A world leader in the design and construction of motorcycle seats, Mustang was founded in 1980 by Al Simmons. An engineer by degree and training, under Simmons’ leadership, Mustang grew from a small operation making just a dozen seats a day, to a worldwide leader in motorcycle seat production. Simmons has traveled extensively, listening to thousands of motorcycle riders in combination with his years of riding experience to form the basis of his unique understanding of what riders need and the essentials of seat design to address these needs.
Mustang seats are preferred by motorcycle riders who want comfort, quality, and style from a company that firmly stands behind their products. Each seat starts with a passion for riding and a deep-rooted belief in the tradition of quality American manufacturing. Skilled artisans form each seat by hand using the finest raw materials available for unrivaled comfort and longevity. Mustang’s engineering expertise is complemented by first-rate customer service—all under one roof at its historic New England facility. We reached out to Creative Marketing Director, Undria Davis to learn more about the Mustang brand.
Tucker Powersports: Undria, tell us how the Mustang brand got started and the reason founder Al Simmons decided to start a motorcycle seat company back in 1980.
Mustang Seats, Undria Davis: Al grew up riding, and as an engineer, he saw seats differently than most. He wanted to make a seat that focused on comfort. Al saw an opportunity to improve the riding experience. When you’re comfortable, you can ride more. Isn’t that what we all want? Today we continue to listen to riders and the market to understand nuances of bike models, body shapes, and riding styles, so we create seats that you seat IN, not ON; and that mentality was started by Al.
TP: Mustang’s seats have been made in its Three Rivers, Massachusetts facility since the company was founded. Would you say that’s a source of pride and a significant part of the history of Mustang?
MS: Absolutely! When you walk into the factory, an overwhelming sense of pride, ownership, and even a sense of nostalgia hits you. The factory has been a part of the town’s history since the nineteenth century when it operated as a textile mill. One of my favorite elements of the factory are the original wood floors and brick walls. Walking through, years and years of proud manufacturing just sort of takes hold of you as you see the nicks, dings, and character everywhere in the building. You can’t help but feel that what you do today affects the future and will someday be a part of history. That feeling and sense of pride are channeled into our product, and our customers’ lives every day. We’re very proud of that.
TP: What makes Mustang seats so unique compared to other motorcycle seats on the market?
MS: Mustang Seats has always been about the rider and the ride. Making sure that we improve your expectations of what a good ride feels like and that you feel pride in your bike—all with a standard of quality that’s rare to find today. And, although we’re most known for our comfort, we also realize and celebrate the variety of tastes and needs that exist today; so, over the years, we’ve diversified our offerings to include seats for not only long-haul comfort but also seats better suited for casual cruising and even short joy rides. These seats are also where we showcase some of our more unique materials, stitches, and patterns. One of our ‘secret menu’ items that have a cult following is our custom made to order seats. Start with any seat in our line up, then pick your very own vinyl color, stitch pattern, stitch color and even add a custom embroidery element if you so feel—to make a seat that truly is one-of-a-kind!
TP: These days, the term “craftsmen” is often used loosely, but Mustang is proud of the fact that each seat is made in the United States by true craftsmen and women through a very hands-on process. Tell us more about the Mustang manufacturing process.
MS: All our seats are meticulously designed to make the finest, most comfortable seat possible. There are three core components of every Mustang Seat. Starting with our Baseplates, the foundation of comfort. They are built on 16-gauge steel or marine-grade fiberglass, never plastic, for long-term durability and support. The heart of every Mustang seat is the Foam. The exact shape, angle, and density of every seat is precisely calculated using our proprietary controlled density polyurethane foam formula. Combined with decades of design experience, the result is a no break-in, no sagging, and all-day comfort for rider and passenger. Then, what everyone sees: the Cover, our precision-cut, hand-stitched seat covers are made from the finest materials and cannot be mass-produced. Only an experienced stitcher can make a Mustang a Mustang.
“Understanding what models are on the road, how they’re being ridden, and identifying key improvements will always be a part of our DNA.”
TP: Mustang goes so far as to invite customers to tour its factory and learn how its employees take pride in transforming raw materials into handcrafted seats. What are some of the biggest takeaways one learns from a Mustang factory tour?
MS: Truly, I feel one of the biggest things a customer takes away from the factory tour is a much deeper appreciation for the product and the brand. Walking through the historic factory watching craftsmen and women build every facet and component of a seat—a seat that’s truly a masterpiece—and seeing and realizing that your seat is touched by the hands of 15+ people throughout its cycle through the factory, and it looks and performs as well as it does, truly is a unique experience.
TP: Mustang seats have a reputation for comfort. Are there any recent discoveries, such as new fabrics, stitch patterns, or manufacturing methods that have increased the comfort level for riders even more?
MS: We’re riders ourselves, we stay in touch with the market, and we listen to our customers. This allows us to provide the most effective solution at any given time for that specific case. For example, in 2019, we introduced an unprecedented amount of new stitch patterns. This came from seeing the response we had to our Custom Made to Order program, our brand ambassador program, and feedback from riders themselves.
