

In an attempt to achieve greater speeds in a wide variety of sports, attention has been focused on overcoming, or in other words limiting, the adverse effects of wind resistance. On the racing front, less wind resistance for a given driving force translates to faster speeds. As a result, Indy cars and drivers have incorporated aerodynamic advances into car and helmet design. For instance, one type of aerodynamic device utilized is a splayed-open-V-shaped vortex generator, which has been incorporated into Indy car frames and driver helmets to enhance their respective aerodynamics. These vortex generators, which are employed on a surface over which air passes, project outward from that surface and are oriented with the point of the V-shaped generator directed into the passing air. However, to date, the use of this aerodynamic device or technology has been limited.

In speed athletics, for example cycling, swimming, skiing and speed skating, the athlete creates a turbulent wake when displacing fluid to move forward. By way of example, as the air is forced to flow around a cyclist, a low-pressure region is created behind the cyclist. With a high-pressure region in front, and a low-pressure region behind the cyclist, the cyclist is pulled back by the low-pressure region. The turbulent wake creates an aerodynamic drag that comprises air pressure and surface friction (or skin friction) drags. The pressure drag increases as a square of the cyclist's velocity and the power required to overcome the pressure drag increases as the cube of the cyclist's velocity.

In addition to equipment advances, clothing advancements have also improved the aerodynamics of speed sports. For example, cyclists currently wear tight fitting clothing to try and reduce any loose fabric which would “catch” the wind and increase the drag coefficient of the cyclist. While a focus on reducing the drag coefficient is not of any particular concern for purely casual bicycling or commuting by bicycle, it can be critical in competitive cycling situations. While the above improvements are a step toward enhancing aerodynamics, additional improvements continue to be sought to optimize performance.

In an attempt to achieve greater speeds in a wide variety of sports, attention has been focused on overcoming or limiting the adverse effects of wind resistance. Compared to a bicycle, the cyclist presents a much greater surface area profile to the oncoming air and, therefore, a greater aerodynamic drag. In addition to assuming an aerodynamic position, the cyclist can reduce aerodynamic surface friction drag by wearing more aerodynamic apparel. When in an aerodynamic or “tucked” position, the cyclists' shoulders and upper arms create the most air turbulence and therefore substantially contribute to the aerodynamic drag. Reducing the turbulence created by the cyclists' shoulders and upper arms can substantially reduce the aerodynamic drag. Standard portions of a cycling jersey that create and/or contribute to drag are the portions of sleeves about the cyclists' arms, portions of the jersey about the rib cage, abdomen, chest, and neck of the cyclist. Less frictional drag translates to faster speeds and greater efficiency of movement. Thus, there is a desire for more aerodynamic sports apparel that can lead an athlete to greater efficiency and faster speeds without significant increases in power output by minimizing the surface friction drag and/or pressure drag.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides athletic clothing that covers at least part of the torso of an athlete and has aerodynamically-enhanced features that reduce aerodynamic drag on the athlete, for example when the athlete is positioned in the aerodynamic, “time trial” or “tucked” position. The athletic clothing may be used for several speed sports, including speed skating, skiing, cycling and swimming.

When in an aerodynamic position, the region behind an athletes' tricep creates turbulent air flow and therefore substantially contributes to the pressure drag. Specific features and embodiments of the present invention reduce the turbulence created behind a cyclists' tricep region, which can reduce the pressure drag and increase the speed of the cyclist. The present invention also reduces the pressure drag created in the chest, abdomen, rib cage and neck areas of a cyclist.

One embodiment of the present invention provides an aerodynamically-enhanced article of clothing formed as a jersey and having a winged element, for covering at least a portion of the torso of an athlete. The winged element is defined by material that extends from along the arm of the athletic clothing to the torso of the athletic clothing. In specific embodiments, the winged element is continuous. In another embodiment, the winged element connects from a portion the arm of the athletic clothing to a portion of the torso area, such that a winged element is created, but it is not continuous along the torso and arm of the athletic clothing. In specific embodiments, the winged element is made from a flexible fabric material.

In specific embodiments, the athletic clothing includes pants attached to the jersey, which pants extend along the leg of the athlete, to form a speed suit.

In specific embodiments, ribbed components that further assist with reducing drag are incorporated into the jersey or speed suit embodiment.

An advantage of the present invention is that it provides an aerodynamic module which is integrated into the clothing of a speed sport athlete, thereby improving the aerodynamics and consequently the performance of the speed sport athlete. Other advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a front, upright view of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a profile view of one embodiment of the invention in an aerodynamic position on a bicycle.

FIG. 3 illustrates a partial frontal view of an embodiment of a speed suit in an aerodynamic position on a bicycle.

FIG. 5 illustrates a frontal view of an embodiment of the speed suit of the present invention in an aerodynamic position on a bicycle.

FIG. 4 illustrates a three-dimensional dimpled weave fabric pattern used in certain preferred embodiments of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

The present invention provides athletic clothing that covers at least part of the torso of an athlete and has aerodynamically-enhanced features that reduce aerodynamic drag on the athlete, particularly when the athlete is positioned in an aerodynamic “time trial” or “tucked” position on a bicycle. The athletic clothing is also useful for enhancing the performance of an athlete participating in other speed sports, including speed skating, skiing and swimming.

When positioned in the aerodynamic position, the region behind an athletes' tricep creates turbulent air flow, which substantially contributes to the pressure drag. Specific features and embodiments of the present invention reduce the turbulence created behind an athlete's tricep region, which can reduce the pressure drag and increase the speed of the athlete. The present invention also reduces the pressure drag created in the chest, abdomen, rib cage and neck areas of a athlete.

A first aspect of the present invention is an aerodynamic winged element formed as part of a jersey to be worn by athlete. Another aspect of the present invention is a speed suit having the winged element formed in the jersey and attached to pants.

The winged element of the invention may be incorporated as part of a cycling jersey or a speed suit having either long leg coverings, three-quarter length leg coverings, or short leg coverings. Preferred embodiments of the invention incorporate the aerodynamic enhancements of the invention into a speed suit having a winged element incorporated into a jersey that is attached to short leg covering pants.

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention, formed as a speed suit including a jersey mated with, and attached to, shorts. The speed suit 100 comprises winged elements 104 that are connected between the arm sleeve 108 and the body panel 112 of the speed suit 100. The sleeve of the aerodynamic suit of the invention can be any one of a full-length sleeve (extending from about the wearer's shoulder to about the wearer's wrist), a three-quarter length sleeve (extending from about the wearer's shoulder to about a mid-point of the wearer's forearm), a half-sleeve (extending from about the wearer's shoulder to about the wearer's elbow) or any other desired arm-length sleeve. FIG. 1 illustrates a winged element 104 that creates a wing with material throughout the entire winged element 104. It will be understood that the winged element may be made with only a portion of the material connected between the sleeve and the body panel.

The speed suit 100 may also comprise pants 116, which may extend to any suitable length down the leg of the athlete and which may be joined to the speed suit 100 by any suitable means or may be formed as a continuous fabric extension of the body panel(s) of the speed suit. In specific embodiments, the pants 116 may include additional sport-specific features, such as a cycling chamois.

In specific embodiments, an optional shoe or foot cover may also be attached to the pants 116 of the speed suit 100. In additional embodiments, an optional collar may be included in the speed suit. In additional embodiments, an optional hood may be included in the speed suit for use in some speed sports.

In specific embodiments, the speed suit 100 may optionally contain one or more ribbed components, such as ribbed components 120, depicted in FIG. 1. There may be any number of ribbed components located at any location on the speed suit in these embodiments.

One specific embodiment of the invention is a speed suit 100 incorporating one or multiple ribbed components that act as wind trips for fluid passing over the torso of an athlete. In a specific embodiment, the ribbed component comprises a polymer that is adhered to the surface of the front of a speed suit of the invention. The ribbed component can be located on one side of the front panel of the speed suit. Alternatively, in a preferred embodiment, ribbed components 120 can be located on both sides of the front panel 126, as illustrated in FIG. 1. In one specific embodiment, the shape of the ribbed component is hemispherical with an upper radius limit of about 3 cm. In another specific embodiment, the shape of the ribbed component is circular with an upper radius limit of about 3 cm. In another specific embodiment, the ribbed component is a stretchable tube or a spring, such that when the athlete is standing upright, the spring expands, and when the athlete assumes an aerodynamic “tucked” position on a bicycle, the spring compresses, to hold the circular or semi-circular shape of the ribbed component. The length of the ribbed component may vary depending on the torso length of the athlete, but may be any suitable length and may be attached to the front panel at any suitable angle. In one embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, there are two ribbed components 120 and they are positioned approximately symmetrically about a zipper 124 approximately 30 degrees from the zipper 124. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, the ribbed component 120 extends from approximately the belly button of the athlete to approximately the collar bone of the athlete. In one embodiment, the ribbed component may be adhered to portions of the front panel. In other embodiments, the front panel may contain a ribbed sleeve for receiving the ribbed component such that the ribbed component may slide into the sleeve during use, and may be removed from the sleeve after use. In specific embodiments, a zipper may be located in a front panel in such a manner as to create a ribbed component or windbreak over the zipper. Alternatively, the zipper may protrude from the speed suit in such a way to disrupt the flow of a fluid as it comes into contact with the athlete or to assist in providing shape to a ribbed component on the front panel of the jersey or speed suit. In the specific embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, the zipper 124 may be used to join two front panels 126. Of course, alternative means of joining the panels that compose a jersey or speed suit may be used, including but not limited to hook and loop (VELCRO™), buttons, snaps, and/or stitching.

