Tour de Trainer? Tourmalet Anyone?

We had glimpses of Spring here in Michigan in March this year – HIGHLY unusual!  I removed the bike from the trainer for the first time in months.  I took the time to remove the old tire which was virtually glued to my trainer’s resistance cylinder (i.e., that part where the rubber meets the faux-road) and replaced it with that good rear road tire I’d been saving since last Fall.  However, the 70 degree weather we had was short lived and before I knew it, I was back on the trainer.

Please don’t get me wrong, I believe riding the trainer is worthwhile – and is certainly better than not riding at all.  However, those of you who ride it for weeks on end know . . . it’s just not the same!

Today’s invention attempts to change all that – by better simulating outdoor riding by incorporating simulated ascents and descents with changing resistance to your favorite cycle.

And for those of you who are familiar with Tourmalet, that was merely a tease (although this invention may have potential); for those who may not be familiar, click here.

According to the disclosure, accomplishing realistic ascents and descents cannot be achieved by simply lifting and lowering the front wheel (automated or otherwise).  This is because as the front wheel is elevated, the rear wheel departs or moves laterally away from the resistance cylinder.  This lateral departure can be contributed to the fact that the front tire is merely being elevated – not rotated about a pivot point centered on the rear axle.  (In Physics terms, there’s X- and Y-components involved.)  Naturally, as the rear wheel laterally departs from the resistance cylinder, resistance decreases rather than increases.  And if we’re attempting to simulate an outdoor climb, we obviously do not want our resistance decreasing as we go uphill – however awesome that might sound to those with Superman-syndrome!

The disclosure reveals various ways to overcome this lateral departure and for the sake of brevity, I will only illustrate and describe one embodiment here.  A portion of FIG. 1A above is enlarged below.

This figure illustrates the rear tire (26) pressing against a resistance cylinder (30) due to a constant pressure spring (40).  A U-bar (48) is coupled to the vertical bar (35) of the trainer by a retraction spring (41).  The open ends of the U-bar are coupled to the axle on both sides of the rear wheel.  Thus, spring (41) draws the bike rearward while the spring (40) applies pressure against the rear tire to achieve resistance.

The rear axle of the bike is supported by two rollers (45) which are supported by two transition platforms (50).  So when the front wheel is elevated, the rear wheel translates rearwardly because the spring (41) is pulling upon the rear axle and the axle is free to move due rollers (45) rolling on the platforms (50).

Now taking a look at the front of the bike – a lifting mechanism (15) elevates and lowers the front wheel.  The mechanism has a front platform (19) atop a height controller (18).  One interesting embodiment of the controller (18) includes a CD player for playing computerized course profiles (e.g., real world courses).  Tourmalet anyone?  {On a personal note: for those of us in lower Michigan training for IM Mont Tremblant – this sort of device is capable of providing us the hills to train upon that just are not otherwise available here!}

As I previously stated, the patent contains numerous other embodiments – having various resistance-applying mechanisms, having various means to support the cycle, etc.  I invite you to take a look for yourself!

This invention was granted a U.S. patent on April 24, 2012 and may be found here.  Additional images may be found here.  (last visited May 2, 2012)

Happy ‘hilly’ Training!


I write this blog without taking a position as to the usefulness, desirability, novelty, aesthetics, functionality, etc. of the products or processes discussed in my posts.  Naturally, readers are free to take any position they prefer and comment accordingly, provided it is in good taste.  However, if I am silent with respect to your comment, such silence should not be construed as any agreement or disagreement to the comment; I hope you can appreciate that I simply prefer to remain neutral in such matters and merely report Patent Office news.  Thanks!  🙂

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