Monday, 1 August 2016

Airhawk Bravado is Airhawk Excellence

With the monkey butt I had from the oven-hot Indianapolis ride we did last summer, I picked up an AirHawk before leaving on the around Huron trip.  They make some pretty aggressive claims about how good this seat cushion is, and 1600+kms around Huron in mega-heat would be a good test.

While shopping for one at Two Wheel Motorsport I noticed that the larger 'medium cruiser' pad was almost a hundred dollars cheaper than the much smaller dual sport cushion.  The only difference I could see between them was a fancy red stripe down the middle of the DS model.  That's an expensive red stripe.

Bigger is cheaper in airhawk world.

An advantage to buying this from my local dealer instead of online is that I could go try it out, which the parts guy at Two-Wheel was more than willing to do.  If you factor in shipping the airhawk cost within five dollars of what it's going for online, well worth the chance to try different pads and pick it up immediately.

Calling my Triumph Tiger a dual sport is like calling a a Humvee a four by four.  While technically true, it's a lot more than just a dual sport.  The Tiger is a Swiss army knife of a bike.  It can dual sport, but it can also cover long distances and tour, and it can do it in a sporty fashion.  Airhawk seems quite flexible with what pad might go on what bike, and the medium cruiser pad fit the adventurous Tiger better than the dual sport pad did, and saved me almost a hundred bucks in the process.

How did it perform?  Frankly, I was surprised.  I got a gel pad last year and it did very little to ease my discomfort on hot, all-day, multiple-day rides.  The Airhawk is a revelation.  It keeps you cool in heat, distributes your weight across the seat area evenly, removing any pressure points, and meant the end to my monkey butt.

The first time you accelerate and don't feel directly connected to the seat (because you're floating on air)  is a little off-putting, but you quickly get used to it.  If you want to change the angle you're sitting while riding simple remove your weight from the pad and resit on it, and you'll find that you can adjust your centre of balance easily.  Once the bladders in the pad redistribute the air the pad conforms to the shape of your backside and is very stable.

The arrow at the top points to the valve, which
makes filling or emptying the pad easy and
doesn't interfere with sitting at all.
Setting up the pad was easily done.  I put air into it at low pressure in short bursts until it was about half full.  The pictures online all seem to show the pads fully inflated, but I found inflating it until it had just enough air to suspend my weight worked well and kept me in better touch with the seat.

The pad attaches to the seat using a couple of straps.  If you're familiar with bra straps (and who of us isn't?), you'll find adjusting the pad a simple procedure.  It stays in place remarkably well for such a simple device.  The sticky rubber bottom seems to help a lot with that.

It isn't cheap, and because of that, leaving it on the bike was never an option.  Having to remove it every time we left the bike unattended was a bit onerous, but I'm not in the habit of leaving $160 items on a bike unwatched and in plain view.

Airhawk is pretty sure of themselves, and they have every right to be.  Their warranty isn't going to be exercised in my case, this pad does exactly what they claim it will.  On hot, high mileage days I was no longer in agony on the seat looking for opportunities to stop.  This seat pad means I can ride and ride.

What you get is a well engineered solution to a common problem.  It isn't cheap, but it's well made and it works.  You're getting what you pay for.