The Ultimate Seat Ultimate Review
I ordered the seat on July 13, and it arrived via UPS Ground on August 7. The company was out of seats for 1100 Classics, so they had to have one made at the factory.
The one I ordered was the non-studded seat with backrest and rain covers. Everything arrived well packed. The seat looks to be very quality all around.
I installed it this morning in less than 30 minutes, and that included rounding up a couple of tools needed. Very easy job. The backrest just slides into the slot on top of the back of the seat. They recommend sandwiching the velcro flap that covers the slot when the backrest is removed between the bottom of the backrest and the seat. There is an adjustment bolt there that could wear into the seat covering over time. The only problem is the backrest does not easily lock into place with the velcro flap in between.
There appears to be at least double the amount of padding compared to the factory seat, when compared side by side. Picture a crescent moon vs. a half moon.
After putting the Ultimate Seats brand upholstery conditioner on the seat ($17 extra), I was ready for a test ride.
Bike: 2004 VStar 1100 Classic, 38K miles. All relevant parts are factory for this seat review.
Rider: 6'1", 225 lbs, fairly proportional. Wearing blue jeans and an X Element armor jacket with a foam back pad, gloves, Tourmaster boots.
Riding area: Rural; state and county highways, few stops and 45 to 55 mph speed limits. Upper 70s and low 80s for temps.
Initial sit, 0 miles: Backrest seems intrusive. Pushes rider's torso a few inches forward, making cockpit space seem more cramped. Feet far enough forward to actually easily access highway pegs. Angle of backrest is adjustable, and it was back as far as the adjustment screw allowed. Backrest forces upright stance. By the way, these are not necessarily complaints; observations from a direct user.
First stop, fuel tank fill up, 11 miles in: The seat's strengths are obvious after this first 15 minutes. The padding is not cushy; in fact, the stock seat might have more initial cushion to it. However, it is supportive under the butt and on parts of upper thighs, dispersing the rider's weight to a larger area, which is probably the main issue with the original seat that Yamaha uses. It also causes you to sit in the bike rather than on the bike, which is how the stock seat made me feel; despite the fact that the Ultimate does not raise or lower your seating position compared to stock. The incline of the seat itself from your arse to the tank is the likely reason. I am not exaggerating…the difference between the Ultimate and the stock seat is quite dramatic.
I tried several different angles/positions with the backrest/seat combo on the way to the fuel station. I found the backrest pivots and allows freedom to choose a spot where you are most comfortable on the seat. I think the initial impression that I described as "intrusive" was really just because it was so different than what I was used to. The backrest provides very good lumbar support, but is a tad too small for the large surface area of my back. Perhaps the foam pad of my jacket was interfering somewhat too.
Something significant I noticed in the first 11 miles: The Ultimate seat/backrest combo had a weird, but very positive side effect. It made the bike feel more stable. I could do very low speed lock-to-lock turns and come to a stop and sit upright with my feet off the ground for a few seconds. Why? My guess is how it planted me in position. I think I was using my back and legs far more than I realize to hold my body in place with the old seat. The Ultimate seat/backrest freed up my back and legs to contribute to the stability of the bike / not interfere with the stability because I am now sitting in it, as mentioned before. This was totally unexpected.
After 11 miles, nothing sore…but, at such an early point, I wasn't sore on the old seat either.
Next stop, lemonade at a fruit stand, 45 miles in:
By now, I was in the seat for about 45 minutes straight with only a few stops, each no more than 30 seconds long.
On the stock seat, I relished the opportunity to stand at stop signs and red lights to get some relief for my bum. At the few stops I made, I stayed right in the seat. No need to get off and lose the painful burning sensation that we all know from the stock seat.
I did get a little sore - the same kind of sore one gets from sitting in the car for too long. I don't blame the seat for that; I think that tends to happen no matter what after being in one position for a certain length of time. When I got off, I was completely fresh and able to walk around freely with no numbness, unlike the stock seat.
I could feel the seat slowly taking the shape of my butt and settling in a bit. Unlike the stock seat, it continued to absorb my 225 lb weight and suspend it. The seating position/seat/backrest was contributing to pleasurable ride.
Third stop, for fuel again, 90 miles in: The seat continued to do its thing. Not perfect; I was getting a little fatigued from the ride itself, wind, etc, etc. but the seat was still holding its own. A little muscle soreness in the glutes continued, as noted above. I was ready to go home. The Utlimate seat cannot make the 1100 Classic into the Ultimate bagger. It can only do so much and this bike is not really that comfortable for long distances.
Home, 100 total miles: I was tired, but overall the seat did as advertised. It continued to provide a fairly comfortable seating position even after nearly one hour straight of riding at one point. The Ultimate is not perfect. I would rate it as very good at this point. I will continue to chime in as I continue to ride with it. I have a 500 mile trip planned in the upcoming weeks, so that will be the "Ultimate" test.
Current Ride: 2013 Honda F6B
2004 VStar 1100 Classic
2008 VStar 1100 Silverado
1982 Suzuki GS650S