PRODUCT TEST: SEAT CONCEPTS FOR BMW

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peADVaPRODUCT: The Seat Concepts BMW R1200GSW replacement seat was designed to fix a chronic problem that plagues the entire GS lineup. The OEM seats, both front and rear, tend to slope forward, causing the rider and passenger to constantly slide forward. To address this, Seat Concepts uses its proprietary foam, which is dished in the rear, to remove the slope. This creates a wider rear contact area for more support. Instead of simply removing foam from the rear to achieve this, the front portion of the seat is raised. This provides added comfort for the long haul without compromising the reach to the ground. The seats are offered in a kit form that includes replacement foam with a variety of covers—embossed, gripper/carbon or all carbon fiber. They also offer a complete replacement front seat that uses an injection-molded base, foam and choice of cover. The rear seat kit includes foam and a cover. The foam is slightly dished in the rear and raised in the front. Rear covers are offered separately, so you can have a front/rear matching set if you only need a front seat.
peADVcPOSITIVE/FRONT: Anyone who has ridden the BMW 1200GSW knows what a pain in the crotch the OEM seat is. While it looks great in the showroom, it’s weak on the road. The latest GS liquid-cooled version is even worse than the air-cooled version. The seat is thinner and the slope is more pronounced. One common fix is to place the front height adjuster in the tall position while the rear is in the low slot. This diminishes some of the slope effect, but not all of it. It also defeats the purpose of having a height-adjustable seat, since the rear is always in the low position, causing long-legged riders to suffer. With two years and thousands of miles on our GS, we’ve tried several different fixes: air pads, sheepskins with foam added and raising the front. We have to ask why we didn’t just go straight to Seat Concepts in the first place? The dished portion of the seat provides more additional support than looks would suggest. With the stock seat, two hours was pretty much all our rear ends could handle. With the Seat Concepts seat, we recently did a 600-mile ride in one day, only stopping for food and fuel, without a single complaint from our derrieres. Another huge bonus is that the height adjuster actually works. For the majority of the time, we put the seat in the upper position, giving our 6-foot rider more legroom. When hitting the dirt, we change to the low setting, which makes life easier for those inevitable foot dabs.
POSITIVE/REAR: Even though the current-generation GSW offers a more comfortable rear seat than the air-/oil-cooled version, it’s still plagued with the forward slope. My 5-foot-10 passenger (my wife) was constantly banging helmets with me and asking for a break at about the hour-and-a-half mark. Her biggest complaint was the position of her knees while trying to push back on the seat. We added an aftermarket peg lowering kit that helped marginally, but the forward slide persisted. When we first mounted the Seat Concepts foam kit to the OEM base, it looked like it would put her too high on the rear of the bike, resulting in increased wind buffeting, but the first time she climbed on the bike and sat down she said, “Nice!” And once we got out on the highway, the fear of added wind buffeting never materialized. The extra height on the front of the seat was immediately noticed and appreciated, as was the additional support from the dished portion. Because of the overall height increase, my wife’s knee and ankle positions were more relaxed, greatly improving comfort. An added bonus: my favorite riding partner, my wife, is now more willing to go for longer rides.
NEGATIVE: This is a tough one, since the Seat Concepts seats are probably the single best comfort modification you can make to the BMW, but the added height of the rear seat means it gets kicked a lot more when you swing a leg over the bike. If this is an issue for 6-foot-tall riders, it will be worse for anyone shorter. My wife also said the rear seat height made it a little tougher for her to climb onto the back, but she did say the inconvenience was worth the added comfort. When riding at slow speed in the dirt, the added height of the passenger can be felt.
BOTTOM LINE: Lack of comfort is one of the biggest reasons ADV bikes sit or only see short trips. Seat Concepts managed to take the pain-in-the-butt excuse out of the trip planning. Whether you decided on the complete front seat or the kit version, this is a no-brainer for rider and passenger comfort. At $400 for a complete front seat and rear foam and cover, the price is on the lower end of the scale. Knock $110 off that total if you want to mount the foam and cover on your OEM seat base. Check out Seat Concepts’ website for a complete price list. o

CONTACT: https://seatconcepts.com

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