By Ron Lieback
Photos by Jon Beck
Looking to ride longer, safer, and happier? Focus on your butt first. This guide to aftermarket adventure motorcycle seats will help.
Sure you want to ride longer. But two things tend to hold you back—bad weather or being uncomfortable.
You can’t control weather, but you can control one of the largest contributions to rider comfort—your motorcycle’s seat.
Not all seats are perfect, which is, unfortunately, the case for many of the OEM ones. That’s why every year more and more aftermarket motorcycle seats are offered.
Following is your guide to aftermarket adventure motorcycle seats, which has a major goal—to keep you riding longer, safer, and enjoying more time with your ADV bike.
Why is a comfortable ADV seat so important?
When motorcyclists get uncomfortable, the first complaint typically involves a numb behind.
You know what happens next. You’re sliding across the seat to find the perfect spot, trying to awaken numb legs or prevent pain in the tailbone, shoulders, and back.
The moving doesn’t stop, which results in a lack of focus, and ultimately unsafe riding. I learned my lesson over a decade ago while riding far distances on a V-Strom DL1000.
The stock seat had me squirming after about 75 miles. I got so distracted one time that I missed an obvious pothole on the road. Because I was riding off-road most of the day I had my TKC 80 tires around 25 psi.
And that type of low psi and cast steel wheels doesn’t mix well. I tacoed my wheel and ran off the road, luckily not crashing. But it ruined a day of riding.
A comfortable seat would have helped here. The next week’s purchase was an aftermarket seat, and I never went long without the aftermarket seat since.
A comfortable seat can keep the ride positive. The result in added comfort is increased energy and focus, which translates to increased happiness and safety.
5 Essential Traits of a Quality Aftermarket ADV Seat
Following are five traits to look out for when choosing an aftermarket seat.
1 – Sturdy But Flexible Baseplate
Think of this as the skeleton of the seat. Without a strong skeleton, all else fails.
What you want here is a sturdy plate that isn’t too heavy and provides the optimal amount of flex. Fortunately, the majority of adventure motorcycle seats use optimal plastic frames, which are strong enough to not deteriorate over time while providing enough flex to not harshen the ride.
2 – Optimal Shape
Shapes vary dramatically on aftermarket seats, so review info about aftermarket motorcycle seats’ shape. Adventure riders who spend a mix of off- and on-road riding should search for a seat that has a narrow front and wider rear design. This helps keep the legs comfortable while standing, but the butt comfortable while sitting on longer distances.
Seats built for other disciplines such as sport-touring or cruising are much wider all around to keep riders comfortable for only sitting.
3 -Correct Foam
Seats are typically created of foam—high-tech foam that is. Without getting technical, most seat foams are created from a single or multiple layers of open-cell or double-cell polyurethane over a layer of single-foam cell that takes on the shape of the base plate. The double-cell foam is more flexible for comfort, and the single foam is denser for keeping the shape of the baseplate.
The goal is foam that is not too soft or spongy, but forms to your natural shape. This will keep pressure off your tailbone, helping alleviate “hot spots” that cause pain while sitting. Also, research about the longevity of foam used.
Some aftermarkets need a break-in period so the seat foam contours to your exact body. If so, it may be wise to not buy a used aftermarket seat here because the design is already contoured for another rider.
4 – Proper Cover
The cover should not only be durable for miles of use, but also breathable and resistant to the elements.
Durability all comes down to what fabric is used, where the seams are positioned, and the slickness of the cover.
Most fabrics used nowadays on aftermarket adventure motorcycle seats are strong vinyl. Make sure the seams are positioned in places where they won’t be noticeable to the rider (or passenger), such as along the sides of the seat. And watch out for slick cover material; the slicker the material, the more you’ll slide around, which will decrease durability.
The most optimal covers will also be breathable, allowing moisture to not build up and deteriorate the inner material, and resistant to the elements. Not just the wet stuff, but also the sun. Some seats are created with fabric that naturally deflects the sun so it doesn’t heat up as quickly.
Adventure riders who frequent hotter climates like the desert will love the latter feature. The last thing you want to do after trekking through some hot sand is to sit on a hot seat.
5 – Custom Seat Heights
Many of the most modern seats are also available in different sizes: stock, lower, or higher. Seat height is a major issue for many riders.
Shorter riders want the bike lower, and off-road-oriented riders want the seat higher. Being able to alter seat height without touching suspension is another attribute to a quality aftermarket seat.
If you want to ride longer and safer, focus first on your butt. That’s the typical number-one pain point for many adventure touring riders, especially those who ride over 100+ on-road/highway miles during a single day.
All of the above were considered when Touratech designed its DriRide seat technology for the latest adventure motorcycles. This breathable seat was originally developed by Dakar Rally racers with the goal of increasing comfortable on long days in extremely hot conditions. Touratech engineers experimented with different fabrics and base materials to find a solution to maximize moisture transfer away from the body and improve rider comfort.