by Florian Neuhauser
as seen on RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel

RoadRunner Motorcycle Touring & Travel reviews Saddlemen Custom Seat

One of my biggest complaints about riding our ’99 Triumph Speed Triple has always been the seat. Even though I prefer a hard seat to a softer one, the stock option just isn’t comfortable for a long day in the saddle, especially multiple days on the road. The Race Tech suspension is set up sporty, so if the asphalt is less than perfect, it won’t matter if you’re in the middle of a picturesque landscape—you’ll be looking for the first smooth road to turn off on. The stock seat is too slippery when I wear pants made out of anything except leather. Of course, the rain only exaggerates this problem.

When it came time to look for a new seat, we chose Saddlemen for their Gel Channel technology. The channel relieves pressure on your bottom and at the end of the spine, thereby greatly enhancing all-day riding comfort. It can also be color matched to your motorcycle. Our lime-green Speed Triple is difficult to match, but Saddlemen got it just about perfect without even seeing the bike. The other feature of this technology is the gel inserts. At first I thought the seat might be too soft, but after a day of riding without even thinking about pain, the seat has verified itself. The different material also solved the slipping problem. I now feel comfortable and secure.

In addition, the skilled seat makers at Saddlemen’s California factory reshaped the seat slightly to come up higher in the rear for more control during aggressive riding.

We also sent in our passenger seat for a matching cover. Because we never know how a custom seat will finally work out, we found a cheap seat pan online and used it for the custom work. In retrospect, that was unnecessary.

Ever since the new seat was installed, the Speed Triple has seen a lot more exercise.

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Saddlemen Custom Seat

Price: $280's Greg Drevenstedt and his girlfriend, Carrie found relief in Saddlemen's SaddleGel Gel Pads on a week-long tour test to Redwood National Park last summer on a Kawasaki Concours 14. After a couple hundred of miles and a miserable case of "monkey-butt," they were very happy to have the gel pads to be able to continue their ride in relative comfort. Read the article here.

In the early ‘90s, the experienced riders at Saddlemen figured out a way to incorporate all the benefits of gel into a motorcycle seat and quickly learned it was far more comfortable than standard seats for a variety of reasons. For one, SaddleGel isolates engine and road vibration, a common cause of rider fatigue. Saddlegel is a molded solid with fluid-like properties that will not slide to one side or move around in your seat like air or water in a plastic bag; instead the proprietary design eliminates pressure points at the hip bones and tail bone by evenly distributing your weight across the surface of the seat. Otherwise, pressure points or “hot spots” can hinder blood flow, causing pain and discomfort. Normal circulation is never lost on a seat with SaddleGel, and it keeps your rear end comfortable on a long ride, and ready to respond quickly as road conditions change. Read more about SaddleGel here.


Photos and text by Rogue 2/8/2012

Reprinted with permission from

This is how Rogue heated his seat in the '70s.

Saddlemen seats have been the choice for me since back when I was riding rigid frame motorcycles. They were one of the rare, primarily, comfortable components that allowed me to ride and enjoy a lot of miles in a single day.

When I got a new Harley FLHT in 2004 the factory seat was okay but nothing to write home about, and that turned out to be the same with the 2009 FLHTC.

When the opportunity came up for me to do this article on a Saddlemen seat, I jumped at it. Those of you who know I live in Florida, may wonder why I wanted a heated seat and the answer is simple, my lifestyle takes me to a lot of cold weather states and the thought of a heated seat would make these chilly trips seriously more enjoyable. A major feature of this seat is that the heat controller has a five (5) level adjustment that can be removed when it is warm and adjustment is no longer needed.

Installing the seat is straight forward, but I did take the time to read the instructions and suggest you do so as well. We also spoke to Ron Benfield, the marketing manager at Saddlemen.

The Saddlemen Explorer heated seat installed.

