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What is a Motorcycle Saddle?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated Jan 27, 2024
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A motorcycle saddle is a term given to a motorcycle's seat. Lending terminology to the moniker of the iron horse, a motorcycle saddle gives the rider a soft and comfortable place from which to control the motorcycle. Typically constructed from high-grade leather and frequently adorned with stainless steel conchos and similar ornamentation, the motorcycle saddle can be used to set one rider's bike apart from the many other similar motorcycles. The motorcycle saddle is available with many options to suit the rider's needs and is offered in a solo style for the single rider or in a dual version for the rider and a passenger.

Early motorcycles used a spring-mounted seat similar to that found on a bicycle of the times. The seats required spring-mounting systems due in part to the rigid style frames that were common on early cycle designs. As the motorcycle evolved and became less utilitarian, so did the motorcycle saddle. Soft padding and subtle leather replaced the flat steel seat pan and the thin leather covering. As motorcycle design evolved to include springs and shock absorbers, the motorcycle saddle began to feature over-padding and backrests to aid in rider comfort.

Seat design itself differed from manufacturer to manufacturer. Early American manufacturers such as the Indian Motorcycle Company and the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company employed a dual seat that resembled an over-sized solo saddle. This type of motorcycle saddle was comfortable for the operator, but was often considered uncomfortable for the passenger due to the extra-wide rear portion of the seat that made leg positioning extremely wide. Japanese, Italian and British motorcycle manufacturers designed a motorcycle saddle that was longer than a solo style seat, however, it remained narrower to allow for more comfortable passenger seating.

During the height of the 1960s chopper craze, motorcycle saddle seats took on an entirely new style. In an effort to give a better view for the passenger, the King and Queen style saddle was created. This design places the passenger in a higher seating position than the operator so the user can have a clear line of sight over the operator's head. This saddle design was short-lived in part due to the higher center of gravity created by placing the passenger higher than the operator. The propensity for the passenger to be hit in the face with bugs and debris that the operator did not deflect may have helped perpetuate the seat's demise.

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