The AIRHAWK Seat Cushion
First, a little company background and theory on why it works; taken from the company website
“It’s only air, but it’s what we do with it that makes a world of difference…”
Shape Fitting Technology is a system of soft, flexible air cells interconnected by small channels that allow air to flow from one cell to another at a controlled rate. This is what sets ROHO Shape Fitting Technology apart from the others: the ability to protect the body from multiple forces – pressure, friction, shear, shock, and vibration – and maintain the same level of comfort and protection indefinitely.
ROHO products all have something in common – a valve that allows you to adjust the amount of air it holds. This valve lets you customize the product to your specifications and achieve your precise level of comfort. It is designed to perfectly match your shape and contour, redistributing your body weight to minimize pressure “hot spots.”
The pressure mapping photos below illustrate the difference between a conventional cushion and one using Shape Fitting Technology. Red and yellow areas in the first photo highlight pressure points. The second photo shows how the ROHO cushion redistributes the pressure over the entire surface area, allowing for better blood circulation and ultimately more comfort.
The manufacturing process
They use a neoprene rubber which apparently can’t be injection molded. So it’s a tedious process in which a mold is dipped into the liquid neoprene rubber repeatedly to build it up to the desired thickness, and then a combination of air curing and oven curing is used. The cells which basically look like a waffle on steroids are then attached to a backing, making sure each cell remains connected to its neighbors. This is done by hand. And according to ROHO it takes about 24 hours to complete each cushion!
This is perhaps the trickiest part of the whole deal. But once you figure it out it’s really a piece of cake. What you want to avoid is over inflation because this will make you feel like your sitting on a large ziplock filled with Jello, not good unless you’re into that kind of thing. On the other extreme, under inflated; and well it’s like sitting on the same uncomfortable seat you have always had. So here’s the trick: fill it up by blowing into the small filler valve (unscrew tip to open, screw back to close. See pic) Then sit on the bike, preferably on the center stand so you can get both feet off the ground in a normal riding position. Now slowly open the valve releasing air until there’s only about ¼” – ½” gap of air between your butt and the seat. This may take a few tries but once you’ve got it, you are good to go. Mine never seems to need any adjusting due to loss of air or anything like that, with the exception of the two leaks I’ve gotten over the last 4 years.Fortunately each pad comes with a repair kit and it’s about as easy as patching a bicycle tube; actually much easier because there’s no wheel or tire to remove just the fabric cover.
I’m not hip to exactly what the fabric is but it’s soft, quick drying and has held up extremely well. There’s a couple of straps attached that make it pretty easy to put on or take off and this leads me to another bonus of these pads. You can switch it between bikes. In fact I took mine with me on a 2 week ride in New Zealand where I rented a BMW 800GS from South Pacific Motorcycle Tours (more about my New Zealand trip here) I was told the 800GS didn’t have the most comfortable seat in the world but with my AIRHAWK it was sweet!
Since I got my AIRHAWK back in 2007 they have come out with a new more affordable series the AIRHAWK 2 and according to their website, this is the difference:
What’s the Difference?
The launch of AIRHAWK 2 has caused the question “What’s the difference?” to come up many times when people are reviewing our product. While the original AIRHAWK and the new AIRHAWK 2 are similar, there are some difference. These difference are outlined in the chart below.
The AIRHAWK isn’t for everyone; I’ve had friends that just didn’t like the feel. Some say they felt disconnected from the bike, but I love it and really appreciate the comfort it adds, especially on those longer rides. To me it feels totally natural. Maybe because I’ve ridden with it for over 4 years now but even when it was new I adapted quite easily to it and the level of comfort it provided. I would highly recommend this product and though the initial investment seems high, the overall CPR (cost per ride) is really quite minimal.
Thanks for reading, and as always leave your comments below.
Manufacturers website: airhawk.net