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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the Northwest Fall is a verb.  It happens quickly...first that faint smell in the late afternoons, then a slight briskness in the evening air.  There are more alder leaves in the pasture now then there are on the trees.  The days are still sunny and warm but the nights are frosty.  The air smells like apples and the soft sounds of trodding on grass have been replaced by the crunching of brown leaves when Travis and I play ball in the pasture.  Penni's garden has been a bounty of corn, kale, peas, lemon cukes, squash, potatoes and now truckloads of tomatoes.

Even though Fall arrived quickly its really been a nice long and beautiful summer.  TOT was one highlight...aside from the great company, wonderful riding, and a rare day-long nap during the downpour, I thought the jerseys turned out so especially nice I bought two.  See Travis in the trailer?

But even with a long, warm and sunny summer, a ton of other projects and events interfered with getting much riding in after we got back from Idaho.  Penni's daughter Lauren was married in Corvallis at the end of July.  Penni wanted to help Lauren with the preparations so we got there a few days before the wedding.  That gave me time for a 65 mile ride on the GLO exploring the beautiful rolling countryside around Corvallis.  It was my first ride on the GLO where I was out on country roads rather than bike paths.  And it was a good chance to try my neck rest which I'd installed after I couldn't get the stock GS neck rest to fit me.  The trike was a delight...comfy, quick and maneuverable.  A very different ride from Msafiri...my Expedition.  I really love them both, and I'm feeling lucky to have the choice.

After only about 10 years it appears I finally got the pond finished that I've been building, re-building and re-re-building right behind our house.  With all the re-do's I use that term "finished" lightly.  How unfair that the universe can simply make a depression in the earth which fills with water and creates a beautiful pond when I've labored for 10 years, moved tons of earth, rock, about 2 tons of bentonite and at least that much gravel to make my pond and waterfall vision until I've finally reached a compromise with the local environment giving me a pond that actually holds water and a waterfall that burbles like a brook.  Amazing what you can do with 90 50# bags of bentonite.

This was also the summer I'll remember as the attack of "Old Guy Syndrome."  Honestly I don't know how it all started but it was intense, it was brief, all the stars were in alignment (1.9% financing readily given) and the result is now sitting happily in my workshop from where it comes out only on sunny days.  It's a 2008, the last year of the body style I like best, and had only 27,000 miles on it.  The three I looked at before choosing this one had surprisingly all been traded in for the same reason - SUV's.  That's when I decided buying this was clearly an old guy thing.  Obviously I couldn't say it was my mid-life crisis...hell I'd had that 25 years ago when I was living in Minneapolis, built my first Tour Easy clone and spent two months riding it out here to Seattle.  So the Miata's now nestled in the shop so even when the weather's lousy I can put the top down, sit in the car, turn on some music and dream of warm sunny summer days.

Then right before school started my son Josh, daughter-in-law Hayley and my grandkids Sophia, Henry and Sammy spent a week here the end of August.  As usual they timed their visit to coincide with the peak blackberry harvest.  They weren't out of the car 5 minutes before they were off picking and eating...actually eating and picking.  They were obsessed with making blackberry pies.  As the baking prep mayhem unfolded in the kitchen with the buckets of berries, my 97 year-old mom sat at the table insisting her mother said pie crust should be handled as little as possible.  All the while the kids played with the dough like it was clay...rolling it, balling it up, gushing it between their fingers, tossing it at each other.  Still, when the pies came out of the oven and were slathered with ice cream no one complained about the crusts.  They sure tasted good to me, and from the looks on all the purple faces sitting at the table (Travis' too), everyone was more than delighted.  

We had a great time driving the tractor around the pasture, playing ball, and hanging out at the beach.  
Travis was in heaven having 4 more people happy to play ball with him any time of the day or night.
I'm back to working on building a website, one that'll make it easy for folks to see Finer Recliner accessories, get answers and place orders.  Unfortunately I'm a bit of a computer cretin which is why this has been going on for months.  I'm trying to use one of the free supposedly idiot-proof website creation sites.  Judging from my progress, "idiot-proof" isn't a term that's helping my confidence.

