When I bought my Switchback in 2011, I picked it up from the dealer on Wednesday and left for my Sturgis ride on Thursday. The journey was about 1,800 miles each way, and I was not a happy camper at the end of the day because my stock seat just didn’t provide the comfort or support I needed for long days on the road. After that ride, I used an AirHawk cushion, which helped tremendously—when I remembered to take it with me, that is. It was time for a permanent seat solution.
I’d known Danny Gray for years, and always liked the style of his saddles. For over 40 years Danny Gray Enterprises has built high-quality, high-performance seats for motorcycles, starting with custom seats for top-name custom builders like Arlen Ness and Dave Perewitz. Eventually the company began making production aftermarket seats for retail customers.
Danny Gray Seats was definitely on my short list, but the seat maker shot to the top of my list when I saw that his company had partnered with AirHawk to create a venture known as High End Seating Systems, a line of seats incorporating AirHawk Dry Flotation technology. AirHawk products have been used for over three decades in the medical industry to reduce pressure and improve the comfort of those who need to use wheelchairs. It works wonderfully with motorcycle seats because pressure distribution is equalized over the entire seat area, minimizing the “hot spots” felt after hours in the saddle.
On the Danny Gray website, www.dannygray.com, is an interactive build-your-own function, which I used to help determine which seat would work best for my needs. First, I entered the model number of my bike—in this case, Harley-Davidson Dyna (all) ’06-up. Next was the seat type, of which there are eight available for my bike. I chose the Weekend 2-up XL for $432.55. Then I was asked to specify comfort options, and I chose AirHawk Driver for $175. (A gel option is also offered.) A word of advice: If you regularly carry a passenger, you might also want to choose the AirHawk Passenger option for an additional $125. Your passenger will be most grateful.
I was then asked to choose the stitch pattern I wanted (there are a dozen, including flames, tribal and other designs), and I selected the Scallop for both driver and passenger seat for $49.50 and $45, respectively (other designs have varying prices). I was then given 10 options for stitch color; I chose red to match the color of my bike. After that was inlay material including various colors of alligator, snake and ostrich. I passed on this one, being a gal with simple tastes. One last option was the opportunity to purchase the Danny Gray leather conditioning kit. The estimated cost of my seat came to $702.05, which I thought was a great price for a semi-custom, AirHawk-integrated saddle. You can save or print your final seat configuration and use it as reference to order your seat from a Drag Specialties dealer.
Within a month, I’d received my new seat, eagerly tore into the packaging and ran down to the garage to install it immediately. Unlike some other seats I’ve ordered in the past, this one slid into the seat slot up front without any jiggling, tweaking or bending. I fastened it to the rear fender using my original hardware, and began to explore the AirHawk component. The instructions included with the seat directed me how to fill and adjust the air cushion. There is a bulb pump on the left side of the driver seat, near the rear, that is inflated by pumping until the cushion is noticeably filled with air. The instructions suggest that five to seven pumps is a good starting point. I was then directed to sit on the seat in my normal upright riding position with both feet on the pegs (I needed some help with this to hold the bike upright). This gave me a pretty good idea of what the seat would feel like when I was actually riding. The air level is adjusted by pressing the button that is located right next to the pump, which releases air to allow you to sink into the seat. It was suggested that I make sure I haven’t let all the air out by slowly leaning my body (not my bike) from side to side. I was able to feel that there was still some air left in the seat.
As I rode the bike, I discovered which settings were best for whatever type of riding I was doing. It’s suggested that you use caution if adjusting the seat while riding. The method I use now is to pump up the seat more than I know I’ll want, and once I’m on the road, slowly let out the air until I’ve reached the desired effect. For me, it is a lot easier to use the release button than it is to try to pump up the seat while you’re actually riding.
The first decent-length trip I took was to Delmarva Bike Week, about 500 miles round trip (not counting the riding I did at the rally). The seat performed incredibly well, not only from a comfort viewpoint (no more sore derriere), but from a lumbar-support perspective. I found that the amount of air I like to keep in the seat varies depending on what gear I’m wearing, how much luggage I’m hauling, how tired I am (I tend to slump more at the end of a long riding day), where my feet rest (I sometimes use my rear sets or stretch my legs forward for some knee relief) and other factors. Regardless of the riding conditions, it’s great to have seat-comfort choices.
If you have a bike model not listed or offered through Drag Specialties and its network of dealers, contact Danny Gray directly for custom build options. And Danny Gray Enterprises stands behind its products. Each seat is handmade and warranted against defects in material and workmanship 12 months from the purchase date. If any questions arise, contact their customer service department at 888.443.2669.