Let’s face it, motorcycle seats can be uncomfortable, especially when you ride long distances. But don’t worry! The good news is that you can upgrade your seat in many ways. Without further ado, the eight most effective ways to make a motorcycle seat more comfortable are as follows:
- Invest in a seat pad (air/water/gel/foam filled).
- Install a wooden bead.
- Replace the seat with an OEM or an aftermarket comfort seat.
- Make your own motorcycle seat.
- Upgrade your current seat with foam inserts.
- Consider a backrest.
- Wear padded shorts.
- Choose the right clothing.
If you want to find out more details about these ideas, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled the best products under one roof!
8 Best Ways to Make a Motorcycle Seat More Comfortable
1. Motorcycle Seat Pads
The cheapest and easiest way to make a motorcycle seat more comfortable is by simply installing a seat pad.
This is an affordable solution, and you can even store the pad on your bike when it’s out of use.
Motorcycle seat pads come in many shapes and materials, but all of them are designed to make your seat softer and/or better ventilated. They can be put on top of the seat, which means they can be installed very easily with some small straps.
What’s more, some of them help absorb sweat more efficiently.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t expect miracles from these seat pads. Let’s face it, many of them feature a “one-size-fits-all” design, which means they don’t fit perfectly on many saddles.
What’s more, they are also prone to shifting around, which can lead to an uncomfortable experience.
Despite their cons, these cushions are still popular among riders!
The most popular motorcycle seat pad designs are as follows:
- Air/water-filled pads
- Gel seat pads
- Foam cushions
- Wooden beads
Take a closer look at each!
Motorcycle air seat cushions are very popular as they are easy to install and inflate. Certain models can even be filled with water!
The main advantages of these pads are their adjustability and an effective pressure distribution.
Reviews typically recommend not inflating these seat pads completely. The main idea behind this is that it leaves space for air to move around in the pad.
This means that when you sit on the saddle the pressure distributes the air between the pockets. Although this sounds good, not all riders like this solution and instead prefer to completely inflate the pad.
Gel Cushion Pads
Gel motorcycle pads are also known for their great comfort and pressure distribution. This technology comes from the medical industry, which ensures high quality and health benefits.
Some of these pads feature both gel and foam to provide the most comfort available.
The gel liquid in these pads is often water-based, which means the lower temperature causes these pads to become stiffer. They also can’t handle very hot temperatures, especially with high humidity.
If you leave your bike in the sun, the gel saddle can effectively absorb and keep the heat. As you might assume, the last thing you want on a sunny day is to sit on a hot saddle!
What’s more, certain gel motorcycle seat pads are also prone to leaking and losing their shape as they age.
Foam Motorcycle Seat Pads
As the name implies, foam seat pads are filled with shock-absorbing foam. Besides the regular models, you can find more and more foam pads made of memory foam.
Although they seem very comfortable, memory foam is not the best choice as it’s very sensitive to temperature.
The key advantage of foam pads is that they don’t leak like their water and gel-filled counterparts.
A sheepskin motorcycle seat cover is exactly what it sounds like, a piece of sheepskin! It’s designed for temperature control, but it can also make the surface of the seat slightly softer.
This amazing material provides a warmer surface in winter while helping to keep the seat cooler on sunny days. This surprises many riders as sheepskin seems to be very hot at first glance, but in fact it’s just the opposite.
The secret of sheepskin covers is that they offer excellent air ventilation while quickly absorbing sweat and water. This comes in handy on longer tours!
Thanks to this feature, sheepskin can effectively prevent “monkey butt” since it keeps your skin dry.
(“Monkey butt” is an infected diaper rash, which is a common problem of many motorcycle riders who cover longer distances.)
Be careful when you purchase a sheepskin cover, making sure that it’s an original one. There are many fake sheepskins out there that do more harm than good!
2. Wooden Beads
Seat pads and wooden beads are often classed together, while others claim that wooden beads are a pure class. Wooden beads first appeared on car seats in the late ‘80s.
It doesn’t matter how much we categorize them beaded motorcycle pads are also used in the same way as any other type of cushioned pad.
But unlike its soft brothers, wooden beads provide a very hard surface. It’s actually made of many little wooden balls, which have gaps between them.
The main advantage of this design is it can greatly increase airflow and sweat absorption.
What’s more, the little balls give a nice massage to your muscles, which can help you to stay awake.
However, wooden bead covers are very divisive among riders. Some love them while others find them very uncomfortable.
Finally, it always comes down to personal preferences!
3. Invest in a New Seat
If you are looking for something more comfortable and stylish, you should consider replacing the entire seat.
For your convenience, there are a plethora of aftermarket and OEM motorcycle comfort seats to choose from.
They are typically softer and made of higher-quality materials than stock seats.
Since they are bike-specific you can be sure that your new seat will fit on your bike perfectly.
Another hidden advantage of aftermarket motorcycle seats is that many of them feature a different design that offers more room for your passenger.
But be careful, as some of these seats come with integrated gel pads.
As we’ve discussed, gel cannot handle extreme temperatures and lose shape as time flies by.
If the integrated gel pad deforms and becomes uncomfortable, this means you will have to recover the entire seat.
4. Build Your Own DIY Motorcycle Seat
Let’s face it, aftermarket and OEM comfort seats are very expensive.
But if you like building you can consider making your own DIY seat from scratch. This is one of the best ways to customize your bike and have a lot of fun!
It also makes sense if you are looking for something special. For instance, if you can build a café racer, you can make a custom seat for it based on your needs.
5. Recover Your Seat
If you are not familiar with upholstering, but your seat needs to be recovered or upgraded don’t worry.
