10 Years on 2 Wheels – Helge Pedersen

For more than 10 years, Norwegian-born Helge Pedersen and Olga, his sturdy BMW motorcycle, traveled vagabond style across six continents, through 77 countries, and over 250,000 miles, more than ten times the actual distance around the world. The result of this incredible journey? “10 Years on 2 Wheels,” ISBN-0-944958-38-9, an 8 1/2? x 12? hardcover book of 208 pages, with 200 color photos and 9 maps, is an unusual and exciting travel story of the history of a wanderer with an address that read simply, The World.

Here’s an excerpt:
Helge Pedersen Comments on Gel for Iron Butts

How far did you personally ride last time out? 300, 500 miles? Why did you stop?

Most people on a long trip complain about having a sore rear end. Sounds like me. I just can´t stand it sitting endlessly on the bike hour after hour without moving my butt. Sometimes I stand up while riding, other times I let my feet hang out in the wind while stretching. Eventually the time comes when I have to stop and take a break. My butt has had it…

In order to relieve this problem, I have tried all kind of saddles and I have found out that there are really bad ones. But there are some good ones as well. What surprises me, is that people will spend 10,000 dollars or more on a bike that comes delivered with a terrible saddle. The brakes, engine, paint job, along with everything else are just perfect, but the stock saddle sucks. It might look good on the bike, but a few short miles down the road you’ll know it definitely doesn’t feel good on your rear end..

Relief, however, is in sight. According to Saddlemen in Los Angeles, California, they have built the perfect saddle. This innovative company has researched other “seated” user groups and found for instance that people bound to wheelchairs were sitting on silicon gel..

Some manufacturers of bicycle seats claim that their silicon gel seats are the best in the world. How about your wife? You can just ask the experts. Women have been using silicon for all kinds of self improvements and we all like it don’t we? So why not make a saddle for motorcycles built on the same principals: make ‘em look good and feel good.

No More Aching Butt
Some three years ago, I noticed that my butt hurt. I’ve been accused of being a pain in the butt occasionally, but never the other way around and I didn’t like it. And being extremely quick on the uptake, it didn’t take long for me to realize that it only hurt when I was on the bike.

At the time, my 1989 FLHTC had about 65,000 miles on it and factory saddle had slowly, almost imperceptibly worn out over the four years I’d had it. Finally, it split and I had to do something about it. And as fortune would have it, I was in Sturgis at the time. I decided to hit all the seat makers and buy something I liked. Well, that was my plan anyway, it didn’t work out that way.

I sauntered outa the motel that morning and another writer I knew was there riding a fresh Road King with this really neat looking seat. He explained it was a new Saddlemen gel seat. WOW, I’m a sucker for new, improved etc.!! So off to Saddlemen’s booth at the civic center in downtown Sturgis to see the recently introduced road sofa.

I quickly learned that they produced three variations of this saddle for my bike. I could choose between leather, vinyl or a marine grade cloth covering for the seat. The demo seat they had available had the cloth covering.

I was a lot more interested in hearing about the gel material for the seat. As a young troop at Walter Reed Army Medical Center during the Vietnam debacle, I had observed severely burned patients and others who could not move about due to their injuries, we placed on gel beds. The theory being the gel would distribute weight evenly help to alleviate pain and to prevent bed sores. The folks from Saddlemen told me that this was the idea behind their road sofa. They did emphasize that it would take 500-800 miles to break in the gel seat. So, I had 'em bolt one on for a test drive..and it was comfy. I liked the cloth seat very much. It also was fairly hard on the ol' buttocks.. but I remembered the break in period and figured it would get softer.

It turned out, the demo seat was the only one they had. So I put in an order for the cloth covered one and headed home with my aching butt. A few weeks later this huge box arrives and in it a seat!! It bolted right up…the backrest slipped into the holder and off I went to ride the entire length of Route 66 for Hog Tails magazine.

AFTER ABOUT 600 HUNDRED MILES I BEGAN TO WONDER IF IT WOULD EVER BREAK-IN… BY 800 I WAS SURE IT WOULDN’T… BY 1000, IT WAS THE MOST COMFORTABLE SEAT I’D EVER BEEN ON!!!

The gel had, almost unnoticed by me, formed to the shape of my uuuhh… cheeks. This had become the most comfortable seat I had ever been on.. bar none.

I also discovered some advantages I hadn’t expected. Not only was the cloth cool in summer, it was warmer on the cold days as well. But the biggest advantage I noticed was, once I got comfortable on the seat.. I didn’t move around and the cloth held me where I wanted to be.

By the way, once my wife caught up to me, she also observed and extended break-in for the passenger seat .. but now that it has conformed to fit her, she won’t ride with anything else. She also commented on the fact that I didn’t squirm around at all and that she didn’t feel the need to move either.

The folks at Saddlemen explained to me that the break-in period is dictated by the riders weight. Lighter/ longer… heavier/shorter.

OK… now for the nitty gritty. The seat has been on my bike for three years and some 15,000 miles. It’s been through hundred degree days in Texas and temperatures well below zero in the garage enduring the Wyoming winters. I’ve washed it every spring with Woolite and dried it with a towel, reapplied Scotchguard and that’s it. How has it held up?

In a word GREAT
The pictures you see here were shot while the bike was down to be painted this winter. I can’t find any sign of wear on the cloth or the vinyl parts of the seat. None, zip, nada… as far as I can tell, the color hasn’t even faded.

The gel is a marvel. It’s still comfortable and molded to my derriere. Neither heat nor cold has effected it’s ability to evenly distribute my weight. And in the cold months, it has an unadvertised quality. Leave your bike in direct sunlight or use a heating pad or something like that to heat the gel and it stays warm for a longtime!! A bun warmer!!!

But be warned, I learned this in Albuquerque the hard way, leaving the bike sitting in the sun for 2 hours, and then hopping on.. and right off!! Yeehaw!!

I quickly learned to cover the seat!

Saddlemen makes a number of gel seats, and can add it to yours. I recommend it. And I have to say, that while having to protect the seat with a baggy cover during inclement weather is a pain in the butt, the pain this seat prevents more than off-sets the slight amount of inconvenience it causes!!

You’re looking for a seat… and want a comfy, long-lasting one… try out the Saddlemen gel seat.