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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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