- FIELD OF THE INVENTION
Applicant claims priority from pending provisional application Ser. Nos. 60/515,305 and 60/552,218.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to foot securement straps for sports boards and, more specifically, to adjustment mechanisms for water-sports board bindings.
A typical foot strap binding for a kiteboard or windsurf board is constructed of a webbing strap or a molded strap with a soft EVA pad or cushion to hold a person's foot securely without digging in or otherwise causing pain or discomfort. The strap can be size-adjusted by removing the strap mounting screws, readjusting the overall length and position of the strap and re-attaching the strap to the board using different board insert positions. This process must be done on land with hand tools. Quick adjustments or fine tuning are not possible. Even if the rider simply wants to adjust the binding enclosure size to accommodate the use of water boots rather than bare feet, adjustments are difficult. Some foot straps are secured with hook-and-loop fasteners (e.g., Velcro). However, the rider must still be on land to properly adjust the straps. Furthermore, Velcro tends to decrease in effectiveness when used in a dirty environment such as may be found on a beach or shore. Small adjustments while riding would be difficult since the Velcro strap must be completely disengaged to readjust and may loose an effective hold over time.
Adjustment on the strap binding is difficult to do or impractical when the board is in use. Each time the user needs to make an adjustment, he or she must stop, or go to shore (water sports) to properly make this adjustment. A typical problem occurs when a user changes their foot volume by adding a water boot or shoe. Also if a rider with different foot volume uses the same foot strap such as for boards used by an instruction school where several riders use the same board or in a rental scenario—they would need to make this volume adjustment. The most common problem of a typical foot strap is the need to keep the binding loose somewhat to get the foot in and out of the binding easily. The user is not able to quickly tighten beyond what is typical for entry/exit for good performance hold, but still quickly and easily release when needed.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Attempts have been made to solve these problems. Attempts to solve these problems do not achieve the ease of use or the effective tightening for de4sired performance. However, all these attempts do not achieve the ease of use or the effective tightening for desired performance.
The present invention provides a foot strap system for board sports such as water sports that allows the user to easily tension foot strap over the top of his or her foot. The foot strap adjustment device includes a hold-down member, a tension member, and an adjustment coupler. The hold-down member has a first side and a second side. The tension member is secured to the first side and the second side of the hold-down member. The adjustment coupler is secured to the tension member. Movement of the adjustment coupler selectively tightens or loosens the tension member between the first and second sides of the hold-down member.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a pad is secured to the foot hold-down member to be between the hold-down member and the foot of the user. An enclosure covering is also preferably positioned over at least a portion of the tension member, with the portion of the adjustment coupler not being covered by the enclosure.
Further preferred aspects of the invention include a rotatable member secured to the tension member as part of the adjustment coupler. In such an embodiment, the tension member preferably includes a cable. The rotatable member includes a reel onto which the cable is at least partially schooled. A first guide is secured to the first side of the hold-down member and as second guide is secured to the second side. The first and second guides are coupled to the tension member and channel the tension member into a loop to and from the adjustment coupler. The adjustment coupler preferably further includes a release button to release tension on the tension member.
In another preferred embodiment of the invention, the adjustment coupler includes a pull cord with a handle. The pull cord is coupled to the rotatable member for turning the rotatable member for tensioning thereof. A release switch is provided to at least partially disengage the rotatable member for tension release.
In one preferred aspect of the invention, a strap is secured to the foot hold-down member. The strap is securable to the sports board. Tensioning of the tension member with the adjustment coupler tends to pull the first and second sides of the hold-down member together to compress the strap. Preferably, the hold-down member includes a medial strap body on the first side and a lateral strap body on the second side. The tension member is secured to and spans between the medial and lateral strap bodies.
In one preferred embodiment, the hold-down member is securable to the sports board with the adjustment coupler being secured to the sports board. In this embodiment, the foot hold-down member preferably comprises a first foot hold-down member for securing the first foot of the user. The foot strap further includes a second hold-down member for securing a second foot of the user. The tension member is coupled to the second foot hold-down member as well as the first. The adjustment coupler selectively tightens or loosens the tension on both the first and second foot hold-down members.
Another preferred embodiment of the invention includes a foot binding for a water sports board including a medial strap, a lateral strap, a tension member, and a rotatable adjustment member. The medial strap is securable to the sports board. The lateral strap is securable to the sports board opposite the medial strap. The tension member is secured to the medial strap and to the lateral strap. The rotatable adjustment member engages the tension member. Rotation of the adjustment member selectively shortens or lengthens the tension member between the first and second straps.
