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…

Hommiesafe Air Cushion

Hommiesafe
Amazon

View offer

Air pressure is equalised out between the nodules and the gaps means that air can flow between to help cooling as well as comfort. The pad locates directly to the bike's seat and is secured with straps underneath and for further cooling, the lycra-outer nodules can be filled with water.

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

Cool Covers

Cool Covers seat pad

View offer

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

"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

Scoutteemo Universal Mesh Cover

Scotteemo seat cover
Amazon

View offer

While this universal elasticated mesh seat cover may not improve comfort, it should improve airflow between you and the bike. The large mesh sections allow heat to escape and air to flow around, aiding cooling. There are four sizes available to suit a range of bikes and straps under the seat keep it in place. It also helps to prevent flat seats getting too hot or wet in the rain.

Pros:

Promotes airflow for comfort

Helps grip the seat

Cons:

Doesn’t cushion the seat

Could move around on seat

NYDG Gel Pad

NYDG Gel Pad
Amazon

View offer

Another universal product, but this one needs a bit more work. This pad is intended to be fitted to the seat foam underneath the cover, it comes in a 25cm x 25cm square and is available either 1cm or 2cm thick. It can either be cut and moulded into the seat panel to sit flush or it could simply be inserted beneath the cover to improve comfort without affecting the bike's look and the effective seat height.

Pros:

Universal fit

Can be used wherever there is space

Keep bike’s original look

No change to seat height

Cons:

Limited thickness and hence, comfort

Means disassembling seat

No cooling effect

Wild Ass Cushion

Wild Ass Cushion

View offer

Available in two styles (this sport and a more sculpted Smart) and each in three specifications (Lite, Air and Gel and Classic), the Wild Ass inflatable cushions feature a bladder inside a mesh cover. The bladders are available either as polyurethane, gel-topped triple-layer polyurethane or surgical-grade rubber and inflated via a valve at the rear. The cushion can be fixed to the bike with straps on the cover or left loose and sat on.

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

DebbonAir Gel

DebbonAir Gel

View offer

These seat pads are made by a company that specialises in medical seat cushions for wheelchairs and seating, so they should be top spec. The seat pads use an external cover with a gel insert to improve comfort on the bike. The company can also supply the base gel material for use in custom-made seat pads to go under original coverings for more comfort. The company produces the motorcycle seat pad in four sizes for different machines and each is 1.8cm thick.

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

ComfortAir

ComfortAir

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Available in three styles (adventure/sport, tourer and cruiser) for different bikes as well as a universal pillion pad, these cushions from ComfortAir use an inflatable bladder with cells inside a cover that straps to the bike. The cover has a high-grip base and faux-leather seat pad with mesh in between to allow air to circulate around the inflatable cushion. This is blown up by mouth and the pressure reduced until it's comfortable.

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

Tourtecs Lambskin

Tourtecs Lambskin
Amazon

View offer

Sometimes, a little old-school goes a long way and this lambskin cover from Tourtecs is just that. It is a pad that fits the bike's saddle and is secured by straps that pass under the seat. The upper portion is 100% lambskin for comfort while the manufacturer also states it helps to improve cooling on warmer rides while keeping you warm on cooler ones too. It is designed to suit all bikes and can be removed for washing.

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

Yamaha Tracer 7 Comfort Seat

Yamaha Tracer 7 Comfort Seat

View offer

Using Yamaha's Tracer 7 or 700 as an example (it has a fairly solid standard seat), this replacement 'comfort' seat uses two different densities of foam to offer improved comfort for both rider and pillion. In contrast to the standard seat, it clearly has different areas and purports to improve long-distance touring comfort for rider and pillion alike.

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

AirRider

AirRider

View offer

Another air cushion, this one has the advantage of being self-inflating, so no need to put lips to a valve and blow. It also deflates by a push-button to get the right pressure for comfort and is available in four sizes, to suit a range of machines. The bladder is a single-cell design and the cover houses the bladder and fixes to the bike using straps under the seat. The cover is made in vinyl and at maximum inflation, it is 4cm deep.

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

Coleman MadDog GearComfort Pad

MadDog GearComfort Pad
Amazon

View offer

This large pad from American manufacturer Coleman (famous for camping equipment) is perfect for off-road bikes that are used on the road and are fitted with flat, long saddles as standard. It comprises a series of foam pads that stand proud from the saddle and support your behind while allowing air to flow around. Three straps secure it under the seat and it gets good reviews online.

Pros:

Adds comfort to off-road bikes

Raised pads allow air circulation

Should not increase seat height unduly

Cons:

Relatively short foam pads

Basic design not tailored to bike

Width may interfere with legs when standing on pegs

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