Best motorcycle seat pads

Avoid numb-bum as you cover long distances with these motorcycle seat comfort upgrades.

Motorbike seats lined up

by Jim Blackstock |

For a long-distance rider, there’s little more likely to cause dread on a ride than an uncomfortable seat. The feeling of ‘numb bum’, where sitting on a hard or uncomfortable saddle for a long period of time causes your rear to go numb, is one that many have experienced as they tackle big rides on tour or simply because they like the idea of riding a long way.

Standard motorbike seats are made to suit as wide a cross-section of body shapes and sizes as possible and it is inevitable that they won’t fit everyone. Width and depth can all be wrong but also, while the shape can be right, the level of padding on the seat sometimes just isn’t enough. Some of us have our own built-in padding but for those who don’t, it can become literally a pain in the backside.

Numb-bum normally occurs after an hour or two and can be the result of posture or pressure points on the saddle. Generally, a saddle pad or cushion can help reduce this but it’s also worth considering your general rider position and making sure that you aren’t leaning too far forward, for example, or slumping excessively, which can all affect how your body reacts to riding.

One of the easiest ways to alleviate numb bum and make your ride more comfortable and therefore enjoyable is a comfortable seat or cushion. A reasonable marker that a bike’s standard seat can be improved upon is the manufacturer offering a comfort option, usually for a price.

This generally means that enough people found the standard seat uncomfortable that there is a market for an upgrade. But while the manufacturer’s alternative may be an expensive option, there are cheaper ways to get feeling back in your bum and enjoy your ride more.

Related: Best universal motorcycle panniers

One thing to recognise though is that while many may well improve comfort, they can also give a disconnected feeling to the riding since much of your feel for what the bike is doing comes from your contact with the seat and some insulation here can reduce those sensations.

So you may want to look at something that can be removed so that if you are doing a long trip, you can enjoy comfort on the motorways and remove it for feel on the fun, twisty bits...

Another reason the ride can get uncomfortable is heat. A flat seat will not allow much airflow and so, anything that lifts you off the seat and introduces an air gap will mean a cooler ride with some fresh air between you and the seat.

Here are a few examples of how you can improve comfort…

Tested by Richard Newland for 12 months, 4500 miles
Quality 4/5, Value 4/5

ComfortAir

"I’ve been using these inflatable ComfortAir cushions on two very different bikes: A 1986 GSX-R750 (Sport variant, £69) and a 2022 K1600GT (Tourer variant, £79).

"The reason for both fitments is primarily the same – comfort – although the maladies leading to the solution are slightly different. On the GSX-R there are two equal benefits, comprising a more comfortable perch, as well as offering a raised seat height which reduces knee ache. Double win.

"On the K1600GT it’s been purely about making long days in the saddle less tiring. The stock seat is good, but it’s not exceptional, and amidst a sea of comfort, it’s always the saddle that’s the first thing to niggle (we’re talking about days of repeated 250mile+ stints between fill-ups here, not normal light use).

"It takes a bit of trial and error to get the inflation right, but once it is, your perch is soft, secure and free of pressure points and benefits from being vented with air channels to prevent sweatiness."

Pros:

Improves cooling and comfort

Adjustable air pressure

Equalises across pad

Cons:

Can give rocking feeling when partially inflated

Pad can move on seat

Disconnected feel to riding

Increases effective seat height

Air pressure is equalised out between the nodules and the gaps means that air can flow between to

Hommiesafe

Pros:

Improves cooling and comfort

Adjustable air pressure

Equalises across pad

Cons:

Can give rocking feeling when partially inflated

Pad can move on seat

Disconnected feel to riding

Increases effective seat height

Tested by Simon Weir for 18 months, 20,000 miles
Quality 4/5, Value 5/5

Cool Covers seat pad

"Here’s a simple idea from a British firm: a tough mesh seat cover that lets air circulate between you and the saddle to keep you cool on hot days. On wet days, it lets rain drain away so you sit in a puddle. Does it work? Absolutely – in fact, it’s much more effective than I’d expected."

"I have the cover fitted to my Kawasaki Z1000SX, but options are available for a huge range of bikes (prices vary) and custom-made covers are also available. It’s easy to fit and utterly secure on the bike – it doesn’t move around as I ride.
It’s an incredibly tough material and over a busy 18 months hasn’t compressed or worn at all – it still looks pretty much as new. My only minor quibble is that it’s a bit non-stick so I gradually slide forwards unless I grip the tank with my knees. Overall, though, it’s genius."

Pros:

Dry seat in the wet

Cool seat in the heat

Cons:

Slightly shiny, low friction finish

While this universal elasticated mesh seat cover may not improve comfort, it should improve

Scoutteemo Universal Mesh Cover

Pros:

Promotes airflow for comfort

Helps grip the seat

Cons:

Doesn’t cushion the seat

Could move around on seat

Available in two styles (this sport and a more sculpted Smart) and each in three specifications

Wild Ass Cushion

Pros:

Improves cooling and comfort

Adjustable air pressure

Equalises across pad

Cons:

Can give rocking feeling when partially inflated

Pad can move on seat

Disconnected feel to riding

Increases effective seat height

Cover reduces cooling effect

These seat pads are made by a company that specialises in medical seat cushions for wheelchairs

DebbonAir Gel

Pros:

Made by medical specialist

Pad can be removed from cover for use elsewhere

Four sizes available

Better connection with bike than air cushion

Cons:

Less airflow than air cushion

Can move around on the bike

Sometimes, a little old-school goes a long way and this lambskin cover from Tourtecs is just that.

Tourtecs Lambskin

Pros:

Helps improve comfort

Provides warmth and cooling

Won’t increase seat height

Cons:

Not animal-friendly

Could move around on bike

Potentially hold water in rain

Using Yamaha's Tracer 7 or 700 as an example (it has a fairly solid standard seat), this

Yamaha Tracer 7 Comfort Seat

Pros:

Designed to fit bike perfectly

Combination of different feel areas

Won’t affect seat height

Cons:

Expensive (compared with aftermarket)

Not transferable between bikes

Another air cushion, this one has the advantage of being self-inflating, so no need to put lips to

AirRider

Pros:

Improves cooling and comfort

Adjustable air pressure

Equalises across pad

Cons:

Pad can move on seat

Disconnected feel to riding

Increases effective seat height

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