~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Aprilia Caponord: On the Hot Seat

It's summer in beautiful Arizona (or most anywhere that sun shines hot). You ride your bike somewhere, stop for a leisurely lunch and leave your bike parked under the bright sunshine where you can admire it through the window of the air conditioned cafe as you munch your lunch. After lunch, thoroughly satiated by a good burger and an ice tea, you walk out, start the bike, plop your bottom on the seat and "Yeeeyowwwwieeeeeee!!" Hot crossed buns for dessert. Unless you only ride in winter you've had this happen to you and here in Arizona it's just part of the normal fun of riding in warm weather.

As noted in the previous post I brought home a FLIR thermocamera to work on a test fixture and while I was at it made some images of my '02 Aprilia Caponord setting in the sun. It was about 98° - 100° F outside. Initially I was interested in the engine area but also recorded some images of the seat and then tossed my sheepskin cover on it, let it set for awhile and made new images so I could compare the seat surface temps with and without the "Sheepskin Buttpad" I bought from Alaska Leather Company.

Here's the visual image of the seat without the cover and with (wish I'd have bought the black one):

Here's the infrared camera view of the seat without the sheepskin cover:

The white area on the seat is 177°F. Tell me that won't hurt for a minute when you snuggle up against it.

Predictably the sheepskin cover was a bunch cooler than the bare black vinyl seat cover but the amount was interesting and confirms semi-scientifically what sheepskin seat cover users know already.

The hottest part of the sheepskin cover is approximately 137°F, 40° cooler than the bare vinyl, still plenty warm but because of the low mass of the sheep fur the heat doesn't really bite the way the bare vinyl cover does.

For what it's worth: Research with vehicle interiors shows that some bare leather seats left in the sun on a 110° day (say as iconvertibleable with the top down) can reach 240° in some areas. I have no doubt that if I'd left that Capo outside all day long at just the right angle the seat temp would have touched 200°F in some areas. Besides being hard on your bum, those are the kinds of temperatures that ruin expensive seats.

The stock Capo seat is not real comfortable for more than about 100 miles and since I added the sheepskin cover I've rolled up days past 300 miles without undo suffering. The fact that my bum doesn't get roasted each time I hop back on the bike after a fuel or rest stop surely must add to the comfort factor.

Someone pointed out on a motorcycle forum a while back that you could always spot and old guy's bike by the sheepskin seat cover. I laughed when I read that and it may be true but that's because after riding a couple of decades you learn to value comfort more than style. When you're 6 hours into a day and you do not have a serious case of monkey butt in your jeans you don't give a hang about style.

Worth noting: The Alaska Leather Company is owned and run by motorcyclists and doing business with them was a breeze. If you want a bit more comfort on your next long ride give them a call and spring for the sheepskin. It's genuine old fahrt tested and approved.

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