Five Easy Ways To Improve Any Bike’s Comfort

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Motorcycle Comfort

Safely riding a motorcycle requires absolute concentration, and it goes without saying that the more comfortable you are on said motorcycle, the easier it is to stay completely focused on the task at hand. Here are five ways to easily improve any bike’s comfort factor.

Airhawk Seat Cushion
Airhawk Seat Cushion

1. Seat Cushion
An easy way to instantly improve the overall comfort of your bike is to upgrade your seat or purchase a padded cushion. While there are many different seat cushion options out there, the Airhawk seating system is a favorite of ours. Utilizing technology originally developed for wheelchair users, the Airhawk Cushion uses interconnecting air cells to distribute weight over the entire surface area of the pad. What you get is an extremely comfortable seat that helps reduce painful pressure points.

Crampbuster
CrampBuster

2. CrampBuster
The Crampbuster is not your traditional cruise control gadget. Rather than use a throttle lock, the CrampBuster controls acceleration using palm pressure. This allows you to stretch out your hand and give your wrist a rest. This is a cheap and easy way to prevent wrist fatigue and hand numbness, especially on longer rides.

Camelbak
Camelbak

3. Camelbak
Staying hydrated is an important thing to do in general. Whether you’re crossing the Mojave or just cruising around town, having a Camelbak or a backpack equipped with a reservoir will keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated will help you focus and stay comfortable throughout your ride.

Answer Evap Shorts
Answer Evap Shorts

4. Cycle Shorts/Compression Apparel
Riding for long periods of time can be a rather sweaty endeavor, especially if it’s hot out. Wearing cycle shorts can help repel moisture, prevent chaffing and improve overall comfort. Same goes for compression apparel like Under Armour. The general idea is that the right amount of compression helps circulation and muscle support, thus preventing fatigue and soreness.

Howard Leight max Lite Earplugs
We recommend Howard Leight max Lite Earplugs

5. Earplugs
Regardless of how loud your pipes may or may not be, earplugs are important when it comes to preventing hearing loss and increasing comfort. Over time, wind noise can take its toll and lead to permanent hearing loss. In terms of more immediate comfort, wearing earplugs will help reduce wind noise and will also keep you more focused. By reducing noise inside your helmet you can slow the onset of fatigue and even prevent headaches.

How do you add comfort to your ride?

  • eddi

    Over the years, every motorcycle I’ve bought has a more comfortable seat than the last. They’re not perfect, but it gets closer every year or so. But if I ever head for a really long run, say weeks of all-day riding, I would add a little something.
    I’ve developed some stiffness and soreness in my right hand over the last few years. Without a Crampbuster, I would have to stop every 10-15 minutes just to unkink my hand.
    For hydration, I’m somewhat old-fashioned, a water bottle does the job. I’m very willing to pull over and take a break.
    Compression shorts? Never heard of them. At least in this context.
    Earplugs. Now there is a sore point. I know I should, but I never have and still don’t. I got my hearing checked regularly at work due to a high-noise environment. My loss was minimal and very slow to develop. Of course I wore protection at work. Earplugs are uncomfortable to me and I’m willing to take the chance.

    • KeithB

      Riding a bike is a “high noise environment”
      The sound of wind is a broad band high SPL noise source.
      Try the plugs :)

    • Michael Howard

      Your hearing loss from work was minimal and slow to develop. You wore hearing protection at work. Maybe there’s a connection, eh?

    • eddi

      You know there are times when the phrase “everybody is doing it” means there must be a good reason. I think I know a place to pick up a package of those HL Max locally. I’m not such an old dog I can’t at least try a new trick.

    • http://www.karinajean.com/ karinajean

      I also find that earplugs reduce my fatigue on long rides. The wind noise is not only damaging over long term, but it’s WHITE noise, and exhausting.

  • Archie

    I always wear earplugs but only recently became a HL max lite convert on RideApart’s recommendation. Absolutely brilliant, they’re so comfortable to wear I sleep with the damned things half the time now. Missus is mighty jealous of me now sleeping like a baby every night, nevermind not wanting to dig my brains out of my ears while wearing rubbish plugs.

