Archive | April, 2012

Motorcycle Seats 101: Covers Uncovered

20 Apr

As with a custom suit or the upholstered cover on your couch, well-designed covers on aftermarket seats must be meticulously pieced together and sewn to fit tight contours for a true custom-looking seat. The best aftermarket seat covers are individually hand-sewn, not mass-produced.

Stock seats, on the other hand, are covered with molded vinyl that usually doesn’t provide a perfect fit when it comes to the contours of the foam mold or cushion. That means any discrepancies will result in wrinkles or bulges—especially over time.

Keep in mind that, unlike the molded cover on a stock seat, the process of stitching the covers of aftermarket seats creates tiny holes. While these can be filled with a waxy substance, water can still seep through. On a quality seat, water will not deteriorate the foam; it will just drip out through a hole designed for that specific purpose in the baseplate. To avoid damp rear ends, riders may fill the stitch holes with Pledge or another clear waxy substance. A note of caution here: Never apply wax to the entire seat — you do not want to be sliding right off the seat when going around a tight corner.

The most popular seat cover materials are leather or vinyl but there is a wide range of quality within each of these categories. Riders should choose the material that best meets their needs, preferences and budget.

Leather is more likely to be used by a smaller custom seat builder. It is premium priced and can be dyed in a variety of colors. Consider the type of riding you will be doing, where the bike will be stored, how long you want the seat to last and how much time you will devote to maintaining the leather on your seat. Many of us have leather jackets, gloves, purses, briefcases or leather seats in our cars, but few people leave these leather items outside, exposed to the elements.

Many major aftermarket manufacturers build seats with a vinyl cover. Depending on the grade, vinyl can be surprisingly similar to leather. The highest-quality expanded vinyl has the appearance of leather but has the durability and resistance to the elements that exceed original equipment standards for motorcycle seats. Maintenance shouldn’t ever be an issue with a premium vinyl — no fading, no treating or oiling. Just wipe it clean when you wash your bike. Unlike leather, top-grade vinyl will not dry out and crack, nor do you need to worry about it getting wet. It doesn’t fade and it requires practically no maintenance.

Whether made of leather or vinyl, look for the following features on the cover of a quality seat:

  • All seams should be sewn twice for strength.
  • The bottom edge under the seat that is attached to the baseplate should be hemmed.
  • The edges of seats with skirts should be finished with braid.
  • Pillow top seats should be tufted with covered buttons, which are double-tied with four cords, not two, so as to not lose their buttons.
  • The cover and stitch pattern for each model and style should complement and enhance the shape of the seat and the flow of the motorcycle.

Stitching should be evenly spaced, In our continuing series “Motorcycle Seats 101,” we have recently delved into the basics of baseplates and the mystery of foam—and how they combine to provide comfort for drivers and passengers. Today, we are unraveling the secrets of the cover on a seat.

  • uniform and tight.

While some riders like seats that are plain, others prefer the look of decorative studs and conchos on their seats. The best studs are chrome-plated brass that won’t rust. Top-quality conchos are made of heavy die-cast zinc (not a thin stamping) and are hand tied with genuine leather straps.

Our next chapter in this series will show you how our Mustang craftsmen take all three of these seat components (baseplate, foam and cover) and assemble them together to produce the most comfortable, highest quality motorcycle seats in the world.


Karma Komfort

5 Apr

If you’re going to give yourself a Christmas gift, a brand new 2012 HD Street Glide is the way to go!

Although this was the first Harley for Mustang’s new friend Glen, he was no stranger to motorcycles, having ridden (mostly off-road) in his earlier years. As he now ventured into a new period in his life, Glen decided it was time again for the pure enjoyment of riding and the camaraderie of his riding friends.

Glen had originally looked at V-Rods but, after salespersons in two different dealerships told him he was definitely a “Street Glide Man”, the decision was made. He didn’t get his new baby in time for Christmas because the dealership had to uncrate and assemble it first. So, just in time to watch the ball drop in Times Square, Glen’s gift with its shiny “Big Blue Pearl” paint was delivered to his house on New Year’s Eve. (Smart move, Glen, since you wouldn’t want your first ride to spin out of control with New England’s winter weather!)

Good news/bad news/good news: thanks to Mother Nature giving us a mild winter, Glen has put 800 miles on his bike since January…the bad news is that Glen is in the heating oil business….but the slow business “climate” has afforded him some extra time to ride!

On a recent long ride, Glen noticed the lack of “comfort” of his stock seat. After talking to friends, he decided to research seats that would make his ride more enjoyable. Glen figured “Why invest money in a beautiful, new bike but be uncomfortable riding? May as well spend a few more dollars for a seat that will make you enjoy every mile.”

Karma? Well, a couple days later, Glen got a call from a friend saying that Mustang was looking for a “model” for a photo shoot with their new Wide Tripper solos and pads. Perfect timing at the least.

This morning, Glen pulled his Street Glide into our photo room at Mustang. Our Graphics Director Julie shot Glen’s baby with his stock seat (the “before” pic) and then we watched his eyes light up as we tried on several of our new Wide Tripper seats. He was amazed at how different the seats made his bike look and how different the seats felt on his butt. A win-win situation for all of us.

We want to thank Glen for kindly lending Mustang his sharp new Street Glide. We’ll keep you posted as to which Mustang seat he finally decides to get. Of course, we did point out that he might want a couple totally different seats for different types of rides: low and sleek for rides with his buddies versus plush comfort for touring! Uh oh…more decisions for Glen…..

UPDATE:  It’s official – Glen has made his choice!  He decided on a two-piece seat with driver backrest, giving him the versatility of riding solo or 2-up, and with or without a driver backrest.  If you like the look and want one for your bike, the part numbers are:  79448 Solo and 79112 Passenger Seat.  Thanks, Glen!