Along the timeline from first-time rider to longstanding Iron Butt Association member is a lot of learning and a lot of bike tweaking. A reputation for being road-worn and battle-weary might have come along with motorcycle enthusiasts since the 40s but nobody likes riding on a plank.
When it comes to motorcycle seat comfort, everyone’s looking for something that makes your butt feel as free and secure as being on a bike makes you feel. That said, not everyone really understands what goes into bike ergonomics and finding a balance between comfort and utility.
In the modern age, numerous computer models and programs have been used to decrease tension. Studies and doctors have reviewed the lingering pain and made some recommendations.
This guide will walk you through what to consider and what to know when making a choice in seats.
Motorcycle Seat Comfort
The longer you sit, the worse it can get. This isn’t about fortitude or endurance, it’s about strain. There’s a right way to sit and a wrong way. The wrong way will end poorly much faster.
Your seat needs to support the ride so that you don’t have to support yourself with muscles better left for other activities.
This is a two-part concern. First, a comfortable seat keeps you in better posture for longer, meaning longer before you start to strain. Second, the placement of a seat lets you focus on the ride so you can enjoy the sites and the experience.
The ergonomic design of seats hasn’t come easy nor by accident. A lot of effort has been put into understanding posture for optimal riding no matter your bike design or preferred riding style.
Best yet, with form comes functionality. A seat that performs well and delivers on comfort can take on any look or design you want. Colors and materials for covers are your choice, the mechanics inside perform no matter the exterior.
It’s easy to think of your seat meat as one thing. A single continuous muscle that does one thing. That’s not really the way the human body goes about working.
Even your arm is a series of back and forth levers connected in between with ligaments and the like.
Your glutes pull together muscles from the back, anchor portions of the larger muscles in the legs, and also wrap around to give your hips power and control.
That’s why even a small imperfection in a seat is such a problem. Chairmakers in the days before mass-machinery had to get seats to tolerance or it would quickly hurt.
The padding in a motorcycle seat needs to work in a more versatile way. It needs to adjust and provide as much comfort when you are centered as when you lean for a turn or sit forward to brace for a stop.
Not only does a seat need to take and distribute weight, it also needs to maintain temperature and breathe. Nobody wants to sit on a solid, smooth chunk of something for too long. It gets warm and then it gets wet.
Moisture, in particular, leads to chafing, or worse. So a seat needs to bend, support, and breathe enough to take what you send it and still do its job, hour after hour, mile after mile.
Comfort goes beyond mechanically keeping the body in a useful posture. Much like you find in mattresses, no amount of “orthopedic whatever” matters if you hate the thing.
Some people enjoy a soft mattress, others need something just a touch squishier than the floor. Comfort is about delivering a feel that you prefer, and that also delivers with functionality.
Comfort is also a point on a line over time. If you take an evening ride after work and do a loop, you want maximum comfort to enjoy that time. Something soft and pliable that cradles and shapes to your contours.
For a long-haul ride, you want greater firmness that won’t have you riding on your tailbone after a few hundred miles.
Some of the elements of comfort come from how you are seated, the positioning of your handlebars, pegs, and seat all make a difference in your resting posture.
A major factor in the ergonomics that relate to your most comfortable motorcycle seat is your riding style.
A standard seat puts more strain on your legs, hips, and back. Standard seats also provide more overall control and keep you alert. Short rides often demand more focused concentration and a standard seat gets you there.
The cruiser style offers that back support and eases the load on your legs. You have to watch out for strain in the shoulders while leaning back and still gripping the handlebars. This laid back position certainly distributes weight better and lets you ride longer without strain, but it can put you in a complacent position when it comes to making hard turns or sudden stops.
An ergonomic, comfortable motorcycle seat built for cruiser style riding needs to offer support when putting in the miles and be solid for the times you need to lean in and navigate carefully.
The shape of a seat is pretty much set by the function it needs to perform. You can’t exactly go small for a rustic bike and expect it not to still feel like a rustic ride. A comfortable seat need not be huge, but it will be larger and have a higher profile. Weight is another thing to consider, a comfortable motorcycle seat may not weigh as much as a car seat but there’s some definite heft inherent.
The seat construction allows you to upholster and accessorize however you prefer. Standard seat covers tend to fit the majority of bikes but if you have a custom job or a limited run bike, you may need to tailor up the covers as well.