Seats are perhaps the most replaced factory parts in the riding world. I have replaced a few myself. There must be a better way! One of my bikes has a stock seat that is “pretty” comfortable for 90 percent of my riding miles. It’s not enough of a butt pain to replace, but it can be a distraction over successive high-mileage days.
That’s when I bust out the AirHawk Comfort Seating System. It only takes a minute or two to inflate and install at a gas stop. Instantly, it’s like I have a new seat.
AirHawk technology is ingenious, a crossover from high-end medical technology. Imagine an inflatable egg-crate of large interconnected air cells. The egg-crate cells allow rider pressure to “squish” air from cell to cell. This air movement relieves pressure on hot spots and spreads additional support over more surface area. The design also provides adequate passages around and between the individual cells, allowing constant fresh air to circulate between the rider and the seat, keeping the AirHawk cool.
The medical-quality bladder is zipped into a washable cover with a non-skid bottom, a smooth polyester top cover and three-layer knit polyester mesh sides that allow cooling airflow. A series of adjustable straps secure the AirHawk to the bike seat.
Open the inflator valve, fully inflate the bladder, zip it into the cover, and attach to the bike. Sit on the upright bike. Open the valve slightly and slowly bleed air out until you feel yourself sink down in the air pad. Wiggle side-to-side without moving the bike. You should feel the air shift beneath you. If any pressure point touches the seat bottom, add more air. The recommended inflation level is one half-inch above the base of the air pad. It sounds tricky but it’s a snap.
AirHawk technology was designed for daylong wheelchair users to ameliorate pressure ulcers and chair sores. Long-haul truckers, military pilots and construction equipment operators quickly adopted it, since the Dry Floatation system also isolates vibration and shock, and it’s perfect for long-distance rides. I keep my AirHawk R in my saddlebag with the straps pre-adjusted. It literally takes a minute to install.
Are there downsides? The squish factor can make enthusiastic sport riding (read: “hanging off”) a bit sketchy since the AirHawk doesn’t easily facilitate sliding across the saddle. But, the AirHawk is not meant for knee-draggers; it’s meant for comfort. It will increase the seat height a tad so expect that, but I didn’t find it to be an issue.
All AirHawk products come with an owner’s manual and a patch kit, should it ever be needed. AirHawk offers a 60-day money back guarantee for any reason through the original U.S. dealer. ROHO Inc., AirHawk’s parent company, offers a 36-month limited warranty on the AirHawk R for defects in materials and workmanship. I got my AirHawk R and a smaller pillion for my passenger from Lee Parks Design. Pricing ranges from $82.95 to $170.95.
(This Gearlab review was published in the October 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)