Hot Seats: Saddle sales take off

Publish Date: 
Jan 9, 2013
By Dennis Johnson

Spring Solo Seat by Drag Specialties A PAN, A CHUNK of foam and a cover. A seat is a seat, right? A mere butt holder.

Not so fast. Sales are booming in the seat market. It’s one of the aftermarket segments that picked up when the recession killed unit sales. Seat builders have responded by creating saddles that are more functional than ever, with advanced materials and designs.

(Image: Harley-Davidson's Signature Touring Seat with Backrest)

After all, a saddle is one of the main features on a motorcycle, ATV, scooter, PWC, or snowmobile that connects the rider to the machine through an area of the body that demands extreme comfort and a delicate touch. It can also help riders to more easily reach the ground or the controls, find a sweet spot during a long haul, help hold cargo, or even keep those aforementioned buns warm.

So it seems a seat isn’t just a seat but a feature-rich product that holds good margins and allows dealers the chance to directly improve their customers’ riding experience. It’s also one of the first OE items that a customer wants to replace, whether for style, comfort or both.

“Seats are such a personal thing from a lot of standpoints, whether it’s the look, the feel or the comfort of it,” says Tom Motzko, who handles vendor development for Drag Specialties. “Many different manufacturers can meet the many different needs of riders. We’re even finding that some people own more than one seat. What’s really interesting, from our company’s standpoint as a major distributor, is that in the last four years … all seat sales have done very, very well. I don’t care if it’s ours or any of the other brands that we distribute. They’ve all done well.”

Motzko speaks from the perspective of a longtime player. He worked for E&S Coach and Saddlery before it became part of the LeMans Corp. family, where it eventually morphed into the V-Twin-centric Drag Specialties Seats. In addition to seeing the bump in sales, he’s also watched as the various seat manufacturers have settled into their own business or product niche.

Motzko adds that the manufacturing process has improved exponentially to the point that just about any seat from any builder is “absolute perfection,” and the materials being used are nothing short of amazing. For instance, Drag uses an exclusive solar-reflective leather covering on its seats which lowers the temperature of the seat when the bike is in the sun. “Of all the products on a motorcycle … seats have really come a long way,” Motzko says. (continued)