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Motorcycle Seats 101: Seat Features

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Driver Backrests

The more you ride (and the older we all get), the more you realize that "the most comfortable seat possible" means comfort for your back as well as your bottom. Whether sitting in your living room, in your car or on your motorcycle, your back deserves the best support possible. Nothing takes the fatigue out of riding more than having full back support and being able to effortlessly adjust your lumbar support frequently. Touring-style seats with driver backrests are the gold standard for all-day riding comfort.

The importance of the strength and safety of the construction of a backrest for the driver cannot be over-emphasized. This is certainly not an area where you want to save money by skimping on quality.

Driver backrests are usually built into the seat but there are companies that specialize in driver backrests that can be added on many models regardless of the seat. Backrests that are “added on” attach to the frame of the bike rather than to the seat, using metal arms that reach down on both sides of the seat. These backrests can be somewhat adjustable but are not easily removed and may detract from the appearance of the bike.

Most driver backrests on motorcycles are mounted in a similar way to the headrest in your car. The backrest pad itself is attached to a tongue (think of a lollipop) that can be slid in and out of a receiver. The receiver is built into the seat itself and is firmly welded or molded into the seat baseplate. Consequently, if you think you may want a seat with a driver backrest, you should purchase a seat with that capability since it can’t be added later.

In recent years, some manufacturers have begun selling seats with the backrest receiver built in.. While this provides the flexibility of deciding later to buy the rest of the driver backrest, you are paying for the extensive additional construction within the seat that you might or might not use.

The best quality driver backrests should be fully adjustable and easily removed without tools. They should pivot to match the angle of your back and easily adjust forward and backward, with several height adjustment positions. Additionally, the backrest should remove easily without tools and fold flat.

Most Harley-Davidson® FL one-piece touring seats have a split in the middle of the seat to allow for an optional, frame-mounted, driver backrest kit.

Passenger Backrests

The decision to add a backrest for the passenger is usually based on safety and/or comfort of the passenger. Since most passenger backrests are attached to sissy bars, the addition of a sissy bar with a backrest can also provide convenience for securing luggage.

Although the most important function of a sissy bar pad is to prevent the passenger from falling off the back of the bike, it should also enhance the passenger’s comfort. As with the backrest for the driver, the passenger backrest should support the passenger’s lower back.

The passenger backrests offer the same features and benefits as Mustang’s driver backrest. Mustang currently makes passenger seats with built-in, removable backrests for Kawasaki Vaquero, Honda Fury and HD FL Touring Models. Mustang will be adding more makes and models to their passenger backrest designs.

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