In a preferred aspect of this embodiment of the invention, the medial and lateral straps include a top side and an underside. The foot binding further includes at least one pad secured to the underside of the medial and lateral straps. A cover is positioned over at least over a portion of the top side of the medial and lateral straps and over at least a portion of the tension member. The rotatable adjustment member is secured to one of the medial and lateral straps, preferably the lateral strap. The medial guide is secured to the medial strap and a lateral guide to the lateral strap. The medial and lateral guides are coupled to the tension member and channel the tension member into a loop to and from the adjustment member. In another preferred embodiment of the invention, an adjustment device is provided for a foot strap securable to a sports board. The foot strap has first and second portions with outer ends securable to the board and inner ends opposite the outer ends. The adjustment device includes a first attachment member, a second attachment member, a tension member, and an adjuster. The first attachment member is securable to the inner and of the first portion. The second attachment member is securable to the inner and of the second portion. The tension member is secured between the first and second attachment members. The adjuster is secured to the tension member for shortening or lengthening the length of the tension member between the first and second attachment members.
In this preferred embodiment of the invention, the first and second attachment members are preferably slidably coupled to the tension member and channel the tension member into a loop to and from the adjustment member. The adjuster is secured to at least one of the first and second portions.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention also includes a method of securing a foot to a sports board with a binding having a strap. The method includes the steps of securing a tension member to the strap, coupling a rotatable adjustment member to the tension member, inserting the foot beneath the binding, and rotating the adjustment member. Rotation of the adjustment member increases the tension on the tension member to thereby compress the strap over the foot. In one preferred embodiment, the step of rotating the adjustment member is accomplished by pulling a cord attached to the adjustment member.
The preferred and alternative embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with reference to the following drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the binding of the present invention mounted on a kite-board with a user's foot held therein;
FIG. 2A is a top view of the binding mounted with the reel on the lateral side of the foot;
FIG. 2B is a side-elevational view of the binding/board combination illustrated in FIG. 2A;
FIG. 3 is a detailed side view of the binding of the present invention with the board shown in cross-section;
FIG. 4A is a top view of the present invention with the reel mounted on the medial side;
FIG. 4B is a side-elevational view of the binding mounted on the board consistent with FIG. 4A;
FIG. 5 is a detailed side view of the binding of FIGS. 4A and 4B with the board in cross-section;
FIG. 6A is a top view of the tightening components of the binding of the present invention;
FIG. 6B is a side-elevational view of the components illustrated in FIG. 6A;
FIG. 7A is a schematic side view of the winding reel used with the present invention;
FIG. 7B is a top view of the gear mechanism of the winding reel illustrated in FIG. 7A;
FIG. 8A is a side view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention shown with a T-handle;
FIG. 8B is a schematic of the T-handle and winding reel connection;
FIG. 9A is a top view of an alternate embodiment of the invention with a single reel between the bindings;
FIG. 9B is a side-elevational view of the arrangement of FIG. 9A;
FIG. 10A is a top view of an alternate embodiment having a pull handle and buckles;
FIG. 10B is a side-elevational view of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10A; and
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 11 is a top view of the tightening mechanism of the invention used with a windsurf strap.
The preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described in connection with the above-referenced figures. Note that numerous embodiments are disclosed; those having elements related to elements in other figures being numbered with like tens and ones digits.
As seen in FIG. 1, a binding 10 for securing a foot F of a user is illustrated. The binding includes a base plate 12 and a strap 14 for securing the foot of the user to board 16. In this preferred embodiment, board 16 is a kite-board. However, it should be understood that the binding of the present invention may be used with other sports boards that are used to secure the foot of the user to the deck of the board, such as windsurf boards, surfboards, or mountain boards.
Binding strap 14 includes a lateral strap end 18 and a fastener 20 to secure the strap to board 16. As illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B, a medial strap and 24 with an associated fastener is also provided. A reel 22 is secured to the top of strap 14 in the preferred embodiment. Reel 22 is used to tighten strap 14 about foot F and for release of tension on foot F as desired.
