Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Butt Hurts

Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks when I get a new bike. I make my purchase decision based on the features and functionality of the bike as a whole, knowing that there will be certain aspects that I will want/need to change. And the process of making those changes is often trial and error.

For all the technology and creature comfort built into the 2009 H-D Ultra Classic, the seat is not the highlight of the experience. In fact, it makes my butt hurt after a couple of hours on the road. Maybe it's just my particular butt, as I've changed the seat on every bike that I've ridden for any period of time. And it's seldom a simple fix because one really doesn't know if you've found the perfect seat until you get a few hundred miles on it. So I've become quite adept at buying and selling used seats on ebay and Craigslist.

But this one has me perplexed. I had rented an Ultra for a weekend before I purchased, so knew the seat was one of the first modifications. I ordered the new H-D Hammock seat at time of purchase, and really liked the rider comfort, but the passenger pillion slanted down, causing my bride to constantly slip out of position. I returned the Hammock and went back to the original.

Then I heard about the mid-year seat change in 2010 that introduced a "low" version of the original Comfort Stitch seat. I special ordered it and knew within a couple of hundred miles that it wasn't going to work for this rider. The "low" feature created a pocket that crowded the "boys" and positioned me too close to the tank. I found myself constantly pushing myself back in the seat, placing pressure on my tail bone. So I sold the seat on ebay and went back to the original. And began a search for something better while continuing to ride.

I checked-out all the usual after-market seats - Mustang, Corbin, Saddlemen, etc. - but wasn't impressed with their width or depth of foam on either the rider or passenger portion, or both. Also considered a custom build from Russell Day-Long, but hesitated at the cost and inconvenience. The H-D Road Zeppelin (RZ) was always an option, but I wasn't willing to fork over the big bucks for a new one with the recent experience on the other three. Then I found a "almost new" one on Craigslist and bought it....along with a rider back rest.

The RZ is an improvement, but still doesn't meet my criteria for long-distance comfort for me or my bride. The rider back rest, however, is a god-send. I've always wanted to get one, just never made the leap. I'll never ride (long distances) without it now!

So where do we go from here? I'll likely be placing an order for the Russell Day-Long in the next few weeks. I'm impressed with the engineering and have not found a single bad remark about them. More importantly, the raves seem to address on all the points that cause me pain today. Fingers-crossed...and RZ for sale.

I've been tinkering with the RZ a little to see if we can make it work.

The critique from the bride was that she was slipping forward when braking and that the (Tourpak) backrest/armrests were too low because the seat felt higher. Further observation was that she was actually sitting a little forward in the seat as a result of the backrest, which kept her from slipping back into the "pocket".

An online search for Tourpak relocation kits yielded several candidates, but a unit made by George Anderson seemed to be getting rave reviews. George's kit is first class - excellent design, quality manufacturing, and awesome powder coated paint (gloss black). It allows the Tourpak to be moved back 1 1/4 or 2 1/2 inches and raised by approximately 5/8 inch. The combination of moving backwards and slightly up was perfect for allowing my bride to scoot back into the pocket for a more comfortable ride and placement of the backrest/armrests.

It took about 30 minutes to install the Tourpak relocation kit and 90 minutes for the initial test ride. It received a thumbs-up approval from the bride. We're giving it a 1,400 mile test run to Arkansas at the end of the month and I'll post an update in that ride report.

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