While working on the website it dawned on me for about the thousandth time that I really had no clue what it really costs me to make the neck rests, kits or side mount kits.  So I took my watch with me when I made the last batch of two dozens neck rests and kits and I timed every step of the process.  The results?  Turns out I actually lose money on every Catrike stock replacement CURVE and will lose even more now with the new aluminum brackets.  And while not so dire, the situation with the kits isn't much better.  I know if I have everything made overseas things wouldn't be quite this serious.  But I choose to keep this a business that sells Northwest-made products.  Also, the prices for just all my raw materials continue to go up, some by 1/3 or more...and I would like to make even a small amount for my time.  So I've just compiled the 2013 Products flier which you can access (I'm hoping) using the link at the top of the blog or by sending me an email at stevesussman@earthlink.net.  Here's what you'll find:
  • The price for the Catrike side mount kits remains unchanged at $53, and a Topeak bottle bracket mount is included with the kit.
  • Catrike and ICE kits are $95, including the CURVE neck rest, "L" or "T" tower, mtb bracket and end caps.  For HP, Greenspeed and other trikes whose kits require a shim, add $3.
  • The brackets on the Catrike stock replacement CURVE neck rests are now powdercoated aluminum instead of mild steel.  They weigh about half as much as the old brackets.  The price for a Catrike stock CURVE is $75 without embroidery.
  • TerraTrike CURVE kits, including “T” tower, neck rest, stem, and adapter bracket, are $120.
  • We still have terrific deals on PlanetBike Superflash Turbo, PDW Radbot 1000, PDW Danger Zone 1 watt LED lights when purchased with other accessories.
  • Ball caps are now available if you want to have them embroidered to match the art on your neck rest.  
  •  Embroidery prices are unchange and depend upon the art you choose.  Take a look at some of the latest embroidered covers.  

And if you'd like something original we'll gladly help you create the embroidery art you want.

Here's another project in the works...I'm building a Timberwolf, an Atomic Zombie delta trike for an island relative who had a stroke earlier in the year.
I've got some plan modifications in mind including a mesh seat, making it a stake-side like the one in the picture, and covering it with a coroplast and aluminum shell to make it an all-weather trike.  And my friend Kirk Jones, a guy who turns Catrike Expeditions into electric rockets, is designing the electric drive system.  I'll add pictures as the build progresses.

And a final note:  after last week's experience with the US Postal Service I'm thinking about delivering orders personally.  Maybe I could buy an old bread truck and set it up as a traveling shop and RV.  Last week I tried mailing an order to Alberta, Canada.  I wrote the address clearly on the package and again on the customs form.  The next day I was on my computer entering the shipping charges from the orders when I noticed an unfamiliar mailing address and couldn't find the Alberta address.  When I went back to the post office to find out what happened I was told that the order I thought was shipped to Canada was in fact sent to the United Arab Emirates.  So what will they do about it beyond saying, "sorry"...nothing.  They're not liable.  Their advice - wait and see what happens.  I've no doubt that if I'm not learning the lessons as they come along the universe will continue to offer me more opportunities.  Since my postal experience...make that my experience with the post office...is just one of a list of encounters that are driving me nuts and leaving me feeling powerless, clearly I'm missing the learning.  So it's back to my therapist.

