I got up the next morning, had a free breakfast and went out to load the bike up and head out for Anderson, CA to see Rick Mayer. My bike had been almost boxed in by a couple of cruisers overnight, I guess their riders felt the need to be the center of attention
I headed north on I-5 - I couldn’t wait to get the new seat as it was a real chore to get back on it after the torture of the prior two days.
I arrived at Rick’s a little early for an 8:00am start and he met me as I was riding up to his workshop. He has built a great facility to accommodate his ride-in trade. There is a generous workshop and a very nice lounge with high speed wireless Internet, television, drinks and snacks. He even planned a cookout later in the day for those who were riding in for seats. He started my seat after his two employees arrived at 8:00. I took a number of pictures, but Rick asked that I not show how he makes his cuts in the stock foam as it is a trade secret.
He had me sit on the bike while he took pictures, then quizzed me about the issues I was having with the seat. Issues!
I had an entire subscription.
He removed the seats and his crew began stripping the stock covers, retaining the stock heating elements, made the cuts and began building the pan and support foam back to what I wanted. He uses several different densities of foam, building on the stock seat pan and ends up with a superb piece of craftsmanship waiting for a cover.
I chose leather in two different colors, with a mix of gray and blue stitching to compliment the bike. I also had Rick cover the topbox backrest to match. While leather is not as resistant to weather as vinyl, it does breathe and look much better. I have also found that the leather seems to “break in” much better than vinyl. I have not had any weather related issues with prior leather seat covers – you just need to give them a little care. He stitches the seat cushion leather to some backing foam – to hide imperfections beneath the cover and to provide a base for his stitching pattern.
Rick’s craftsmanship shows in everything he does. He carefully stitched the black sides to the gray seat cushions to make a complete cover – ready to install.
He built the rear seat then set the cover on the front foam and asked me to take a ride. We discussed any hot spots or areas of discomfort, and then he built up the foam some more to address them. After I was satisfied with the fit he installed the cover. The seat looked great and the comfort was immediately apparent, despite the fact that my buns were really sore from the last two days riding. The seat is not cheap, but I consider it a real value as the craftsmanship is apparent in every aspect of the seat.
With my seat finished I chose to take care of some email while I waited for a fellow rider coming down from Oregon to ride to A&S Cycles with me, to meet some of the Northern California riders. Rick had already started his next pair of seats for a couple of California riders with later appointments, one on a new LT and the other on an older Road King.
Heading south toward Roseville it was very apparent that the seat was going to solve my comfort issues. Even with prior injury I was no longer at all uncomfortable. I met with a number of fellow community members at A&S, rode over to Raffy’s house and then on to the Elk Grove Brewery for dinner. A fine time, food and spirits were had by all. I had to bid my friends good night and prepare for an early start Sunday morning.
I rode out from Elk Grove on hwy 88 past a decommissioned atomic power plant. Those stacks rising eerily into the air were something to see.
I continued along 88 with its gentle rise in elevation into the Sierras.
I continued on 89 into South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City, where I stayed for the night. I left early Monday morning in a fairly steady rainfall as I headed out toward Salt Lake City. The rain stayed with me constantly until about Wendover, UT. I covered about 600 miles Monday and stopped overnight near Salt Lake City. Onec again the bike was perfect, averaged about 48mpg and now had a perfectly comfortable seat. I only stopped briefly twice for gas the entire day.
The next day was cool and beautiful, with no snow forecast for crossing the Rockies, so I chose to take US40 through Vernal, Steamboat Springs and on to Winter Park before taking I-70 the rest of the way home. The morning I headed out was surreal, with low clouds hanging in the valleys, some mid level clouds and a crisp blue sky directly above.
I arrived in Denver just in time for the evening traffic congestion, still arriving home earlier than I had planned.
The trip was just shy of 3000 miles, with the bulk of the mileage being covered in four days. I have never been as happy with a bike on a long trip as I am with the GT. The miles just melted and I arrived at my destinations each evening with very little fatigue. The supplied luggage, along with the large topcase holds more than the LT did and was a lot easier to pack and unpack each day. The shape of all three pieces of luggage is such that you can really pack efficiently. I used the small BMW duffel on the back seat to hold the bike cover, spare gloves, heated liners and other items I didn’t want to put in the trunk. With over 8,000 miles on the GT I am now satisfied that it is a very suitable replacement for the LT, at least for the way I ride now. If Michelle was still riding on the back, she said she would be as comfortable as she was on the LT now that I have fixed the also horrible passenger seat. While I still feel that the K1200S of a more viscerally appealing package than the GT, it cannot compare with the GT for storage capacity and covering long distances.
I wouldn’t hesitate to take off on a 10,000 mile journey on the GT and I am confident I could pack enough for an extended trip as long as I did a small amount of laundry every week or so.