“… one of the reasons Mustang continues to be successful today is that at its core; we keep it simple. Comfort. Quality. Pride.”
TP: Has Mustang had to evolve because of the changes in the market through the years? Or has the brand remained relevant by continuing to stay the course and produce high-quality seats that customers want?
MS: I think one of the reasons Mustang continues to be successful today is that at its core; we keep it simple. Comfort. Quality. Pride. We need to make seats that improve the ride. We need to make seats that last the test of time mile after mile after mile. And we need to make seats that people will proudly put on their bike. As we all know, our bikes our extensions of ourselves; we can make the most comfortable seat in the world, but if it falls apart and is stylistically unpleasing? Nobody wants that. Nobody needs that.
TP: Mustang produces seats for the V-twin and Metric segments. Are these segments somewhat of an equal focus for the brand? Or is the focus more on one segment over the other?
MS: We pride ourselves in offering a wide variety of seats, no matter what segment. And we will continue to make seats for the bikes riders are riding. Understanding what models are on the road, how they’re being ridden, and identifying key improvements will always be a part of our DNA.
TP: Mustang partners with some famous names in the industry to produce a line of designer seats. Jared Mees, Roland Sands, John Shope, Jody and Dave Perewitz, and Fred Kodlin all have custom-designed seats produced by Mustang. Do you find that these collaborations help inspire new designs and production methods?
MS: Most definitely. At its core, that’s the reason these partnerships exist. We love collaboration, and we respect true talent. We collaborate with like-minded individuals and companies who are driven by pushing the limit, have a high degree of creative talent and drive. Sharing the mentality to always be improving and seeking new designs, new ways of doing things is not only invigorating to us working here; but the intent is for that passion to be evident with the consumer by the product they’re buying and installing on their bikes.
TP: Another significant aspect of Mustang’s seat development are field events. The Mustang crew attends events throughout the year, which enables them to get out and speak with riders who are using the product in a real-world setting. Would you say this an essential part of designing and manufacturing a relevant product that customers want?
MS: More than significant—it’s integral. There are a variety of ways to collect voice of the customer, but events are one we place high up there for several reasons. Not only do we get invaluable insights straight from our customers and general riders alike, but we also get to interact on a personal level with our customers! We get to have face-to-face conversations. We get to see your bike and learn why you ride this model over that. We get to hear about your cross-country adventure and how amazing your seat was (because you already have a Mustang) or how horrible it was (because you don’t have a Mustang yet) and then we get to help you pick out the perfect seat for your ride home. Recently we’ve injected some new events into our schedule including American Flat Track events, and less traditional, more craft bike shows to ensure we’re speaking to as many riders as we can.
TP: A motorcycle seat is often an item a rider takes for granted until they log long miles in the saddle. A lot of the testimonials we’ve read about Mustang seats is that they are a game changer when it comes to rider comfort. Would you say customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth testimonials are a considerable part of the Mustang reputation?
MS: Of course! I remember a rather fun pow-wow with Marilyn Simmons (Business Development Director and Founder, Al Simmons’ sister; since retired) where she was showing me file drawer after file drawer and box after box filled with handwritten notes, personal photos, and testimonials she had collected over the years. It was truly a brand loyalty solidifying moment for me. Hearing the first-hand experiences of what our products meant and mean to our customers was unforgettable! Following Marilyn’s lead, we have continued to utilize customer testimonials in our marketing messaging, specifically social media. We love to feature customer’s rides—so keep ‘em coming!
TP: We imagine there are quite a few interesting reads among all those years of collected customer testimonials. Any fun ones you’d like to share?
MS: You’re right, there are many that come to mind, but what sticks out to me more so than just one story is the overwhelming commonality and shared sentiment of just falling in love with riding all over again. Hearing that we’re contributing to the enjoyment of riding and allowing for more of it to happen in peoples’ lives is what stands out to me the most.
“We’re riders ourselves, we stay in touch with the market, and we listen to our customers”
TP: What’s a fun fact about Mustang Seats that fans of the brand probably don’t know?
MS: Most people think the Mustang in our name only refers to horses, or more pointedly, the flying horse in our logo. And while there’s an element of that because some of us equate a feeling of flying when we ride, in reality, Mustang used to be a motorcycle brand, like Indian or Harley-Davidson in the late ‘40s, ‘50s and early ’60s, and we picked up our name from that. There wasn’t a lot of them made, but owner Al Simmons was a collector!
TP: Undria, we appreciate you allowing us to learn more about Mustang. If there’s anything more you’d like to share about the brand, go right ahead.
MS: Mustang will be celebrating 40 years of business next year, and we didn’t get here by accident. Always improving and finding inspiration in every day keeps us hungry and keeps our customers some of the happiest, friendliest, and satisfied on the road. We look forward to what the future will bring!