Regular readers may recall I had the saddle on our Road King CVO re-worked by Marietta Trim Shop back in February. Marietta Trim shop did a great job of turning the saddle around in just a couple days so I’d have a comfortable ride down to Daytona. However, as mentioned in my 28 Feb blog entry on the saddle, once I had it back on the bike I noticed the leather and pleather cover was a bit lopsided. To be candid, the entire saddle cover was cockeyed in about four different ways so there really wasn’t any way to get it squared-up on the foundation and bike. It’s a pretty sad statement about the quality of the Harley-Davidson workmanship and I’ve seen this type of shoddy work before on a Harley-Davidson Rally Runner saddle that I bought for our Wide Glide (and returned) which had a cockeyed and off-center bar & shield logo / center trim piece. So, here’s what the nose of the saddle looked like from the factory; not exactly symmetric and it’s not an optical illusion or anything Marietta Trim did since they put the cover back on the same way it came off; it’s the way the saddle cover was made in the first place. So, given I’m still wrestling with a sinus infection and taking a fist-full of meds that kick my butt in the energy department, I decided to clean up some rust in a few spots on the Road King and, since I had the saddle off for one of those, I took that opportunity to strip-off the saddle cover and attempt to “true-up” the cover at the saddle nose. Again, from the February blog entry, here’s what was removed from the saddle: And, here’s what the replacement section looks like with the cover pulled back a bit. I should have probably taken more photos while I had the entire cover off to show what a moisture barrier “shouldn’t” look like if it’s been properly re-installed as well as some of the other under-cover details. But, I guess I was more focused on the job at hand than documenting the process. Reworking the saddle cover was pretty easy, so long as pulling out 100 staples isn’t your idea of work. Once all of the staples were out it was just a matter of pulling off the cover, inspecting the foundation and moisture barrier and then reinstalling the cover such that it would look more centered at the nose. In pulling off the cover I did discover that the moisture membrane wasn’t where it was supposed to be. It may have shifted under the cover during use, or it could have been installed without a lot of attention to detail. Either way, it was going to take a little tweaking and the addition of some other clear moisture barrier material. The foam foundation also needed to be re-affixed to the seat pan in a few places, but this was all normal “housekeeping” work while I was under the cover. Once I had the foam foundation reaffixed and the moisture barrier covering all of the foam I turned my attention to getting that leather cover skewed at the nose so that it would appear to be square once the saddle was installed on the bike. As if to prove the point of just how screwed-up the cover was from the factory, here’s how much I had to tug, pull and off-set the cover to the left (your right, as viewed here) so the nose would look symmetric; yeah… that’s a lot of “skewing” and it looks pretty ugly from the bottom side of the saddle. Kinda wish I had some black felt backing fabric and adhesive spray to cover the staples and interior of the saddle (and I may still do that), as it’ pretty nasty-looking. But, as it turns out, as screwed-up looking as the saddle is off the bike, those foam and leather cover contortions were exactly what was needed. As you can see, once the saddle is installed on the bike it “looks” like everything is symmetric at the saddle nose (even though it really isn’t!). So, I should be able to check the box on that one. I thought about trying to “fine tune” the pillion saddle to get it all squared away, but decided it was “close enough.” After all, the leather insert on the rider’s saddle is still a bit cockeyed as is the “Road King” logo that’s embossed on the saddle cover.
I can also now see why the aftermarket saddle business is so lucrative: it’s about the only way to get a “good saddle”. And, I should note, this isn’t unique to Harley-Davidsons. My BMW has a custom saddle as did just about every other motorcycle I’ve ever owned. You see, even when the fit and finish of a BMW or Honda saddle is spot-on for the bike, they’re often pretty awful in the rider fit and comfort department, especially if you’re a slightly smaller than average or taller than average rider. I’m in the former category, not the latter. Seriously, perhaps this is my calling for my post Corporate gig retirement, making custom motorcycle and bicycle saddles! Lord knows it’s hard as can be to find a good bicycle saddle so once someone has a good saddle, perhaps there’s a market for “refreshing them” vs. replacing. Motorcycle saddles; there will always be a need!