Hed Cycling and Specialized have entered into an agreement whereby Specialized will license Hed’s patented aerodynamic rim profiles. Both companies will share technology and product development efforts, too, according the PR.
Hed’s patent describes the Tangent Angle, which is a line drawn between the tire’s side and the widest point on the rim’s sidewall. That’s used to predict the Stall Angle for the rims, which is the crosswind angle at which air detaches from the backside of the rim, where the “back” side of the rim is the side that’s not facing the wind. So, if the wind is blowing left to right, the right side of the rim is the “back” side.
The Stinger line, in particular the Stinger 6 that was developed with Team Highroad, is where their wider rim shape started. From that development, Hed applied for a patent in 2009 and was eventually granted US Patent No. 8,888,195 in 2014, a long five year review period in which a lot of other peoples’ rims were developed…
The patent mentions certain tangent angles (illustrated by 440 in Fig.4, showing different angles based on different tire widths), but only as examples without limiting the angles covered by the patent.
Specifically, the patent says: “The amount of increase in stall angle due to depth decreases as the tangent angle increases.” In laymen’s terms, Hed’s rep told us the point of the patent is that they can design an optimal range of yaw based on rim and tire combinations, and predict the stall angle.
Anything that has a deep and wide, bulge-shaped rim could be affected by Hed’s patent, which is actually a rim-and-tire relationship patent, not just one about rim designs. As you can imagine, it’s likely more rim brands’ designs could be using a design covered by this patent.
Anne Hed had this to say: “We hope other wheel manufacturers that would require a license would enter into a similar friendly relationship like Specialized has done.”
There’s a separate rim-only patent that covers toroidal designs that Hed, Zipp (and possibly others) have shared ownership of.
PRESS RELEASE: Hed Cycling and Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc. are pleased to announce the creation of a cooperative relationship in which the two innovators in the bicycle industry can share technology, build products and collaborate to bring the most advanced cycling components to a broader market of cyclists. As part of the collaboration, Specialized will license Hed’s U.S. Patent No. 8,888,195 directed to aerodynamic bicycle rim shaping and design. Hed filed for this patent on June 9, 2009, and it was approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on November 18, 2014.
The relationship between Hed and Specialized is an alliance between two companies committed to advancing their products in order to better serve their customers. Hed’s reputation for speed began in the 1980s with the invention of the modern aerodynamic disc wheel. Hed continues to “reinvent the wheel” through a commitment to providing the best possible, most reliable, fastest, and most well-rounded cycling products. Since its founding in 1974, Specialized has lived by the motto “innovate or die.” The “Win Tunnel” is one example of Specialized’s continued commitment to creating the most aerodynamic, highest-performing products on the road. Specialized and Hed look forward to the opportunities the relationship can provide, and to the continued opportunity to earn the position as the rider’s brand of choice.