If you ever needed proof that many factory motorcycle seats were designed more with styling in mind than comfort, just look at the number of companies selling aftermarket seats. If the manufacturers were doing their jobs, the aftermarket guys would be out of business; instead, they’re flourishing. Cee Bailey’s, known for its motorcycle windscreens, is one of them. The company has also been making aircraft seating for years. An airplane seat has to be good since you can’t really pull over up there and get out and walk around for a while if your butt hurts, so I gave them a shot at making a custom touring seat for my Suzuki V-Strom.
Cee Bailey’s started making motorcycle seats for California Highway Patrol bikes, and later adapted the process for civilian applications. The guiding principle is to distribute body weight evenly over a large surface to eliminate hot spots. A temperature- and pressure-sensitive Confor memory foam (the same foam used in the aircraft seats) “reads” body temperature and pressure to prevent the restriction of blood flow. Cee Bailey’s says the finished seat takes about eight to 20 hours to break in; that’s right in line with what I experienced.
The process begins with filling out a questionnaire you print out from the Cee Bailey’s website. It asks the usual information about the bike, and about the rider and passenger, and then gets into what kind of seat you have now, what you like and dislike about it, and how many miles you typically ride in a day.
The next step is to call Danny, who makes the seats, and talk with him before the work begins; this step is recommended by Cee Bailey’s to make sure the customer and the builder are on the same page. Danny asked me a few more questions, and by the end of the call he had a pretty good idea of what I wanted—a wider, flatter seat than the stock one, with more of a touring contour than a dual-sport shape. I boxed up my stock seat—Cee Bailey’s builds its seats on your stock base—and sent it off.
A couple of weeks later it came back (time in the shop averages three to five days, not counting shipping). It was worlds better than the stock seat, but it still wasn’t quite right. I made a few notes, called Danny, and sent it back; adjustments are a no-cost service. When it returned again, it was like that last bowl of porridge in the fairy tale, just right. The seating platform was wide and supportive, and since it was built on the stock base, fit on the bike was not an issue. I had just the rider portion worked on, but Cee Bailey’s can do the passenger section, too.
The covers are available in marine-grade vinyl (which I opted for) and leather. A seat heater, a slip-on rain cover, and a variety of colors and custom stitching are also available as extra-cost options. The base price for a solo seat averages $300. Some seats are a bit harder or more involved to make, so the price can vary; this is one of the details that gets ironed out in that phone call to Danny.
If you’re unhappy with your bike’s stock seat—and judging by the burgeoning seat aftermarket, you probably are—Cee Bailey’s can put a smile back on your face. They put one on mine.
For more information: Contact Cee Bailey’s at (800) 788-0618