Rear Seats

Confirming Passenger Seating Comfort

How can you keep your girlfriend happy on a long ride on the rear passenger seat? One common answer is: "Obviously, the quickest way is to improve your own riding skills!"

But is that really all you can do? With that question firmly in mind, moto-journalist Tsutomu Matsui, who always does his own riding, set out to experience the passenger's view of motorcycle riding.

Riders should be more concerned about their passenger seats. The astonishing results of an investigation into the performance hidden there!

One day, while looking on a shelf in my room for a pair of goggles to use on a job, I stumbled upon a bag that contained a bunch of old photographs and film. I'd completely forgotten that I'd put that bag on the back of the shelf when I moved to my current home. The sight of those photos brought back a rush of memories! There I was, still in my early twenties. Vivid reminders of so many things.

Back in the day, I used to ride tandem quite a lot. And mostly those who sat on the rear seat were either friends or loves. I remember trying to improve my riding technique, trying to make my operation of the throttle, brake and gear shifts as smooth and comfortable as I possibly could, so nobody would tell me, "I'm never riding with you again!" While immersed in these old travel memories, a simple question ran through my mind: "Is passenger comfort on a motorcycle solely determined by the skill of the rider?" Or was this merely a preconceived notion I'd long held, based on my perspective as a rider?

Over the years, I've only had limited experience riding pillion perched on the rear seat. Despite that, from my own experience, I've often given advice to people that riding two-up in a way that makes girlfriends happy is a sure way to improve one's overall motorcycle riding skills.

I started wondering if rear seat comfort might instead depend more on a motorcycle's fundamental design and performance, and I made a note to myself that I should really reexamine the rear seat's seating comfort. Forgetting all about the goggles I was first looking for, I began thinking about how I could go about confirming this.

In order to test and confirm rear seat riding comfort, another rider would be necessary, as I'd often be the one riding pillion. So who would be the best choice? Several riders quickly came to mind and were soon dropped. Expert riders are certainly good at what they do, however I thought this test would require more of an expectant or anxious state-of-mind, similar to what I experienced when first riding pillion behind a friend during my high school days. This level of uncertainty would be more appropriate for accurately testing the rear seat and its seating comfort in ways that would be easier to understand. I also wanted the subjective opinions of another person without having to rely only on my own preconceived notions. So this other rider really had to be a woman! I thought that a woman's viewpoint, sharpened by the feelings of tension and unease brought on by trying to maneuver a motorcycle with a big man like me on the back, would make it possible to uncover the true sensations and level of comfort (or lack thereof) of pillion riding.

As a result, I asked Miss Risa Nishimura to take part in the test. Risa is not only a well-known model, but also a motorcycle rider who regularly rides her own liter bike. Risa told me that while she'd been photographed in many locations riding or sitting on back of a motorcycle, this would be her first experience actually riding with a large man like me sitting behind her. She said, "Honestly, I'm not sure I can do as well you may expect" and didn't hide her concern. That meant that she was the perfect fit for the job I had in mind.

The most important test points were as follows:

  • - Comfort of the front, back and sides of the seat
  • - Positioning of the steps relative to seat
  • - Positioning of the grab bar, or hand holds, etc. and how comfortable the grip feels
  • - How comfortable does the rider feel when someone climbs on back?

Based on these key points, I set out to experience the comfort of a range of rear seats. And one fine Monday morning, we conducted our tests:

Rear Seats on PCX

PCX

First, I climbed on the PCX's rear seat. This was my first experience getting on behind a woman rider who was already astride a bike or, in this case, scooter.

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Rear Seats on CB250

CB250

This bike is the naked version of the CBR250R, and its wedge-like shape reveals impressive sports bike-like styling. Its rear seat is also slightly taller than the rider's seat.

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Rear Seats on Forza Si

Forza Si

Next, we tested Honda's big Forza Si scooter. I decided to leave the driving to Risa and enjoy the ride from the passenger seat.

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Rear Seats on GL1800 Gold Wing

GL1800 Gold Wing

Last, we tested the Gold Wing, Honda's premier luxury touring bike. I've always thought that this bike's rear seat is the best in the business.

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