Oh yeah, one more thing...my youngest son Noah is an industrial designer who lives and works in Nuremberg, Germany.  He has had a tough couple of years, but I am so incredibly proud of his tenacity, and I'm in awe of his design talent.  Yesterday he got some terrific news - his probationary period is over and he has a full-time contract with UVEX.  In his spare time we're collaborating on designing a new recumbent product.  The magic of Skype, and while using our iPads, we can have coffee together while I'm in a cafe on Vashon Island and he's in one in old town Nuremberg.  We can even take a walk together, enjoying shared sights even though we're thousands of miles apart.  His design skills and fabulous renderings have turned a rough idea into a quality concept, and helped me convince a fabricator to work with us on a prototype.  But best of all, I love watching him be a dad. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

I’ve always loved to sail.  And except for a few years after a pretty serious sailing accident with my dad when I was I seven, sailing has always been one of my joys.  I grew up on the east coast just a few miles from Long Island Sound…truly a sailor’s paradise and I don’t think I really appreciated how tough it was going to be to find another place as great for sailing.  When I moved to Seattle I thought I was settling in a sailing nirvana. 

However I soon discovered that compared to Long Island Sound…and to Minnesota for that matter where I got to experience lake sailing, southern Puget Sound’s a whole lot better for cruising and paddling then it is for sailing...at least for me.  The water is near-freezing and there are many summer days with no wind at all.  Some of the best sailing seems to be in late autumn and very early spring, and in those seasons I can't find enough gear to put on so I can stay warm.

Still, I didn’t give up on my sailing dream easily…still haven’t. When I first moved to Vashon I bought myself a 15’ day sailer…it had been a winter restoration project for someone whose interest was more restoration than sailing, so when the seasons changed the boat was for sale and I bought it.  Sailing was fun for a while, however the boat was slow and so I was never able to go far enough to get beyond Quartermaster Harbor and out into the Sound.   I’d have had to pack for an overnight voyage to get further.  When the wind blew harder the boat would heel further and just vibrate…it just wouldn’t sail faster.  Eventually I sold it and went boat-less for a few years, dreaming of speed.

Until I found the Rave.  With 10 knots the trimaran foiler would lift a couple of feet out of the water and take off like a missile.  I first sailed it in Florida and thought I’d gone to heaven...very quickly.  In fact if I lived in Florida with 80 degree water I'd still have it.  I dreamed of loading it with my camping gear and then sailing north to Canada along the inner passage.  I planned to camp at water trail sites along the way…it was a great dream.  It was a rush!...and it was terrifying.  I figured I could actually make it to Canada in two days.  Unfortunately it was also a really wet boat to sail.  When the wind blew the Rave screamed with speed.  And in the 48 degree water even with paddling gloves my fingers froze, I'm sure I chattered my teeth down a few sizes and there was no way I could control the boat...at least no way that was fun.  So in the end I sadly passed it along to a hyperactive guy with a monster truck and death wish, and the Rave became a memory. Shortly after he bought it he bent the mast.

A friend of ours has had a sailboat on a trailer parked in the weeds in front of his house for as long as we’ve known them.  It was full of many seasons’ fallen and rotting leaves, and overgrown with blackberries and assorted other trash vegetation.  It had been totally neglected.  I’ve been curious about it for years but only a couple of months ago stopped and took a good look.  It’s an O’Day 17’ daysailer...a lovely little boat with nice lines and a large cockpit.  When I asked if he was interested in selling it and, if so, what he wanted for it, his wife Jodi said, “Just tow it away.”  

So now it’s behind my barn, mostly cleaned and needing only a small bit of fiberglass repair and wood trim refinishing.  Getting the paint off the deck is a bit of a chore but the exercise is doing me good.  The mast, boom and rigging are now clean and in pretty good shape…I’ll treat it to new lines just to make sure things don’t come crashing down on my head.  And the sails look fine, at least for now.

I’m thinking this will be a nice boat for peacefully sailing around the inner harbor.  Stay tuned.

Monday, May 28, 2012

If the new rack mods work and they carry the weight of the loaded panniers without adding a supporting arm then the mod is finished.


Since I brazed the new rack parts rather than bolting things together, ‘minor’ probably isn’t the best descriptor of this little project.  What I’ve learned from doing this is that the Ortliebs were pretty clearly designed for hard shell seats and so mounting them on a recumbent with a mesh seat pretty much requires widening the rear rack so it approximately equals the width of the seat back.  If I needed any more clues, the strap that joins the front of the two panniers and goes across the seat face is barely long enough…in fact I should probably add about 6 inches to it just to make sure the Velcro has enough length to get a good grip.

