Cowhide leather and related materials come in various thicknesses, and is often stored in roll form. In center, a roll of closed-cell 1/4" thick padding, used as cushioning for seat pans.
This bottom piece of leather is secured to the seat pan and held in place by large washers and nuts. It will later be stitched together to the tooled top piece.
A top and bottom piece of tooled leather will be stitched together over this seat pan with lacing along the outer edge.
When considering a custom made leather seat to add to your motorcycle project, there are certain key words you may want to familiarize yourself with. The way in which it is crafted directly affects the lifespan and quality of that seat. As such, materials are key to an overall beautiful valuable leather seat; it is not only the quality of the work that appears on the leather and lace itself. Underneath and within are also extremely relevant in order to preserve that craftsmanship.
There are three components to a solo seat that are worth becoming familiar with if you are not intending to craft the seat yourself. In today's market there is fierce competition and online sources galore such as You tube videos about who all make these seats. By knowing what key words to look for when you read a description about a potential seat you are interested in, you can have an expectation as to how long it will last, not to mention what is exactly meant by quality. The three components I pay attention to consist of the seat pan itself, the foam padding inside and finally the leather covering on the outside.
Seat Pans come in a variety of metals or other hardened materials and shapes. Ideally, if it is metal, you want it not to remain bare but protected by a layer of paint to offset any potential rust or chemical breakdown. You will want to consider one that rises towards the back, as you will quickly realize what gravity can do as you sit accelerating, slowing down or rising up and down according to the condition of the road! And, as well, there is style preference to consider - the "old school" style for example may include the larger seats of the older heavier cruisers, or the show bike choppers... The choices are alive and well online and limited only by the time the buyer takes to find them. Hardened steel, traditionally, is my favorite. You will expect to find four "studs" or bolts coming out the bottom. Towards the front it is common to find two lined up front to back that may fasten to a narrow slide piece of metal that then fastens to the frame towards the front. They may be two about 6 inches apart (side to side) which commonly holds two springs or a solid metal plate from which a solo shock absorber may attach to. There are a variety of arrangements but know that you can either purchase a bare bones solo seat pan unpainted that will needed to be welded or holed for which to add them later, or will come ready to be attached to a given frame.
The foam padding is relevant in the prevention of moisture, mold and mildew. Key words to look for or to ask the craftsman about are "closed cell" foam, and/or neoprene. Neoprene is a highly resistant rubber-based product that is among the best materials suited for this job. It is often used in industrial applications because of its resistance to solvents as well as mold and mildew. "Closed cell foam" means the surface area is made up of individually closed tiny "bubble-like" cells. This is what keeps out unwanted solvents, as well as moisture, and mildew during times where your bike may be exposed to rain or wet weather. In applying cushioning to a seat pan, they are often of the 1/4" thickness but range 3/8" to as much as a 1/2".
As for the leather, there are many types available; from cowhide to alligator. all have their individual thicknesses. Cowhide may be used, and (when used for solo seats) is often rated at the 7-8 oz or 8-9 oz. range of thickness and referred often as "vegetable tanned tooled leather". Keep in mind there may be other hides that may use a much lower number of oz. simply because of its durability under similar circumstance. Key words are the number of oz or thickness of the leather. all leather is measured in thickness. They are always referred to as a range since leather thickness will vary from lot to lot due to composition of the particular piece. Thus, the typical cowhide for most custom seats are in this range of 7-8 oz or 8-9 oz.
Armed with this rudimentary knowledge you will be informed and confident enough to ask the potential craftsman relevant questions as to the quality of the piece they represent if it isn't already mentioned in their descriptions or demonstrations on video... You can, thus, be assured of a quality product you are giving your hard-earned money for that goes far beyond how well it may appear in a picture. It translates to a highly loved and admired product that can last a lifetime!
The underside of a "La Rosa" seat pan, which features its easily-identifiable brand name logo riveted in place.