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​The History of La Rosa Design


Don la Rosa has always been an automotive and motorcycle enthusiast. He built his first custom bike in 1970. A friend gave him a frame and engine and he got to work.

Fresh out of school in 1972, Don started working in the automotive parts manufacturing business.

The journey started with me making fender trim for Mercedes. Then Don started working on Jaguars, then moved on to pickups, and finally onto Peterbilt big rig trucks. Eventually, he began fabricating parts for Custom Chrome, but the relationship was ad-hoc.

One day, in the early 1980’s, one of Don’s friends sauntered into the office with a saddle bag wanting to know if Don could manufacture one that would fit on his bike.

At the time, Don didn’t have much experience working with leather. Luckily, a few of his employees had worked at Nike, and knew their way around the stuff. Within a few months, La Rosa Design (as we know it today) was born. We were off to the races making seats, bags, and all types of Harley accessories.

Here's what the first seat looked like, fresh out of the factory:

And here's a custom set he made for Taco Charlie in the 1990's:

Our main office has always been in San Leandro, California, but when the focus shifted to motorcycle accessories, LRD was manufacturing with factories in Thailand and Mexico.

In 2009, the entire manufacturing outfit was moved to San Leandro. It was important to Don to focus attention on manufacturing here in the US. He always loved living here, so it made sense to him to bring jobs and quality back to the good ol’ US of A.

We’ve had a lot of family in and out of the shop over the years, but we’ve still got some regular faces that have been around since the beginning. Our delivery driver Ray has been with us since 1976!

We’ve also seen our fair share of strong personalities. Don’s always been focused on developing new, quality parts and sales. LRD’s first General Manager used to lock Don out of the office if he didn’t hit his own sales quotas. She’d have someone lean out a window to tell him “get on the street and start selling” before he’d be let back in.

We’re proud of what we do here, and we’re excited to share more about the process in the coming weeks. We’ll be touring the shop, showing you how everything is made here in our office, and breaking down some of our strategies. We’ve even got a secret project in the works that we’ll be able to share soon. Hope you’re looking forward to coming along for the ride!

The Dirtbag Challenge

This weekend, I went to visit a bunch of guys coming back from their Dirtbag Challenge.These guys had just gotten back from a long ride. The Dirtbag Challenge involves groups riding over 50 miles in a day, camping overnight, and riding back the next day. They have regional events all over the place. The SF [...]

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