Choosing a Seat
I give unqualified recommendations to Russell. I've had two; the new (two piece) saddle is even good looking. Just about every serious LD rider I know starts out and ends up with a Russell. Easier than sorting through their web page is calling them. When I asked them to rush my order to meet a date for an Iron Butt ride, they did. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised at their prices and willingness to cooperate.
In the 17 years since my first Russell, I've never heard anything but unqualified kudos about them from serious riders. A friend of mine rode three consecutive 1500 mile days on one, also an Iron Butt Rally. When he got his latest new bike, a Russell was his first accessory.
I rode a stock seat on my GS for several years. I had a fuel cell added about 3 years ago. It gives me about a 340 mile range. I almost never used all that until I had the stock seat rebuilt by Russell. Now, when I'm trying to cover miles getting somewhere, stopping before 300+ miles seems like an inconvenience. YMMV, but I doubt it will. And, I'm sure they've made saddles for the R1100R.
I've had several Bill Mayer saddles and have been pleased enough that
I haven't tried alternatives.
If I did, though, I'd try his brother and then Russell, who manufacture the original Mayer pattern.
How much taller/wider are the Russell seats than stock?
Not any taller, but wider. The secret to Russell comfort (I think) is that they even-out all your weight on and around your hips, not much on your thighs or the anatomy between your hips. The seat has to be a little wider than most stockers to do this. My GS'Russell is only about 1-1/2 inches wider than the stock rider's seat. Not any taller.
Mine is their 'half moon' upholstery design (is that a pun?), and I think it looks a lot better than some of their earlier designs.
That said, if you're going for fashion, by a Corbin, and suffer.
The Russell saddle on my GS raised me up 1 3/8". The people at Russell told me this increase in saddle height is due to the piece of wood they mount the spring to that runs side to side on the saddle. The side to side spring that helps support your sit bones is one of the main features of the Russell that really makes the difference in comfort. It's my understanding the big difference between a Russell and a Mayer is the internal spring. Russell bought the patent for the spring design and the Mayer brothers use foam instead of the spring to support the sit bones.
Â From a GS riders perspective I was a little worried about riding off road standing up on the pegs with a Russell Day Long. I thought the "wings" would get in the way. After doing some off-roading (500 miles worth on a Baja trip) I found the "wings" worked out better than the stock saddle. For those of you familiar with riding in the Scout position where you stand up on the pegs and tuck your knees against the tank for support, the "wings" also make a great place to tuck your knees when shifting your weight to the rear.
If you are serious about a Russell I would recommend riding into their shop and having them make the saddle while you wait. It's a same day service thing and they can totally customize the placement of the saddle for your riding position. When I had mine made I dropped the bike off in the morning and walked back to the hotel. A couple hours later they called me and asked me to come down for the final fit. They had the foam on the saddle but not the cover. Â I sat on the bike and the guy making the saddle looked at my riding position, the bend in my arms and decided to move me back 1 1/2" from where he had me based on the pictures he took when I dropped the bike off.
Since they used my original seat pan to make the Day Long I bought a stock R1150GS-Adventure seat off E-Bay and use the stocker when I commute to work in the rain. It really is amazing how much more comfortable the Russell is than the stock seat.
The Bill Mayer saddle on my R1100RT is taller than the stock saddle but also makes the bike easier to move around because it is so much narrower at the front. My leg goes straight down now, not out-and-down as it did with the stock seat.
BTW, the Mayer seat is worth every penny and the ridein service was great.
Just another POV.
I tried to ride on the stock seat on my R1200RT for a few thousand miles. Not good. I got a custom seat made on a ride-in by custom upholstery shop. I rode it for 10,000 miles in one trip and was not happy. I took it back for an adjustment and rode on it for another 10,000 miles. I was still not
happy. Then I rode it to Rick Mayer's shop in Anderson, CA and he made me a new seat. Now I can ride as long as I want as much as I want and I am a happy boy. Rick did a great job for me but I did take my donkey to his shop for a great matchup.
Yes Mike, You got a good deal on the seat, if it fits your donkey.
Not an apologist for Rick but that is how he makes his seats (I know - I've watched him make several for me).
