Most likely you're visiting to check out Finer Recliner CURVE neck rests, side mount handlebar bag kits, embroidery, tail lights and other recumbent accessories.

I make neck rests mainly but not exclusively for recumbent trikes. Each is 2" thick memory foam fill on a gently curved PVC base. The covers are breathable and water-resistant. Embroidery options are nearly limitless and allow you to truly personalize this part of your trike.

If you're interested in more information about Finer Recliner accessories, pictures, prices and how to order, you can reach me at stevesussman@earthlink.net.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boy time sure moves with ever increasing speed as I get older.   Even though I swear to hang on to each precious moment time just seems to race by. Now it’s mid-July, this weekend is Strawberry Festival on the island, TOT2011 is history, and lots has happened since my last post.

Thomas’ unexpected passing has been widely reported on BROL. His tenacious will to live and continually test himself in the face of a horrendous traumatic brain injury was a marvel to all who knew him. And since he was such a prolific forum poster, his passing has left a huge empty space. He was thoughtful, friendly, inviting…and at times for me, abrasive.  But even in THOSE moments it was hard not to admire the intensity with which he lived, and all the time and effort he put into being a friend to others. He is most definitely missed, which in my mind is how people live forever. Jim is tuning up ROA, Thomas' trike, and at the request of his brothers it is being auctioned off with the proceeds to be donated to BROL. I'm donating a new CURVE kit embroidered with a lighthouse, one of Thomas' favorite images, to mark his Catrike Road's special history.

TOT2011 was a blast...definitely the best one ever for Pen and me. Good weather, fun rides and great times gathered under the portico outside the hotel. Dave Hansen grilled some outrageous grub one evening, and people brought enough food to the potluck to feed most of Kellogg. The day we all had lunch in Wallace the dozens of trikes and velos were a gawker’s paradise. “What’s it like to ride one of these?” “How hard is it to pedal?” “Is it comfortable?” “What’s one cost?” and a dozen or so other questions were answered over and over with patience and grace. Everyone was a super trike ambassador, and I think that for the couple of hours we spent having lunch there and clogging the streets we were the talk of the town.

While Penni and I enjoyed the riding and laughter with friends, Travis especially loved the ice cream shop in Harrison where, according to the owner, dogs ate free. He had a huge dish of homemade vanilla ice cream…his favorite. A bunch of us rode from Kellogg to Enaville for our annual dinner at the Snake Pit. It was dark on the ride back, and with our wild assortment of lights all on, we snaked back along the bike trail like an electric Chinese dragon.

I wasn’t sure how well my back and knee would hold up to the riding so the day 15 or 16 folks decided to ride Dobson Pass I elected not to go. It was a tough decision…I’d been looking forward to doing the climb all year but I was afraid I’d blow out my back or knee and that would be the end of riding for me. But on the last day…which was overcast, cool and threatening to shower, I decided to try the Pass on my own. When I got to the pass I took the required, "I made it" photo, and spent a nice half-hour talking with a couple of guys from the county road crew. They were both curious about the trike, and one of them tried riding it all geared up in his heavy boots and jeans. Then there was the rocket ride downhill back into Wallace. What a rush! Definitely a whole lot faster than the climb up! The road from the Pass all the way to Kellogg was into the wind. It didn’t matter much on the rocket ride down into Wallace, but from there to Kellogg the downslope was gentle.  Because of the wind I missed out on would have been a nice coast and ended up pedaling back to Kellogg. I’m proud of myself for waiting till the end to try climbing the Pass, and even prouder that I made it up. I felt smooth and pretty strong, and delighted I’d decided to leave Travis with Penni.

As for neck rest news, here’s Cornell’s BlueCoyote, a Catrike Expedition…definitely elegant in its simplicity. Cornell supplied the original art for the embroidery and we had it digitized – meaning it was converted into language the embroidery machine understands. So if you are interested in embroidery for your new neck rest, remember you’re not restricted to stock images. Give me some ideas and I’ll search our stock image sources and offer you some choices. Or if you have a piece of original art, the digitizing is only a small extra charge.

Jim’s two Catrike Speeds sport the optional stub on the “L” tower allowing him to mount a pair of tail lights alongside the neck rest in a high and visible location. If you’d like the extra stub on your tower just ask…there’s no extra charge. In fact I may start making them all like that. Folks who don’t want the stub can simply cut it off.

If you’re looking for tail lights, we have the PlanetBike Superflash Turbos at really great prices when you order your neck rest. Don’t forget to ask. These 1 watt tail lights are definitely for riders who want to be seen.

