I’ve heard it more times than I can count, “The first thing I do when I get a dirtbike is swap in a Seat Concepts seat.” Personally, I don’t mind the OEM seats on my dirt bikes. That’s probably because most of my riding with the KTM 500 EXC-F is pretty well varied, and I don’t spend a ton of time on long stretches seated. That said, it does happen on occasion, and I’ve found myself shimmying from one cheek to the other for some relief when it does. It’s just not often enough for me to consider other options. Though I do remember giving the KTM the nod for the most uncomfortable seat during this Excellent Dual-Sport Adventure back in 2019.
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When Seat Concepts reached out to MO to offer a seat for testing, I decided that this was my chance to find out what all the hype was about – and if I was just being stubborn. After discussing the type of riding I typically do with the folks at Seat Concepts, they suggested the standard Element seat (also available in short and tall options). Since I wasn’t necessarily looking to turn the 500 into a plush cruiser and wanted to maintain stock maneuverability, the Element seat fit the bill as it’s just as narrow as the OE seat up front, but widens as you move further back to offer approximately two more inches of flat sitting space side-to-side. The Element seat uses Seat Concept’s Gripper material in addition to being ribbed for your pleasure, er, traction, when you’re holdin’ ‘er WFO. The Seat Concepts secret sauce is, of course, their proprietary foam:
Seat Concepts seats are constructed using a foam material that is a much higher quality than OEM seat foam. Our proprietary formula provides a more plush and active ride, while still offering the necessary amount of support. Our unique comfort shape maintains a similar contour to stock at the front of the seat so the rider’s legs are not spread farther apart, but tapers out towards the mid-point to distribute rider weight over a greater area.
Where the buns meet the foam
Because I didn’t want to lose my stock seat if I wasn’t convinced, I opted for Seat Concepts full seat versus the cover/foam option that requires you to use your stock seat pan – Evans got this for his KLX300. Another reason I wanted the full seat is because I know I wouldn’t be able to do as good of a job at assembling it as SC would. They do offer installation though for $25 which is totally reasonable, you just have to be willing to send your seat in and wait on their varying lead times.
The first thing I noticed with the new seat is the overall quality. The stitching is flawless, the design looks great, and having the option to keep the blue color of the stock seat made me a happy camper (there are seven color options available). Because of the IMS tank, installation is a bit tighter than with the OE fuel tank (but that’s the same situation with the OEM seat and IMS tank). The Element’s foam does feel like it has a bit more initial squish than the stock seat, while still being dense enough to offer good support. Of course, sitting on the seat in my driveway wasn’t very telling – it was time to hit the trail.
For my first ride with the Seat Concepts Element seat, I pointed my wheels toward the vast expanse of the eastern Mojave for a four-day, 550-mile rip. Whether I liked it or not, I’d be forced to use it for the duration as we were doing a point-to-point trip. This ride was also a great test because we had more longer stretches of dirt BFRs to cover than usual.
Staying further forward in the seat felt much the same initially as the stocker, though it did seem that after more time and harder hits while seated, the Seat Concepts foam was working a bit of its magic. The SC foam seemed to do a better job of damping impact forces than the stock seat. Quick hits on sharp rain ruts or rocks that would typically have me wincing just before impact didn’t have the same harshness.
Feeling good about the seat’s performance through tighter two-trackers, I was much more excited than I usually am to get on to some longer sections of dirt roads to be able to scoot back and utilize the wider portion of the seat. As expected, it was more comfortable and, as with the stock seat, I didn’t have the edges digging into my ischial tuberosities. This was what I’d hoped for, but it was later in the trip after two or three long days in the saddle that I was really thankful to have the extra width.
I watched my friend ahead of me switching from one cheek to the other on a 15-mile section of highway on the third day. Meanwhile, I felt no need to do the cheek-to-cheek shimmy. It was great, and at that point, I was sold. Not only does the seat look great, it performs as advertised. I even tried to convince my buddy that maybe he needed to consider one, but he’s even more stubborn than I am.
The seats aren’t cheap with this version of the Element ringing up for $360. I probably won’t opt for putting one on my two-stroke – as that bike I find myself seated even less and moving around much more – but I’m very happy with it on the dual-sport bike. It offers just the right amount of performance and comfort for my kind of riding. If I ever pull the trigger on purchasing another ADV bike, a Seat Concepts seat will likely be on the short list, too.
Now, I get the hype. I might not want to switch out every seat that enters my garage on day one, but now I know what kind of benefits I can reap by doing so. I would say the more likely I am to be sitting, the more likely I would be to consider a Seat Concepts seat swap. Give it a try, your butt will thank you.
Shop for the Seat Concepts Element seat here
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