In these embodiments, the winged element and configuration on the speed suit substantially reduces air turbulence and/or aerodynamic drag by at least one of:

i) including a winged element, that extends to the arm of the athlete anywhere between the elbow of the athlete on the bicep to the armpit of the athlete, and attaches to the side torso region of the athlete anywhere from the armpit of the athlete to the waist of the athlete, thus reducing, if not eliminating, the drag associated with fluid turbulence formed behind the bicep region of the athlete; and/or,

ii) including at least one ribbed component form on at least one front panel of the jersey or speed suit. Preferably the ribbed component is adapted to attach to the front panel such that the ribbed component is in a compressed position when the athlete is in a tuck position, but stretches or expands when the athlete leaves the tucked position, such as by standing upright.

As described in all the embodiments of this invention, fabric panels and elements may be joined by any method for joining fabric known within the art. Useful, but non-limiting examples of joining fabric for use in the embodiments of the invention include sewing (using any appropriate stitching types and/or methods), welding, gluing, adhesive bonding, fusing, and combinations thereof. Furthermore, joining can include fasteners such as, but not limited to, zippers, hooks and loops, buttons, eyelets, and combinations thereof. More specifically, in one preferred embodiment, the matting and joining of the front panels on their medial edges may comprise a zipper. The joining can be one of a full zipper, three-quarter zipper, half-zipper, or one-quarter zipper. In a preferred embodiment, the zipper is substantially, if not completely, recessed and/or covered to reduce, if not eliminate, turbulence and/or frictional drag created by fluid flowing over the zipper.

The fabric used to produce the jerseys or speed suits of the invention may be any suitable fabric material, including but not limited to material that is flexible and fits tightly around the athlete's body. The material is preferably stretchable, elastic, dry-wicking, breathable, or waterproof and even more preferably, exhibits combinations of these fabric properties. A fabric having elastic or stretchable properties means the fabric stretches and/or elongates when a tension force is applied to the fabric and when the tension force is removed, the fabric returns to its configuration prior to the application of the tension force. In one configuration, the speed suit comprises stretchable and/or elastic fabric to substantially conform to the wearer's upper torso when the rider is an aerodynamic position.

In specific embodiments, the jersey or speed suit may include a three-dimensional dimpled material composing the entirety or individual portions of the jersey of the speed suit.

Seams used to join the fabric panels of any of the embodiments of the jersey or speed suit of the invention disclosed herein may be made using any suitable method for joining fabric, including but not limited to heat mold, gluing, hook and loop (VELCRO™), embossed seams, welded seams, bonded seams, adhesive seals, stitched seams, or a combination thereof. In some embodiments at least two portions of the jersey or speed suit are shaped in a manner such that minimal seams are formed.

