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BIKERNET FEATURE: The Merc Motorcycle

Even the President of Saddlemen Seats Couldn’t Control the Outcome

By Bandit with photos by Markus Cuff

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Do you know brothers who bought rigid frames and engines ten years ago and they still collect dust in the back of garages? Hopefully this story will make a bunch of guys feel better, and empower them to get off the dime and peel down the road with a completed scooter.

The man behind this project entered the motorcycle industry in 1977. While going to school, Tom became a member and ultimately president of the oldest motorcycle club in the world and rode all over the East Coast and New England.

He worked for corporate America, Black and Decker, with an engineering degree, making strong coin and relaxed at night. He worked his way into management and marketing, expanding his business acumen. Then the Two-Wheeled Entrepreneurial Wizard touched his shoulder with a sparkling emerald gleam in his eyes and chrome twisted spokes in his hair and said, “Son, a man is only happy when he fulfills his motorcycle dreams and does what he loves,” and then he winked.

The next day, Tom went in search of a motorcycle-related company he could buy. He loved motorcycles and motorcycle racing. So, he bought Cycle Seats in ’77. He built and sold the company a decade later over a rough partnership deal, and then brought it back in ’87 under the name Travelcade. “We made road sofas for Goldwings,” Tom said. They also used the name Saddlemen for Harley-oriented custom seats. Saddlemen ultimately took over.

This is not intended to be a Tom Seymour resume. You’ll get the theme in a minute. Tom ran and built Saddlemen for, give-or-take, 37 years. He is now responsible for several lines of products, including some OEM brands. His crew includes almost 100 employees. He has sponsored every type of motorcycle racing. “Three-hundred flat track racers,” Tom added, including our own 5-Ball Bonneville racing team. He’s had employees go south, parts needed fixing, marketing dilemmas, and wives who ran off. He also kept studying and was awarded with an MBA.

Then he bought a 1950 Merc, with a Carson top. from Mr. Merc, the wizard of custom Mecurys. And he decided to build a bike to match his car project, ‘cause he was in the motorcycle industry, natch. And because Mr. Merc had this Shovelhead for sale. Everything about this motorcycle was designed to match the Merc styling, including the lake pipes, the RC Components frame, the rear fender, inset taillight, and the ghost flames.

He ultimately shipped the bike back to Tom Todd, the younger brother of Skeeter Todd, for some detail work, stretched tanks and custom dash. Hot Rods-N-Hogs handled the rear fender construction. But there was an underlying force prevalent in all the elements of the car and motorcycle coming together.

Years passed and the car wasn’t making progress. Mr. Merc faced several issues, including financial issues, as we all did, and the blown hemi under the hood collected dust, but the bike made progress.

Tom’s years in business, his engineering degree, his vast resources, an MBA, and all his friends in the custom industry and the chopper world couldn’t make the car come together with the bike.

He finished the scooter, natch, and although it’s a fine classic chop, it just doesn’t fit the bill without the matching car. So, what’s the code? Is it stick with what you know, or don’t mix cars with bikes? At the end of the day, the chop was finished and fine. For us and brothers all over the world, that’s the important aspect; finish the bike and hit the road.

Tom never stopped or gave up and always looked for the best solution for the team. He ultimately sold the car back to Mr. Merc. They are still friends, and he hopes to one day see the car shine at the Grand National Roadster Show.

It the meantime, Tom returned to the Two-Wheeled Wizard’s mantra, and sticks with motorcycling. This bike is currently for sale to make way for the next Saddlemen project.  

Supreme Bikernet Saddlemen Spec Sheet


Owner- Tom Seymour
Shop- Saddlemen
Shop Phone- 310-638-1222
Year/Make/Model- 1978 H-D Shovelhead
Fabrication- Mr. Merc
Build Time-2 years plus
For Sale: call shop phone above if serious 

Year/Type/Size- 1978 Shovelhead
Builder-Mr. Merc, Marysville, CA
Cylinders- S&S
Rocker Boxes-S&S
Cams-Andrews C-grind
Throttle Body- Super G
Air Cleaner-S&S
EFI Controller- none
Exhaust- Lake Pipes by the Goat

Year/Type- H-D 4-speed
Gears- Harley
Clutch- Rivera/Primo
Primary Drive- Rivera/Primo


Year/Type- 1980s RC Components Rigid
Rake/Stretch-33 Degrees, 2 inches up, 1-inch out


Frontend-Stock H-D springer
Length- Stock
Triple Trees- Cast H-D
Swingarm- none
Rear Shocks- none

Wheels, Tires, and Brakes


Builder/Size- PM
Tire/Size- 21 MH90 Avon


Tire/Size- 280-18
Sprocket- 51-tooth from Drag

Manufacturer-House of Kolor
Colors-Candy apple red
Paint/Graphics- Dave Davis
Plating/Polishing-who knows

Front Fender-None
Rear Fender-Kenny Morris, Hot Rods-N-Hogs
Gas Tank- Tom Todd
Dash-Tom Todd, GT Customs
Gauges- Drag
Handlebars- 12-inch Apes

Hand Controls-PM
Foot Controls-PM
Floorboards-PM pegs
Taillight- Hot Rods and Hogs
Turn Signals- Nope
License Mount- Hot Rods-N-Hogs

Seat- Saddlemen hand-stitched
Speakers- Forget it


Saddlemen Seats

S&S Cycle

Performance Machine


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Reader Comments

Good choice going with the scoot ,awesome job going old school chop.

central square, NY
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Editor Response Thanks.

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