Tour Reports

I’m sure many of you will have heard of AirHawk Seat Cushons as they’ve been around a while now. I got one about 6 years ago to relieve the pain caused to my gluteus maximus (arse) on long days on the F800GS traveling up and down to the Alps and Pyrenees from my old base of Torrevieja in south east Spain. I’d come to curse the stock BMW seat and had invested, at no small expense, in a Touratech Touring Seat (aprox €500 not inc delivery) which helped – but not so much that it was worth the cost.

The SW-Motech Travel Rider Cushion..

To be fair it’s next to impossible for any manufacturer to create a seat to suit everyone. We’re all different, weight, length of spine, legs, width of bum etc all take it’s effect, hence the problem for folks who spend a lot of time in the saddle be it the annual tour or the ride to work. Buying a new seat is potentially a high risk venture for many unless you’ve got more money then sense, but due to the importance of ergonomics, or bumfort ;) , on long days it’s something that has a dramatic affect on your enjoyment and experience. I’ve got absolutely no guilt spending good money on comfort while on a motorcycle and I’d certainly not view it as self indulgence. Discomfort, be it cold hands or a pain in the arse leads to distraction, and a distracted rider is a danger to himself and others, full stop.

My old AirHawk Seat Cushion on the 800GS/Touratech seat.

So, my solution after failing to find comfort in the Touratech seat for the 800GS ended up being the AirHawk Cushion. Which, after much trial and error fitting it and getting the air pressure within just right, has proved one of the best investments I’ve ever made, apart from the bike of course, oh and a limited edition 24yo bottle of Teelings single malt whiskey thats reciently doubled in value ;) However, the cushions cover that it comes with the AirHawk was complete crap and the straps that fitted it to the saddle lasted all of 2 weeks before failing. And as far as I can see AirHawk made no improvement to the cover since I bought my 1st one. I did sort the problem out easily enough by stitching heavy duty canvas loops to the cushion cover and attaching it securely to my saddle via another brilliant invention, cable ties.

SW-Motech Travel Rider Cushion wrap around cover..

I’m actually sitting on my AirHawk now as I write, I take it off when not in use on the bike and use it on my office seat ;) Unfortunately due to the shape of my AirHawk seat it does not fit to the different shape of the saddle of the BMW F800 GSA I now use on long summer days during my tour guide gig on Ireland’s west coast. The stock BMW low seat I’m using was killing me, it got to the point that after 4 or 5 hours I was seriously uncomfortable and therefore distracted which is dangerous. After my previous failed experience of investing in new saddles I was obviously looking at another AirHawk, which while not perfect is a good solution and cheaper than a new saddle.

SW-Motech Travel Rider Cushion, simple, effective, water resistant and so far durable compaired to the crap AirHawk cover.

After a little research I came across an article which mentioned that SM-Motech had done a deal with AirHawk to make use of their “BBRST” system – Blue Bum Refief System Technology. So SW-Motech are now using the AirHawk air cushion, but have designed their own cushion cover which wraps around the saddle as one piece instead of being attached by pathetically flimsy and weak elastic straps. Another benefit is that the SW-Motech version has a water resistant artificial leather surface which works out far better on rainy days. The only thing I can’t figure out is why they decided to name it the “Traveller Rider Cushion”, seriously, how is their marketing devision supposed to deal with that? :) Maybe the name got lost in translation lol..

The two cushions with the older AirHawk now adorning my office chair where it still works it’s charms ;)

True to my previous experience with the old AirHawk cushion it took a few days to get the SW-Motech Travel Rider Cushion into just the right position and air pressure (very, very little) before I got properly comfortable. A lot of folks give very mixed reviews about the AirHawk saddle cushions and I can understand that fully. I wonder however if folk don’t fully realise that you really need to get these cushions adjusted just right before the benefits can be felt.

It’s not exactly cheap, and the SW-Motech version is roughly the same price as the Airhawk, including delivery the new one set me back €140, but for me anyway I’d have paid any money to relieve the pain and distraction on long rides that the torturous BMW stock saddle was inflicting upon me.

The AirHawk cushion itself is stored within the SW-Motech cover, it needs only a lung full of air to work for me and works a long way better than gel pads or anything else I’ve tried..

Either way I’m back to having a mostly comfy bum for my 8 hour saddle shift and certainly I think SW-Motech’s version of the cushion cover (remember, the cushion itself is still AirHawk) is “so far anyway” vastly superior in design and function when fitted to a motorbike and subjected to an 85kg bloke plonking his arse on it for 8 hours a day :)

Reviews 2 Responses so far

2 Responses to “SW-Motech TRAVELLER RIDER “Blue Bum” Cushion (Airhawk Seat) Review”

  1. Geoff says:

    I can echo the problems experienced due to uncomfortable seats which can seriously spoil the enjoyment of touring. So called “Comfort seats” cost the earth and there is no guarantee that they will do the trick.

    My solution to the rock hard “low” seat on my Tracer 900 was to get a gel seat pad from

    They provide medical air and gel seat pads for wheelchair users and for other medical needs, and also for motorcycles.

    Really helpful on the phone. I bought a gel pad(different sizes, models available) for my Tracer. It was very well made and at 18mm thick it is thicker than those supplied by others “in the trade”

    Waterproof cover and fastened by Velcro straps under the seat.

    Really comfortable, it has more than easily doubled the time before my bum starts complaining, at a cost of £35- £50. I forget exact price.

    However, even with the Velcro straps done up very tightly I felt I could feel some slight movement when cornering. Also being short in the leg it had raised the seat height 18mm which was a bit of a problem.

    The solution was simple and cheap. Off to a local furniture upholstery company who removed the seat cover from the Tracer seat, cut out a section of the foam padding to match the shape of the gel pad, replaced it with the gel pad and replaced the seat cover. I could have done it myself, but didn’t want to risk bodging it. They charged £16. The net result was the gel pad is now an integral part of the seat, the seat height is now only a few mm higher than before, there is no sensation of movement and I can ride for several hours in total comfort. Happy days!

    • Denis Smyth says:

      Thanks for writing in with your solution Geoff,

      I tried a gel seat pad myself and found like yourself that it moved around a bit no matter how tight I wrapped the velcro straps around the seat. I found it very unnerving on corners so I ended up not using it and shifted it to the pillion seat where my wife was very happy with it. However I never thought about actually having it fitted into the seat itself so top marks to you for that.

      It just goes to show that there can be more than a few options for making long days in the saddle far more comfortable and enjoyable without spending an unnecessary stack of cash on a completely new seat – which may not solve the problem.

      Now you got me thinking, can I have the airpad fitted to my saddle? ;) In fact I wonder why manufacturers have never thought of integrating air pillows to their saddles which would make their saddles properly adjustable?

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