Saddlemen has added more than 400 new products, including luggage, to its lineup over the past three years, according to sales and marketing director Ron Benfield. The company, which distributes through Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties, makes seats for everything from its flagship Gold Wing Road Sofa to the Adventure Track line for the dual-sport/adventure market. Also part of the lineup are the private-label seats the company develops for some major OEMs, along with snowmobile seat covers, sportbike seats, classic touring setups and a line of saddles designed by popular custom motorcycle builders.
(Image: Corbin's Canyon Dual Sport Saddle for Triumph Tiger Explorer.)
The Adventure Track for Ducati’s Multistrada, Benfield says, is one of the most advanced seats being made. It incorporates Saddlemen’s proprietary progressive density foam, trademark gel inserts, different materials for rider and passenger surfaces, built-in cargo mounting points, a channel to relieve perineal pressure, and optional five-way adjustable heating.
Saddlemen builds all of its seats at its Rancho Dominguez, Calif.-based facility south of Los Angeles, keeping every manufacturing step in-house, from R&D work and building the foam molds, to pouring the foam and gel inserts, to cutting and sewing the seat panels. The company turns out about 150 seats a day, Benfield says.
Controlling all processes means the company can respond quickly to market demands by designing new seats and incorporating new features into existing models; it also can work constantly to come up with new, advanced designs, Benfield says. Company owners Tom Seymour and David Echert support a “skies the limit” approach to research and development, he adds.
(Image: Spring Solo Seat from Drag Specialties)
GODFATHER OF SEATS
You can’t discuss the seat business without mentioning Mike Corbin. He’s been in the game since 1968 and still works to build saddles for all brands and any model his company, Corbin Motorcycle Seat and Accessories, can get its hands on.
When Dealernews talked with Corbin in late fall, the company had just finished making seats for Honda’s new NC700X and a Moto Guzzi Griso, designs it will add to a collection that goes all the way back to the 1958 Harley-Davidson Sportster. The company has about $9 million worth of mold sets that take up about half the building.
Seats, Corbin says, are a very lucrative business for dealers. “When a new motorcycle comes out, they have what you call a showroom seat,” he explains. “It’s relatively soft and narrow, so when a variety of bodies sit on the bike in the showroom they say, ‘Oh, it’s nice and cushy.’ That helps sell the bikes to a wide range of body styles.
“These soft seats, basically you’ll fall through them after the first long ride,” Corbin continues. “The dealer has, at his fingertips, the availability of several lines of motorcycle seats, some from distributors, some from manufacturers, so he’s a solution center for a person who buys a new bike.”
Dealers should take a look at their best-selling bikes and for the styles that have been in production for a long time — Harley’s FLH is a good example — and then stock some models for those bikes, Corbin recommends. (continued)