Seating comfort is an individual matter – everyone is different and what works for one person will not necessarily be a good choice for another. That being said, the common observation is that the stock DRZ seat is very uncomfortable to sit on for even short periods of time. I appear to be in the majority on this topic because I found the stock DRZ seat to be painful after only about 30 minutes of riding. I tried two different solutions, both of which worked well.
Airhawk Seat Cushion
Airhawk Comfort Seating System makes seat cushions in multiple sizes and styles. I have used the small cruiser model for years on every dual sport adventure motorcycle I’ve previously owned and found it to be the most comfortable seating I’ve ever experienced on a motorcycle.
With the Airhawk you are basically sitting on a small cushion of air, which helps equalize the force on the weight-bearing parts of your body. As an added bonus the Airhwawk pad also absorbs vibration and shock. The combination of these three factors result in a significant increase in long-distance riding comfort. I can ride the entire day without excessive discomfort in my posterior – the Airhawk is that good.
The Airhawk pad sits on top of your existing DRZ seat and is held in place by two straps.
We all know that nothing is perfect and I experienced three downsides with the Airhawk pad. First, sitting on a small cushion of air is very different than sitting on a regular seat. The cushion of air elevates you slightly (about 1/2 inch) above the stock DRZ seat and your body will move slightly on the cushion while riding. It is most noticeable when you shift your weight and the pad adjusts to your changing body position. A number of riders have tried my Airhawk and have told me that they don’t like the sensation of not being “connected” to the seat. Personally, I quickly adapted to the feeling of the Airhawk and did not find it objectionable, but your mileage may vary.
The second downside to the Airhawk is that it will eventually spring a leak. In fact, every Airhawk I have owned has gotten a small pinhole at some point in time. The punctures were not from something external piercing the pad. Instead, the design of the pad results in lots of “corners” and over time the rubber fatigues, allowing small tears to occur in the corners of the pad. The Airhawk comes with small patch kit so you can patch the holes but my experience is that eventually the rubber will degrade to the point that you will not be able to get the pad to retain air. Airhawk pad life from me ranged from about 2-4 years before having to be replaced (I think I am on my 4th Airhawk).
The final downside for me was that the cloth covering of the Airhawk retains water very well. If your bike gets rained on it isn’t a big deal to dry off a normal seat. A few wipes of a dry towel and your stock DRZ seat will be dry. The Airhawk doesn’t work like that due to its cloth seat cover. Once the Airhawk seat cover gets wet it will stay wet for a long time with no practical way to dry it. If you are already wet when you sit on the Airhawk then it really doesn’t matter. However, if you are dry when you sit on a wet Airhawk then your butt will soon be quite wet, which can make sitting for long periods a bit uncomfortable.
After several years of Airhawk use I decided to try a more permanent solution. There are a variety of aftermarket seats available for the DRZ to choose from, including Corbin, Renazco, Sargent, and Seat Concepts.
I had a Renazco seat on my Husky TE610 and though it was better than the stock seat I was only comfortable for about an hour when sitting on it. I had also tried a Corbin on a KLR I previously owned and found it much too firm for my taste. I had heard lots of good things about Seat Concepts seats and they were reasonably priced compared to some other popular aftermarket seat options so I thought I would give them a try.
One of the things that makes the Seat Concepts seat more cost competitive is that you are only replacing the seat foam and cover, not the seat pan. Using the stock DRZ seat pan you replace (or pay Seat Concepts to replace) your stock seat cover and foam with foam and a seat cover provided by Seat Concepts.
The Seat Concepts seat is a large improvement over the stock seat. The Seat Concepts is wider, which spreads the sitting pressure over a larger surface area, and the foam is more comfortable. I find that I am able to ride for most of the day in relative comfort.
While not as comfortable as the Airhawk, the Seat Concepts seat doesn’t suffer the downsides of the Airhawk. The seat doesn’t move around as the rider shifts his weight, the seat never punctures, and it can be quickly and easily dried off.
Though wider than the stock DRZ seat I did not find the extra width to be a hindrance for the type of dirt riding that I do.
You Complete Me
Overall, I prefer the Seat Concepts seat to the Airhawk for my typical, everyday riding. However, if I am on a multi-day ride that includes long stretches of pavement, then I bring the Airhawk. I put it on my Seat Concepts seat while riding pavement and pull it off and stow it when riding dirt. A deflated Airhawk takes up very little room when packed, it’s pretty quick to take on and off, and it significantly enhances comfort, so it makes sense to use it on multi-day trips. This way I enjoy the best of both solutions.