Custom seat manufacturers can also upgrade your current seat by installing aftermarket covers and foam inserts on it. Reupholstering a great way to make a stiff motorcycle seat more comfortable, or to recover the aged foam in an older seat.
Just find the best setup that meets your requirements/budget, and get the installation done by a professional.
If you want to do it by yourself, there’s a great video on how to soften a motorcycle seat:
6. Consider a Back Rest
If you want to make your motorcycle seat more comfortable, why not install a backrest on your bike?
Contrary to popular belief, backrests on motorcycles are not only for passengers! You can find many of them that can be installed directly behind the driver.
Some of them can be mounted directly to the frame, so you don’t have to cut the current seat to install them.
Motorcycle backrests come in many sizes and shapes, and they are typically adjustable as well. Sadly, they don’t fit on many types of bikes.
Another lesser-known way to increase seat comfort on a motorcycle is equipping it with a “backrest travel pack.”
This special product is actually a large bag and a backrest in one!
You can simply place it on the pillion (passenger seat) and the front of the bag will work as a large backrest. This bag fits well on bigger touring motorcycles with a trunk.
The only drawback of this product is that you can’t use it if you want to ride with a passenger.
7. Wearing Padded Shorts on a Motorcycle
If you want to make your saddle more comfortable but you are on a budget, you should take a look at padded bicycle shorts.
Wearing bicycle shorts on a motorcycle seems like a crazy idea, but you would be surprised at how many riders do it. They typically remain invisible under riding pants.
Yes, they look stupid but surprisingly do a very good job!
These shorts are made of skin-friendly materials and don’t move around, so wearing them is very comfortable.
What’s more, they are very versatile, as you can wear or remove them based on your needs. Compared to comfort seats and pads, these shorts cost you virtually nothing.
Why not give them a try?
8. Choose the Right Clothing
Finally, make sure that you ride in proper motorcycle pants.
If your clothing doesn’t fit perfectly or is made of poor materials it can drastically reduce your comfort.
Do Gel Pads Work on Motorcycle Seats?
Yes, gel seats and gel pads on motorcycles do a good job as they are very comfortable. However, they have some disadvantages as well, which are as follows:
- Can shift on the saddle
- Prone to leaking
- Lose their shape while aging
- Absorbs the heat in the sun, which results in a very hot surface
Is Memory Foam Good for Motorcycle Seats?
As a rule of thumb, regular memory foam is not the best choice for motorcycle seats. Why? This is because the temperature heavily affects its density.
In a bedroom, the temperature is typically controlled, which is why memory foam can be used in beds. But since motorcycles run outside, the uncontrolled temperature can lead to various issues.
In cold weather, memory foam motorcycle seats are prone to hardening up while in hot weather they become too soft.
Therefore, experts don’t recommend memory foam saddles!
What is the Best Material for a Motorcycle Seat?
Many riders say that the best material for motorcycle seats is still foam.
Unlike gel seats, it’s much less prone to aging and also doesn’t get too hot if you leave your bike in the sun. You also don’t have to worry about leaking.
That’s why the majority of stock seats are still made of foam!
Are Bobber Seats Comfortable?
It’s sad to say, but bobber seats are less comfortable compared to the larger seats of many touring and ADV motorcycles.
This is because bobbers typically come with a smaller diamond-shaped seat, which features less padding.
What’s more, if you are a big guy you may find bobber seats too small!
Are Motorcycle Spring Seats Comfortable?
In the past, spring seats were much more prevalent, especially on hardtail motorcycles, to give the rider at least a little comfort.
Unlike their vintage ancestors, the newest motorcycle spring seats are far more comfortable. Today, you can see spring seats on many soft-tail motorcycles as well.
If you are in the market for a spring seat, you have to pay attention to the size of the springs. Springs that are too soft will easily bottom out but if they are too hard they won’t dampen much.
The major drawback of this design is that you can accidentally slide off the back, especially if the rear of the seat isn’t curved up.
What is the Most Comfortable Motorcycle Seat?
There’s no question that the most comfortable motorcycle seats can be found on the largest touring bikes like Honda Gold Wing, Indian Roadmaster, and Harley Road Glide Limited.
The seats of these bikes offer great comfort for the operator and the passenger as well!
Why are Motorcycle Seats so Expensive?
Motorcycle seats are expensive because this is a very small market, and the low production numbers keep prices high.
What’s more, many motorcycle seats are made by hand, which also contributes to the hefty price tags.
But let’s face it, besides seats virtually any aftermarket motorcycle part is very expensive!
Who Makes the Best Custom Motorcycle Seats?
Many riders say that the best custom motorcycle seats are made by Danny Gray, Corbin, Billmayer-Saddles, Saddlemen, and LePera.
What is a Motorcycle Seat Called?
Motorcycle seats are often called saddles, while the passenger seat is referred to as the pillion.
Conclusion – How do I Soften my Motorcycle Seat?
When it comes to longer tours, a comfortable motorcycle seat is a game-changer. Unfortunately, many bikes feature stiff and uncomfortable saddles, which is why aftermarket seats and pads are so popular.
There are many ways to soften a motorcycle seat, but the most common ones are as follows:
- Simply install a seat pad on it. They are filled with air, water, gel, or foam depending on the model.
- Sheepskin saddle covers can also soften the saddle and increase your comfort.
- Upgrade/recover your seat with foam inserts, or a complete foam replacement.
- You can also build a DIY seat from scratch. However, this requires some tools and skills.
- Invest in an OEM or aftermarket comfort seat. Sadly, these are not cheap!
Besides these solutions, you should also consider wearing padded bicycle shorts and the right clothing.
As a final word, don’t forget that a seat that is too soft on a motorcycle is not desirable as it can’t offer sufficient support!