The Story Behind Duane Smith Custom Seats

Dear motorcycle enthusiast,

When I first got my new 99 Road Glide, I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was. But after a 1200-mile weekend, I decided it was not as comfortable on long rides as I thought, and I needed an Ultra Seat. After a trip to my local Harley Davidson shop, a new seat, and another long ride later, I decided I didn’t like that seat either. So, I returned to the Harley shop again and bought a Sun Ray heated seat this time; 600 miles into my first ride, I didn’t like that seat either.

I rode a combination of these three seats for the next three years. During this time, Butch Donahue asked me if I could cut down a stock seat for one of his customers. I have 30 years of upholstery experience and three of the wood boats I have upholstered have won best in show in the US, so Butch knew I had the necessary skills. I reshaped the foam, reinstalled the cover, and returned it to the Harley Davidson shop. The customer loved his new seat. The next time I was asked to reshape the seat and install a gel pad. And that’s the story of how I got started in the motorcycle seat business.

man with motorcycle

custom motorcycle seat

custom motorcycle seat

Personally, I never liked the gel pad inserts. I could feel the difference between the stock foam and the gel pad. In addition to the glue line, the combination of the foams created a hard line in the seat. As I’m sure you can imagine, that makes riding long distances painful. I had heard about memory foam, but it’s not designed to support a 200-pound rider sitting on a 100-square-inch seat. So, I continued my search for the materials to make the perfect long-distance motorcycle seat. Finally, I stumbled upon a company that made memory foam in many different densities. At last, I had what I needed to make my seats.

First, I installed it in a Road Glide seat. That seat was much better, but there was still a hard line from the combination of the glue and the differing foam densities. So, back to the drawing board I went. Next, I decided to take the top 1″ off the stock foam and then laminate the memory foam in to replace the 1″ of foam that had been removed. Then I put the cover back on and went on a test ride. Wow, I finally had a great seat. There was no hip pain, and I could ride long distances without discomfort.

I now remove the top 1-1.5″ of stock foam and then laminate the memory foam over the entire top of the seat except the front 3-4″. This takes the seat back to its original dimensions. After the final shaping and sanding to blend the stock and memory foam together, we can reinstall the original stock cover or make a brand new, all-leather cover that looks like stock or has any type of design you want. This is also where we can adjust your seat to better fit your individual body type. See our Foam Shaping and Modification page for different options.

I won the mileage award from Crow River Harley Davidson in 2008 with 26,840 miles in 6 months. I touched every state west of the Mississippi River in a 6-month period. In 12 days I rode 7,962 miles with four 1,000+ days.

I have been a professional upholsterer for 40 years. In the years from 1999 to 2008 I have owned 5 bikes and put a total of 161,339 miles on them.

1999 Road Glide ridden for 5 years 86,240 miles.
2003 Road Glide ridden for 5 months 5,429 miles
2006 Road Glide ridden for 1 year 26,470 miles
2008 Road Glide ridden for 14 months 29,740 miles

In other words, I love to ride long distances, I love to see what is on the other side of the nearest hill and live for 1000-mile days. That’s how and why I know what makes a good seat, and I use that experience to build you a great motorcycle seat.

Custom motorcycle seat

2022 update

Since the original publication of this website in 2009, I’ve purchased adventure bikes and have been adventure riding. This experience has given me an even greater understanding of seats and how they are designed to make riding even more comfortable. So, check out my gallery, and then give me a call to get started on your new seat. Happy riding!

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