Airhawk Pillion Seat Pad
Did not meet my needs; could be perfect for others
I don't like to give negative reviews so please note: this is only one person's experience with AirHawk's smallest cushion. I probably had unrealistic expectations, at least in part, because of the price.
About a month ago I took my Honda XR650R, which is designed for desert racing, but which has been converted to dual-purpose, on a 300 mile ride with five other guys, all of whom were on liter, and up, street bikes. I was able to keep up fine, both while cruising at 75-80 on Interstate-like roads, and on some serious curves in the N. GA mountains.
However, after 200 miles, I had such severe back pain I had to stop and lie down. I bought the AirHawk Pillion seat pad in an effort to add some comfort. It didn't work, and detracted from the bikes off-road stability.
The seat on the bike is 9 inches wide, so I bought the small pillion seat, the smallest of all the AirHawk cushions, which the description shows as 9" wide by 11" long.
Installation was easy. The bike's seat had to be removed and the cushion positioned, and held with straps, at the spot on which you spend the most time sitting.
For starters, this is a tall bike. The seat is 37" high. Depending on how much air you allow to remain in the cushion, it adds between about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches to the 37. I'm 6' 1 & 1/2" and when standing up my feet are flat on each side of the bike. I don't need the seat to be any higher. This certainly isn't the fault of the cushion, and probably would not be an issue for their other cushions that are intended for seats on much lower street bikes.
Of course once moving, this problem disappears. I recently took the bike on about a 30 mile ride on the street. The pillion cushion began to chafe my inner thighs after about 20 miles. I stopped and let out - that is, forced out - as much air as possible, as recommended in the instructions. This may have helped a little. There will be no long rides with the AirHawk cushion.
Since it's a dual-purpose bike, how about off-road? Today I first took the bike on some fairly challenging power line roads/trails (challenging, for me). The grass has been allowed to grow at the two spots I rode, obscuring the dips, limbs, and other obstacles that I would normally see and avoid. On one road there's a steep, roughly 45 degree, downhill, with a vertical drop of 30 - 40 feet, and a pond at the bottom. I probably should go down in first gear, but I've become more comfortable with the clutch engaged, using the rear brake to sort of ride/slide down. I want to be going very slow at the bottom because there are only about 6 feet before a very steep drop into a pond created by a damed creek. To avoid the pond, you need to make an immediate left for about another 50 feet or so, and then a right to cross the dam, which is about six feet wide at the top. As you cross there's a substantial drop to the left, and a very steep drop of about 3 feet to the pond on the right.
Ever think what you'd do if you went into a substantial pond? Wearing armor, leather, Sidi Adventure touring boots, and a full face helmet, my guess is your priority would be to get yourself out and screw the motorcycle.
What an irony. I am extremely safety conscious, dress to minimize injury in a fall, and I drown. Of course, that can't happen because I have complete control of this 300 pound machine that was designed to race at 90+ in the dessert, and anyway, if I had trouble, my buddies would quickly remove their gear and get me out. Based on the size of the pond and the height of the dam, the water has to be 10 or 12 feet deep on that end. I'm splitting hairs, because I was alone which is outright stupid. The bike would be gone. I think I'd be happy to be able to tell the story of how I lost an XR650R.
What does this have to do with the pillion seat. I'm too old and weak to ride standing up for long. I'd see a large hole in the road about a bike's length before hitting it. I'd prefer to make a quick turn out into tall grass, but today, even going as slowly as this bike will comfortably go - about 10 - I'd try and pop up to my feet to absorb some of the shock. I didn't fall, but felt like i came close three or four times. The pillion seat detracted from my ability to control the bike. Although I have it strapped on as tightly as I was able, it lacks the stability of the seat itself. Whereas the seat is attached to the bike with bolts, and is literally part of the bike, the cushion sits on top of the seat and has enough play to lose some of the feel, and some my ability to control the bike by shifting my weight.
On the way out, my favorite spot is going back up that hill. For one thing, the pond is out of play - just a a twist of the throttle in 2nd and bang, I'm up that hill. I didn't give the AirHawk cushion a thought for those few seconds.
