I’m at that age where the things I enjoyed when I was younger exert an irresistible pull on me. One result of this is that I bought a 2012 Triumph Bonneville earlier this year. The bike’s styling drew me to it, and its performance and handling reeled me in. But one part of the classic experience needed a serious dose of modern times—the seat, the thin padding of which made it ideally suited for keeping rain off the battery, but not so much for actually sitting on.
There are plenty of companies who’ll sell you off-the-shelf seats, and most of those seats are better than stock. But I like to have more input on my seats than the color of the material, so I sent mine to Bill “Rocky” Mayer at Bill Mayer Saddles in Ojai, California.
BMS uses your stock seat pan, and asks you for some basic information, such as your height, inseam and weight (be honest), how many miles per day you like to ride, and what you don’t like about your stock seat. Taking it a step further, BMS asks for a photo of you, or you and your passenger if you’re ordering a dual seat, on your bike in the riding position—bike on centerstand, feet on pegs, hands on grips. Finally, you use a marker pen or a piece of tape to indicate where the back of your butt hits the stock seat.
I did all this, and boxed and shipped my seat to BMS. Later, I learned I’d misread the instructions about marking the seat, because when it came back the rider’s “pocket” was too far to the rear. Rocky said to send it back and he’d fix it. Not long after that it landed on my doorstep again, this time with the pocket right where I wanted it.
The most common criticism of custom seats is they don’t look right. I’ll admit the BMS seat is not as aesthetically pleasing as the stock seat. It’s not really an issue, though, because I can’t see it when I’m sitting on it. I can feel it, though, and it’s so much more comfortable than the vinyl-covered plank that came on the bike that I can forgive its non-classic profile.
Because BMS uses your stock seat pan there’s no filing, shimming or swearing needed to install it. My basic seat (vinyl cover, no passenger-section mods) came to $444 plus shipping; basket-weave vinyl, leather and other options cost more. Seats for some bikes cost more, too, so contact BMS for the details. Ride-in appointments are available, and it typically takes 3-4 hours to complete a seat.
For more information, call (805) 644-7216 or visit billmayer-saddles.com/BMS.
(This Gearlab review was published in the August 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)