Please Be Seated
03/19/2013 10:10AM ● Published by anonymous
Seth Laam's Hand-Built Motorcycle SeatsStory: Amber Galusha Photos: Betsy Erickson
At the end of a perennial-lined drive, tucked amongst fruit trees and a small patch of lawn sits the modest, well-organized space that houses Seth Laam’s cottage business, Laam Custom Motorcycle Seats. The shop, situated just steps from his Cedars Road home, is where Laam has worked for the past year hand-building his signature seats.
Laam, 30, is one of the youngest builders in the business. “I’m the new generation of seat builders,” he says. “I combine old-fashioned quality with the latest in technology.” His combination works. Through word of mouth – mostly online motorcycle forums – Laam has garnered attention from motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide and has gained a reputation for being one of the most respected seat builders around.
“I know what works and I know what doesn’t,” says Laam, who has spent nearly a decade honing his skills in all areas of the custom seat business. A self-taught expert, Laam has worked many late nights under fluorescent lights figuring out how to put the perfect seat between rider and machine.
Having experienced many of his own two-wheeled adventures, Laam knows the stiffness and soreness that can come from being unbalanced in the saddle. “The most common complaint is the forward slide into the tank,” he says. “My ultimate goal is to get somebody balanced in the seat and unload the sit bones. That’s where a lot of the pain comes from.”
When it’s time to hit that long ribbon of highway, Laam’s customers want comfort – they need it. The riders who buy his top-of-the-line seats aren’t weekend warriors; they are true-blue bikers. “They ride to South America, they put their bikes on a ship and go to Australia where they ride for 60 days and put in thousands of miles,” says Laam.
To ensure a comfortable ride every time, Laam asks a lot of questions and considers the rider’s height, weight and inseam measurements. Thumbing through a recent order, he points to a photo of a rider on his motorcycle and says, “Before I build a seat, I analyze the person’s build, I look at how they sit on the bike and check the levelness of the motorcycle.”
Using a function-over-form approach, Laam starts with the original seat – solo, dual or front only – and builds from there. With the skills of a tailor, he measures, marks and hand-cuts a combination of select foams. Then, like putting the pieces of a puzzle back together, he attaches the segments to the seat pan. Once he’s satisfied with the structure, Laam hand-sculpts the seat to give a contoured, one-of-a-kind fit. “With a stock motorcycle seat, a rider sits on the seat. With my seat, they sit in it,” he says. “The rider is nested in the seat, so to speak.”
Laam finishes each seat by meticulously hand-stitching high-grade leather or vinyl to produce a cover with clean, classic, sporty lines. Running his finger along a seam, he says proudly, “I top stitch everything. This is all free sewn.”
The tangible connection he helps build between seat and rider is important to Laam, and so is the personal connection he forms with his customers. From phone conversation to follow up, his dedication to each customer shines through. From initial design to the last stitch, Laam goes above and beyond to provide each rider with the “finest hand-crafted seat ever created.”
When asked if he’s going to stay small and independent, he looks around his workshop and says, “I wake up and I can’t wait to get out here. I can’t wait to call my customers. This is my passion.”