The rack seems pretty strong the way it is, but if need be I can a supporting arm that attaches to the outer edge of the rack top and connects at the bottom to lower rack/frame braze-on.  And if I attach it to the rack with a Cateye clamp then the arms will fold flat against the rack top when the entire assembly is removed.

The only real change I made from my original plan was to dump the idea of using Velcro to secure the rack top to the original rack.  There was no way I could get a solid mount with the Velcro that didn’t allow the new top to move somewhat.  So I used small stainless band clamps and covered the bands with heat-shrink so they wouldn’t chew up the powdercoating.  I also put some 1” pieces of clear tubing on the original rack at the spots where I installed the band clamps so the new and old rack parts wouldn’t rub against each other.

The bottom section of the new rack simply serves as a lock-down for the panniers and a way to keep them from swinging in toward the frame.  The front of that section bolts to the forward rack braze-ons, and the rear is held in place with two Velcro straps which seem to work fine.  Turns out that the space beneath the rack-top on both sides, between the panniers and the rack legs, might turn out to be convenient storage for long narrow stuff like tires, tubes and even tools. 

So now I’m just going to ride the GLO with the new panniers attached, gradually adding weight to make sure the rack top is strong enough.  

By the way, last Saturday Jim and I rode the Foothills Trail to Orting.  It was about 30 miles, and I rode the GLO for the first time with my neck rest attached.  The day's two highlights - the neck rest was absolutely perfect, and I lost my cell phone...for a change.

On to the next project.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I tend to put off tough stuff, and that's what I did about mounting the new Ortlieb panniers on the Greenspeed GLO.  

I was clearly avoiding facing my fear that I'd spent a lot of money for panniers I really like but wouldn't fit on the trike.  So for a couple of months the panniers remained in the shipping plastic bag in my office, and for another month they sat in my shop. When I finally sucked up my apprehension and tried mounting the bags I discovered they actually did fit...sort of. 

Of the two hangers on each pannier, one fit on the top rail of the trike rack and the other fit on the the rack's most forward angle support arm. This had the effect of tipping the pannier downward in the front.  With some coaxing I could even get the pannier's forward lock-down hooked on the trike's seat support tube. What didn't fit well was that the forward end of the pannier was too close to the ground for my liking and the strap that should go across the seat and connect both panniers wouldn't fit...the panniers were just in the wrong place.  A fit, but not a great fit. 

What a good fit meant: the panniers were about as far from each other as the seat is wide so the bags could move a bit further forward; there was a simple attachment point for the panniers' lower lock-down mechanism; and because the GLO is a dissassembler, any rack modifications needed to be able to lay flat to take little space. 

So what I fabricated is in two pieces. The upper larger rack top attaches to the existing rack with Velcro strips making for a secure mount with tool-less quick removal. The lower rail functions as a pannier lock-down and also keeps the pannier from swinging in against the trike frame. It attaches at the 2 front rack mounts and with Velcro strips to the rear of the rack. 

In keeping with Greenspeed tradition (and because I can brass braze and not TIG weld) the parts are made from steel tube. The steel tubing's strong, but I realize that one unknown is, since the wider top rack is unsupported on its outer edge, will it carry the weight of the panniers.  But it seems plenty strong enough, and a support should be a simple mod if it's needed. The wider top rack is a very nice bonus for carrying a tent, sleeping bag and mattress closer to the seat and making the load more compact. 

 So do the Ortliebs fit the GLO?  Most definitely...with just a minor mod. I think they'll also fit my Catrike Expedition but with a different design for a rack enhancement that will mount the bags similarly wider apart, but also lower than the top of rack.  That's next.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This'll be fast because Travis is waiting so patiently for someone (me) to come out to the pasture and play catch.

