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“M-ass Appeal” – with no saddle sores!
By Tom Neel
Ever since man started pitching a saddle over a horse’s back, rides on leather have followed. Yet with the use of wheels came the suspension-less bicycle with no more than a board for a seat. Mind you, pavement was yet to come, so the roads were rough. The death of a horse owned by leather goods maker, Mr. J.B. Brooks of Birmingham, England, led him to borrow one of those uncomfortable bicycles. His sore bottom thankfully led him to, in 1882, invent the very sprung leather seat we as Halcyon owners know so well. The Brooks Saddle Company is still in business today.
Eventually things got better for the bicycle and in turn, the motorbike. Thankfully roads have also improved, but a gracious nod still must be given to the early invention of the sprung seat. Every time you throw a leg over your Halcyon, a timelessness should evoke your senses right down to your bum! In this, the most important of the five places your body touches your motorcycle, each of those five places, both hands, both feet and your tail end, are the direct connection between you and your motorcycle. Then there are the two contact patches which connect your tires to the feel of the road. But it’s your butt in the saddle that makes you and your motorcycle one.
Interestingly enough, though over a hundred years have passed, the saddle still is known to be a source of discomfort. Many tend to have love hate relationships with motorcycle seats. Hence, rallies like the “Iron Butt” have been appropriately named. Stay in the saddle long enough and something’s gotta give, and it’s not those two cheeks on your face!
This brings me to the Halcyon’s seat. Janus actually makes two of them, the standard and wideline seat. Just like Brooks intended, both are attached to the Halcyon’s rigid frame via a hinge and a set of little coil springs. As with a suspension, when you sit on your seat there is a preload or an amount your seat springs compress to a “pre” loaded position before ever hitting a bump. As you ride and hit bumps, the springs, just like a bike with suspension in the rear, will compress and rebound. As an example, when I sit on my seat it compresses about 1/12 inch or so. It’s about the same as my Halcyon’s front springs. When I ride I feel pretty confident those springs hitting bumps compress up to another 2 inches or so, which is similar to the front springs. I’m pretty light and so the amounts will, of course, increase with another rider’s added weight and gear. But unlike a motorcycle with suspension, any weight in your saddlebags or a pillion rider, doesn’t affect your seats springs.
What I find so pleasing is that in the 2500 miles or so I’ve put on my Halcyon, at least 2000 of those miles were done as twenty 100 mile rides and I’ve gotten off each time feeling like I could go another 100 with ease. I’ve owned many motorcycles and I’ll be frank in saying, I think (though I’m getting old), that this may be the most comfortable motorcycle I’ve owned. The seat and its little springs are very effective.
Now part of this is due to my butt liking hard seats. But each butt is different, as are our tail-bones. I find with soft seats your butt presses into them and the connection is unlike a hard seat with springs. The soft seat can inhibit movement and things become very dependent on the foam used and the seat shape. Speaking of shape, the Halcyon’s seat pan, both the narrow and wide seat, seem to be a perfect fit.
My second motorcycle is currently a 2020 Ducati Scrambler which has a nice wide seat and a lot of suspension. If you compare the Halcyon’s seat to it, you can visualize the Halcyon’s seat shape within its wide cushy area. Yet there’s little question for me which seat is more comfortable after 100 miles. It is the Halcyon’s.
So, if you’ve been thinking your Halcyon is not good for longer rides, or you’re a Janus admirer who has been wanting a Halcyon but have not been able to get past its lack of rear suspension, trust my butt! Life is pretty good riding in this saddle. Two thumbs up to Mr. Brooks, and two happy cheeks for the Janus Motorcycle Company.