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Pillion seat comfort featured

Does Pillion Seat Comfort Matter? (A princess explains…)

Surely pillion seat comfort only matters to high maintenance princesses.

When it comes to motorcycles, it’s all about handling, power, beauty and price, right?
Well, for sure – if you’re the rider.

But if you’re sitting on the back of the motorcycle, pillion seat comfort is super important.
It makes a huge difference to whether a pillion wants to get on that motorcycle – or sulk at home instead.

That’s true, even if you’re not kind of a princess.

Pillion seats are often an afterthought – for motorcycle designers, and riders. But a comfortable pillion seat is a game changer for motorcycle passengers. The right pillion seat makes motorcycles 100% more appealing. And the wrong pillion seat is a huge obstacle to riding on the back of a motorcycle. If you’re uncomfortable, you’re miserable. 

Normally, I keep my princess needs mostly under control.
I don’t need a glittering crown.
I don’t need my own castle.

But I will stamp my foot, and demand one must-have royal accessory…

The right motorcycle passenger seat.

Why does it make such a difference?
I’m glad you asked.

Why Pillion Seat Comfort is So Important to a Motorcycle Passenger: 5 Reasons

This is not about throwing a tantrum for more attention.
It’s not about picking a fight.

There are legitimate reasons that pillion seat comfort makes a difference to those of us who ride on the back of motorcycles.

Here are 5 of them.

 1.  An uncomfortable seat makes for a scary ride.

You know those pillion seats that are tiny little perches way up high in the air?
They’re more fitting for passing birds than an actual person.

These high pillion perches are terrifying.
They make you feel very vulnerable.
And they mean you have to clamp yourself to the bike with your hands, feet, knees…whatever you can wrap around the rider to make you feel secure.

That’s scary.

It makes most motorcycle passengers dream of making a blankie fort instead…

motorcycle passenger in the blankie fort

2.  It’s painful.

When you’re hunched over against the rider with arms and legs clamped on for dear life, your muscles will complain.

A strained neck, sore back, aching arms, cramps in your legs…all these complaints are not the whinging of a spoiled princess.

They’re side effects of a pillion seat that makes no concessions to motorcycle passenger comfort.

3.  The wrong pillion seat is downright dangerous.

If your motorcycle passenger is holding on to you tightly in a vice grip of terror, that stops you being able to ride the bike naturally and confidently.

You won’t be able to move your arms and body fully if you have a pillion passenger welded to you.

That affects your ability to control and direct the bike.

Uh oh… is that a sharp corner coming up…?

4.  It leads to domestic unrest.

Riding with a clinging terrifying monkey attached to your back is going to make both the rider and the pillion pretty cranky.

When you get to your destination, there will likely be Words Exchanged.

The pillion will finally relax her death grip on you, and ease herself off the bike, complaining about her sore back, rock-heavy aching arms, and sky-high blood pressure.

And you, as the rider, will have had an equally horrible time.
You’re starting to wonder if you should just ride solo from here on in.

Or maybe just cut to the chase, and get a divorce.

pillion seats can lead to domestic unrest

5.  It creates negativity about motorcycles in general.

If the pillion riding experience is based around being in pain, being scared, and having her needs ignored, then that’s not going to end well.

It’s going to lead directly to saying no to riding with you, and feelings of general negativity towards motorcycles.

(Don’t even think about negotiating to bring your motorcycle into the house after a few of these rides.)

Pillion Seat Comfort Changes Everything – Here’s Proof

Let me tell you about my own experience with pillion seat issues.

Our touring bike is a Triumph Thunderbird.
It’s long and low, silver and sleek.
It has a crazy torque of 150 NM, and overtakes angry car drivers in 3 seconds.
It’s beautiful, it’s powerful.

And it’s the most comfortable bike I’ve ever ridden pillion on.

This is a motorcycle you can ride from morning until night, and love every second.
We’ve ridden 700 km in a day, checked into our motel, and gone out for dinner.

No worries.

I’m almost disappointed when we get to our destination on this bike, because it’s such a joy to be aboard.

But it wasn’t always like this.

pillion seat comfort changes everything

The Original Motorcycle Passenger Seat was TORTURE

The first time I rode on the back of the Bird, we were taking it out for a test ride.
It wasn’t ours yet.

