July 1 2013 by Jason Fogelson
Last week, I discussed how you can replace your motorcycle seat in order to improve comfort and ergonomics. The only problem with that option is that it costs a few hundred bucks to start, and that could be more money than you're willing (or able) to spend.
Luckily, there are other, less expensive options.
My favorite option for improving seat comfort is inspired by the mobility challenged. People who are trapped in wheelchairs know that even the most comfortable seat can become an instrument of torture after a few hour's use. A popular seat cushion is the Airhawk, an inflatable cushion that is also available for motorcycle use. Airhawk cushions are designed to equalize "forces over the weight-bearing areas of the body, relieving dangerous pressure points," according to the company's website. Airhawk's cushions run from $99.95 to $199.95, and they come with a 60-day money back guarantee.
Numerous manufacturers produce cushions filled with a shock-absorbing gel, known in the industry as "biker gel." Gel cushions are generally a little bit less expensive than air cushions, but they provide a good layer of comfort that many riders prefer. Butt Buffer makes a line of cushions and covers that start at $55.50. They integrate a cooling technology into their covers that helps maintain airflow, a key to comfort.
Many bikers still cleave to the old favorites, sheepskin seat covers and beaded seat covers. I'm allergic to wool and I can't stand the feeling of synthetic wool, so I've never been a fan of sheepskin, but I can see the potential advantages. Genuine sheepskins are inexpensive, wear well, and provide a cushioned surface that can be quite comfortable for long rides. There are plenty of vendors who sell sheepskin motorcycle seat covers, including Black Sheep Trading, Sheepskin Factory and Alaska Leather.
Cab drivers swear by beaded seat covers. The concept is much the same as the air cushion -- by spreading the load, pressure points are avoided. Beaded seat covers are great in the summer weather, as they promote air flow. My challenge with beaded seat covers is mostly aesthetic -- I think they are ugly, especially on a bike. But if they work for you, you will see the beauty in them. Bead Rider makes model-specific motorcycle seat covers starting at just $37.95. And they make them in basic black, which might help with the hideous looks thing.
Don't suffer another day. Get a motorcycle seat pad, and ride in comfort.