Here's the gear we're offering as mementos to folks coming to TOT the end of June.  Hopefully you'll like the logo and also see that we've tried to offer gear a bit out of the ordinary.  The cap is a runner's cap, meaning it's light-weight and vented...hopefully a nice break from the typical ball caps.  And the jersey is a neat poly wicking shirt that's available in sizes to 3XL.  To make this manageable both the cap and jersey are being offered in the color that looks best with the logo - white!

Folks wanting the caps and jerseys are being asked to order by the third week in June, and all orders will be delivered at TOT.  In the next day or two I'll publish prices.  I'll take orders by email.  While I may bring a few extra items in addition to what's ordered, there's no guarantee, so anyone wanting these neat mementos should be sure to order them before TOT to make sure they get what they want. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

For those of you who have the handlebar sidemount kits, here's something simple and useful to do with that bit of extra space on the bag tube.  

It's a convenient spot to store an extra beverage bottle. 

I'm curious if there's some interest.  If so I'll offer the Topeak bottle cage mount (the one in the pictures) and the Topeak bottle cage that can be both height and width-adjusted to even hold an insulated coffee container securely.  

Who said you can't take your latté with you?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When I brought the GLO home from the Catrike Rally in Florida I toyed with the idea of swapping the stock Greenspeed neck rest for one of my CURVE kits.  But then decided there was no reason to mess with something that works fine.  After all, Penni's happy with the stock rest on her GT3, so perhaps missing an advertising opportunity would probably be a good personal growth experience.  And so that's where I left it...for a while.  

Well  I've always said I have the upper body of a 3' human.  In fact at some restaurants where the seats are low and the tables high the only silverware I need is a knife...to slide my food along the tabletop directly into my mouth.  And that was the problem with the stock Greenspeed neck rest.  Turns out that even though I lowered the stock neck rest tubes as far as they'd go, and then cut another 3/4" off the tubes, I couldn't get the neck rest low enough.  I’m sure it’s at least partly because of the tube shape of the Greenspeed neck rest.  

I made a shim so the mtb stem would fit the GLO's seat brace tube and I installed the kit.  The CURVE definitely looks non-Greenspeedish, but it sure feels great.  I doubt there are many others out there with bodies like mine - hobbits on stilts, so don't worry Ian (Sims) this is most likely a one-off.  

Remember those beautiful Ortlieb recumbent panniers I bought?  Well I fiddled around with them so they sort of fit on the GLO, but then I decided to do this right and make them fit the way they should.  I'm enlarging the narrow rear rack so the panniers can be even with the sides of the seat.  I'm welding up this new rack-top which will be fastened to the existing rack with Cateye clamps.  I'll probably have to add an additional tube to each side of the rack top so the panniers can be locked down securely - there's a slick lock-down fastener on the panniers.  If this works, and I'm pretty sure it will, I'll make another rack top for Msafiri (my Expedition.)  More pics to follow. 
Some quick news.  

I just shipped a new CURVE kit to the person who inspired the first CURVE.  He needed a neck rest that would not just provide front-to-back cushioning, but would also secure his neck side-to-side.  I searched for something I could use for a light but solid base, and eventually I discovered 8" high pressure water couplings.  I cut one in half into two cylinders, and then cut one of the cylinders in half again.  That became the first (and only) half-wrap CURVE.  After working on that one neck rest for a while I began to think it might be really comfortable for other folks as well...if it didn't wrap quite so far.  And so the CURVE was born.

The Axiom Trekk seat collar is a terrific find because it comes in a size (31.8) that will fit the vertical tube of a "T" tower.  It's a potentially great way to secure your rear rack right to the neck rest mount. You may be able to find it at your LBS, and I know it's available on Amazon.

I thought you might like to see some of the latest embroidery creations...but first a picture of our master embroiderers - Deana and Susie.
Don't forget Steven's  bling at the end.


And finally, here's Steven's CURVE kit.  He's definitely taken the idea of using his CURVE tower as a light mount to a whole new level.  Nice job Steven!