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5 Ways To Make Your Motorcycle Seat More Comfortable

Motorcycle riders range from short to tall, fast to slow, and heavy to light. Each rider has their own personal tastes, so is no true one size fits all motorcycle seat. This leaves many new motorcycle riders wondering how they can make their motorcycle seat more comfortable.

5 ways to make your motorcycle seat more comfortable are:

  1. Buy an aftermarket seat
  2. Choose the right materials
  3. Use better quality foam
  4. Add your own modifications
  5. Change other aspects of your ride

It’s important that your motorcycle is comfortable, as you’ll be spending a lot of time on it! If you’re uncomfortable, especially on longer rides, you’re prone to distraction, which is not good when driving any vehicle. So, below, we’ll go through how you can make your motorcycle more comfortable.

Why Is Your Motorcycle Seat Uncomfortable?

Your motorcycle seat is likely uncomfortable because it may not be tailored to your height, weight and body shape. Motorcycles are mass produced, and there is no one size fits all motorcycle seat. However, your riding position, gear choices and bike setup can also lead to an uncomfortable seat.

Comfort is subjective. One size doesn’t fit all. Motorcycle manufacturers typically design the ergonomics of a machine in accordance to a “typical” user. Just as it is difficult to achieve the correct spring and damping rates for suspension without accounting for the speed, skill, and size of the rider, it’s also difficult to find a motorcycle seat that is “just right.”

Heftier riders of greater weight might see greater benefit from stiffer seat foam than smaller riders. Taller riders might also appreciate a bit more footpeg to saddle room in the cockpit. At the other end of the spectrum, if you have shorter legs, you may prefer a lower seat height to reach the ground more easily.

Lighter riders may even prefer a softer foam so as to sink further into their own comfort zone. As in most areas of motorcycling, your mileage may vary, and it’s difficult for motorcycle manufacturers to cater to all of these needs when mass producing motorcycles. This inevitably leads to uncomfortable seats for many.

Knowing What To Expect

Ergonomics are only one part of the puzzle as well. The surge in popularity in the middleweight dual sport class – your street legal versions of Honda’s CRF450 and the KTM and Husqvarna counterparts and the like – offers more off-road capability than ever previously available in machines that can also be legally ridden on the road.

But while many buyers know what they’re getting into, others who might prefer longer and more relaxed rides can find the narrow, low, and hard seat foams uncomfortable. While they’re well suited to off-road riding, they’re more than a little lacking on a leisurely 150-mile adventure ride through single track and gravel roads.

An Important Point Of Contact

In either event and in any situation, your backside is one of five points of contact with the motorcycle – and the only one that accurately conveys information from both the front and the rear tire to the rider. If you don’t have a comfortable, snugly fitting seat, you lose some of this all-important feel.

Why It’s Important

Finding the right seating position and level of comfort for you not only increases the overall enjoyment of time on the road or the trail, but it also helps in avoiding fatigue. Your body of course works as a system, and a pain in the butt can soon become a pain in the lower back, or between the shoulders.

A poor fit between the legs can also detract a rider’s attention from the road, trail, or track at hand. Comfort is obviously key, but a dialed-in seating arrangement can also make one a better, safer, and more aware rider. So, how do you make your motorcycle seat more comfortable?

5 Ways To Make Your Motorcycle Seat More Comfortable

1. Buy An Aftermarket Seat

There are any number of reputable aftermarket seat companies that offer comfortable alternatives to stock motorcycle seats. However, these do come at a cost, so it’s worth weighing up if your slight discomfort is worth the cost, or if you can fix it using one of the other methods on this list.

Be aware, however, that just as one stock seat doesn’t work for everyone the same is true of a replacement. It’s best, if at all possible, to borrow a quick sit – or better yet a quick ride – on a friend’s bike or at a local dealership equipped a seat you’re considering buying. But that’s not always or even often feasible.

It also bears mentioning that an aftermarket seat that is wider than stock for more comfort can likewise limit those of smaller stature in reaching the ground, irrespective of seat height. Consider that factor before making a purchase.

Most aftermarket companies rely on multiple stages of foam for their touring and long distance customers. Varying grades are common, and the best saddles generally incorporate a layer of softer foam closest to the rider, a much firmer pad in the middle, and a still more resilient cell density at the base of the seat where it connects with the frame rails. However, we’ll talk more about foam soon.

2. Choose The Right Materials

We’ve alluded to the firmness of an off-road oriented seat above, but be wary of falling into the trap of thinking softer foam is going to be preferable for a long haul. What might feel luxurious on a showroom floor could also leave you begging for a break after a few hundred miles out on the open road or on trails.

Ideally, a motorcycle seat provides both comfort and support. Bear in mind that for more performance oriented riding, the proper seat can substantially help or hurt your technique and ability to hold onto the machine. Therefore, ensure you choose the right materials, in terms of foam softness or firmness, but also with regard to cover materials too.

Aftermarket seats within the motocross market are typically offered in a variety of cover materials that range from super slippery to “grippers.” These are covers with added pleats running crossways or composed of suede-like materials that provide more grip. Some of these seat covers can be uncomfortable or even rub against your clothing, leaving you more exposed than you’d like to be!

