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Chances are, your stock motorcycle seat sucks. The cheaper alternative is a seat pad, but what’s the best motorcycle seat pad for long rides? In this post we give you some options to provide relief.
Why Use a Motorcycle Seat Pad?
If you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle, then you’re aware of how uncomfortable the seat can be, especially when you’ve been on the seat for a while. Most motorcycle manufacturers tend to focus on the build and mechanical-specific features of the bike rather than the comfort-ability of the rider (or passengers when your riding two up).
Because of that, most of the OEM seats on motorcycles are uncomfortable.
Can you just buy a new seat? Sure, but be ready unload some big money.
That’s why you should consider purchasing a comfortable seat pad to place on your motorcycle if you’re planning on going for a long ride. It can be difficult to choose the best one for you, so here is a buying guide to help you decide.
In a Hurry?
If your short on time and trying to find the best motorcycle seat pad that’ll work for you, use the links below to check selections that are available on amazon. Quick comment about the using the product.
Best Motorcycle Seat Pads for Long Rides
- Why Use a Motorcycle Seat Pad?
- Best Motorcycle Seat Pads for Long Rides
- Motorcycle Seat Pad Buying Guide
- Different Types of Motorcycle Seat Pads
- Benefits of Using Motorcycle Seat Pads
- Factors To Consider When Purchasing
- How to keep a Motorcycle Seat Cool
- Editors Choice: AirHawk R Cruiser Motorcycle Seat Pad
- Recap of Choices
Motorcycle Seat Pad Buying Guide
If you’re just getting started, here’s a few things you’ll need to know about motorcycle seat pads. There are different types and they’re not all created equal. Of course everybody is different in their looking for comfort. Some swear by using a beaded seat but I can’t stand them.
Different Types of Motorcycle Seat Pads
Gel Seat Cushions
Gel seat cushions are simply a polymer based gel style cushion (similar to some office chair products) that are designed to relieve pressure points. Here’s a few pros and cons:
Pros of gel seats
Softer compared to foam or even wood beads, they can relieve pressure points or trouble spots for some riders. Next to using an air cushion, a lot of riders prefer using gel.
Gel seat cushions do have a few issues to consider. After long periods of riding, they tend to flatten out (or crush) and don’t provide support.
They can also be heavy and tend to retain heat. Gel is often incorporated into the seat itself by some manufacturers which is where gel works best rather than being a topper seat pad.
Personally customized seat are great, but expensive. Plan on spending in the neighborhood of $1k for a rider/passenger seat combo. Motorcycle Seat Cushions are an inexpensive alternative.
A lot of riders like and recommend sheepskin seat pads because of their ability to regulate body temperature. Which seems a bit counter intuitive, but if it works for sheep…
Sheep skin seat cushions are soft and because of the way they can regulate temperature in both the summer and winter months. They also provide reasonable air circulation while riding. Quality of course depends on how good the sheep skin.
Budget friendly. Wool’s natural ability to absorb moisture wick it away from your skin. Can cut down on vibration and fatigue on long rides.
At the risk of being vanity, they look terrible. Let’s face it, most motorcyclists won’t put anything on their bike that looks horrible. But if you’re strictly a function over style person, no worries!
Just about all stock motorcycle seats (I can’t think of any that don’t use it) use foam for cushioning the interior of the seat. The foam interior and vinyl together can make for a hard seat (specially in cold weather). You can purchase a foam seat topper for an extra layer, but then again that’s how we got here in the first place.
Foam is used primarily because it does conform to your body when you put your weight on it. There are different types of foam on the market such as memory and open cell foam.
Each have their own pros and cons, but basic differences are that open foam is soft and absorbent while memory conforms to the body better.
Seat pads made from foam tend to be more budget friendly. They can be comfortable depending on the type of foam interior. If you’re thinking of a foam cushion pay close attention to what kind of foam makes up the pad.
Foam can compress way too easy which means you lose support and puts your body right back where you started in the first place. Foam tends to be too hard (again, in the cold) and can add height to your motorcycle which can change your ‘feel’.
Air or Inflatable Seat Cushion
These seats use a plastic or polymer on the inside of the seat that contains individual air chambers. Each chamber is connected so that air can pass between each one allowing ‘adjustments’ as the rider moves and shifts their weight. These pads were originally created to help wheel chair patients from becoming sore while sitting for long periods.
The air chamber is surrounded by an outer covering of a breathable material with a non skid type rubber on the bottom of the outer covering.
The idea was then adapted for motorcyclists to help improve their rid.
The air cel technology that these cushions utilize help to distribute your bodyweight evenly on the seat keeps the pressure equalized and painful areas starting.
There really aren’t many. Some riders mention that in higher elevations that the seat loses a bit of air. This is an easy fix, you just pull off the road and blow it back up.
You can only travel only as far you or passengers butt will allow! For me it’s about and hour and a half to two hours.
Not much here. Generally the seat is made up of individual wood (or sometimes plastic) beads. Of course they are very stiff (it’s wood) but tend to be cooler in the summertime (1).
Very budget friendly. You can pick one up for under $20. They are cooler during hot weather. They fit most bikes without any problems.
Your sitting on wood. ‘Nuff said.
Benefits of Using Motorcycle Seat Pads
If you work in a job where footwear is important, then you make the investment in getting a good pair of shoes. The point is that if you’re on your feet all the time it’s worth the money. It’s the same with motorcycles; If you ride a motorcycle for long distances, then it’s worth spending the money for your comfort.
There are three basic benefits to using a seat pad:
- Ride more, stop less
- Blood flow
- Posture support
We’ll take a brief look at each one.
