Stiff, black leather or vinyl can make any motorcycle rider sore.
Cruising the countryside on a motorcycle is a wonderful way of experiencing the road. Unfortunately, it’s rarely the most comfortable experience. The motorcycle seats that come stock with new cycles are made to suit the look and price of the bike, rather than the needs of the rider, making “biker butt” a common topic of conversation in the motorcycle community. Although it is certainly possible to get a custom seat made, this is often very expensive. Thankfully, there are ways to make a motorcycle seat more comfortable by adding different types of aftermarket padding.
1. Cover your seat in a sheepskin pad. These pads share the breathability of sheep’s wool, allowing them to remain relatively warm in winter without becoming hot in the summer. Attachment systems differ from pad to pad, but often involve a hook-and-loop system with four corner straps that run under the motorcycle seat. While breathable, these seat pads don’t provide as much cushioning as some others, and may be better suited to shorter rides.
2. Sit on a pad of wooden beads. Although this may seem painful, wooden beads allow plenty of airflow that will keep you cool during a ride. They don’t provide padding as such, but do provide a massaging effect that works to wake up areas of the leg that have fallen asleep over a long ride. They attach to the seat in the same way as a sheepskin — four straps passed under the seat and back through corner loops — and are the cheapest option for adding comfort to a motorcycle seat.
3. Invest in an air cell cushion. Although the most expensive type of seat pad, these offer plenty of comfort and durable construction. They are based on the pads used to avoid bedsores in hospitals. The amount of air in the cells is adjustable via a small valve; this lets the user sit at the most comfortable height and with optimal firmness. These pads don’t strap down to the seat at all, instead relying on the friction of their underside to grip the seat. This can lead them to blow away if you stand up to stretch while the bike is in motion.
4. Install a gel pad. These pads are thick, heavy fabric bags filled with a gel that distributes your weight more evenly over the seat and avoids the discomfort caused by the tailbone pressing against hard seat frames. They can be chilled or heated before the ride, which is useful in winter or summer travel. Although comfortable, gel seat pads don’t offer great breathability, and are relatively heavy. When sitting on one, the rider is also apt to slide slightly from side to side on turns; this can be disconcerting until gotten used to.
5. Strap a foam cushion over your seat. A thick piece of foam, while not especially breathable, will add height for the rider. This can be useful if you feel like you are sitting too low on your motorcycle. They can’t compete with more advanced pads for the amount of comfort offered, but are relatively cheap. Since the foam is relatively stiff, it will catch air easily and must be tightly secured to the seat.