Further details of binding 10 are illustrated in FIG. 3. Strap 14 includes essentially three parts: the strap body 26 having a medial side 28 and a lateral side 30, a pad 32, and a sleeve 34. Strap body 26 provides the structural integrity of strap 14 to hold the foot between fastener 20 at the lateral and medial strap ends 18 and 24. Pad 32 is sandwiched below strap body 26. Pad 32 is preferably an EVA pad (ethyl vinyl acetate), but may alternatively be any soft, durable, resilient pad. The pad is preferably thermal moldable and is bonded to strap body 26. Pad 32 may be otherwise attached in alternate embodiments, such as by stitching or by the use of other fasteners. Alternatively, pad 32 is simply slidably coupled to strap body 26, the two being held in place simply by being held together at their ends.
Strap body 26 is preferably constructed of a molded plastic material. Alternatively, strap body 26 is constructed of metal, composites, or other material that can bear tensile forces. A heavy nylon fabric-type material, such as a nylon webbing strap, comprises one alternate embodiment.
Sleeve 34 is a padded stretchable sleeve that covers, in a preferred embodiment, substantially the entire binding. The sleeve hides the cable and guide components, but allows the reel to protrude through via a hole or ring so that the person can turn the reel and wind or release the cable as described below. Sleeve 34 is illustrated in phantom view in FIGS. 3, 5, and 8A so that the components it covers can be seen. The sleeve may be constructed of neoprene or other soft, flexible material. Alternatively, a cover is only used over the top of the adjustment mechanism rather than a complete sleeve. In still further alternate embodiments, sleeve 34 is omitted entirely.
As mentioned above, strap body 26 includes a medial side 28 and a lateral side 30. The gap is preferably provided between the sides with a cable interconnecting the two sides and being entrained with reel 22.
As illustrated in further detail in FIGS. 6A and 6B, a cable guide system is provided to interconnect medial and lateral strap bodies 28 and 30 and for adjustability between such bodies to tighten or loosen binding 10. Cable 36, upon exiting reel 22 extends from lateral side strap body 30 across the gap to medial side strap body 28 to engage within a medial cable guide 38. Medial cable guide 38 is preferably formed of a plastic injection material and includes a channel therein to guide cable 36 180 degrees back toward lateral side strap body 30. Thus, medial cable guide 38 has a U-shape configuration and is preferably anchored to medial side strap body 28 with a nylon anchor patch. This patch is sewn to both sides of the bottom of the U-shape guide 38. A substantially mirror image lateral cable guide 40 is provided on lateral side strap body 30 outward of reel 22. Thus, the cable extending from medial cable guide back across the gap between the strap bodies is turned 180 degrees again to be fed back into cable reel 22. Lateral cable guide 40 is likewise anchored to lateral side strap body 30. In a preferred embodiment, an intermediate cable guide 42 is provided on the run of the cable opposite reel 22. Intermediate cable guide 42 is preferably plastic injection material with a channel therein that is stitched or otherwise secured directly to lateral side strap body 30. Mounting holes 44 are provided near the lateral and medial strap ends 18 and 24 to engage fasteners 20 for securement to board 16. Lateral side body 30, in the preferred embodiment, has a tapered shape with a larger rounded end and a smaller boxed end at lateral strap end 18. The rounded end is of a sufficient size to carry reel 22, guide 40, and guide 42. The width of the strap also helps disperse the pressure exerted on pad 32 for a comfortable secure fit on foot F of the user. Medial side body strap 28 is preferably rectangular in shape and of a width sufficient to disperse the load. The gap between medial and lateral strap bodies 28 and 30 is preferably only a few centimeters; wide enough to allow proper adjustability, but not so wide as to leave a significant gap such that pressure may be distributed properly over the foot. Alternatively, the gap may be wider and an extra intermediate member may be provided on top of pad 32 to help distribute the load.
Turning now to FIGS. 4A and 4B, an alternate embodiment of binding 110 is provided. In this embodiment, reels 122 are secured on the medial sides of straps 114. Thus, the straps are essentially reversed from the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2.
However, in this embodiment, the configuration of medial and lateral strap bodies 128 and 130 is somewhat different than just a mere image of those found in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3. As FIG. 5 shows, lateral side strap body 130 is quite extensive compared to medial side strap body 128. Medial side strap body 128 is near medial strap end 24 and is not extensive in length. Thus, lateral side strap body 130 substantially extends across the top of the binding for securement of the foot with cable 136 running along the medial side of binding 110. In an alternate embodiment, medial side strap body 128 may even be secured on the other side of fastener 120 such that the strap body 128 does not extend up the main body of binding 110. For example, plastic injection cable guide 138 may simply be secured directly to fastener 120 or to an alternate fastener on board 116. When reel 122 is tightened, cable 136 pulls the medial end of lateral side strap body 130 downwardly to secure pad 132 over the foot of the user with more force.