FIG. 2 illustrates a profile view of an embodiment of the present invention in which an athlete is in an aerodynamic “tucked” position on a bicycle in a speed suit 200 of the invention. Referring to FIG. 2, the forearm sleeve 207 is mated and joined to the bicep panel 230. Each component of the speed suit may contain additional seems in order to form the speed suit. For example, the forearm sleeve 207 of FIG. 2, may contain additional seems along the forearm to form the forearm sleeve. In a specific embodiment, an optional glove may be mated and joined to the front edge of the forearm sleeve. In another specific embodiment, an optional thumb hole may be provided in the forearm sleeve. The bicep panel 230 is mated and joined with a portion of the back panel 234. The bicep panel 230 is also mated and joined to the front panel 226. The winged element 204 is formed from the joining and mating of the bicep panel 230, the front panel 226 and the back panel 234. Dashed line 242 illustrates the arm and upper torso of the athlete in the tuck position in the speed suit 200 to more clearly distinguish the winged element 204 from the body of the athlete. The winged element 204 is not flush over the entire length of the athlete's body at the tricep, underarm or side torso regions. Rather, the winged element 204 is a flexible and taunt material that extends from the back of the athlete's upper arm to the waist of the athlete. The winged element 204 may extend from anywhere on the athlete's arm, from approximately the athlete's wrist to the armpit, and end anywhere on the side of the athlete's torso, from the athlete's armpit to the waist of the athlete on the side torso. Changing the attachment point on either the athlete's sleeve or the attachment point on the athlete's side body panel would keep the general shape and aerodynamic effect of the winged element while changing the size of the winged element. In a preferred embodiment, the winged element starts at approximately the elbow of the athlete and extends along the side torso of the athlete to approximately midway down the side torso of the athlete. In some embodiments, the winged element 204 is also formed by joining and mating the bicep panel 230, the front panel 204, the back panel 234, the forearm sleeve 207 and pants 216. In still other embodiments, back panel 234 is mated and joined with a portion of the front panel 226 on a seam to form the winged element 204. In still another embodiment, back panel 234 and front panel 226 can be a continuous piece of fabric, which form the winged element 204 without requiring a seam. In another embodiment, front panel 226 and back panel 234 may include additional material to incorporate the elements of bicep panel into either the front panel 226 or back panel 234 or both, such that a separate bicep panel is not necessary. An optional pocket panel may be included on the jersey or speed suit and, when present, is preferably formed on the back panel of the jersey or speed suit. The back panel may extend and connect to pants of a speed suit. In some embodiments, the jersey or speed suit may optionally contain a collar or one or more ribbed components.

FIG. 3 illustrates another view of the speed suit 300 on an athlete in an aerodynamic position on a bicycle. Bicep panel 330, is joined to the back panel 334 and the front panel 326 and forms the winged element 304. Bicep panel 330 also joins with the forearm sleeve 307. The embodiment depicted in FIG. 3 includes an optional collar 322 mated and joined to the front panels 326 and back panel 334. Short pants 316 are connected to the front panels 326 and may be connected to a back panel. Alternatively, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, pants may be connected to front panel 326 and an optional pocket panel 338.

FIG. 4 illustrates a front view of a speed suit 400 on an athlete in an aerodynamic “tucked” position on a bicycle. Front panel 426 includes a zipper 424, although it is understood that alternative means of joining the fabric panels forming the may be used, including but not limited to hook and loop (VELCRO™), buttons, snaps and stitching. The winged element 404 can be seen from the front view in FIG. 4. Bicep panel 430, forearm sleeve 407, pants 416 and collar 420 are also depicted in this figure. The material used for the speed suit is flexible and fits tightly around the athlete's body. More specifically, the speed suit 400 substantially conforms to the wearer's forearms and back and creates the winged element 404, with minimal, if any, wrinkles, bulges, creases, puckering, ridges, channels or combinations thereof, which may contribute to the aerodynamic and/or frictional drags.

FIG. 5 illustrates the pattern of an aerodynamic fabric, which may be used to form all or any specific portion of the fabric panels which compose a jersey or speed suit of the invention disclosed herein. The pattern of the aerodynamic fabric is a three-dimensional dimpled weave pattern that may be incorporated into panels of the speed suit. In a preferred embodiment, the aerodynamic fabric comprises a fabric having a three-dimensional dimpled weave texture that is believed to reduce drag in the same manner that the dimpled pattern of a golf ball reduces drag of an object moving through a fluid. A preferred three-dimensional dimpled weave pattern 501 is depicted in FIG. 5. The three-dimensional dimpled weave pattern 501 comprises a plurality of boxes 510. Each of the boxes 510 has a shape substantially resembling a square. The three-dimensional dimpled wave pattern 501 resembles a checker-board pattern having raised 511 and lowered 513 weave components. The three-dimensional dimpled wave pattern 501 can be located anywhere on or in any portion of the speed suit, including but not limited to, the bicep panel, the forearm panel, the back panel and/or the front panel. In a preferred embodiment, the three-dimensional dimpled wave pattern is located on at least the bicep panel of the speed suit.

The present invention, in various embodiments, includes components, and/or methods, substantially as depicted and described herein, including various embodiments, sub-combinations, and subsets thereof. Those of skill in the art will understand how to make and use the present invention after understanding the present disclosure. The present invention, in various embodiments, includes providing devices and processes in the absence of items not depicted and/or described herein or in various embodiments hereof, including in the absence of such items as may have been used in previous devices or processes, e.g., for improving performance, achieving ease and\or reducing cost of implementation.