I don’t know much about the proper way to write a product review so I’m just going to tell you my experience with two products I used recently: the AirHawk (http://www.airhawk.net/) seat cushion and the BeadRider (http://www.beadrider.com/).
A couple of weeks ago I rode 3,010 miles from Los Angeles to Whistler, BC (north of Vancouver, BC) and back in a week. I think with that much riding in such a short time, I have a pretty good handle on what does and doesn’t work for your rear end!
Now let me say at the outset, I was riding a sportbike, a 2009 Kawasaki er-6n, that’s a “naked” Ninja 650 for those of you not familiar with this particular bike. It’s important that I note the specific bike because I can only comment on the two products based on being on a sportbike, I CAN’T comment about them relative to a cruiser.
So, let’s talk first about bike seats… here’s the deal… with a cruiser, you tend to get a wider seat which means more of your butt has support under it while riding. With a sportbike, notorious for having horrible seats I might add, you have only about as much support as the bones up under your rear end will carry, which means, you’re getting very little support making long distance riding on a sportbike, especially challenging.
Enter support for the butt! Airhawk versus BeadRider (and perhaps others but these were the two I took with me).
Now let’s consider the first part of my journey… I started out doing the “Iron Butt” Challenge, where you have to complete a 1000 mile ride in under 24 hours. I rode 1000 miles in 21 hours and 56 minutes, that’s without stopping to rest, very little downtime for eating and just stops to fill my tank and clean my visor. As a result, I spent nearly 24 hours in the saddle and I can say with absolutely certainty, the only way to do a ride like this is on the AirHawk, at least on a sportbike.
So why the AirHawk instead of the BeadRider? I have used both products for different types of riding and the first thing I noticed is the difficulty in attaching the Beadrider to my bike. I had to remove the seat which is a complete pain on the particular bike I have whereas, with the AirHawk, I just slipped the elastic around the seat and I was done. For this particular ride, I had the BeadRider attached to my seat but just put the AirHawk on top of my seat without having it attached, that way I could just switch between the products during my trip.
With the BeadRider, I found that through much of central California and other parts further north, the roads were pretty rough and given the lack of support and hardness of the bike seat, having all those roller beads under my butt each time I hit a bump and came down on those beads, it was a pretty unpleasant experience. On roads where they were smooth, the longest I could sit on the BeadRider without it becoming uncomfortable was about 100 miles. I would roll back and forth across the beads just to get my circulation going, but it still didn’t do anything in terms of relieving the pressure on my rear end. It definitely offered a lot in the way of ventilation under my rear end but for long term support and circulation, the BeadRider didn’t get the job done for me.
With the AirHawk, it lifted my rear end completely off the seat without causing me any loss of control of the bike in terms of squeezing the tank with my knees or push steering. It was literally like sitting on a pillow, one that offered continuous support and most important, when I dismounted, I didn’t have the feeling of numbness in my rear end like I had when using the BeadRider or like when riding for 50 miles on that hard sportbike seat.
The one thing I encountered with the AirHawk was that the shape of the cushion, cut for saddle and cruiser seats, didn’t fit my seat properly, which of course, just looking at the cushion, you would KNOW that it’s not going to fit right! HOWEVER, an unexpected thing happened because when sitting on the center of the cushion, it actually forced the air out toward the sides of the cushion which meant more of my rear end was supported, something I don’t think happens when you’re using the correct size for a sportbike. Part of what was great about this was that by getting that support under my rear end, I didn’t feel as much pressure on my knees and legs because I wasn’t having to rely on them so heavily to support the rest of my body. So, sometimes even having an incorrect fitting product (I confess, user error on my part, I bought the wrong size!) can actually turn out to have pretty great results!
So after spending 24 hours riding a thousand miles and then the last two days of my trip, 600 miles and then 700 miles right in a row, the AirHawk provided me with constant comfort, support and no numbness. As a result, for all future long distance rides, no matter WHAT kind of bike I’m riding (this includes scooters too!), I will have my trusty AirHawk cushion with me and I won’t ever have to worry about having Iron Butt again!!!