Specialized is now licensing a Hed Cycling patent on aero wheel shaping, the two companies announced today. Hed applied for a wide-rim aero design back in 2009, which was only approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office approved in late 2014. The patent addresses the particular shape of a rim that is wider in parts than its tire.
"This patent allows you to predict and design in a particular stall angle to a wheel based on the tangent angle between the rim edge and tire," Hed Cycling's spokesman Greg Kopecky told BikeRadar. "It’s the key to having a fast wheel at the yaw angle(s) desired. It applies to both clinchers and tubulars of all rim depths. In a nutshell, this patent is the reason that Hed pioneered wide rims."
Hed was an early innovator of the wide-rim design for deep aero wheels. Hed first showed the wide-rim aero design on its Stinger 6 at tradeshows in 2008, with the patent filing following in 2009. That early 60mm Stinger, Hed claimed, was faster in crosswinds that an 82mm Zipp wheel circa 2009.
Today, Hed certainly isn't only one producing wide-rim aero models. As to whether other wheel companies are using a similar-enough design for there to be legal issues, Hed Cycling's owner Anne Hed demurred, simply saying: “We hope other wheel manufactures that would require a license enter into a similar friendly business relationship, like Specialized has done.”
Specialized PR manager Katie Sue Gruner said the license did not come about because of a lawsuit or a cease and desist letter.
"We proactively reached out to Hed when we saw their US Patent issue and requested a license," Gruner said.
As for which wheels are affected, Gruner said currently its only the ROVAL CLX 64 wheels spec’ed on the Venge ViAS aero bike.
Hed was founded in the mid-1980s by the late Steve Hed, and remains a privately owned operation today.
Related: Wheel guru Steve Hed passes away