Saddle Sore: Ninja 250R seats

One of the biggest complaints of the newly designed (2008) Ninja 250R is the seat, both pilot and pillion. It is just about perfect for the track because the rider’s butt is rarely parked in it for more than a few seconds. On the open road however, the general consensus seems to be that 400 miles is about the extent to which the stock seat can be pushed. I have personally done 777 miles in a day on the stock seat, after which I discovered where Kawasaki spied the pattern for the seat cover – a flattened cheese grater.

Old faithful, the stock of the Ninja 250R

See, it’s a 3-part problem, this here seat. The first problem with it is the contour of the foam underneath. It’s raked heavily forward which invariably pushes the rider forward into the tank over time. The second problem is the consistency of the foam – it is hard, unforgiving, and uniform. It has absolutely no love. The third problem is the consistency and pattern of the cover over the foam. It too is quite hard and although quite grippy, scuffs off skin after a while.

After that last 777 mile ride I have been on a quest to find a reasonable replacement and have found another problem during this quest. My ass. See, I’m a skinny bastard, and when I’m standing around or walking, most people would be obliged to say that I have no butt what-so-ever, usually with some underlying frustration and jealousy expressed. When I contort myself onto the Ninja then, that non-existent rear-end of mine wraps around my butt-bones and creates 2 points of contact between myself and the seat, each about the size of a nickle. Un-calloused human skin isn’t designed to support 150lbs on such a minuscule surface for up to 16hrs a day….

The Corbin does look supple, doesn't it?

So the quest continues. I need a seat which is sort of grippy for spirited riding AND which offers the support for much longer days. Next I try a Corbin. The contour isn’t quite right, but it’s doesn’t force my junk into the gas tank at every bump, improvement. It is actually harder than the stock seat, and does provide more support when I scooch all the way back, but then I’m very far forward and heavy on the wrists – I shot myself in the foot when I made those custom- clipons, as far as seats go….

The Saddleman does add a lot to the aesthetic appeal, sad it doesn't mirror its looks with its touch.

Then a fellow on NewNinja.com and I got to talking. He had a Saddlemen seat he wanted to get rid of, but I didn’t want to risk wasting more money on a seat that won’t be worth it, so he let me try it out for a few weeks before I decided to buy. It looked awesome, like it was a specialized race seat or some such, but ended up being just as hard as the Corbin. It followed the same plane as the Corbin, and also didn’t crush the family jewels, but it didn’t have the contouring to scooch into as the Corbin did. So back it goes to it’s real owner along with a little gift for my appreciation….

Looks like I’m back to square one. I have since picked up an airhawk and will be testing it as soon as I’m able. Early tests show that it raises me up about an inch, but it does contour beautifully to my rear with about 3psi in the bladder. I thought that having a removable “touring” seat would be the answer – comfortable on the long haul, and removable when I want to go crazy in the twisites, say, when I’m hundreds of miles from home and staying with friends. I think a proper contour of the stock seat is also in order. With a plan in hand, so I go into the future….

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About Dandooligan

Dandooligan CO, United States Every ride spurs the yearning for another and as such, has pushed me to adopt the riding lifestyle and all of it's challenges. This blog concerns those challenges from bikes to gear, media about bikes, and maybe even some psychology/sociology on the subject as well. Dandooligan, a mash-up of Dandy and Hooligan, both very important parts of me and my outlook on life. I'm also known as Spooph

9 comments

  1. Walter

    If you can get a stock seat pan (or don’t mind ripping up a seat you have) why not try to put a small layer of foam (make sure you get the right stiffness!) under the Airhawk, and then cover both with either the stock cover or an aftermarket piece?

    There were alot of threads on ADVRider.com forums for several different bikes, including my own. The general consensus is that just like modern luxury cars like Mercedes use several different foams in creating their seats, so too does a good motorcycle seat need different foams (and densities, etc) to keep the ass from becoming painful. It also needs to be cut and formed correctly. Unfortunately, it usually isn’t possible to have a seat that works for Iron Butt and the track, but you can definitely find a happier medium.

    The.Mercer

    PS Was looking at google for some of those threads I had looked at before, and found this site: http://www.diymotorcycleseat.com/index.php which definitely appears to cover everything you need to know about sculpting and building a seat just for you. Note that depending on how much change the contours of the seat, you might need a custom sown cover to match… there are places around your area that do custom seat covers, or you can try to learn to sew 🙂

    PPS Hmmm… This is making me want to take the 3rd seat I have (gift from a friend who sold his bike but dealer wouldn’t take the extras) and try some of that out….

    • Fantastic link, thanks! I’ll put this in the bucket of “eventually”. I wish I had the time to do the research to figure out exactly how to make this perfect for me, but alas, not ATM…

      • You know, you could also experiment by turning those little dials on your suspension to see if you can’t find a more plush ride on the street by changing the damping characteristics.

        I like mine on the firm side, which of course makes the seat an even greater pain in the backside. However, I don’t like the handling when my suspension is dialed to “candyass” and I’d rather deal with a little discomfort than a handling nuisance.

        BTW, “Candyass” is what I call the setup hubby has on his Connie 14, that thing wallows around like a damn Cadillac on a bumpy road. If I wanted it to handle like a boat, I’d buy one and go to the lake. LOL I can’t cope with that!

        But maybe that’s worth looking into, too. I don’t know how adjustable the suspension is on a Ninjette… (I’m assuming it’s still stock all the way around?)

  2. Pingback: Assume The Position! « The Girl Gets Around (on a BMW S1000RR)

  3. I’m happy to report then, that the ass perch on my S1000RR is one of the more comfy ones. My butt was parked on it for an extensive excursion up the Blue Ridge Parkway and several hours-on-end-long “have to get there in a hurry and I don’t have time for this” Interstate hauls to Point B. I really haven’t had any interest to change out the seat. The only other seat that was more comfy than the one on the S1KRR was the stocker on the ‘Busa. I didn’t have Suzuki’s gel seat upgrade on there long enough to see if it was even better. I have a big butt, but when I sit in the riding position, I basically sit on my bones, too. Which is weird, considering the JLo proportions, I guess the fat rolls to the back when I’m not vacuum-packed into my race leathers. LOL Ok, enough TMI for one comment. ;P

    Oh, not that I’ve had any experience with them, but I’ve heard a lot of people complain that the Corbin seats are a pain in the ass after a while and many wished they hadn’t gotten them. They do look awesome, are of high quality workmanship, but apparently get mixed reviews as far as long-distance comfort is concerned.

    To throw one more name that I hear a lot of peeps rave about out there, again just word-of-mouth stuff, no personal experience: Sargent Saddle (apparently now they go by Sargent Cycle).

    The best crowd to ask for any kind of seat-related issues is the LD crowd. They spent way more time on both of their cheeks than the likes of me. 😛 And they love to experiment with stuff. Homebrew and otherwise.

  4. Good stuff Miss Busa! I have Sargent on my list, and will play with one of those when I get the time… Concerning the suspension – unfortunately all I have to adjust on the 250 in the rear is pre-load, and like you, I like it firm for the handling, so the seat is the only way to go. 😀

  5. Pingback: Butt Hurt

  6. Saddlemen’s model in the picture looks like intended for track purposes. If we take in consideration track riders spend most of the time hanging on, there would be no need for a really soft gel padding inside the saddles… 😛

    I’m kinda considering the sport line, but my case is even worse than yours, due to fact that it’d be an overseas shipping. :S

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