Traditionally manufacturers motorcycles use foam cushioning in their seating. This type of cushioning is used to dissipate some of the energy and shear that is transferred to the body through shock. Foam, although used almost exclusively at the factory level, has limited and at times negative effects to the body. Specifically; foam does not provide adequate levels of absorption, shock attenuation and comfort over a protracted period of use. Moreover, foam will take a compression set over extensive use.
Recently, a more important factor has arisen with the use foam in seating. That factor is in medical terminology; “pressure point management”. Foam inhibits the flow of blood in the extremities over protracted periods of sitting. This inhibition of blood flow has the cumulative effect of limiting the amount of oxygen to the legs and thus creating discomfort, soreness and in extreme instances vascular problems.
The medical field faces the same type of problems with patients that are on operating or recovery tables for a long period of time or for surgical applications. In order to counteract the effect of vascular and muscular occlusions with foam cushioning; many hospitals use gel pads in place of foam pads. Although they are more expensive; the gel padding promotes the flow of blood during procedures, increases comfort and eliminates the concern over pressure point management.
Gel is increasingly used from a comfort point of view in aftermarket mobility applications. It is soft, pliable, comfortable, does not take a compression set and adds increased cushioning over traditional foam methods of cushioning. The medical applications are quite applicable to mobility seating; especially with motorcycle seating.
The bumps and overall feel of the road are most evident and discomfort is a cumulative effect of the use of foam pads in seats. Gel on the other hand “comforts your pads” so to speak.
Foam is a very effective material for use in a motorcycle seat; however it must be several inches thick to be comfortable. Foam works by collapsing under pressure until it conforms to the shape of the body above. In turn this equalizes pressure, like SaddleGel™, but it must be thick and soft to be most comfortable. When seat height is an issue, denser foam must be used to lower height and this tends to be uncomfortable to many people.