I also rode on some dirt and gravel roads that allow the bike to do pretty much what it was designed to do - go fast in the open. I road about 20 miles on roads that wind through a national forrest. Some are quite rough, with potholes, muddy spots, loose gravel, sharp blind turns, etc., and others are in better shape. When the roads have continuous curves I keep it at about 35. Although these roads are rarely traveled, you do occasionally meet a pick-up. A bigger danger is deer, and they are ubiquitous. It's unusual *not* to see some on a ride like today's.
I like to pretend I'm racing and come around a corner at 30 or 35, hit a section that, although rarely a true straight, provides a couple hundred yards of visibility. I'll go wide open in 3rd for a few seconds, then it's maybe 6 or 7 seconds in fourth and, I don't know, maybe 8 or 10 in fifth. There's a distinct line between thrill and terror, and I confront it every time I do this. Depending on the condition of the road and how far I can see, thrill is usually up to about 65; if I have the nerve to hold it for a couple more seconds, at around 70 I confront terror. It is meaningless that this bike tops out between 95 and 100. A DR650 or XR650L may go faster. Where it gets your attention is how fast it gets from slow to about 80.
Most of the time, I ride these roads sitting, Today I was sitting on the AirHawk pillion seat cushion and there is no doubt but that it made the bike feel less stable. No matter how tightly you fasten it to the seat, it is still a cushion resting on top of the seat.
Finally, IMO, it is overpriced. You can have a new, far superior aftermarket seat for $300 for a dual-purpose bike. It makes no sense to pay $150 to $200 for a cushion that can't have cost more than $25 to manufacture.
It may be perfect for others with different needs. It doesn't add comfort *for me* on the street and it detracts from the feel, and the reality, of off-road handling and control.
October 27, 2014
Versatile seat pad
The Air Hawk came highly rated by lots of other riders. Its a simple but effective system for changing the pressure points on a saddle. I went with the pillion for my Honda CBF to allow weight shifting in the curves. It is good on straight roads where you don't move around a lot. On the twisties you can remove or deflate and its easy enough to deflate and reinflate when required. So far, so good, but haven't used enough to comment on durability.
September 22, 2014
Over 7K in 3 weeks for the MRS.
Purchased this seat pad for my wife for a three week ride across the country. We did 7300 miles on the trip and the seat was terriffic. She said at least once a day how great the cushion worked and that her backside greatly appreciated the purchase. We have a R1200GSA. Highly reccomend this product to any long distance riders out there.
September 15, 2014
Didnt work for me
I purchased the Airhawk because of the many good reviews. The first issue I had is how much air to leave in, if you over inflate it is a very uncomfortable ride, if you try to adjust while riding and let too much air out you need to pull over, take off your helmet and blow more air into it. There should be a purge valvue or some way to be able to "fine tune" the air you take out and even put in . I tried this for about 120 miles and could never find a comfortable solution, it was actually worst than my stock seat. My wife(riding on the back) used it for the ride home and also didnt like it. If there is a "sweet spot" to adjusting the air it takes way too long to find it. Since I used it for a day I couldnt return and out of $155
August 20, 2014
This is a MUST for any long distance trip.
I've been riding with an Air Hawk seat for 2 years now, I bought this one for my girlfriend on the passenger seat. She was new to riding and said the seat was extremely comfortable on her first 8-hour ride.
June 3, 2013
Saves your rear end during those big days in the saddle
Great product for those high mileage days. Increase comfort means more of your attention is focused on the road.
My Gixer seat was already comfortable but the Airhawk takes it to another level.
Also I have been using it for keeping me comfortable at work....driving taxi's in the sky. Great kit.
April 15, 2013
Great alternative to custom seat
I originally bought this for a 7000 mile trip on a 05 ZZr600 Kawasaki sportbike. I wanted to be comfortable, but also wanted to be able to get sporty if/when the desire hit. this was the best compromise. while I still have to either fully deflate, or remove to hang off the bike, it didn't impead me like a cusom saddle would with the required "wings" to make the seat a true long distance sadle.
I've used the same pad on a DRZ400, but felt it gave too much of a "disconnected" feel so I went another route.
I'm looking at the Airhawk R for my F650gs Dakar... think it'll be perfect.
February 4, 2013