  • Bill T

    For me, custom made earplugs, grip puppy over heated grips. On long rides, windscreen and Airhawk 2 seat with sheep skin cover.

  • Nathan Haley

    My Triumph Tiger 800 XC is massively more comfortable after fitting Rox anti-vibration bar risers (the anti-vibration wasn’t strictly necessary but for some bikes, I can see it being essential). The forward lean is now 1 or 2 degrees rather than 5 or 6 – it doesn’t sound like much but it means zero pressure on my wrists at 50-65mph. I always wonder how people on “sport tourers” can stand the pressure on their wrists for so long.

    • Piglet2010

      Might have to try the Rox on the Tee-Dub.

      Riding a sport-tourer* would not be bad if speed limits were higher – above 90 mph the wind blast supports a moderate forward lean nicely.

      *Sport-tourer such as a Ninja 1000, and not a “sporty” touring bike such as the Concours 1400.

      • Nathan Haley

        Unless you’re 5’3, the TW200 might be a lost cause as far as standing ergos go. You will probably have to fit all longer cables/wires to reach the controls. Also, there are much cheaper risers on sale for 7/8″ bars that don’t have the anti-vibe – just check Amazon or RockyMountainATVMC.

        • Piglet2010

          The TW200 is not too bad for me standing as is – I would consider hopeless (for more than the few seconds it takes to cross multiple at-grade railroad tracks) for standing to be a scooter or cruiser. And it could certainly use some vibration reduction in the grips for the times I want to maintain the 55-mph speed limit on 2-lane highways.

  • phoebegoesvroom

    I use all of those, except for the Camelbak. Actually, I wear earplugs all the time, but only use the other things for long trips. I also have a pair of neoprene grip wraps that I use on long trips. Instead of a commercial seat pad, I use a closed-cell foam pad used for kneeling while gardening, cut down to fit the seat of my bike. It works better than my $100 gel cushion and only cost $9. And nobody will steal it from you!

  • Piglet2010

    I find the cylindrical foam plugs work better for me – earplugs are cheap so try several types and see what works best.

    But I do find the plugs connected by a string hard to use, since often the string snags and pulls a plug out when I put my lid on.

  • cocoaclassic

    I think different grips would be a worthy addition to this list. Relatively simple to do the swap, not that expensive (depending on what you go with), and can make a huge difference with vibration/grip/overall comfort.

  • Jack Meoph

    Those strap on seats are worthless on a sport bike of any kind. I actually bought a pair of Bilt compression shorts, they’re called ARMA+, and they work way better than bicycle compression shorts, because the padding is better suited to MC’s. I took out the little foam pads that are suppose to provide some protection in a crash, because they’re uncomfortable under my leathers. Compression shorts of any kind are better than no compression shorts. If you can afford it, just get a gel seat for your motorcycle.
    Bar risers are good. I would have kept my ZX-6R if Helibars had made them for the 2009, but they never did up to when I sold it. Disappointing.
    Always wear earplugs. ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013A0C0Y/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_4?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER )
    I don’t know how people can ride with a backpack of any kind. They drive me nuts. And always end up hurting some part of my back, shoulders, neck, or arms.
    The best thing you can do is understand what kind of riding you’re going to be doing most of the time, and buy the appropriate motorcycle that has the best ergos for you.

  • Stephen Burns

    If you are overweight, losing a few pounds makes the seat more comfortable too.

    • Rich

      The best performance mod for my 1977 R100S has been losing 90 pounds!

  • appliance5000

    I use them and have found them generally more effective than tiny dicks – and they come individually wrapped for your sanitary protection.

  • Beale

    I haven’t tried an Airhawk but for long tour days i use a beaded seat cover from Beadrider:

    http://www.beadrider.com

    Makes a huge difference, especially with the bicycle compression shorts.

