When I began riding, I couldn’t ride for long without having to get off the bike and stretch. That’s true of many of us, but in my case a lower-back problem made it agonizing to ride. In 1987, at age 17, I had a tumor removed from my lower back. Officially, it was an osteoma the size of my fist and wrist, and it was attached to me left posterior sacroiliac crest — which is a lot of medical jargon for “bone growth on the pelvis.”
These days, they’d make a tiny incision and cut the thing free, with little impact to the muscles, but back then it was slice and dice. The surgeon carved an eight-inch path down my lower back — skin, fat, and layers of muscles — to get at the thing. It hurt for a few weeks, but I rehabilitated just fine and in no time I was walking, running, shooting hoops, and riding my bicycle with no ill effects.
Well, sure: I was 17 years old. Guess how long it took before back problems set in? Just a few years. By age 25, I had chronic problems with pain. And in the middle of that, a car accident in 1992, when I was 22, damaged my neck muscles.
The end result was that when I began riding a motorcycle, I couldn’t sit in that stock saddle for long. I was good for about 25 miles at first, although later I adapted and could sit for 50 miles before the discomfort got the best of me.
I’d had my eye on a Mustang seat for some time, in in the fall of 2015 I finally ordered a two-piece, two-up seat, along with a Cobra back rest and sissy bar, through Friend & Friend in Orono. To say that the difference was like night and day is a major understatement. The first ride on it felt strange; it was just a few miles across town, but I felt like I was sitting much higher, so my feet sat differently, my hands gripped differently, and my eye line was higher over my windshield. It just felt all wrong.
It didn’t for long. The seat was fantastic. I was, in fact, sitting higher in the saddle, but adapted quickly to the slight change in what my body was used to. The first long ride I took was about 100 miles, just to see how it felt — and I never had to stop and stretch once.
My wife was the first to agree with how great an investment it was. She rides a scooter, but occasionally jumps on the back of the bike with me. Ever sat on the tail end of a stock seat? If you have one but are always the person driving the bike, jump up there and see how it feels. Even on a bike that isn’t moving, you’re likely to wonder just how the heck anyone could ever ride safely back there. On my Shadow, you balance atop a narrow strip that gets narrower as it curves downward over the fender. The end result is a hard wedge between the cheeks and, as my wife reports, the distinct feeling that you’re going to fly off the thing at any time. You work your legs in overdrive tensing up on the pegs and hold on to the driver for dear life.
So if the new seat was great for me, it was practically life-saving for my wife. well. Chalk this one up to Mustang’s superior engineering and manufacturing. Some aftermarket seat manufacturers merely build off a stock seat, effectively reupholstering them. Some also use plastic baseplates, which are cheap and easy but not durable, and cheap foam rubber that crushes when you sit on it.
Mustang designs its seats anew, using steel baseplates and a high-quality polyurethane foam that feels a lot firmer than the stock stuff, but not hard. I could go over the other features of Mustang’s craftsmanship that makes this seat so good, but there’s really only one metric that matters to me: performance.
When I get off the bike now to stretch, it’s not because my back hurts. It’s simply because I need to stretch my legs. That might sound like a minor thing, but to me it’s major, because it means I’m not in agony and not doing further damage to my back. And with my neck-muscle problems, my posture is better, alleviating pain issues there as well. This all combines to create a ride that is pain-free and comfortable, and one that isn’t interrupted every 25 to 50 miles. This past fall, with my new Mustang seat, I did a 200-mile round trip, and for each 100-mile leg, I didn’t need to get off the bike once.
If you’re wondering how this matters to you, if you don’t share the back and neck problems I have, consider this: If you find yourself in discomfort when riding on a stock seat, isn’t that worth investing in something that will alleviate that problem?
There are other aftermarket seat manufacturers, and I can only speak to Mustang. But I did a lot of research before buying — after all, just because everyone says Mustang is the best doesn’t mean it is, right? In this case, it turned out to be very true. And it’s worth noting that being able to relax and focus on my riding is a lot safer than having my attention constantly diverted by pangs of pain, aching muscles, position shifting, and so on. The more I’m busy dealing with those things, the less attentive I am to my riding — and that’s not safe.
I ride year-round, and rode steady on that new seat from September through December 2015 and was comfortable for every mile I rode. That’s enough for me. If discomfort — or even pain or agony — is a factor in your riding, I cannot recommend enough that you should consider one of these beauties. Mustang is the seat to beat, and it’s a reputation the company takes seriously. It’s a reputation that is earned.