I had heard a lot about how effective air seats are for long motorcycle tours and I wanted to try one out badly! Whenever I rode through an area that holds too much moisture and heat for long, the hard stock seat of my KTM becomes troublesome as a lot of heat gets trapped between my Cordura touring pants and bums! For such instances, you need an air seat that consists of an air bladder inside, which transfers tension evenly to prevent your bum from being pressurized on specific points. The sides of the seat are covered with mesh so there’s air circulation through the seat which helps in keeping it cool and dry.
The air cushion from Ride-on-Air has all that! It comes with an inflatable bladder having air chambers, a cover for it with mesh on the sides, two ribbon like strips to strap it on the seat and an air pump to inflate the seat! I tested the seat for a couple of thousand kilometers on my ride form Bangalore to LEH Ladakh and back under varying roads and climatic conditions. When you first receive the seat, its important to get used to it as the overall riding experience changes. Since this product has specifications that need to be adhered in order for the seat to perform at its best, their website has link to user instructions and installation guides that seem extremely useful.
Below are some detailed FAQ’s about the Ride-on-Air cushion:
1) Where do you buy one from?
Erm, from their website addressed www.Rideonair.in or through any of their dealers in various cities, listed under the ‘Dealers’ section of the website.
2) Can you call it a STRAP ON seat?
Yes, it is a strap on erm, seat. This too, caters to two of your important bits.
2) How much air do you fill the seat with, for it to be ride ready?
Well firstly, you need to fill quite a bit of air, at least half its capacity. Then, you need to strap it over the stock seat and sit on your motorcycle. Once you’ve done that, you need to leak air out of the air valve using the ‘deflate key’ (it is simpler to use your nails). The air valve appears to be an inch ahead of your crotch so be careful. Let the air out till you feel a gap of about a centimeter between your bum and the stock seat. That’s it, you’re ready to roll! I know it’s a bit complicated but you need to get used to it. I think I can now apply for a job at ISRO headquarters since I got that figured out. 🙂
3) Really? You don’t fill air in the bladder like a balloon?
No you don’t, else it’ll be as hard as your stock seat. Less air=more comfort. But If you reduce the air too much, then you might as well not have the air seat! Now you know.
4) How soft and comfortable does the ride really get?
Frankly speaking, it becomes very comfortable, especially if you’ve roamed around all day wearing riding shoes! I do tend to make the ‘ahh’ noise on it if I’m tired, feels that good!
5) How long can you ride for with the Ride-on-Air seat on?
I was able to ride 500 kilometers with the air seat but of course, with short breaks every 200 kilometers. Karthik from Ride-on-Air too, suggested 500 kilometers is what the seat can do.
6) I can’t use it for longer rides?
Well, you can but you’ll need to deflate the seat and inflate it again to prevent memory effect else the seat won’t perform at its optimum level.
7) Can I inflate it with Nitrogen?
Hmm that’s a unique question. I haven’t tried that but want to know how it would feel. The boffins at Ride-on-Air should be able to answer that!
8) Can I do track days or lean my motorcycle in the ghat region with the air seat on?
NO! If you try leaning excessively, you will feel like you’re falling off. You won’t actually fall off but with the seat under your bum, your mind can sense that you’re literally floating on air. Aggressive leaning can also unsettle the seat since it is strapped using two ribbons. Slight lean angles are fine but scraping your foot pegs or sticking your butt cheek off is not recommended by me or by Ride-on-Air.
9) What if I need seat comfort on the track?
Well in that case, I suggest you sit at home on your sofa, much on cheese sandwich and watch MotoGP!
10) How does one exactly feel with the air seat under their bum?
One could feel like they’re floating on their seat because there’s lots of air in those air chambers and so the pressure shifts based on how you keep moving on the seat. It isn’t a scary feeling, you need to get used to it or should I say, you need to ‘run in’ the air seat! The air seat also cuts down vibrations from the engine and makes you feel like your motorcycle has the softest suspension over potholes.
11) Does it alter the ride height?
Obviously, it does. If you’re a rider who’s keen about ride height, aerodynamics, windscreen height, handlebar height and other silly little aspects like I am, then it’ll throw all your calculations and measurements out of proportion. The ride height increased by an inch or two but that’s a lot for a short guy like me! Since I’ve gone high on my seat, there are times when I had to fight against headwinds pushing my head and sometimes I had to lean forward by a small margin because the handlebars were low. It felt like I was riding somebody else’s motorcycle!
12) Can you take the road less traveled with the air seat?
If the road is less traveled, then it obviously will be in a bad shape! Trail riding is fun if your motorcycle isn’t too high else there are more chances of the motorcycle reaching the ground before your leg does. Secondly, the air seat feels totally out of place over bad roads. Comfort doesn’t go well with throwing your motorcycle over rocks and splashing dirt around. It’s like mixing that bland tomato soup with Chilli Paneer, I mean who does shit like that?
13) Can the seat be used for other purposes?
You could use it to strap it to your tail bag in case you need back support or use it as a pillow! I got creative and used it as a pillow when I camped in Jispa. 🙂
13) Is it prone to punctures?
Yes, only if you expose the bladder to a sharp object. Ride-on-Air will pick the seat up from your address and have the puncture fixed. I’m not sure about the cost of the puncture, as far as I know it shouldn’t exceed 300 INR.
14) Did I experience bum pain while using the ride on air seat?
Yes, I did. The seat is so intricate that it depends on a lot of external factors for it to perform flawlessly else it may only work as a soft seat and nothing else. Humidity, presence of crosswinds, temperature are major factors that affect the air seat. It was hot and humid when I rode across Haryana and Chandigarh so I did feel the presence of heat and sweat under my butt. Vents on the side of the seat do work but not all the time. As a result, The seat began to trap heat and got uncomfortable.
15) How much does it cost?
The unit I received, also called M1 Universal air cushion costs 3,999 INR!
16) Is it worth that much money?
Frankly speaking, that’s a lot of money for little comfort. Firstly, it’s a bit tricky to find the right pressure to get yourself rolling so you need to have some patience. Secondly, you can’t shave the chicken strips off your rear tire since you can’t lean too much with the seat on and lastly, it’s not feasible to ride off road with the seat on. It’s a matter of choice in the end, especially if you’re totally willing to trade that money for a bit of comfort.
I feel that this product could be improvised further, especially with regard to air circulation. Until then though, the Ride-on-Air seat to me would make more sense on motorcycles that are limited to staying on arrow straight smooth highways or for people who are used to doing such rides for short or medium distances (Sunday morning breakfast riders and Harley Davidson owners, you listening?).
When it comes to me, well I would use this seat depending on how the weather ahead is and after taking into consideration the kind of roads I’ll be riding on. Or, I might just strap it on the pillion seat the day somebody comes along on a long ride, I’m sure she’ll need the cushion since the Duke’s pillion rider seat is made out of wood (don’t you take that point seriously)!