A New Throne.
I’ve had Bluey for just a smidge over 3 years and The Pillion and I have covered quite a bit of country on her together.
For a bike that’s described as a sports tourer, it certainly does the job well, it eats the miles both effortlessly and economically. In fact, from the 19 litre (5 gallon) tank I can get around 340 km (210 miles) around town and about 390 km (240 miles) on a fully load two-up country run.
It’s no point in having a bike that’ll eat the miles, when the seat isn’t up to par though. I mean, who wants to have a seat that eventually feels like the worlds biggest G-string. Right?
One of the most common complaints about the seat on the Bandit is that you tend to slide forward into the tank all the time. Even with the front of the seat set at the high adjustment point and the back at the low, a 20mm (3/4″) difference, you still slide forward.
Even the pillion seat needs some work in that respect. Quite often I have to get The Pillion to push back a bit because she’s inched forward, which in turn pushes me forward up against the tank.
As this is such a common complaint with the Bandit, you’d think Suzuki would have addressed the problem during their refinements over the years. But they haven’t.
There are after market seats available of course, Corbin is one such seat that comes to mind.
These aren’t custom shaped to your butt and are a generic one size fits all design, unless you have access to their factory. In which case they will custom make a seat for you.
As I’m on the wrong side of the pond to take advantage of the Corbin custom-made seat option, I decided a generic Corbin at over $500 Australian wasn’t the way to go.
Instead I opted to use a local trimmer who’s been in the game for over 30 years and who has a great reputation for doing quality work.
So a couple of weeks ago I took the stock seat down to Capalaba… No, not Capa-la-ba-bah. Everyone says that.
It’s Cap-a- (as in apple) la-bah (as in the noise a sheep makes).
Anyway, after glowing recommendations from a few of our friends, we took Bluey and her stock seat down to Capalaba where John measured us up for the re-fit. While we were getting measured up, John took photo’s of how we sat on the bike and asked some questions to get a feel for what we needed.
- Did we get numbness anywhere, and
- Did we have any back or other injuries that caused discomfort after riding for any length of time, and
- How long before the discomfort set in, and
- Was there anything else that we didn’t like about the seat, and
- Were there any specific requests.
For me, the sliding forward was the biggest issue. I find that I’m forever pushing back on the seat.
The other thing was that numbness set in on my upper inner thighs after about 400 km (250 miles), even if I got off for a stretch the numbness would return fairly quickly once back on the road.
With The Pillion, it wasn’t just the numbness, but a pre-existing back and tailbone injury.
As I’ve written previously, the AirHawk does a great job of keeping these aches at bay, but it’s just another thing we have to take with us when we travel.
There’s also the issue of sliding fore and aft on acceleration and deceleration: Puts a nice shine on the seat, but is a pain in the a…. you get the picture.
After getting measured up and discussing our needs, John explained what he proposed to do.
All the factory injection molded foam was to be stripped off and replaced with a high density memory foam with the exception of a section of low density foam at the rear most part of the seat where The Pillions tail bone would be. The seat was then going to be re-shaped and made a little wider for added comfort.
After all was said and done we were quoted $440.
We made an appointment to bring the seat down the following weekend to get the job done.
When I dropped the seat off on Sunday night, John said it would be ready the following weekend – 5 days. As it turned out he gave me a call on Wednesday and told me to come collect my seat as he kept stubbing his toe on it.
The workmanship is indeed superb, this man knows his stuff.
The seat is now about 50 – 75mm (2″ – 3″) wider than it was and is shaped front and rear so that we are held more securely in place. No more sliding around.
This’ll take some getting used to for me because I’m held back against the step more firmly, as a result my riding posture is a little more aggressive than it was before. My centre of gravity is back as well, which has changed the handling of the bike a little with the weight shift.
It’s not as bad as it sounds and I actually have more confidence now because I’m not thinking about holding myself off the tank all the time.
I can devote that small piece of brain space to where is should be, concentrating on riding.
John is so confident in his work, that he promised that if he’s done his job correctly, we would have no need for the sheepskin seat cover or the AirHawk we were using.
He added that the seat would take a good 1600km (1000 miles) to break in and if during or after this time we found the seat needed an adjustment, all we had to do was bring the seat back and he would alter it free of charge.
On Sunday we covered about 350 km (210 miles). Already we’ve noticed a difference.
The Pillion rode for the first time in years without the AirHawk and said that although hard at first, the seat is much more conformable than the original.
I concur with that assessment, the seat is much more comfortable than the standard seat, the riding position is better for me too.
Perhaps the only thing for me is that I can’t stand flat-footed with my knees slightly bent at traffic lights like I used to. Now my leg is straighter, almost like I was standing. This is because during the process of getting the seat reshaped, it’s at least 30mm (1-1/4″) higher than it was previously.
I do think the seat will settle over the next few weeks, so it might not be such a problem after the break in period. The option for an adjustment is there if I need it though.
In all, I think it was money well spent, especially considering that we’ll be spending 7 weeks straight on the bike next year covering somewhere in the order of 8,000 – 10,000 km (5,000 – 6,200 miles).
I’d hate to be wearing a G-String for that amount of time.