I was in serious trouble within minutes.
That pillion seat was pure torture.
Narrow and thin, it cut deeply into the back of my thighs something cruel.

I started to lose feeling in my legs.
I wondered if I was maybe having a stroke.

And that motorcycle passenger seat from hell had a distinctly backward-leaning slope.
If we rode up any hills, I’d surely slide right off the back, and be left sitting smack bang in the middle of the road.

I wasn’t happy.

Now, I’m usually only around 20% princess.

I’ve done plenty of very long rides.
I’ve ridden on 100+ degree days, when the roads are actually melting.
I’ve ridden in gale force winds, and icy rain straight from Antarctica that cuts like knives through 5 layers of riding gear.

Never before have I insisted we stop because I’m suffering.
But this time, much to my shame, I begged Pat to pull over.
He did, surprised.

Don’t buy this bike, honey. I just can’t ride it with you.

Too late. He was already in love.

The Solution: Get a Better Pillion Seat

Luckily for me, Triumph make an awesome touring seat.
It’s as comfortable as your favorite couch, but it doesn’t look like one.

It’s perfect for princesses who can transform into rough, tough pillion riders.

It wasn’t cheap, but it was a sound investment in our motorcycling marriage:

  • Pat’s happy, because he doesn’t have to watch me standing at the window sobbing in my tiara as he rides away.
  • And I’m happy, because I never have to miss a road trip on this beautiful machine.

The right motorcycle passenger seat can make you feel like royalty.

I don’t go to many garden parties with the queen, it’s true.

But I bet my princess pillion seat is more comfortable than any feather bed at Buckingham Palace.


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    […] Among the truly great things Dr. Hardy does is to talk about the comfort aspect of riding pillion, the passenger accommodations on many motorcycles can be less than accommodating. If you’re trying to get your better half into riding with you it is definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration. For more information you should check out this post entitled, ” A Pillion Seat Fit for a Princess” […]

    You are hilarious! I enjoy reading your blog. I can relate to everything you say. My hubby is considerate and does everything he can to make me comfortable! Yay for chivalry. I’m married to my knight in shining armor! I say that because he makes our rides fun and comfortable, it certainly isn’t “all about him”.

    Thanks for your kind words, Jody! You’re a lucky woman! And you so obviously ‘get’ how good riding can be for your relationship, too! Is there anything better than roaring through the world with your favorite person?

    …but you you leave your reader dangling! Just what seat did you buy?

      Thanks for your question, Mark: we got the Triumph touring seat for the Thunderbird – a little pricey but very plush…I deserve it! 😉

    What happened? Your posts seem to be getting less and less…
    Anyway, I currently ride a ’17 FLSTN, it is cholo’d out & I swore it would never have a pee-pad, having a one-of-a-kind custom solo saddle with backrest & matching tank & fender bibs. But when you meet the one, what can you do? So, I definitely did not want to sacrifice my style, my sweet Lola had been my first love for a while. Looking at the pillion, you would probably be thinking “that poor gal”, but looks can be deceiving *IF* you are willing to lay out some dough. Both my gals are priceless, so even though the passenger setup cost me more than my custom solo, it was worth every penny. I now have a matching pillion & sissybar pad. I looks almost like a 2-up, but as I eluded, the passenger pillion is very thin, maintaining that sleek bib-like look I wanted. Now, it does rise up & cup a bit about 2/3 the way back, where the bones in your rear are, but then it slopes down past the lines of the sissybar to nearly flush. While that still isn’t thick, it is ultra-comfortable. The pillion pan is layered with varied density memory foam, has an intermediate gel layer & a top gel layer to keep her bottom cool, dry & to more evenly distribute weight. Everything is also wrapped in the same source & grade leather that Mulliner uses in custom Bentley Mulsanne interiors, complete with the large padded double diamond stitching. While many would cringe at first glance, we have ridden over 2000 miles each month together, including a 500 mile day last weekend. If looking for a way to maintain your style & have a lot of options, many that aren’t any more expensive than a decent off the shelf saddle, I would highly recommend calling Shad at C&C Motorcycle Seats a call, or checking out ccseats.com.

    Great article Liz, my wonderful husband has just ordered a sargent seat for our GSA, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it!

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