By September 25, 2009

BeadRider motorcycle seat cover review

The biggest problem for me with riding a motorcycle mid-distance is “saddle comfort.” That’s a nice way of saying that my butt, legs, and knees start to hurt after awhile. Lack of circulation is the major culprit. There are a few causes for this, and over the years I have done my best to mitigate them:

  1. Too soft or too hard of a seat (what makes a seat too soft or too hard depends a lot on a person’s body).
  2. Seams of underwear, pants, or riding pants that pass under the legs. These create pressure points.
  3. Being able to move your feet and legs around. Ideally this means highway pegs, although I can’t do that safely on my FJR.

Some riders put “toppers” on their seats to help with blood flow and heat management. Folks who don’t wear wicking bottoms or ride in street clothes often have a problem with rashes associated with heat and sweat. This is called “monkey butt” in the motorcycling world. I’ve never experienced it, but encouraging airflow and temperature management seems to help. A sheepskin pad (fluffy side up) is supposed to help with monkey butt and adds a little bit of comfort to a ride, but I don’t think it would help in my case.

The other topper people frequently try is the BeadRider, which is a motorcycle-version of the beaded seat cover made famous by taxi drivers. One of my co-workers has one and absolutely raved about it. Apparently it works by distributing your weight across the beads so that you don’t develop any “hot spots” on your butt. I was skeptical that something as hard as a mat of beads would help my riding comfort, but I was willing to try.

I should have trusted my instincts.

Company support and ordering experience

Ordering was simple. There are a few different sizes and options for the BeadRider. There is an easy to use chart for finding out what size topper fits your bike. If a motorcycle isn’t listed, you can email for clarification or make your best guess. The people over at Beadrider.com did a great job at fulfilling my order. I received an email when I bought the BeadRider, an email when it shipped, and a tracking number. My order shipped promptly and was well packaged. This is how Internet retailing should be. Total price shipped: $45.

Installation

The BeadRider is super easy to install. You take your seat off, slide the two elastic straps of the BeadRider underneath the seat, and tighten the toggles on each strap. Total installation took about two minutes.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/7716-2/IMG_0241.JPG

Performance

I received my beaded seat topper on August 28th. I threw it on almost immediately and used it on my commute to and from work. That’s about fifty miles round trip, but I don’t consider it to be even short distance. It did, however, get me used to feeling the BeadRider underneath me. While the beads don’t add to the seat height much, it did take some adjustment. I didn’t like the slippery feeling of the beads underneath my textile overpants.

I didn’t get to ride much further until two weeks ago when I accompanied my friend Rocky to Charlottesville. It was a sixty mile trip, which is still very short by my standards. I normally ride 100+ miles per leg when I ride longer distances.

Unfortunately sitting on the BeadRider felt like sitting on a waffle iron. I don’t know if my butt is too hard for it to be comfortable or what, but I had to lift my ass up several times throughout the ride. I have no idea if the BeadRider would help with the circulation problems I encounter when riding all day, but I won’t find out because it makes things uncomfortable for a different reason.

Build quality / fit and finish

Like I said, the BeadRider was easy to install and seemed to fit my seat okay. I did notice that it rolled off to one side at first when I dismounted, so I tightened the elastics more. I am not sure if I overtightened it, or if it is the nature of the beaded seat cover in general, but it marred my seat. Even worse, the seats I had on at the time were spares that belong to my stepfather’s FJR.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/7718-2/CRW_0257.jpg
My stepfather’s damaged seat on the left, my seat on the right.

The finish of the beads also wore off quickly, and there was a lot of color transfer between the beads and my riding pants. This is a bit of a shame, because it makes me doubt the long-term durability of the beads and also put a smear of black “stuff” on my white riding overpants.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/7713-2/CRW_0243.jpg

Summary and recommendation

I am not really sure what physiological requirements a rider needs to make the BeadRider comfortable. Perhaps a wider, softer posterior would help. There are lots of people who like them all over the Internet, but I couldn’t imagine riding on this thing for more than sixty miles a day, let alone the 600 from here to the usual places I go.

Not recommended.

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Posted in: motorcycling, review

3 Comments on "BeadRider motorcycle seat cover review"

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  1. Gremlin says:

    Good to know. In really extreme temps I like my sheepskin pad and I’d thought about the bead pad. I found that switching to coolmax underwear helped my rear end comfort more than anything I could do to the seat.

  2. Judy Pierce says:

    Thank you for an honest review. I’ve seen all the ‘fantastic’ reviews. I really want to try it, but not sure I want to spend $45 to mess up my seat and my clothes. Maybe they’ll go down in price and I can try. Couldn’t even find any on ebay or craigslist.

  3. botflyguy says:

    I see they make an “ultimate bead rider” seat with ceramic beads. These would not lose or transfer color. I am curious to see if this would help stop my pecker from going numb during a ride. I’ve been reading that pressure on the area between the nuts and butt hole can press on nerves in that area causing numbness while riding bikes/motorcycles. This may help prevent that.

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