I really could not bring myself to ride Ratchet sitting on his stock seat (see “KTM Duke 390 – First Impressions“). So I decided to tackle the seating problem before anything else.
The seating problem had two parts to it. Firstly, add cushioning to the seat itself to make it feel better than a plank of wood. And secondly, add lumbar support for the lower back, something that’s crucial for the kind of long hauls I do.
I already had the solution to the first part – an adjustable air seat pad called Road Zeppelin Rider Seat, an awesome product from Harley-Davidson (Part No: 52000084) costing $130 (Rs 8,000). I know it’s expensive, but I can assure you its worth every cent. It comes with a hand pump and a pressure release valve which you can operate while riding the motorcycle. So if you see a bad patch approaching and you want to decrease the stiffness of the air seat you can do without stopping the motorcycle to adjust the air pressure. I would never have been able to ride the Golden Quadrilateral for 14 days straight without this air seat pad.
To solve the lumbar support problem, I was tempted to buy an aftermarket cowl and stick a cushion to it, quite similar to this picture.
I didn’t like this idea, not just because it would put me back my 3,500 bucks for the cowl, but also because it would permanently convert Ratchet to a single seater motorcycle. So I decided to get creative and go meet Javed from Mapusa, the owner of a hole-in-the-wall seat shop, who had helped me build a custom seat for my Royal Enfield Thunderbird a couple of years ago.
The KTM Duke 390 has a split seat. I decided not to mess with the rider seat, but instead modify the shape of the pillion seat. The idea was to thicken it so as to give it additional cushioning and that would in turn double up as the lumbar support for the rider in front.
The change in shape of the pillion seat was achieved by sticking layers of hard foam directly onto the cover of the pillion seat, cutting away the extra parts using a hacksaw blade and then shaping it with a broad file. Javed was essentially sculpting foam.
After Javed was done, I put the seat back onto Ratchet, ensured that it locked properly in place, mounted the motorcycle to check if the lumbar support was how I wanted it.
After making a few adjustments the shape was perfect. Javed then stitched the seat cover and stapled it to the seat base.
I put the pillion seat back onto Ratchet and it locked firmly into place without a problem. This is what the end product looks like and it cost me Rs 500 only. Not bad at all.
The combination of the Road Zeppelin rider seat and the custom pillion seat appear to have solved my seating problem. However, the only way to verify that would be to go on a long ride.