Rick Mayer -
Strips off cover then takes a big drill motor to the seat foam to shape it to your butt. Then cuts out area where your "sit bones" are and puts in a special linear compression foam. Finally he adds foam blocks with hot glue and goes to work with those with a big drill motor with sanding pads - foam flying all over the place - until it is shaped with the "Wings" that are distinct to a fine LD saddle. Then a new cover is cut, hand stitched and then stretched over the seat. It is at this time that adjustments are made if you are a ride-in. You take it out on the bike with the cover loosely in place and make sure it suits you. If not - back to the grinder.
Rocky Mayer -
I've never had a Rocky seat but it is my understanding that he starts with fresh preformed foam made to a mold for the specific bike (ala Russell) and then put onto your seat frame. That is shaped for the specific rider and then covered - again with a hand stitched cover that is stretched over the
foam and base.
They have preformed molds for each seat. The key is they have a spring (Two for us "larger" guys) that stretch across the seat from "wing to wing".
Think a curved bent piece of steel. This gives support to the seat that is superior (IMHO) to just foam wings alone. Then the seat shape is tweaked to fit the rider and finally covered - again with a hand sewn stretched cover Springs are similar to this http://www.spring-mattress.com/detail_en659.html
with coils that are more compact. The ends are bound so not to have sharp edges that will rip the seat.
Getting in late on this thread (as usual), but I'll toss in my two cents....
Many LD Riders would say the Hayabusa is an unusually challenging platform to try to turn into a Endurance Rally bike. And by and large... they would be correct.
Still, I put on 31,000 miles on the Hayabusa this year, and I am reasonable sure it would NOT have been possible without the Rick Mayer seat.
Happily, since Rick is a mere 10-hour jaunt away, I was able to do the Ride-In thing myself. A picture is worth 1000 words, so lets look at a few....
Here is Rick Mayer working on my stock seat pan, trimming away some excess foam.
Rick uses five (5) different versions of closed-cell foam (of various differences in properties) to make each seat, not including the factory foam. So, yes, Joel... the very base of the seat, underneath the other five closed-cell foam he uses, is a thin layer of the factory foam. Rick explains this on his website:
"Obviously, the stock foam already on your seat is perfectly molded to the shape of your pan. The base of the foam sticks to your pan exactly, without slipping or sliding. Therefore, it would not make sense to remove the stock foam completely. Because of this, some stock foam remains on your saddle."
Here is Rick cutting my basket-weave vinyl seat cover - all by hand - while the Busa sets waiting in the background:
And... the final result, installed on the Hayabusa:
Gosh, Tom is such an authority on just about anything he chooses to comment, but I have to quantify his statement here. Sorry, Tom.
He has the numbers right for COMFORT, but if you care about QUALITY at all ...
Russell is still a 10. Corbin is a 1-0. That is ONE (big) ZERO.
Any Corbin will be guaranteed to fail within a year. Something WILL go wrong. A seam will split, a rivet will fall out, a stitch will unstitch. And for this oh-lord-it-has-never-happened-before-because-we-are-perfect event you will only have to pay 100% of the original purchase price to have the you-must-have-caused-it failure corrected.
Comparatively speaking, Corbin "customer service" makes George Bush look like Albert Einstein. No, make that George Bush with a lobotomy vs Einstein. :)
But, rather than try to convince anyone to never but a Corbin, I simply say: if you buy Corbin you deserve what you get.
(Yes, it is based on about 300,000 miles of experience.)
Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Sam, I laughed out loud at your post so I almost hate to disagree with you. I haven't experienced any of the negative things about Corbin of which you speak. My current Corbin has over 70K on it and it's still very comfortable (to me) and is still in good condition. I bought it from the Corbin semi parked at a m/c show; it was the gold wing 'sample' at an HD show so clearly it was just taking up space. It's a wonderful seat (for me) and I've had no problems with it. It wasn't custom or 'special' - just an off-the-shelf seat.
I also had Corbins on my Harleys before I 'upgraded' to a very expensive Russell that just never quite fit me right. I got tired of sending it in for changes and just left it as it was - mostly comfortable but surely not the Holy Grail of seats (for me - notice the trend).
These seat threads are interesting because there seems to be very little grey and lots of black or white. Â Unlike lots of other things we discuss depending on the season - lights, radar detectors, etc - a seat for yourlong distance bike is a very subjective item :)
Also check Tom Austin’s Corbin project here