Let’s face it;
The cost of retrofitting your motorcycle with a custom seat or saddle is pricey. In fact, you’d be lucky to get away with only paying around $700 or so. That’s about how much for me to get a “cheap” replacement for my GL1800 seat. Corbin and other custom seats may cost in excess of that and in fact you could pay over 1K for a custom seat.
With that in mind, using a motorcycle seat pad to ‘tide you over’ until you can afford something custom (and stay comfortable) makes sense.
By nature, motorcycles are more dangerous to operate than other types of vehicles, since they don’t offer the same protection for your body that cars and other vehicles do. That being said, you’ll need to focus on the road for the entirety of your trip in order to maintain safety and prevent an accident from occurring.
That being said, it can be dangerous to go on a long ride and not have a comfortable seat, since you can become irritable and focus more on how uncomfortable you are rather than focusing on the road. So having a comfortable seat pad for your motorcycle can make you safer on long rides.
Given that there are so many different bike styles, designs and different personal preferences from motorcyclists on the market, you have the ability to purchase a seat pad that works best for your specific circumstances. You can choose the right type, construction, shape, style, size, design and even the right color.
More Riding, Less Stopping
Theres nothing worse when your riding (either by yourself or with a group) and you feel like you’re constantly having to take a break. It feels like you’ll never get to your destination. The fact is, were ruled by our butt when riding long distances. If your comfortable you’ll be able to stay in saddle much longer and take breaks when you want to. Taking a break every one to two hours is recommended.
Good Seat Cushions Improve Blood Flow
It’s kind of a no brainer; When your sitting down you’re restricting blood flow. A good motorcycle cushion helps to prevent this from happening which in turn goes toward preventing potential medical issues.
Most riders tend to slump over while they ride. Sometimes this is bad habit and sometimes this is to relieve pressure on their pressure points. At the end of the day, it’s not good for your back. When your able to sit comfortable in your seat, you can maintain good riding posture: head up, back slightly arched and your core or stomach still.
Factors To Consider When Purchasing
In addition to deciding what kind of seat pad you want (air cushion, gel, beads etc) there are a few additional items to consider:
- Moisture resistance
- Shape and Size
Let’s break it down a bit.
You’ll want to make sure that you find a motorcycle seat pad that’s able to resist the amount of moisture that it comes into contact with. More specifically to your circumstances, most people ride in warmer months, meaning that the temperature outside is warmer and causes you to sweat more.
Because of that, you’ll want a seat pad that can wick away this moisture and offer good air circulation as well as sufficient ventilation for warmer months. Aside from sweat, you’ll want a seat pad that can resist moisture from the rain, especially if you don’t have a garage. But you should technically be placing your bike under at least some type of storage location to protect it from damage.
Shape and Size
Seat pads come in a variety of different styles, designs and sizes in order to accommodate for the different types of bikes on the market. Because of that, you’ll want to ensure that you have the right size and shape seat pad to fit onto your bike in particular.
The size should be able to fit properly onto your bike, and it should offer adequate support for your body as well. Not only that, but you should also keep in mind the height of the seat pad overall, since some seats are thicker than others. Thicker seats may affect the distance that your body is from the ground, thus changing the way that your body fits on the bike.
Other than the seat’s construction itself, you should consider how easy it is to install the seat pad to the motorcycle. There are a variety of different ways that a seat pad can attach to a bike, so it’s important that you choose a pad that can be installed easily while still offering the protection and stability that you need (2).
How to keep a Motorcycle Seat Cool
The most tried and true way of keeping your motorcycle seat cool is to simply park in the shade. You can identify the new rider when they have a choice between parking in the shade or out in the open and they pick the open area!
Here are few ways to keep your motorcycle seat cool:
- Park in the shade
- Use a mesh seat cover
- Place a jacket, towel or other rag on your seat
- Wear long pants
Editors Choice: AirHawk R Cruiser Motorcycle Seat Pad
Editors Note: I own the Airhawk. You can read our full Airhawk R cruiser seat pad review here
Number one for a reason. The airhawk is recommended by motorcyclists that want a way to cut costs on purchasing a new seat but also want to improve their ride. Overall, its lightweight, durable and provides good ventilation for your posterior.
There are three layers of knit polyester that offer a breathable mesh for riding on warmer days and keep air moving. The air cushion itself is made of individual cells or chambers that can help with pressure points (or any other problem areas you may have) while your riding.
The air chambers are connected so air can move from one chamber to the other to react to your body weight. so that the cell height can react differently to your body in different areas. The amount of air can be adjusted for hardness depending on how hard or soft you want the pad.
The Airhawk is easy to install and come with securement straps. You may not need them as the bottom of the outer cover is rubberized and won’t easily slide off of the motorcycle seat.
- Available in three size options that offer the most customization
- Provides for easy leg passage
- Promotes blood circulation with the interconnected air cells
- Can be inflated by mouth, no special pump needed.
- Can lose air at higher altitudes
Overall, each of these motorcycle seat pads are able to offer you a wide variety of different beneficial features for when you’re planning on riding for a long period of time. They all have the ability to be easily installed, and they all offer air ventilation that can help to reduce the amount of heat accumulation within the seat.
But it can be difficult to choose the best seat pad if you’re not aware of the best overall beneficial features. Consequently, the best motorcycle seat pad for long rides is product #1: the Airhawk R Cruiser Motorcycle Seat. This seat presents an air cushion that can distribute your weight in order to reduce strain and provide pressure point support.
Furthermore, this seat offers an ergonomic design that features a cutout center to provide tailbone relief. Lastly, this seat is constructed using a durable polyurethane material as well as three layers of polyester knit fabric for optimal circulation. Given these features as well as the air