R1200RT Seat Height Modifications
As you know from reading previous posts, the RT and I have had one problem in the compatibility arena...seat height. Whether the seat is too tall, or my legs are too short is an argument for another day, but either way the result is the same. Since I can't grow my legs any longer and platform boots just aren't my style, the RT is going to have to bear the changes to accommodate me.
Oct 2007: New to me 2006 R1200RT with 1,200 miles
I started out with the low seat in the low position. This allowed me to comfortably get both toes on the ground, but would only allow me about 50-70 miles of saddle time before my butt end demanded a break. This was defeating the advantage of having a 7.2 gallon tank that technically would allow me to go 300+ miles before needing to stop to refuel. Even with the Vstar, I was able to stay in the Mustang saddle without butt end issues for 125 miles +/- before needing to stop for fuel. Something must be done.
Several people recommended adding beads to help relieve the pressure points. Though I thought this idea had merit, I couldn't afford to give up the half inch that it may add to the seat height.
I am 5'6" with a 29" inseam. I am wearing JR Revolution boots with a thicker sole than most touring boots. I have to slide all the way forward and completely extend my legs to get this much toe on the ground.
I rode this way for 3,500 miles--
Feb 2008 at 4,700 miles
Bill Mayer Saddle Company (BMS): http://billmayersaddles.com/october25homepage.html
This company (along with a couple others) have many loyal followers among long distance riders. I contacted them to ascertain if they can build me a
more comfortable seat without giving up any (or a minimum) seat height. The honest answer was that it would be difficult -- any foam added for comfort
would have to add some height. However, with my needs in mind, they would do what they could to rebuild my seat to give me a more comfortable ride.
Just send measurements, photos of me on the bike, the original seat, and money. In February, I did just that. Within a couple weeks, I had a new BMS delivered.
It was so pretty and had that new leather smell. But what will it ride like and where will it put me seat height wise? The ride to Georgia in March would
answer those questions.
Here's the BMS on the RT. It certainly does provide more comfort when my feet are on the pegs. I am still getting some forward slide, but can't even consider
moving the nose of the saddle up to the higher position. I had absolutely no room to play.
As you can see in this photo, I can barely get two tiptoes to the ground even when fully extended...and this is with a loaded bike. You might be able to imagine my trepidation every time I enter a gravel parking lot or road, especially one with a slant as this one when I can get such little purchase on the ground. Some might say to just slide over to get a flat foot on the ground... With a lighter bike this is certainly a good answer, but with the weight of the RT and my height, I am not comfortable controlling that much weight in such a leaning position. Under perfect circumstances (smooth, clean, and level surfaces), this is doable.
I rode this is way for almost 5,000 miles.
Summary of BMS addition: Much more comfortable ride, but still have a feeling of being tilted slightly forward. Even though I am much more comfortable in the saddle for extended periods, I am always concerned about where I will need to put my feet down next. I always have to think about which side is the preferable side regarding slant of ground, potholes, rocks, etc. If all I do is ride down the freeway, stopping every 275+ miles for fuel, then get back on the freeway for another 275 miles, I'd be fine. But this is not the type of riding I usually do. I had rather be comfortable in the ride without having to avoid less than optimum circumstances and feel free to explore wherever I might find myself. I've made the decision that for me to get the most out of the RT, I need to take more drastic measures to address the problem.
May 2008 9,483 miles
Lower the suspension:
HyperPro Shocks: http://www.hyperprousa.com/catalog.php?cat=Shocks&make=BMW
Some people have an aftermarket suspension installed on their motorcycle for the superior performance obtained by spending a lot of money on a new suspension. I'm spending $1,700 because when you purchase these new shocks, you can specify to have them built a different length. I ordered the HyperPro shocks 1 1/2" shorter than stock. This was as low as recommended without sacrificing too much performance in the twisties or on rougher roads. It took 6 weeks for the special built shocks to arrive. Morton's BMW installed them at the end of May. Mortons also shortened the side stand and the center stand to adjust for the lowered suspension.
It was a "shock" to see the RT up on its center stand when I arrived to pick it up. Sitting there next to another RT, it was obvious how much lower the seat was! I rolled it down from the center stand and took it for a spin around the parking lot. No difference in seat to peg distance, BUT tons of difference when stopped with my feet on the ground! It's AMAZING how much it improves my comfort level when I can get a hold of enough pavement to easily roll the RT forward or backward while sitting in the saddle. Until now, the only way I could easily roll the RT backward was to dismount and push it back.
The following photos are with the lowered shocks and the Bill Mayer Saddle. Also these are different boots (BMW All Round) with a lower profile sole.
Seat in lower nose position. Knees slightly bent and heals almost touching.
Seat in low nose position with the beads. Knees bent, balls of feet firmly on ground.
These improvements now allow me enough room that I can raise the nose of the seat to the upper position to help reduce the tilted forward feeling.
Higher nose position, no beads.
Seat in higher nose position with beads added. Just slightly higher. Knees are still slightly bent and balls of feet are still on ground.
The beads have a HUGE ADAVANTAGE in the hot weather by allowing air circulation that is much appreciated. Even while wearing solid (but breathable) Rev'It riding pants in very hot weather (heat index above 100 degrees) my butt wasn't suffering.
24 August 2008 16,200 miles
I've put over 6,700 miles on the RT with the lowered suspension. Most of those with the configuration of the last photo -- seat nose high, with beads.
I have gained much more confidence with this set up. I no longer worry about dips in the road, potholes, minor slants, gravel parking lots, etc. I now ride the RT where I want to ride rather than where I think I can best keep to smooth level surfaces.
The Downside of Lowering the Suspension:
With a lowered suspension, the foot pegs are closer to the ground now. I have the peg lowering kit and that puts the peg feelers even lower and likely to scrape pavement while leaning during turns. The pegs are hinged so this isn't catastrophic to scrape the feelers...just scary sounding. The first time I scraped them was while doing a slow speed U-turn in a parking lot when leaving a fuel stop. Scared the bejebbies out of me. I'm used to that sort of thing on the Vstar, but never on the RT. It has happened several times since. While playing in the twisties of West Virginia in June, I heard metal scraping several times. This only affects a more aggressive riding style and I just have to remember where my limits are when leaning it over.