Turning now to FIGS. 7A and 7B, the details of reel 22 will be discussed. Reel 22 is preferably a winding reel such as that produced by Boa Technology, Inc. of Steamboat Springs, Colo. The basic construction and operation of the reel is shown in schematic views in FIGS. 7A and B. Reel 22 includes a spool 46, a housing 48, and gears 50. Spool 46 holds a portion of cable 36 wound thereabout. The lower portion of spool 46 is secured to a central gear 54. Outer gears 52 surround central gear 54 and are held within a ring gear 56 of housing 48. Also not shown is a ratchet mechanism that holds ring gear 56 from rotation in one direction until released therefrom. Release from the one-way ratchet and pull mechanism as well as from engagement with outer gears 52 is accomplished by lifting housing 42 such that ring gear 56 clears outer gears 52.
Several alternate embodiments of various features of the invention are contemplated and others are also possible that still fall within the scope of the present invention. For example, FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate a winding mechanism where a pull cord 58 is used to wind reel 22. The standard method of winding reel 22 involves turning reel 22 with one's hand or fingers thus winding cable 36 about spool 46 within housing 48. With another spool section provided and pull cord 58, the user can grasp a T-handle which is secured at the end of pull cord 58, pull the handle to wind spool 46 with additional cable. Thus, a simplified method and quick method of winding cable 36 about spool 46 within reel 22 is accomplished. A retractor mechanism is also provided to recoil pull cord 58 within the housing of the reel. Thus, in this sense the pull-tight mechanism is similar to a lawn mower pull cord or other mechanism that uses such as retractable pull cord.
Another alternate embodiment using a single reel 222 to tighten both bindings at once is illustrated in FIGS. 9A and 9B. In this embodiment, reel 222 is secured to a board handle 262 in the middle of board 216 between bindings 210. Reel 222 feeds cables coming from both bindings onto a common spool or multiple spools within reel 222. In this embodiment, the cable may be anchored to the medial side near the medial strap end and then loop up through a lateral cable guide on a strap body within binding strap 214 before extending back within reel 222. Thus, winding of reel 222 pulls cables from both right and left bindings into a tensile state in which bindings are secured over the foot of the user.
FIGS. 10A and 10B illustrate an alternate embodiment of the invention in which a reel 222 is not used. In this embodiment, a pull handle 64 is secured between the two bindings with cable 336 being secured thereto. Cable 336 extends through auto-locking buckle devices on either side of pull handle 364. Auto-lock buckles 366 have a one-way feature that allows them to hold cable 336 that extends onto strap body 26 in a tensile position. Auto-lock buckle 366 would then also have a release mechanism that can be triggered by the user to release tension on one or both of the bindings. The use of this system would simply involve pulling on pull handle 364 upwardly, the auto-lock buckles allowing movement in one direction toward pull handle 364, but engaging the cable so that it only slides through in that one direction. When the user is ready to decrease tension on the bindings, the user simply presses a disengage button or lever or other mechanism to allow cable 336 to slip back through auto-lock buckle 366.
Turning now to FIG. 11, the present invention, as might be used in a preferred embodiment of a windsurf strap, will be discussed. The windsurf strap for a windsurf binding 410 uses the same principles of the invention as described above. However, slight modifications to better accommodate windsurf binding situations are provided. For example, the foot of the user may be inserted on the windsurf strap from either side of the binding. Therefore, the strap is more symmetric about its longitudinal strap axis. The windsurf binding also includes a slide strap 414 that is nested within a sleeve 434. Slide strap 414 includes a discontinuity or brake therein within sleeve 434 to enable slide strap 414 to shift one side relative to the other as the binding is tightened or loosened.
Medial and lateral side strap bodies 428 and 430 are provided in a fashion similar to that described above. However, in the present windsurf application, the terms medial and lateral are less instructive as the foot may be inserted from either side. Thus, the binding could likewise be mounted in either direction on the windsurf board.
The binding is provided with a pad 432 that is generally symmetric about the longitudinal axis of the binding. The pad is secured beneath sleeve 434. It is preferably constructed of an EVA material and may also include a soft, flexible covering thereabout.
The details of the cable 436, the medial and lateral cable guides 438 and 440, as well as the intermediate cable guide 442 are substantially similar to those described above in connection with the kiteboard binding.
While preferred embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, as noted above, many changes can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is not limited by the disclosure of the preferred embodiments. Instead, the invention should be determined entirely by reference to the claims that follow.