You can usually find Tim “Vander” Vanderbas chain-smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap beer at his shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. But he’s also working on some of the most artistic and meticulously executed motorcycles coming out of New York.
Vanderbas has been included in prestigious shows from the Brooklyn Invitational to Born Free. He sort of embodies the “built-not-bought” philosophy, and likes to have put his hands on everything he rides. At his shop, Vander Built, we saw some cool motorcycle parts coming together by hand.
Vanderbas walked us through how he makes his motorcycle seats while we paid him a visit. If you’re inspired to take a crack yourself, here are a few bits that might help you on your way:
Seat Pan: If you don’t have the tools to make your own, try starting with a raw pan with foam like this one from Biltwell.
Leather: You can get leather from plenty of places, but I’d suggest checking out Relicate Leather for color matching and custom “Moto Cuts” sizes.
Double Loop Lacing: Tandy Leather Factory offers a book on fancy lacing as well as needles and hole punches. To encourage people to get into the craft, they also have an extensive collection of videos available for free on their site.
If you do attempt to make your own leather and laced seat using Vanderbas’ tips, we want to see it!