When selecting an aftermarket seat, it’s best for the most part to stay away from those that include gel inserts. Gel does not handle temperature changes well, and it can lose shape and support over time. After the gel deteriorates and deforms, it’s back to square one. Gel pads also attract and retain heat, which is hardly desirable for most during prime riding season weather.

3. Use Better Quality Foam

But for those more interested in sheer comfort than a competitive edge, the solution generally involves using better quality foam that is shaped to accommodate riders of specific heights and weights.

“Comfort” for some is defined first and foremost as the ability to put both feet on the ground when stopped. Shorter riders often lower their seat height by buying an aftermarket seat, or by cutting down their stock foam.

Foam cell density varies tremendously, with higher quality foam being both springier and (unfortunately) heavier. Cheaper foam will not only eventually collapse from repeated pressure, but may well deform and compress to the point that your hindquarters become all too familiar with the size and location of your frame rails!

Top shelf support for your bottom doesn’t come cheap of course. Multiple layer closed cell foam offers the most comfort and support for long distance rides and more competitive sprints alike, but be prepared to pay higher prices for higher quality.

4. Add Your Own Modifications

Of course, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy replacement seat. With a little planning and patience, a stock seat can be refurbished with new foam and a new cover if needed. Several manufacturers offer straight replacement foam at reasonable prices, precut and formed for a specific installation.

High density foam suitable for fabricating your own motorcycle seat is also available through a number of sources, ranging from a local upholstery shop to online stores. Beyond procuring the replacement foam, the next move is to carefully dismantle your current seat from its base without damaging the cover.

Some are stapled to a plastic base. In which case all you need is a small flat blade screwdriver to pry the existing staples out – and of course a decent quality staple gun for reinstallation. Others use a removable base ring screwed or bolted to a steel base. In either event, simple hand tools will suffice for the job.

Take Your Time

When the stock or existing foam is revealed, it really isn’t exceedingly difficult to reproduce its lines and dimensions with even a simple steak knife with a good serrated edge. It’s not particularly laborious, but it’s not something that should be rushed either. It’s obviously far easier to remove excess material than it is to put it back! Take your time – Measure twice and cut once.

Also, you don’t have to run a manufacturing plant in order to have two- or three-stage foam. Adhesives are readily available that would allow you to build your own custom saddle layer by layer by cementing one to the next.

In fact, a somewhat common and perhaps less time intensive modification is to scallop out a portion of the stock seat foam in the sitting area, then sculpt a replacement from high density foam for only that section.

Don’t Use Memory Foam

With either approach, avoid the temptation of memory foam in lieu of higher density material. For one, memory foam is very susceptible to changes in climate and temperature, and may deform over time. Plus, the “memory” you leave behind can be a rather unappealing visual!

Memory foam is fine for your mattress because your bedroom is climate controlled. Unless you somehow do all of your riding indoors, stick to something more suitable for the task at hand on a motorcycle.

When the foam is formed accordingly and any errant edges trimmed (or even sanded) away, simply reassemble the seat with the base by reattaching the cover over your new foam. Start at the front of the seat and work your way back, slowly pulling it tight as you attach it to the base.

Use A Heat Gun

A heat gun at a low setting or even a hair dryer is your friend when it comes to tricky bends or contours, and also in eliminating unsightly wrinkles. Small imperfections in your installation will likely disappear with the application of heat so long as the cover is pulled tight with all its most important mounting points sorted.

Should your existing seat cover be a bit worn and tattered from weather and heavy use, precut and fitted aftermarket seat covers are often widely available as well, depending on the model of bike you have.  These covers are often of superior quality to stock, and may have additional material strategically located in high wear areas.

5. Change Other Aspects Of Your Ride

A final way to make your motorcycle seat more comfortable is to move around on the seat you already have. Don’t lock into a single riding position. Shifting your weight from one area to another is surprisingly effective in reducing fatigue, and also entirely free. If the ergonomics of your particular choice of ride allows, stand up on the pegs for a slight stretch from time to time.

Also, don’t discount your suspension settings or even your riding gear as culprits for your discomfort. Is your rear suspension set up in the right way for your weight? Too stiff of a preload or compression damping setting can certainly make a ride uncomfortable. Are you wearing proper riding gear, or sequined skinny jeans with shiny baubles poking out of the material, and also poking you back?

Sometimes even a seam in the wrong place can lead to discomfort. And while bell bottoms flapping in the breeze certainly isn’t the way to go, tight and restrictive outer wear can cause blood flow to be restricted, leading to cramps and fatigue. Always ride in clothing that is comfortable in a seated position if you’re going further than the corner store or just out for a 15-minute moto.

Final Thoughts

Motorcycle seats can be uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Manufacturers mass produce various models of bike, and so many prioritize reliability and performance over seat comfort. This, paired with incorrect setup and riding positions, can lead to major discomfort. Thankfully, you can remedy this using any of the 5 ways mentioned above to make your motorcycle seat more comfortable.