BMW F900 XR – seat issues. Improving the look and comfort

BMW F900 XR – seat issues. Improving the look and comfort

I’ve written in a previous post with thoughts about the F900. You’ll know if you have read those that I really do like this bike. Of course early impressions can change, but the first 1,000 miles and have been very good.

I’ve added a few bits and pieces and  wrote here about the belly pan I added. As well as that, I have added a small extension to the hugger, new rack for luggage, tank protector and adapted the OEM sat nav holder to fit my Garmin Zumo.

In addition I use a Givi Tanklock bag so bought and fitted the appropriate adapter … and then had to buy a new tank bag so as not to obscure the sat nav. More about those additions in later blog posts..

This post is about making some improvements to the seat.

I liked the look of the bike but …

I had decided some time ago that I really did like the look of the BMW F900 and  F900 XR.

As well as owning a Moto Guzzi V7 Cafe, I had a couple of BMWs that I was really happy with. These are a glorious RnineT and a quietly impressive and (in my opinion) understated and underrated F800R. So it was always likely I suppose that I would be drawn to the F900.

As much as I liked the F900 roadster it was the XR variant that I was drawn to.

In many ways, despite being newer, improved and better than the F800R,  the F900 felt too similar in my mind for me to change from one roadster to another.

Something a bit different

On the other hand the XR model added something quite different and seemed a better bike for the sort of riding I wanted it for.

I had done a couple of trips to Scotland and three trips to Ireland on the F800. You can out the most recent of those here

Over the last year or two I had been into BMW showrooms a couple of times to have a browse and check out the F900s.  I had found the ‘standard’ XR a bit too tall for me (I’m about 5′ 7″).

When I spotted (online) a low option model for sale, with less than 200 miles on, it seemed a no brainier to at least go and look at it.

Of course I bought it.

It’s not quite armchair comfortable

I bought the bike knowing the seat (the OEM low version) wasn’t going to be anything close to armchair comfort. I had read numerous comments on various web sites and forums from owners who found the stock seat left something to be desired. This included commets on  the standard, higher and  so called ‘comfort’ seats.

I wasn’t unduly troubled by that as one persons comfort on a motorbike can be an unthinkable discomfort to an other.

It’s a personal thing

Not only that, but I had read plenty of comments from folk who had said the seat on the RnineT is dreadful after just an hour or so.

That hasn’t been my experience. I have travelled to Scotland several times and spent a couple of weeks travelling in Spain and Portugal on my RnineT and had no issues at all.

Along with the RnineT I have done more European trips that I can recall on a range of bikes. These include: GSX-R 600s, a 750 and a 1,000, as well as on a Fireblade a CBR 1000, a Z1000 SX and a Kawasaki Vulcan S. I suppose comfort on a motorcycle can be quite a personal thing.

People either find different solutions, develop levels of tolerance or just put up with things.

So what about that seat?

After returning from a few days in Scotland I wrote a blog post with my thoughts about the F900 after the first 1,000 miles.

The text in italics below is a cut and paste from that earlier post (you can read the full post here)

I’ve had a lot of bikes and never bothered having a seat altered as I have always found them acceptable but this seat isn’t great. My seat is the low version but reading comments online there seems to be a general sense that the seats are not comfortable at all. And of course it’s not just BMW that make seats that are not always so comfortable.

Third party seats

A look at third party seat manufacturers selling after market seats at premium prices for what seem to be all manufacturers and all models tells you that.

Added to that are the numerous suppliers of seat cushions and there are many different brands supplying gel cushions, air inflatable cushions etc etc and some of the costs of these are not insignificant. So there is clearly a market for seat alterations and/or replacements.

I have never had my own seat altered – the only occasion I had a seat altered was on a Kawasaki Vulcan S (the 650cc cruiser style) and we had the pillion seat altered for my wife.

But because I like this bike so much and because it feels like it doesn’t need a lot of work on the seat to make a difference, I’ve decided that I’ll get the seat sorted

Seat options

Because I really do like this bike a lot I decided I would check out how the seat might be improved. I looked at the likes of Sargent Seats, Wunderlich etc and considered seat pads such as Air Hawk and others.

I also recalled the guys at MW Motorcycles (the place where I have been going for years to have my bikes serviced and maintained) had mentioned a small company on the same industrial estate they are based on.

It had literally been years ago they had mentioned this place so a quick Internet search was the order of the day. The search led me to Caulfield Leather and it looked ideal.

Top quality work at Caulfield Leather

The online booking process on the web site was easy to use and I set a time to go up and see Matt (the owner).

I duly went up there a week or so after making the appointment, took my seat and we chatted it through.

Having just come back from that short trip to Scotland (approx 750 miles or so) I was well placed to describe seat comfort issues on the F900.

A personalised service

With this information Matt suggested inserting a gel pad and adding a small amount of foam around each side – where my legs straddle the seat.

We talked about seat coverings and agreed to use some of the existing anti slip covering and to add some ‘carbon’ look covering and use red stitching to match the bike.

If you can think it

Somewhere on the web site I saw a statement that said ‘if you can think it I can do it’ and I have no doubt at all that Matt can do that.

In my case I wasn’t looking for any fancy logo’s or letters and so was quite happy to proceed on the lines I have mentioned above.

I was also pretty relaxed about the quality of work Matt would do. Having seen plenty of pictures on the web site and Facebook pages, his work looked good. Meeting him to discuss the work completed the picture.

Was it any good …?

It didn’t take Matt long to do the job and I was able to collect the seat later the same week.

To say I was happy with the finished product would be quite an understatement. He did a brilliant job and it looks just right on the bike and I have absolutely no hesitation at all in recommending him.

When I was chatting to Matt he told me he had been trading there for about 17 years or so. I guess if you are a pretty specialist and niche business and you’re still around after all that time then you’re doing something right.

I would say if you are thinking of having a seat altered for what ever reason then it’s well worth giving Matt a call. It was really convenient for me that he is just up the road from where I live but I know he does work for  folk from all over the country.

And a good guarantee

Not onlythat but his work comes with an 18 month guarantee and a comittment to repair the seat if you damage it!

But if it’s true that a picture speaks a 1,000 words then check out the his work in the picture gallery below.

Oh and if you’re wondering how much it all cost – it was £220. Which to me seems like a very fair price for an excllent and personalised piece of work.

Picture gallery

Clicking on any of the images below will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled though