seat modification, touring seat shape

Yamaha FZ1

Here is another example of ‘shape’ versus ‘gel’. This seat is from a Yamaha FZ1 that the customer purchased  in addition to the stock seat from Yamaha. Yamaha’s version of a ‘touring’ seat with gel added. After a 1000 mile trip, and a very sore butt, this customer and his seat ended up in my shop. I assessed his issues, hotspots (pain spots) and re-shaped his seat, adding width, saddling from side to side to fit his specific needs. Note that the gel was removed. The customer declared this new shape much more supportive, comfortable and rather sporty looking as well.


A common question I hear from the uncomfortable Motorcyclist is… “I’m thinking of having you add gel to my seat, will this make life and my butt a lot happier?”  To the dismay of the Asker I reply…” Probably not.”   Then of course a full explanation is required.
In my opinion, Gel falls into the ‘Marketing Genius’ category that has way over promised it’s actual value. If you have a poor seat shape on your bike that is pressuring your rear end in uncomfortable ways, a layer of silicon (gel) does not remedy the problem, at best it will mask it slightly. Now don’t get me wrong, I sell a decent amount of gel, stock 3 different sizes in my shop, but as far as it being the great ‘fix all’, I say No!  I would actually say it is last on the priority list you should consider for your seat.  First is Shape. There is no substitute for having the right shape for your posterior, that will support and relieve the areas that need it.  Second is foam firmness.  Third is Gel.  Gel has a quality that will keep things ‘moving’ slightly that can help in some extreme cases.  However, Gel also has a drawback of heat retention, and tends to be ultra firm in cold temperatures. You know what it is like to get on your seat with that black material soaking up the sun’s rays on a hot day, but within 60 seconds you have forgotten about it. Gel prolongs that ‘heat pain’ because it takes a while to dissipate the heat buildup.
So, my advice is take a good long look at the shape of your seat, determine pressure points that are causing pain and make a plan of attack to shape it more friendly to your posterior. Then, if all else fails, add gel.


An age old question that I will attempt to answer with the facts and some years of experience.  Of course Leather is the romantic choice! It boasts of quality and luxury! However, the facts are that leather begins a slow drying and constricting process just after tanning. There is no absolute way to stop this, though you can slow it down a bit with the proper conditioners etc. The ‘outdoors’ unfortunately speeds up this process with moisture and sunlight. The constricting or shrinking is a very tangible attribute of leather. Over time, I have seen plastic motorcycle seat bases misshaped like a banana underneath a leather cover. I would venture to say  that leather may lose up to 50% of it’s original size.
A good synthetic that has the best sun and moisture inhibitors built into it will likely outlast leather by at least 50% of its life, if not 100%, and of course is a fraction of the cost. I base this on 23 years of experience, seeing hundreds of old seats in my shop, both leather and synthetic, gauging the age of the seat etc.
So, I simply give folks the facts. There is nothing sexier than a nicely appointed leather seat, however, you may also be amazed at the technology, selection, and ‘real like’ qualities of today’s synthetics. I stock a decent supply of both.    Happy Decisioning!

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