    I’m scared of any of those throttle flappers. I always seem to accidentally pin the throttle with those things, usually at the worst possible moment.

    • eddi

      There is a learning curve to them. If you mount it so you have to think of moving your hand to it, like the picture but tipped a little lower, you won’t bump it. Once you’re used to to it, move it up where you don’t have to bend your wrist

    • BillW

      I think the success of the Beadrider depends hugely on your personal anatomy. I tried one and found it excruciating, but I have very little padding under my seat bones.

      I use a Throttle Rocker, which I believe is the predecessor of the Cramp Buster, on my sport-touring bike. It does take a bit of getting used to, but once you’re used to it, it’s great. I frequently had pain in my wrist or hand on long rides before I started using it.

  • ThinkingInImages

    Foam earplugs – always. I’m more focused and relaxed when riding. I keep them on my keychain in a pill carrier. This one is new to me – a neck tube/scarf/whatever it’s called. I used a bandana to close up the gap between the top of my jack and the bottom of my helmet. These things are a lot more comfortable.

  • 14kmtnman

    I use the Beadrider seat cover. I had it on the BMW RT for over 30k miles & now on the KLR for 20k miles. Much much cooler in the summer time with lots more air flow. This results in no Monkey butt & longer, more comfortable days in the saddle. No soggy but in the rain either. I also wear the foam, 33db rated ear plugs on every ride.

  • Rich

    If you’ve had so much fun, you already use hearing aids, like I do, there are many programmable units for which one program is “OFF”. I always turn mine off before riding, for a more serene experience, and one with more concentration available!

  • William Connor

    Good advice. I agree with another poster about getting the bars into a good relation to the seat and peg position. This will do more than anything else to make a bike comfortable for you. Seats are a high priority after that for me, it is also the hardest to get right. I am no seat three coating the stock one and finally happy. I also added risers to the bars to bring them higher for standing and just for better arm comfort. (Triumph Explorer 1200)

  • Kevin

    Heated grips and throttle lock, all the way Jose. Cramp-free circulation FTW.

    • forking

      Also, if it’s at all cold, a nice scarf. Keeps cold air off your neck, chin, and face (even with a full-face helmet). Makes a big difference in my rides.

  • michaelse

    Apex adjustable risers are now available for most supersports/literbikes, and I’ve heard mixed reviews via various forums — I would love to see a RideApart review, even if from the perspective of one bike. That way, we could at least get a feel for adjustability and build quality.

  • ThinkingInImages

    These are probably more specific to my likes/needs, since I like a more sports riding position. I like my pegs a little more rear-set than stock to make the lean forward position a little more comfortable. It’s probably due to my height (I’m “compact”). On my list for the spring is adjustable levers. I have small hands and less reach would make street riding/commuting/low speed maneuvers more easier.

  • Honyock Undersquare

    Optimal upper body and hand positions are unique to each rider on any motorcycle, and I’ve found that it’s worth the $25 or so for a different set of handlebars and the hour or so of time to install, test, adjust, and test again to find the right combo of rise, pullback (which is unfortunatel poorly defined) and angle (which is seldom mentioned). Installing and adjusting a new set of handlebars is a relatively low risk, high confidence building exercise in DIY maintenance and encourages the newer rider to take more responsibility for the proper care of her motorcycle. NOTE: none of this applies to installing ape hanger type bars, which require installation of new throttle cables and brake lines at enormous cost, reduces the motorcycle’s handling, and are an aesthetic abomination even before you display your armpits with them.

  • http://www.karinajean.com/ karinajean

    best $15 I ever spent on a motorcycle was for an ATV seat cover. I ride a DRZ400 – it’s my touring bike AND my commuter – and the famed 2×4 of a seat is made actually COMFORTABLE with the ATV seat cover. Highly recommended for any dirt bike or supermoto.

  • Bad Kev

    I’m in in the planning stages for a trip over 2k miles on a Ducati Monster and I found this article very useful. Thanks! I’m gonna look into those seat cushions…