Behind the Scenes
The Saddlemen Story
A History of Quality and Comfort
This profile originally appeared in Parts Unlimited’s online magazine.
The Saddlemen/Parts Unlimited relationship has been as long (20 years!) as it’s been successful. In fact, this team-up is so strong that you won’t find Saddlemen’s products in anybody else’s catalog. The synergy here has resulted in more Saddlemen product reaching more happy riders, and those riders are smiling for good reason. Saddlemen is a motorcycle seat, bag, and luggage specialist and that expertise–along with decades of experience–is plainly evident in everything Saddlemen makes.
And speaking of synergy, Saddlemen designs every seat with complementary luggage and accessories in mind, and vice versa. Whether your look is smooth, flames, studs or conchos, with Saddlemen products it’s easy to get an integrated look from front to back.
BST Enterprises, Inc. was founded in 1987 by Tom Seymour, initially specializing in comfortable seats for touring motorcycles marketed under the Travelcade brand. Two years later BST started working with OE motorcycle manufacturers and grew that involvement to include most of the leading U.S. and Japanese based OEMs. In 1989 BST also began production of Pony Express-style throw-over saddlebags and matching tool bags and in 1991 the Saddlemen division was started to concentrate on the custom Harley and emerging cruiser markets. Today Saddlemen is the only brand the company is known by. Ever the innovators, Saddlemen introduced strap-on gel pads in 1993, spawning a copycat industry that continues to grow today. Saddlemen was first, though, and is re-inventing this product segment for 2008. Watch for it.
Saddlemen blends artistry and engineering into every seat it makes to provide show-quality saddles that are also a comfort improvement over the stock seat. Every seat is manufactured from the ground up in the USA, too. All design, R&D and seat production is done in Saddlemen’s manufacturing headquarters in Rancho Dominguez, California. Computer driven controls are used for key processes including foam pouring, shipping and even customer service. Those Saddlemen seat covers, for example, are cut out using a computer controlled cutting table that guarantees consistent pattern sizing every time.
An exclusive foam formulation is poured into custom contoured molds and the famous SaddleGel is inserted. Saddlemen is the innovator in gel use for motorcycle seats, developing this long-life formulation after dozens of trial-and-error attempts and lots of miles of testing. SaddleGel dampens shock and vibration, it reduces pressure points and makes for an enjoyable ride no matter how many miles are covered or how many hours are spent in the saddle. Once the seat cover, the foam and the pan are all finished they’re assembled using high-quality stainless steel rivets to bring it all together and every seat is closely inspected before leaving the facility. Higher volume luggage products are also produced overseas where manufacturing is done under Saddlemen’s strict guidelines to produce the broadest range of high-value motorcycle luggage on the market.
And right from the start Saddlemen has supported the sport. This is a company of enthusiastic riders. Tom Seymour, Saddlemen’s founder, was a racer from the ‘60s to the ‘80s and is currently an AMA Life Member as well as an active trail and road rider. In the ‘60s Tom was president of the Yonkers M/C Club, the oldest AMA Charter Club. It was back then that Tom rode to Daytona for the first time, and he’s missed nary a year since along with attending most rallies like Sturgis, Americade, Laconia, Laughlin and all the others. Saddlemen has always been a big sponsor in motorcycle competition, too, including road racing, motocross, enduro, drag racing, speedway and flat track. Racers who’ve received Saddlemen support number in the hundreds and include names like Hayden, Bostrom, Carr, Springsteen, Hale, Pegram, Eslick, Poovey, Coolbeth, Mees–plus the land speed record BUB 7 streamliner that achieved 350-plus MPH. And when those guys get off their racebikes and record-holders to hop on their streetbikes you know those bikes are set up with Saddlemen seats and luggage. And as we said, most everyone on the Saddlemen staff is a rider, too. You might have been lucky enough to ride across the country with them on the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, or possibly at one of Drag Specialties’ annual dealer rides. Their enthusiasm extends beyond the product and right into their daily lives.
All of this–the total involvement in the sport, the decades of experience, the innovative seats and luggage, the constant R&D to keep those seats and luggage in tune with the times and assure perfect-fit applications for the newest machines, the quality of the materials and construction–all of that and, of course, the coordinated Saddlemen look makes Saddlemen seats and luggage a great choice. Parts Unlimited has it all.