I ride bicycles a lot. A lot a lot.. The GRiSO OEM seat is not uncomfortable for me, but I'm just 5'9" and 155lb, used to hard bike saddles, so the GRiSO could sometimes feel like a full nappy. And because the Corbin 'gunfighter' seat is kind of sexy on the GRiSO, and the Corbin factory is just an hour south of where I'm living, and Corbin has a custom ride-in while-you-wait service, and seeing as I had the day off, and because I'm flush with a California tax refund - I rode GRiSO to Hollister.
It was a good day out. I expected just a seat factory, but it was really a lot more - the whole experience was cultural, quintessential Americana - the employees are unreservedly welcoming, I was treated as a guest - given the run of the place - I could follow my seat from start to finish. I was told that the factory makes 100 seats a day, but I don't know how. I was there for 6 hours to make my one. It was awesome.
nice windy roads to Hollister, but I straight-lined it down the 101, past farms and the smell of silage via Gilroy (garlic capital of the world). I rocked up, signed in, and parked GRiSO next to a couple of immaculate Harley Davidson 114 police editions.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
One showbike in the lobby was stunning:[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
That's Julio shaping the foam for my seat. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
First go; Julio put the foam on the bike and my arse didn't need that amount of space. So he glued more on. Second go; ride down the road - better, I'm more 'in' the bike, and my reach to the bars is more comfortable, but now the seat's too tight. So he trims more foam off. Julio's worked here for 37 years, and is a perfectionist - it was probably 3 hours of back and forth shaping this seat. No-one has ever paid as much attention to my arse, ever.
Pick a colour. I really thought that I wanted a part-red leather seat, but Corbin red does not match with the SE Rosso. So I went for purple. No I didn't. Beetle wrote black is GRiSO-appropriate. Beetle spaketh, Julio maketh. The Harley's went out with 'baby alligator' embossed leather. They looked great. I loved the snake-skin leather, and could have gone that way but Julio says to me, "funny - you don't look Puerto Rican". [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
One hour for lunch. Wizards cafe on-site! Spot the Britten and a Bert Munro impersonator.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Once the seat is shaped, Julio uses paper and tape to make templates of the foam. The leather sections are then cut, stitched, and embroidered. Anything you want, they can do it.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Bonus: Lightning Motorcycles use space in the Hollister factory. Richard Hatfield introduced himself (CEO) and had ALL the time in the world for me. Totally awesome dude - refreshing to meet a Silicon Valley founder who is not full of self-aggrandizing bullshit. He obviously loves what he's doing. The bikes look awesome - and check out the racing palmares on their website. The video of a Lightning totally dusting a Livewire is hil-arious (like, "byeeee"). So, I want one. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
My seat, nearly there! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
There are plaques on the wall that note Corbin employees with 25, 30 years service. That's remarkable to me. I've flitted about the planet, and worked in a dozen different jobs since I left school. Trapped possums, milked cows, a zookeeper in Auckland for a couple of years. But I've been in the US 25 years now (married a California girl, met her in Dubai), and sometimes I feel asleep to it all. The US has been good to me - I've a wife and two daughters to show for it, but I still feel a kiwi - the voices in my head all have NZ accents, but once in a while I'm jolted out of taking it all for granted. Today was an utterly unexpected American experience - and it was a total treat.
And my seat? Yeah, the GRiSO profile is just sexier with a Corbin;[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
And the voices in my head? Still have Kiwi accents;[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]