From Virginia, here’s Henry’s new kit on his ICE.  The "L" tower's a great place to mount Topeak bottle brackets.

And from the Netherlands, here’s Roelof’s new CURVE on his Catrike Speed.  I looked up his address using Google Earth so I now have a pretty good idea where this Catrike lives.  It looks like great riding!
I've had a number of questions from folks having a problem with stripping the threads from either one of the two spacers in the stock Catrike mounts, and also with struggling to keep their neck rests from moving once they'd found the sweet spot.

Regarding the stripped threads, one choice is to contact Catrike and see if they'll just sell you a new spacer.  A second relatively easy fix is to remove all the threads inside the spacer by drilling clear through it, then inserting a 10-24 threaded rod with two lock nuts in place of the original two cap screws.  A third choice is to replace the stock neck rest tower with a kit - mtb stem, "L" tower and shim.  This a strong and rigid mount, and I can pretty well guarantee that it will not move.  In fact I've seen Jim lift his Speed holding the neck rest.  Keep in mind that the brackets on the CURVE for the stock Catrike mount are not interchangeable with the circular clamps on the CURVEs that fit the kits.

Here's an update regarding CURVE mounting systems for TerraTrikes, including the Rover, and for the ICE hard shell seat.  I know I've said before that a prototype for the TerraTrike is done.  I've been kinda stuck at this stage for awhile.  It didn't seem right that TerraTrike owners would have to pay more for a CURVE kit because they would need an extra mount adapter in order to attach the kit to TerraTrike's unusual double seat tube brace.  Those two seat brace tubes coming together means a standard mtb stem can't be directly attached, so an additional mount adapter is required.  But as more TerraTrike owners have requested neck rests I've decided to make a few of the mounting adapters, keep the cost low, and see if people like them.  At the same time I'm working on an new mount that would eliminate the mtb stem and "T" tube entirely.  It'll be a while before I know if this will actually be as sturdy as the current kit.

As for the hard shell seats, I made a mount using a drawing (actually a rubbing) I got from Izzy a while ago.  I took that bracket to TOT figuring there'd be some ICE hard shell seats on which to test the bracket.  What I discovered is that Izzy's original seat back, the one I used for the prototype, is flat.  The new carbon seats have two deep ridges running the length of the seat...and a result, the bracket is too wide to fit between the ridges.  Arrrrggggghhh.  For such a simple product, the learning curve seems at times extreme.  Or perhaps I'm just an idiot.

Speaking of learning curves, for a long time I've been interested in learning how to do simple machine fabrication.  I'm a moderately skilled woodworker and metal worker, but in NO WAY am I a machinist.  I've a friend who is letting me use his old hand-operated mill, and he has been pretty helpful with learning tips.  What I'm discovering is both exciting and frustrating.  It's exciting to be learning something new...a craft I greatly admire and skills I covet.  What's frustrating is that even the simplest things are difficult at the start.  I imagined I'd immediately be able to cut slots in aluminum that were smooth and as slick as a warm knife cutting through butter.  My first slots look like they were nibbled by metal-eating termites...and then I snapped off the cutter.  So now I'm watching YouTube milling videos.  My hope is that before very long I will at least be able to produce reasonable looking and working prototypes.  Before long...I hope.

Here's something that's working really well...the side mount kit for Catrikes.  I've  been using it for a couple of months and like it more all the time.  What a treat to be able to get to stuff like gum, lip balm, a snack, phone...even my gloves, while I'm riding.  The kit will accommodate just about every handlebar bag.  

The side mount kit includes a 130mm stem, shim and "L" tube of 6061 aluminum with end caps.  I have it on Msafiri (my Catrike Expedition) but haven't tried it yet on other Catrikes.  What's especially nice is that the kit is adjustable so the bag can be raised both up and down, as well as its distance from the seat.

I found the Avenir bag on Amazon.  It was well-reviewed, and since it was less than $40 I figured I'd try it.  It has a lot of nice features including a built-in map case, and for the most part I'm completely satisfied.  The mount's quick release is a great feature that allows me to take the bag off easily while not disturbing the mounting bracket. 

The one feature I'm not thrilled with is that the Avenir mounting bracket is plastic.  In tightening the clamp it didn't take long to drive the cap screws through the top of the bracket.  A couple of stainless washers solved the problem, but it'd be nice if the clamping mechanism was a bit more sturdy. 

And finally, to wrap up this entry, here's Travis in one of his favorite TOT poses - hanging out in the cool tall grass on those sunny and very hot days.

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