Buyers’ Guide: Custom Seats

Feb 12, 2013 View Comments by

Buyers' Guide: Custom SeatsExcept for a few plush touring models, it seems like little effort goes into designing motorcycle saddles for all-day comfort. Although they look great in the showroom and allow inseam-challenged riders to feel the security of touching the ground, most standard equipment leaves the distance rider to discover “the agony of ‘da seat!” Pressure points, insufficient padding, improper slope, and hard raised edges can cause great discomfort.

In order to get yourself better “sit”uated, check out a new accessory replacement or aftermarket brand from the manufacturer, a cycle shop, or the internet. New saddles can be bought outright, or modifications to the original seat or customs can be done by an upholsterer or a specialist. Finding a used or damaged original from a salvage yard or eBay allows you to continue riding while the new seat is being made, and you’ll still have the stock item for resale.

Height and density of padding are variables for customization. Keep in mind that thicker seats can have softer foam, while their thinner counterparts need denser padding to prevent you from sinking through to the seat pan. Gel pads are recommended in this case. They can help distribute your weight and conform to your body. Heat is also an option on several touring bikes, and aftermarket warming elements can be added to nearly all seats just under the upholstery and wired to the bike’s electrical system.

As well as adding comfort and support, pillion backrests make passengers feel secure. Look for a quick release for removal and a hinge that lets the cushion lean forward while you are getting on and off.

Quality vinyl replacement seat covers come in various colors and grades. They not only look like leather, but are also rainproof. You can clean them with a damp cloth, so for most bikes it’s the way to go.

Embroidery of a name, initials, or graphics as well as Conchos, fringe, and studs will add a unique or retro look to cruisers. Be sure to consider practicality along with price. Lastly, ask how long it will take to fill your order, what maintenance is required, how the seat mounts, and if it requires extra hardware. Don’t forget to check the warranty and return policy.

 

Bill Mayer SaddlesBill Mayer Saddles
Bill Mayer began perfecting his designs and materials in 1971 and formed a partnership with his son Bill Mayer III. After the father’s death, the son continues his legacy of making comfortable customs for long-distance riders. BMS also has leather and heated options.

(805) 644-7216, www.billmayer-saddles.com

 

 

CorbinCorbin
For decades, Corbin has been making custom seats and backrests with all types of leather, vinyl, and other materials. Corbin uses contoured Comfort Cell closed-cell foam which keeps the saddle resilient but provides a firm feel. Customers may choose from existing catalog designs or special order (heating elements available on some applications).

(800) 538-7035, www.corbin.com

 

C & C Motorcycle SeatsC&C Motorcycle Seats
C&C offers seat designs that include special materials and stitching, foam modifications, and more. They also provide repair and re-upholstery in vinyl and leather for all cycle brands.

(866) 775-2100, www.CCseats.com

 

 

 

Danny Gray SeatsDanny Gray Seats/
High End Seating Systems
These two firms merged to offer exclusive constructions that integrate comfort with style. Options include an air-adjustable feature, inlay materials and inserts, colors and stitching patterns in a myriad of sizes, and backrest selections. Open-cell flexible polyurethane foam is used for maximum luxury. Seats for Harleys are available through Drag Specialties dealers (www.dragspecialties.com). Personalization with exotic leathers and hardware is offered directly.

(888) 443-2669,  www.dannygray.com

 

HartcoHartco International
Hartco makes custom aftermarket seats for Honda, Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and BMW (including Pro Tour Saddles that are popular on Gold Wings). Each is hand-poured from liquid polyurethane foam and tailored to the height, weight, and inseam of both the rider and passenger.

(800) 446-7772, www.hartcoseats.com

 

 

 

LePeraLePera
LePera specializes in making seats for Harley-Davidsons from a wide variety of materials that include vinyl, leather, and exotics as well as their unique “Biker Gel.” You can either buy one of their existing designs or build a one-of-a-kind saddle. Gel inserts are also available.

(818)-767-5110, www.lepera.com

 

 

Mr. Ed's MotoMr. Ed’s Moto
Mr. Ed’s Moto specializes in custom saddles and restorations. No two are alike, and Mr. Ed has a huge assortment of materials available, including multi-density foams. Mr. Ed uses rugged marine-grade vinyl or leather in your choice of colors and patterns. Other unique materials can be specially ordered. Options include heated and inset panels, contrasting welts, and wild colors.

(541) 926-2107, www.mredsmoto.com

 

 

Mustang SeatsMustang Motorcycle Seats

Mustang offers a wide selection of seats and backrests to fit many models. They use special, controlled-density foam for greater comfort and also build a base plate to align the spine and relieve back stress by placing the rider at the proper angle. Mustang saddles are sold factory direct or through motorcycle dealers and accessory shops.

(800) 243-1392, www.mustangseats.com
Rick Mayer CycleRick Mayer Cycle
Rick Mayer was trained in the business by his father, Bill. Rick specializes in premium, comfortable seats that are carefully shaped and covered in vinyl or leather. Each one is handmade and created to fit the specific rider and bike.

(530) 357-2888, www.rickmayercycle.com

 

 

 

Russell Cycle ProductsRussell Cycle Products

Russell’s Day-Long Touring Saddle is specifically designed for comfort and incorporates a patented Support Suspension System. Each seat is individually built from your OEM seat to fit your particular rider and passenger combination by using height, weight, inseam, and photos to determine the proper size and shape that will afford optimum ground reach and maximum security. Special foam and heated options are available.

(800) 432-9566, www.day-long.com

 

SaddlemenSaddlemen
Saddlemen offers ready-made, off-the-shelf seats and covers for many motorcycle models. They will create a custom saddle to your specs, raise or lower your stock model, change its color, or add a gel insert. Their Road Sofa provides lumbar support while Saddlegel and air-adjustable backrests add more comfort.

(800) 397-7709, www.saddlemen.com

 

 

Sargent SeatSargent
In addition to their popular World Sport Performance seat line for sport, adventure, and touring motorcycles, this company offers everything from affordable, basic reupholstering services to the more involved Super Cell foam upgrades, foam reshaping, and custom upholstery services. All work is performed on a customer’s base pan, which ensures a “like stock” fit. They also sell off-the-shelf Mustang brands.

(800) 749-7328, www.sargentcycle.com

 

Text: Ken Freund
Photography: Provided by the manufacturers

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