Archive | February, 2012

Motorcycle Seats 101: Seat Construction: Baseplates

10 Feb

This is the third chapter in our ongoing “Motorcycle Seats 101” blog series. “Seat Construction:  Baseplates” is intended to help motorcyclists understand the basic construction of most seats—this is not specific to Mustang.

Motorcycle seats are made up of three essential parts: the baseplate, the foam and the cover (sometimes these are also referred to as the pan, the cushion and the top).

Before describing these three layers of a seat, you should know that some aftermarket or custom seat makers may use one or more parts of the original (stock) seat rather than actually provide you with all-new components. For instance, many custom seat shops simply take your stock seat off your bike and recover it with a different cover, just as an upholstery shop would recover your living room couch in a different fabric. Other custom seat shops might reshape the foam on your original seat and add their own cover.

If you and your passenger are comfortable on your stock seat and just want to change the look of your motorcycle, changing the cover on the stock seat is a reasonable way to go.

But for the large number of riders who do not find their stock seat comfortable, the best solution is a new seat “from the bottom up.” There are a few aftermarket seat manufacturers that create seats from scratch.  The following describes these three basic seat components:

Seats are constructed on a single baseplate (both the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat are built on the same, single baseplate) or a two-piece baseplate (two distinct seats). Both of the pieces on a two-piece baseplate can be attached for two-up riding or separated to ride as a solo seat.

Most stock seats and a number of less expensive aftermarket seats are built on plastic baseplates which are cheap to build but are far less sturdy than other materials. Higher quality baseplates used by aftermarket manufacturers are constructed of either marine-grade fiberglass, finished with a high-gloss gel-coat, or black, epoxy powder-coated 16-gauge steel.

The baseplate is the starting point in the design of a motorcycle seat. Ideally, the baseplate is designed to mount the motorcycle using the exact same mounting holes or brackets as the stock seat. (Nobody wants to drill new holes in their frame or fender.)

The notion behind creating an aftermarket seat is to make it far better than the original. That requires a good seat designer to roll the motorcycle into their studio, remove the stock seat and set it aside. Then, starting from scratch the designer creates a baseplate as the foundation for a great seat.

One of the best ways to assess the quality of a motorcycle seat is to turn it over and examine the baseplate area or “underbelly.” When you pick up a premium seat, feel the weight and balance. That alone should show you how substantial a custom seat is compared to most stock seats.

It can be difficult to determine whether a baseplate is fiberglass or steel, but it’s pretty easy to tell if the baseplate is plastic. In some cases, you can actually flex a seat made on a plastic baseplate and literally snap it in two with a little effort.

Whether your new custom seat is built on a fiberglass or steel baseplate, be sure to look for the following features:

• All exposed brackets (visible when the seat is mounted on the bike) should be chrome plated.
• Polyurethane rubber bumpers should be strategically located and riveted to the baseplate to protect the paint and minimize vibration. (Bumpers made of polyurethane are ozone protected and will not crack with age.)
• The edge of the cover material should be hemmed, not just cut off and left ragged.
• The cover should be riveted to the baseplate at close intervals around the edges. (Most stock seat covers are merely stapled on.)
• Although not readily visible, if you were able to lift up the cover, you could note whether a steel-reinforced, impact-absorbing vinyl-edge trim had been secured to the edges of the baseplate to protect the seat cover material from wearing.

•    A label specifying what make/model/year of bike the seat is designed to fit should be visible as well as the manufacturer’s name, warranty and contact information.
•    Finally, complete mounting information should be attached to a replacement seat.

In our next segment we will discuss foam.  See you then!

Upcoming Trade Show in Cincinnati, OH

2 Feb

Mustang is off to Cincinnati to attend the 12th Annual V-Twin Expo by Easyriders being held February 4th through February 6th at the Duke Energy Convention Center. 

It’s a chance for us to introduce our new products and marketing promotions for 2012, along with the added bonus of seeing all the industry friends we have made over the years (32 years to be exact)!  Lots of old friends and many new, young faces.

If you stop by our booth (#315) you will see some seats that have never been introduced to the public before.

Although this is a trade event only (not open to the public) we will be updating everyone about events and new products on our Facebook page.

Hope to see you there, and don’t forget to check for updates!