ABR’s Resident Expert Of Everything Bikes Answers Your Questions…
Q. Hi Dave, I’ve recently moved to an adventure bike from sports bikes. I’ve never really done long trips but I’m now looking forward to a summer tour. Th e only concern I have is comfort on long mileage days. What can I do to make things better?Philip Meehup, Stow
A. Good question! Th ere are many ways to improve long distance comfort and it’s all about tailoring the bike to your personnel preference. Let’s start with, what I think are, the two most important modifications you can make; screen and seat. Your standard screen can be improved by fitting a screen spoiler to the top. MRA, Touratech and other motorcycle accessory dealers off er these. They simply bolt or clamp to the top of the standard screen and they’ll deflect air over your head and lessen wind buffeting. They can be a little awkward to set to your preference, but many riders swear by them. Replacing the standard screen with an aftermarket one can work well, just check reviews online before you buy as some are obviously better than others.
If your bike is a popular model, it may be worth searching eBay for a good used example. Do your research on your model of bike but remember what suits one rider may not suit you.
When it comes to seats, the expression ‘monkey bum’ is known to most bikers and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Bike manufacturers never seem to get it right with the seats and sometimes aesthetics take over function.
First thing is height, as standard most manufacturers off er their bikes with two seat settings, low and high. Th e problem with having a low seat is that you can get leg cramps as most footrests aren’t adjustable and the riding position becomes cramped. If you need a low seat, look into buying a footrest lowering kit as well.
For comfort at the top end of the price range look at aftermarket seats. Th ese are usually expensive but generally far better than standard. Another option is having your own seat modified with a gel insert to provide more all-day comfort. These are good mods if done well!
An alternative to a new seat or a gel insert is an Airhawk inflatable seat that fits over your own, the best bit about these is that they can be transferred between bikes. If you’re looking to save a few pounds then the cheapest option, which is also an old favourite, is the sheepskin seat cover. Th ese work well at providing extra comfort, but try and find an untreated one. Th e natural lanolin in sheep wool is what makes it waterproof, if it’s treated this is lost. Now for the cockpit, it can be difficult adjusting mirrors to the best setting without staring at your own shoulders! Mirror extenders that also lift these slightly are a great mod and give a far better view of what’s behind. Bars can be changed to a higher setting by either replacing them for a better bend or using a lift kit to raise them. But do check that brake/clutch and throttle controls are not affected by this.
The main advice I would off er is to take your bike out for a long-distance test ride before your summer adventure. Pay attention to see if anything is causing you discomfort and concentrate on getting that right.
With that said, the easiest way to prevent discomfort on long rides is to have plenty of picture and coffee stops, get out of the saddle for a few minutes and give yourself a stretch! It’s cheap and you’ll have some pics to remind you of the trip.