"The seat is called the Explorer, it's a re-designed version of the seat that put Saddlemen on the map," said Ron. "It is our top-of-the-line touring model with large bucketed sitting areas, lumbar backrest and heat in both driver and passenger seats."

I removed the factory seat and put the new seat in place to see how it fit. Good. Next, I installed the rear seat bracket followed by the power cord linked to the wires coming out of the underside of the seat.

There are a couple of options while installing the Fused battery lead. I could hook it directly to the battery which means you need to remember to turn the heater off when you turn off the motorcycle. I thought this could be an issue for me, due to me faltering memory. I decided to hook it to a source I turned off power when I turned off the motorcycle, for instance the lights, or the brake light circuit, or the speedo circuit.


There were wires available for my tourpack available for an accessory I was not currently using. This allowed me to mount the fuse out of the elements, and should I ever need to change a fuse it would be easy to get to. I decided to use connectors as opposed to soldering and made sure they were connected in a secure manner, so as not to become improperly connected. It made for a neat and easy solution, plus I made sure the wires would not be in a dangerous position, rubbing against anything. I routed the front wire out by the saddlebag guard, and all were secured with plastic ties so they would not move.

"It uses 34 watts, which is approx 2.8 amps," said Ron. "There are no special wiring considerations."

Using Velcro on the back of the rear controller, I mounted it to the tourpack. I made it easy for my wife to use while seated on the motorcycle rolling down the highway behind her man. The controllers come with a clip for those who prefer to have the controller on their person. I opted to use the clip to mount the front controller to the pouch mounted on the saddlebag guard.

I then turned the motorcycle on and checked each controller for proper operation.

Nice Easy Installation. It actually took me longer to shoot the photos than install the seat.

As I sat in the seat, I noticed it had a gel pad installed and the design supported my back better. Life was looking good.

My wife Doris and I went riding later in the evening, and though it did not cool down much, the temperature did drop enough for both of us to try out the new heated seat. It definitely did the job and the controllers were easy to reach.

The Saddlemen Explorer heated seat installed.

You can't imagine what a difference heated seats or grips make to the comfort level of any chilly ride--it's amazing. It will be much more enjoyable to ride on cold nights with this Saddlemen heated seat.




Don Emde To Retrace Route Of Landmark 1914 Cross-Country Motorcycle Journey

Saddlemen motorcycle luggage will travel with magazine publisher and AMA Hall-Of-Fame racer Don Emde as he rides and researches the route taken by Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker on his historic, record-breaking 1914 San Diego to New York run. Emde Cannonball Closeup

For on-bike storage for this project, we provided Don with one of our popular TS1620S Tunnel/Tail Bags (at left), along with a Saddlemen SaddleStow TS3200DE Deluxe Tail Bag, (at right).

Emde Cannonball Combo

Don, along with a Parts Magazine writer, will follow Cannon Ball Baker's route as closely as possible, taking into account a century's change and development across the nation. The course will be completed in sections, with Don and his partner doing research on the various stages of the trek. As pictured above, most of the ride will use current KTM 990 Adventure model bikes, but Don will also use a restored Indian motorcycle to recreate portions of the trip. More information is available at the Cyril Huze blog site.

Whether for vintage machines or the latest model,Saddlemen offers top-notch value and versatility with our motorcycle luggage and seats. We offer a wide range of applications and styles, to suit every need and every taste. We look forward to matching you with the perfect saddle and storage solution for your riding needs and style.


Article Shows Saddle Design In-Progress

Saddlemen is proud to have a custom-made seat featured as part of the current Hot Bike Magazine series of articles showing the transformation of a 2000 model year Harley-Davidson Sportster into a tribute to the 1977 XLRCR cafe racer.

Above: shown with the bike in progress, the article shows our craftsmen designing, fitting and tailoring the seat.

The editors of Hot Bike Magazine were kind enough to let us share the article online. It can be viewed here. Our thanks to the people at Hot Bike for letting us share this content from their April 2011 issue. A second installment will appear in their May issue, showing the completed project.

Custom seat work has been a tradition at Saddlemen since our founding. Our expert designers and technicians have decades of experience in creating the optimal seat for any machine and any riding style, combining our industry-leading materials and know-how.


A Step-By-Step View Of Our Experts During Design And Construction

Saddlemen was pleased to produce a seat for Keith Ball and our friends at, for their latest speed record machine, due to run at the Bonneville Salt Flats. We took a seat base pan supplied by the team, and made a top-notch seat and chest pad for their bike.

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: We started out with the metal pan that had already been fit to the bike. Weight wasn’t an issue – according to Keith, the weight actually helps with traction – important on all that slippery salt. Center: As this wasn’t going to be a comfortable seat, per se, tons of foam and gel weren’t high on the list of necessary materials. A thin, inch-and-a-half layer of foam was glued to the seat pan as a starting point for the “comfort” section. Right: Using a flexible knife the carving process began…

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: …and continued… Center: …until the rough shape of the foam was readily apparent. Right: Knife blades leave sharp corners in the foam. An angle grinder is employed, fit with a sanding disc, to smooth out the sharp corners.

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: In a short while, the seat foam had taken on an attractive, aerodynamic shape and was ready for its covering. Center: Instead of wasting good leather using the trial and error method to figure out exactly how much material was going to be needed to cover the seat, Saddlemen covers the entire thing with tape. Right: The tape fully encompasses the seat, just like a real cover would.

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: Then lines are drawn on the tape where we think the seams for the covering should go. Next the tape is removed and the leather is cut using the tape as pattern. Center: The chest pad received a covering treatment similar to the main seating area. Before the covering can be attached, a final thin layer of foam is glued to the seat and chest pad. Right: Leather for the chest pad is cut and checked to make sure there’s enough material to cover it properly before it is permanently attached.

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: Holes were drilled in the pan base of the seat and chest pad. The front of the chest pad cover was riveted into place. Center: Glue was applied to the foam and backside of the leather. Right: …then stretched over the base.

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: The seat required more work to get it finished. Once the covering for the lower part of the seat was cut and sewn in place, we marked where a small amount of material needed to be removed so the seam for the lumbar support would line up with the shape of the foam. Center: While the detail work was finished on the base, the lumbar support covering was stitched with the Saddlemen logo. Right: The lumbar support covering and the base covering were sewn together.

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: Next, it was fit to the pan, glued, and stretched into place. Center: The rest of the rivets were installed for the chest pad. Right: A final layer of glue was sprayed on the underside of the chest pad where a thick piece of felt is secured so the pad won’t damage the paint on the gas tank of the bike.

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above, left: A final layer of glue was sprayed on the underside of the seat. Center: The felt was smoothed out and the edges received a few final snips from the scissors for a perfect fit. Right: The finished seat and chest pad, ready to break records at Bonneville!

Saddlemen Custom Seat for Bonneville Salt Flats Bike

Above: The completed custom Saddlemen seat and pad.

Since our company was founded, Saddlemen has been an enthusiastic sponsor of motorsports, whether on the track, or speed record attempts. We thrive on the chance to show what we can do for any machine, as well as the opportunity and fun involved in these efforts.


Article Focuses On Our Proven Seat Construction Techniques

Our friends at recently added an informative article about Saddlemen gel and foam technology and its benefits for comfort, support and riding endurance.

Bikernet Gel and Foam Article

We are always proud and pleased to let the motorcycling public get a look at the materials and know-how that make our seats top-of-the-line.

Real world riding experience, and years of craftsmanship have combined to make Saddlemen a leader in seat manufacturing and custom projects.

Bikernet Logo

Our thanks go out again to Bandit, and the folks at for publishing such an in-depth article about our gel and foam technology.

We at Saddlemen are pleased to share with you what our expertise, craftsmanship and technology can do to make riding more enjoyable.