MXA PRODUCT TEST: ACERBIS X-SEAT: A One-Piece Design That Blends Modern Technology With The Widest Part Of Your Body

December 3, 2009
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WHAT IS IT? A motorcycle seat unlike any other. The X-Seat uses internal expanded foam that is molded in a one-piece shape (no base, no staples, no vinyl cover and no upholstery foam).

WHAT’S IT COST? $199.95.

CONTACT? http://www.acerbis.comÿÿor (800) 659-1440.

WHAT’S IT DO? The typical motocross saddle is constructed from three major pieces: a plastic base, a foam plug, and a fabric seat cover. The three pieces are sandwiched together and stapled to form the seat. This is the way it has been done for 60 years. Not so with the Acerbis X-Seat. For all practical purposes, it is a one-piece unit (although in truth it is constructed from two different types of closed-cell foam bonded into a hard exoskeleton and soft guts). Acerbis’ method of construction involves spinning the raw material in a rotational mold that bonds the two layers of space-age foam into one piece. Think of the X-Seat as a Twinkie: a thick outer skin filled with dense, closed-cell foam.

The X-Seat derives its overall strength from its unified construction as opposed to the sum of its parts. The outer shell works like a monocoque, while the inner foam is a honeycomb-like filling.

WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Acerbis X-Seat.

(1) Grip. The X-Seat provides grip via different patterns and surface treatments on the raised plastic outer layer. The ripples, ridges and rills aren’t so aggressive that they pull your pants down like a gripper seat cover, nor are they as slippery as a smooth vinyl cover. In a world of varying tastes, Acerbis has done a good job of finding the middle ground.

(2) Durability. The Acerbis shell is more durable than a conventional fabric cover. Knee braces are extremely brutal to fabric seat covers, especially when the hinges hit right at the lower edge of the plastic base. The X-Seat, while not bulletproof, withstood the punishment of MXA’s knee brace-equipped test riders without showing any ill effects. Over time, the exoskeleton showed some scratches, but no tears. The X-Seat isn’t made of steel. It can be punctured. It will show abuse. But, in our opinion, it is ten times stronger, on the surface, than a conventional vinyl-covered seat. Unfortunately, after two months the seat brackets pulled out of the X-Seat. We replaced the X-Seat and Acerbis told us that they had modified the brackets so that this wouldn’t happen again. Unfortunately, two months later the brackets pulled out of the X-Seat again.

(3) Weight. The dry weight of the X-Seat is similar to the stock seat, but in wet conditions the stock seat will absorb as much as a pound of water. The X-Seat is waterproof.

(4) Shape. On our test Yamaha, the stock seat was wider and flatter on top. The X-Seat was more rounded and narrower. Personal choice plays a big role in seat shape, but most MXA test riders thought the X-Seat allowed for easier body repositioning and improved comfort at race speeds. It was less comfortable at slow speeds and for riders with larger posteriors.

(5) Foam density. Some of the cushioning of the X-Seat is derived from the stiffness of the outer shell, and every test rider felt that the X-Seat was firmer than the stock seat. Acerbis tested with a wide variety of Grand Prix, Rally and enduro riders before it chose the foam density. Overall, it was a good choice. There is one caveat: if you prefer plush seats, the X-Seat may be too firm for you. The X-Seat does get softer over time.

(6) Bunching. Because there is no seat cover, there is no bunching. With a conventional seat cover, the fabric can get wrinkled or clumped together when the rider slides back and forth on it. Often, the bunching hooks on the rider’s pants to inhibit movement or to de-pants the rider. This can’t happen with the X-Seat.

(7) Customization. If you like your seat to have a step, hump or cut-down shape, you are out of luck. Acerbis says that it has tested custom seats with Ryan Villopoto, and if there is a demand, Acerbis will produce them. But, how would you know if Ryan Villopoto’s hump position is right for you?

WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We have four complaints: (1) The X-Seat is expensive at $200. (2) The shape cannot be customized. (3) If the one-piece seat is too firm, too grippy, too smooth, too tall or too narrow, it cannot be altered like your old block-of-foam seat. (4) The X-Seat has not proven to be durable enough enough to make it for longer than two months without breaking.

The X-Seat design is an unbelievable stroke of genius. In one fell swoop it eliminates ripped seat covers, sacked out foam, water-logged seats, wrinkles, and the curse of staples. Now, Acerbis needs to work on getting the seat to last a little longer.


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