Sargent Cycle Products - A Valuable Asset
When you dream about adventure riding, your mind hardly wanders to the “big city” of Jacksonville, Florida. But in those dreams you’ll want to ride in comfort and style….
Meet Mark Todd, owner of Sargent Cycle Products, who, along with his father and brother, has been in the upholstery business since 1935 in Jacksonville’s historic Springfield area. A small yet powerful company, their main focus is on high quality, aftermarket motorcycle seats. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mark and touring their factory; it was fascinating to chat with key employees and learn about the technology involved in their work and the serious thought that goes into their aftermarket saddlemaking— most impressive.
In the ’80s and ’90s, Mark often rode to Daytona Bike Week and Biketoberfest motorcycle rallies, enjoying all that bike culture had to offer. On a ride into the Smokey Mountains with Tom Taylor, he noticed his friend’s seat was in desperate need of repair and asked Tom to ship it to him for reconditioning and reupholstering, an event that spawned the idea of having other motorcyclists ship their seats to Sargent for similar treatment. It wasn’t until later that Mark realized that making completely new and custom saddles, from the ground up, would provide even better quality and ease for his customers.
By offering motorcycle owners a choice of advanced features not seen previously in the market, Sargent established its position as an innovator in the industry under a new entity: Sargent Cycle Products North America. In 1996, the first prototypes were rolled out for the Honda CBR600.
Around that time, Mark met Michelle, who had 10+ years in marketing. After she learned to ride (she calls it the “girlfriend test”), Mark realized that “she was the one.” They married a year later, spent their honeymoon motorcycling Europe, and she’s been an integral part of the company ever since. But during the honeymoon, on an Edelweiss tour of the Swiss Alps, they realized there was a need for adventure touring model saddles. And to this day, they continue to design full custom seats, adjusting and replacing foam, fabric and piping, offering their customers a multitude of choices in upholstery.
Aftermarket saddles are available for Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, HarleyDavidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha. Sargent continues to purchase, ride and tour on different style bikes for seat development. Some adventure touring models include the Yamaha Super Tenere XT 1200, Suzuki V-Strom 650 and the big BMW GSes. It was the GS that was mainly used in development and testing of their patented Zone Suspension Body Contour Technology and Advanced Heat Systems. But one of Sargent’s biggest selling seats of all time for adventure riding is for the KLR 650. This bike is a great, do-almost-anything-on-any-terrain motorcycle, so its popularity is no surprise. And, a seat for the Honda Africa Twin finished R&D this summer and is already available.
If their seat making weren’t enough, Sargent also offers other products such as driver and passenger backrests. Their patent pending EM-5 technology, currently available for the BMW 1600GT/GTL, BMW R1200GS LC/OC and RT, KTM Adventure and the Yamaha FJ09, allows the rider five-way adjustability for perfect placement, with the ease of quick and tool-free adjustment.
Sargent is forging ahead by creating more innovations to accommodate the needs and lifestyles of adventure riders. For example, a seat system that can be transformed from a duo to solo with an aluminum rack that repurposes the pillion’s seat area for more room for luggage.
Now, Sargent is a global leader, and everything is manufactured at their 30,000-square foot facility with a crew of around 30 employees, right here in the U.S. If you want to treat yourself and improve your ride but have no idea where to start, their customer service team will walk you through each step to make sure you’re getting the right product for your style of adventure riding. Buy it and try it—you’ll have 30 days to decide. Sargent is proud of their 95–98% customer satisfaction rating.
Sargent is also a proud sponsor of the ACC parts Mexico Enduro Team, The Dirty Canadians, @TACBIKE, First Ride Up the Divide and Ed Bach. Ed Bach is one man who can certainly attest to the comfort and quality of Sargent saddles; He’s ridden in 103 countries and logged over 225,000 kilometers. Ed says, “The company is a pleasure to deal with. The owner and employees are not just business people, they’re motorcycle enthusiasts. And it shows in their final products, as well as how they stand by their products.” After spending some time with Mark and touring the factory, it’s easy to see why Sargent is a great success. They stay focused on technology, research and a demand for excellence.
If you’re in the Jacksonville, Florida area, stop by the factory. Take a tour, enjoy a coffee, visit the showroom, and see firsthand the commitment to excellence and hometown values executed daily by Sargent’s employees—values rooted deep in the community and which will continue to have an impact on how we ride. Mark Todd was born and raised here in Jacksonville and has a lifelong respect and love for his hometown and he instills those values into every Sargent product.
The company motto is “Never Stop Riding,” and with such a wide choice of comfortable saddles, that’s now easier than ever to achieve. SargentCycle.com