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There’s Way More to Seats than a Pan, Foam, and a Strip of Material

By Bandit and Tom Seymour with photos by David Eckert

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We’ve come to the Saddlemen point in the story, to finish Jim’s seat construction over his custom fiberglass pan. The notion was to help Jim with a cool custom-styled seat, but when it comes to Saddlemen there’s much more to seat fabrication, and their mantra revolves around comfort.

Tom Seymour and Dave Echert have been in the seat-making business for 40-some years and they are as passionate today about the technology as they were when they first poured resin over fiberglass several decades ago. It’s a whole new ballgame today, and all to your benefit.

“The code behind seats now is comfort, engine vibration and the effects of road shock,” David said. “It’s all about how long you can remain in the saddle comfortably. It’s the largest piece of real estate on a motorcycle touched by the rider.” Seats, pegs and grips have the only interaction with the rider. “A seat must enhance shock absorption, enhance rider's comfort, fix position, govern ride height, and guide the rider in his efforts to maneuver whatever motorcycle he rides.”

First they added a narrow C-channel extrusion around the edge to protect the edge of the pan and whatever upholstery material was used.

With custom seats, Saddlemen uses blocks of foam glued and hand-shaped, or similar seat shaped foam modified to fit. One of the team members, who has been on staff for over 40 years, hand-shaped the foam.

Jim’s seats were slammed for a low profile look and then studied for style, sitting position and design.

The team also ground the foam for gel inserts. A barrier was added below to protect the foam, then the gel pads inserted.

Once the shape was refined, the seat was wrapped with masking tape, and then the lines for stitching were drawn. Once these shapes were cut out and laid out flat, they become the perfect seat pattern. A ¼-inch area was added to the edge for sewing, and then the covering material was selected.

Dave worked hard with his Saddlehyde producer to develop hearty satin shaded covers. It's sorta like the common named material only better. They studied the capabilities of upholstery, fabrics and leather. We went through a stretch where leather was super-cool and Saddlehyde were considered passé. The Saddlemen team researched beyond cool. They wanted to know what worked and how it worked. As it turned out, Saddlehyde was much more than a simple fabric. They worked in UV/sun resistance, water absorption, fire resistance, mildew, stretch, grain, and the list goes on. 

Some fabrics are rigid, including some leathers. All the terrific foam under the leather coating can’t work if the covering isn’t flexible in the correct direction. Saddlemen started to work with a major fabric producer and learned the flexible technology.

Saddlehyde is actually a vinyl covering of various thicknesses, patterns and chemical compounds. Under it is a flexible mesh, which can be ordered to stretch in various directions for just the right movement to support the foam and gel technology, and allow all elements to breathe and dissipate heat.

That cool-looking material wrapped over your seat performs several functions. It can’t crack in the bitter cold. It must be color-fast, UV resistant, breathe, resist abrasions, and last. After Dave selected the material with Jim’s input, they cut the pieces and embroidered the Saddlemen logo in place.

The long-term staff performed final stitching and color to match Jim’s design. It’s a family organization, with many members bringing additional family to work for Saddlemen over the years.

 Just before the stitched and hemmed fabric is slipped over the seat on final layer of thin foam is wrapped over the seat to protect all the elements inside and enhance the final shape.

As a final detail touch the Saddlemen team carpeted the bottom of Jim’s pan to protect the outside of the pan and make it look handsome and finished.

Another amazing Saddlemen creation.

By the Saddlemen Team
Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Understanding the forces acting on your body while riding is critical to understanding why homogenous polyurethane foam seats developed in the late I940s and probably on your motorcycle right now are preventing the extended ride times you desire. Saddlemen uses science to change everything by offering a com­ plete line of seats featuring our unique manufacturing process known as GELcore Technology.

GELcore is engineered to dampen, divert, and deflect energy through a mechanical process resulting in a smooth, therapeutic ride.

Our technique combines a specifically formulated viscoelastic polymer also known as SaddleGEL with the latest in co-molding comfort technology to reduce engine vibration transmitted to your body by up to 50%, and reduce direct impact forces by up to 92%.

Saddlemen invented GELcore Technology and today we are widely recognized as the industry leader, selling more gel seats than any other seat manufacture. However, when it comes to the benefits of gel don't take our word for it.

NASA uses gel to protect sensitive camera equipment on the Space Shuttle Discovery as it pierces the Earth's atmosphere at 17,000 mph. NASA also uses gel to keep the International Space Station in orbit. Gel is currently used in the medical industry for Wheelchairs and Hospital beds to promote blood flow, and major league baseball mitt manufactures utilize this cutting edge material to dampen the impact of a 100mph fastball.

Instead of relying on foam cushions or air that may impose improper contours, a riding saddle with GELcore Technology provides a topographically neutral suspension that will conform to the shape of the person who sits in it. Using pressure-mapping technology, we experimented with different tensions across the backrests and seats, fine-tuning our designs to produce the desirable distribution patterns: peak pressure zones under the ischium, with wide distribution of lower values along the thighs and across the back, avoiding the spine and the area behind the knees.

GELcore Technology is a scientific approach to minimize circulation-restricting pressure with just the right combination of material layers, by curving the ProFoam structure away from pressure-sensitive areas of the body and cushioning it with Comfort­Foam while dampening shock and vibration with SaddleGEL. Co-Molding the materials with this technique is what makes Saddlemen's GELcore Technology far superior to the homogenous polyurethane foam seat mounted on your stock motorcycle.

To learn more please visit us online at www.saddlemen.com


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Reader Comments

GELcore! Oh man, yeah, a righteous Techno breakthrough for the Heine.

Pauly D.
Chicago, IL
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

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