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Improving a KLR650 with a Seat Concepts custom seat

Improving a KLR650 with a Seat Concepts custom seat

 

I first met Lendon of Seat Concepts when the office was in a small warehouse in San Jacinto, CA. At that time, the company had just started manufacturing molded foam replacements for motorcycle seats. With most of its employees coming from a motocross background, the company has a vested interest in creating comfortable seats. Eighteen months later, I saw him again at Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ and was able to catch up on how the business has grown. Seat Concepts has moved to a larger warehouse and now manufactures not only the foam and seat covers, but the seat pans for some of the more popular models (such as the KLR650). He is swamped with orders these days, so it makes me appreciate even more the time he spent with me during the install of my custom Seat Concepts seat back in October 2012. I had visited the shop with my 2003 Kawasaki KLR650 just before leaving on a 16,000-mile journey from Southern California to the tip of South America.

 

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The motorcycle was so clean then…

Ergonomics are a big part of preparing your motorcycle for long stretches of miles or lengths of time. Dialing in the right set up is key. Adjusting where your hands grip on the handlebars, where your feet rest on the footpegs, or where your rear end sits on the seat, is a personal venture. But you will know when it’s uncomfortable and needs to be changed. Your butt is most likely the first place to let you know. I have tried the stock seat, which my mass molded to its shape instead of the other way around. I have tried a Corbin flat seat, which was like vinyl wrapped plank of wood. Neither was very comfortable for longer than half a day. In searching for under the bottom cushion, the only supplement I found was a sheepskin seat cover by Alaska Leather. Out of habit more than function, the sheepskin came with me to South America. It did not last to the end of the trip because it was worn thin by so many years of use.

Alison's Wanderland

Comfort on the sunny days…

Alison's Wanderland

…and the rainy ones.

Having a custom seat built was probably the best (and most comfort conscious) decision I made for the journey. I am a tall rider, with most of my length in the lower half, so I was interested in a higher seat. Seat Concepts wasn’t yet producing a tall version of the KLR650 seat, so Lendon added an inch of high-density foam to increase the height of the molded foam he had in the warehouse. The foam was already shaped to have a wider sitting area, which was the needed improvement for longer days of riding. After a few layers of glue; some swift moves with an oscillating knife; a grinder to smooth out the bumps; then a tug and a few pulls and it was time to staple on the cover. Within an hour, the seat was ready to go. He made the installation look quick and painless, and assured me it would be easy enough to do at home. But in case you don’t want to install the new foam and cover on your own, they will for a nominal charge. Nowadays, they offer more ready-to-order options of low, stock, commuter, and tall for the KLR650 as well as for many other models. You can request softer or firmer foam depending on your weight and comfort level. There are multiple fabric options for the seat cover, and what’s available depends on your make and model. I opted for the standard black vinyl. After 6 months of heavy riding time, alternating between arid deserts and snowy mountains, there were no rips, tears, or snags on the durable cover material. Even after my KLR took a dive in Bolivia, the mud that was splattered on the water resistant fabric wiped off easily, leaving me with a pristine seat.

Alison's Wanderland

Meeting another rider in Peru with a Seat Concepts seat

Starting off on a long's days ride.

Starting off on a long’s days ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the trip, I sold my KLR650 in southern Chile. The only thing I wished I brought back with me was the seat. Barely broken in at 16,000 miles (unlike my motorcycle that had 56,000 miles) I longed for its comfort while riding various bikes back in the States. Had I had room in my luggage, I might have considered it, but then again leaving the guy who bought my KLR650 with an incomplete motorcycle would have been a little discourteous. I did wish him luck with the raised seat, especially since there was quite the height difference. I knew when I returned home, I would be on the hunt for another motorcycle. For the last year, I have testing out different bikes in search of the best fit, but that’s a different story. At least when it came to seats, I already knew where to go because Seat Concepts offers a much-improved seat for most adventure bikes out there. I finally settled on a BMW F800GS. To my surprise, I thought the KLR650 had an uncomfortable stock seat, but after spending a lot of saddle time with the F800GS, I will definitely be ordering an upgrade from Seat Concepts. So, to Lendon and the entire development team… thanks for all the thoughtfulness that goes into a great product. I will be coming back for another.

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4 Comments

  • alison on Jul 28, 2014 Reply

    Well said Greg! When the 800 GSA came out last year, I had hopes their upgraded “adventure” seat would improve on the dis-comfort… nope. Better shape, but still a hard seat. (And it doesn’t fit on the regular 800.) So, I will wait until I get back to the states in the fall and bring a comfortable seat home with me.

  • Greg Hertel on Jul 28, 2014 Reply

    Not surprising to me that the BMW seat wasn’t comfortable. I’ve owned many Beemers and none were great. The worst was the so called “Comfort Seat” on the K1000RT. After a short trip on it, I assumed that the “Dis” was accidentally left off the name of the seat. Russel Day long solved the problem.

  • Dave DeCato on Jul 25, 2014 Reply

    I totally agree there is not a “stock” seat made that is comfy after a few hrs off road. I had Renazco make one for my XR650L using the Corbin pan (I also thought the Corbin was a vinyl covered board) What world of difference. 300 miles off road and it is not my butt that is complaining the most at the end of the day!

    • alison on Jul 25, 2014 Reply

      There is such a difference in stamina when your butt is not the first thing to tire out on a long day’s ride. I met another rider in Peru who put a Seat Concepts on his XR650L, and he too mentioned what an improvement! (Great bike btw.)

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