I will actually share the entire back and forth e-mail:
I have been riding for about 15 years now and am very passionate about riding. In that time I have owned 4 bikes (and have ridden countless others); a 1982 Yamaha vision, a 1985 Yamaha Maxim-x, a 1985 Honda nighthawk 650, and my current ride, a 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan Custom 900, which happens to be my favourite. I have chocked up a lot of kilometres on these bikes.
My question is, with the exception of the Maxim-X (which was slightly above average in terms of comfort and sort of tolerable for distances), why are stock seats so terrible? The shape of the Vulcan seat can be altered so slightly, resulting in a tremendous increase in comfort. I don't understand why we spend $10000 on a bike (or way more in most cases) and have to immediately fork over another $600 to get an after-market seat so that we can actually ride for longer than 30 minutes at a time. I didn't have $600 extra when I bought my bike, so I bought an air-hawk. It helped somewhat, but I still had tail bone pain.
It took about 3 hours research, $10 in foam, and about 30 minutes to get my bike to the point where I can ride for a long time before needing to get off. Why haven't manufacturers been able to figure this out yet? It would cost no more to manufacture than the current seat.
All one has to do is read the reviews and forum boards to know that this is the biggest issue with bikes today. Yet year after year after year, bikes come out with the same poorly shaped seats made out of the wrong materials. Investing in manufacturing better seats would immediately put Kawasaki ahead of it's competition. Or at least offering a good aftermarket seat (not the gel ones, they only create a different kind of pain and let you sit for about 20 minutes longer than stock) that costs $300 or less.
They are called cruisers. The idea is to get on and cruise. Not to get on, go 30 minutes, get off, stretch, and repeat. A seat that provides comfort for at least as long as a tank of gas should be the immediate goal regarding seats.
Improving Kawasaki bikes for little or no change to current manufacturing methods (or cost) should be the ultimate goal.
Getting customers involved (rather than just designers and engineers) for test screening of products before they hit market would be a good strategy too. (I would be happy to participate!)
Obviously the designers and engineers haven't been able to make a stock seat work so far. Why not try a different approach?
I understand manufacturing. I understand tooling and re-tooling, and have been in manufacturing (and automotive) as a General Manager, Engineering Manager,Programmer, working my way up from a Millwright. I realize and fully understand the costs associated with re-tooling for new designs. But I would bet that the benefits would far out weigh the initial costs. I don't believe that I have read one review ever that didn't make mention of a terrible stock seat; sure they are tolerable, but no one really ever says "Wow, my stock seat is like sitting on a la-z-boy".
That aside, I love Kawasaki bikes, and always have. My next bike will surely be a Vaquero (one day), just not with the stock seat.
The full reply:
We're working on a response for you right now. Thanks for your patience and thanks for showing your passion for our bikes. We appreciate the input.
31 JulyCanadian Kawasaki Motors
Good day Matt,
I understand your comments on motorcycle seats. Because human bottoms come in so many shapes and sizes, we may never find a seat construction that suits all riders.
The Vulcan 2000 comes to mind. When it first came out, I thought the seat was great while another person here in the Tech department thought it was horrible. Different bodies I guess.
Glad to read that you're a Kawasaki fan and that you like the Vaquero. It has lots of attitude and cool features. Incidentally, I like the seat on the Vaquero. Hopefully the great things about our bikes outweigh any perceived cons.
Thanks for opening up.
Why is there such a big market for aftermarket seats? Because stock seats are terrible 99% of the time. I would strike a deal with Corbin, Mustang, Saddlemen, (or Whoever). A contract to make my seats, if I was Kawi (or any other bike manufacturer for that matter). Think about it, a good aftermaket seat costs maybe $400 or so, a stock seat is probably $100 at most to manufacture. Deduct the $100, add the $400 dollar seat, and there you go. If the price of my bike was $300 more, but I knew that the seat was awesome, I would pay it. I do agree, there is not one seat that every rider in the world will agree is comfortable, but on the other end of the spectrum, we can all agree on one that is terrible; the stock seat.
Even reading all of the "Cruiser shootouts" and you read "this seat was terrible, that seat sucked, this one hurt my tailbone, etc. etc.". Imaging reading a cruiser review or shootout and reading "the seat was like heaven to sit on, or I wasn't sore after a day long trip....I know I would give that bike some thought. Who wants to ride only to be in discomfort 30 minutes in?
Sorry for the rant everyone. The whole "stock seats are terrible" thing gets my blood boiling. Keep in mind that I stated that I fixed my seat for about $10. This is true, but it was my airhawk I fixed. I abandoned it after a week though, because it looked terribly out of place on my bike and sat me much higher, but it was really comfortable.
Last edited by CustomRider; 08-13-2012 at 02:30 PM.