I'd like to get a more comfortable saddle. What are my options ?

Jon Zurell <jazurell@apk.net>is the main man for storing all the seat makers URL’s: He says " Take your pick....my money is still on Russell"

BMW Accessories

See your local dealer for 
part #7160 7654 460

Mayer Cycle

http://mayercycle.homestead.com/MAYERCYCLE.html

Bill Mayer Saddle http://www.billmayersaddles.com

Russell DayLong

http://www.day-long.com/

Corbin

http://www.corbin.com/

Sargent

http://www.sargentcycle.com

Travelcade/Saddlemen

http://www.saddlemen.com

Diamond

http://www.diamondseats.com/

Mustang

http://www.mustangseats.com/

Air Rider

http://www.airrider.com 

Well, I finally went and got a Corbin for my RT. So far, so good, and while it did take a while for them to get it just right, I am happy with their results. I was able to go to the factory, and followed my seat from start to finish. Click here to see my day at Corbin.

Rick Mayer makes custom seats for RT's. For more info visit the web site at http://mayercycle.homestead.com/MAYERCYCLE.html or call Rick directly for more information at 866-357-2888.

Bill Mayer Saddles is still going strong and makes seats as well, and for more information, you can visit his website at http://www.billmayersaddles.com  or call Rocky Mayer at 1-800-242-7625.

BMW is now offering a "comfort" Seat as an option on 2000 "Special Edition" RT's. The seat is available in limited numbers and will retrofit to older (1996 on) R1100RT's. Its the front saddle only that is different. Apparently it is flatter, wider and softer. The BMW Part number is 7160 7654 460 and BMWSRP is US$177.00. 

So far the new seat has mixed reviews: Jeff Dean <jeff.dean@worldnet.att.net> seems to love it, "The BMW "Special Edition" seat is a major improvement over the stock RT seat -- wider and no forward sliding. Best of all -- it costs only $177 retail from your local BMW dealer! I hope that isn't a typo on BMW NA's pricing sheet. I will order one and see how it works. But from just sitting on it in the showroom, I think it could be THE answer to all our concerns about the RT's saddle. It would be nice if it is, and if it is only $177."

On the other hand Tom <no e-mail> reports "The new seat is available in limited numbers. I purchased one and it is 177 dollars. The problem is you sit about 3 or 4 inches taller in the seat. The seat is flat across. This put the handle bars at a distance and the riding position I found uncomfortable. I returned it. Good luck finding one."

Bob Ranney <ranney@amnix.com> is not a big fan of Corbin Seats: "Well, if we all lived close to Corbin and had that face-to-face contact then maybe we would all be happy campers. How was the food? when you deal with Corbin via mail-order you will be screwed. I bought a used stock seat and had Bill Meyer do it in leather. I still have my stock, I have a Meyer which is more comfortable than my two Corbins and it was still cheaper with 10 day turnaround door to door. Corbin is in a quality death spiral and has been for 5 years."

However, Bjorn Ramsvik" <bra@bconnex.net> Says:" I purchased a Corbin seat for my R1100R last year and must admit that initially I thought that I had paid too much for it. My wife however could not disagree more, she says that since we got the new seat riding has never been better. You can not put a price on a statement like that. My next mission will be to use this goodwill in order to acquire other accessories.

Seth Miller <seth.miller@worldnet.att.net> offered a lengthy report on his experience with Corbin, and has some advice for overcoming some of the fitting issues that we have all heard about:

I’ve been looking into aftermarket seats for my RT for a couple of months now, and settled on either Corbin or Russell. I have never seen a negative comment about the Russell, and have sat on Russell saddles and they were indeed very comfortable. But... I just couldn’t deal with their appearance. I know the form follows function mantra and all that, but the bat-winged appearance just doesn’t do it for me. Please do not be insulted if you have & like the Russell - enjoy it! It is undoubtedly a great product... But it wasn’t for the one for me...

Since I live near the Corbin factory in Hollister (and have tried out their seats and found them also to be a huge improvement over stock, not that this is a very tough goal to meet) I thought I would brace myself for the inevitable poor treatment I would receive and hopefully come out with a decent seat since I could supply the bike for a fitting.

I called Corbin, and surprise... I was treated very well on the phone. Well sure, I thought, we’re still in the ‘pre-sales’ stage... but the answer was, come on down, we’ll set you up... so I was on my way...

Arriving at the Corbin factory, I noticed that they have built a 50’s-style diner into their building. My cynical alarms went off... so, a $12 hamburger place to try to get even more out of my wallet (there are no other eating places nearby).

Pulling up, I was waved into a drive-in bay, and was introduced to the technicians who would be building my saddle. They were both extremely professional and friendly, and spent as much time as I wanted going over color options, materials, etc. They placed the uncovered seat form on my bike and asked to sit on it and comment on whether I wanted any modifications. I decided to wait on any mods since they will gladly perform them for you after you have had some time in the saddle (no charge for this). They seemed determined not to let me go until they were sure that I would be happy with the finished product. I was told that while the seat was being made I could have a meal in their diner (sure, I thought...). They then gave me a voucher for a completely free meal (good also for your passenger, if you bring one). Hmm, I thought, when are they going to screw up..?

After a very good meal I spend some time looking at all the bikes in their showroom and looking at their electric vehicles. It is a nice facility. Everybody seemed very friendly and competent. I went outside and took another look at the building to be sure that I was really at Corbin...

When my seat was finished, I paid and left and enjoyed the much more comfortable ride home. The end. No problems, nice people, good product. I really like the look of the seat on the bike (I know, that doesn’t matter...). Oh yes, and the extra charge for all the individual attention I received..? Zero.

I’m sure that these people are not perfect, but for whatever it is worth my experience with them was very good. I think that some of the fitment problems people seem to have with the Corbins are due to the fact that Corbin builds their own reinforced seat pans (which, incidentally, seem much sturdier than the stock item). Given that even the smallest variation in dimensions will affect fit, how the seat latch operates, etc., it seems probable that problems are going to occur from time to time. In my case, there was a fitment problem caused by a rubber bumper being about 1/8" from where it needed to be (on my particular bike, anyway). This problem was rectified by their tech in about 3 minutes. But, it is an example of something that would have dissatisfied me if I had mail-ordered the seat. Other than this problem the seat fit and latched perfectly, and the construction quality seemed very good (quality material, good seams, cover is riveted (not stapled) on, etc.).

The other manufacturers use the original seat base. This has its advantages in that you know the finished seat will fit OK, since the part that interfaces with the bike hasn’t changed. The downside is that you must destroy your stock seat in order to get the replacement, which was something I wanted to avoid if possible. Since most of the aftermarket seats use additional stitching or other materials besides vinyl (the stock material for the Corbin BMW seat is leather, but you can have vinyl if you prefer), they are not as impervious to water as the stock seat. All the manufacturers recommend a rain cover, and I didn’t want to deal with this during commute duty. I now have the option of using my stock seat on messy wet days when I am only going to do local riding. Also, I have the option of selling the seat in the future should I ever wish to do so since I still have the original seats. These may or may not issues for you, but they are worth considering.

A new option is the Air Rider Seat pads, which are installed on the stock seat pan. However, Vincent  <tatco@compassnet.com> had the following to say about the Air Rider: "I chose to go with Air Rider because I like the look of the stock seat and their concept sounded good. When I got my seat back from Air Rider, I was immediately unhappy with its appearance. The rear curve of the seat was gone and the seat surface looked very bumpy. At first, the seat did feel a bit more comfortable. Last week, I was a day into a 2000 mile trip and the air bladder quit holding air. It was leaking air from the valve. I opened the seat on the trip and was shocked by the workmanship. There were several "chunks" of foam missing and they had placed this stringy wadding over the air bladder giving the lumpy appearance. I was not able to repair the valve and had to spend the rest of the trip with the bladder deflated. Air Rider has a money back policy but I am afraid to send it back because I don't want my seat hacked up any further. I wish I had gone with Sargent and hope to have them fix my seat. Live and learn!"