Indian's New Cooled Motorcycle Seat Is Going To Change The Road Trip Game

Illustration for article titled Indians New Cooled Motorcycle Seat Is Going To Change The Road Trip Game
Image: Indian Motorcycles

The new ClimaCommand seat available as an upgrade for Indian’s big bagger bikes, the Roadmaster, Chief, Springfield, and Chieftan, is the kind of innovation that the motorcycle world needs right now. It’s the first time a manufacturer has offered such an option—though Corbin has offered it as an aftermarket add-on for a bit now—and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this tech proliferate through the industry over the next five years. And my exceedingly hot butt will be thankful for it.

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For most of us two-wheelers, year round riding isn’t an option. It’s far too cold in the winter months to break out the bike. But spring, summer, and fall, shit, those are our months! But even then there are conditions. Ideally you don’t want to ride in the rain. I do, but I still prefer not to. And on a day like yesterday where we experienced triple-digit heat, I had actually planned to go on a 100 mile ride only to bail on it because I didn’t feel like being hot and sweaty for a couple hours.

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The innovation of heated seats and heated grips has extended the riding season earlier into the spring and deeper into the fall. As I can attest for having ridden an Indian Roadmaster with heated seats and grips early last spring, it’s an incredibly helpful thing to have. Riding through misty Big Sur in the early morning, or up Mt. Rose Highway with several feet of snow on either side of the road would have been far more uncomfortable without it.

Illustration for article titled Indians New Cooled Motorcycle Seat Is Going To Change The Road Trip Game

Heating your bum and fingies is particularly important for riders in cooler climates. Where I live in the northern Nevada desert, the hot months are just a little too hot sometimes, curtailing the two-wheel action. A cooled seat would go a long way toward getting me to ride on those hot days, and make me considerably more comfortable on the warm ones.

The fact is, riding a motorcycle responsibly requires several layers. What kind of idiot wears a goddamn coat and overpants in July? The kind that rides a bike.

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Saab was the first car company to offer power ventilated seats in the automotive world with the 9-5 in the late 1990s, and now it’s everywhere. I had ventilated seats in a Honda Odyssey that I piled almost 32,000 miles on last year, and it absolutely ruled, especially so for longer stints at the wheel. I could easily see doing a cross-country ride on one of Indian’s big boys, and that’s all the more true when a heated and cooled seat is brought into the mix.

Indian says its ClimaCommand seat uses a “thermoelectric module” to pump heat away from your hind end, as well as a ducting system to cool the module. So it’s basically a water to air intercooler for your ham hocks. In addition to that, the seat itself is made from highly conductive graphene to promote heat transfer. There are independent controls for rider and passenger, which is great because my wife and I have completely different body temperatures, somehow. The new system also pairs with optional passenger backrest and armrest pads. Oof, now that is the lap of luxury!

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I’m not exactly the target market for these big brawler bikes, but I do enjoy comfort. If you want to outfit your Indian with this upgraded heating/cooling seat, it’ll cost you $1,199.99 plus shipping and install. Seems pricey, but perhaps a cure to motorcycle-induced swamp ass is worth it to you.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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DISCUSSION

Meanwhile, Ducati continues to miss the opportunity to market its line of Ball Warming Scramblers ;-).

Anyway... only someone who has never ridden a motorcycle thinks that having heated grips is a luxury akin to automobile heated seats. I argue that they— or heated gloves, although grips are far more convenient, if not as effective— are *literally a safety item* for sustained riding under ~55 degrees. Any serious discomfort while riding is a risky distraction, and once you can’t feel your icy numb hands, riding is flat-out dangerous.

Wind chill is a thing, and without heated grips or gloves, I’m parking the bike a lot sooner than I’d like. With them, I can ride a bike until there’s snow on the ground (although below freezing rides present their own kind of soul-murder... I’m really only riding-effective into the mid-40s, but I’ll do it when it’s colder if I have to).

The converse— riding in hot weather— is equally dangerous. Between 75-90, mesh gear is a Godsend. Above 90, mesh gear is counterproductive— you lose sweat faster than it can cool you, paradoxically it’s better to wear a sealed jacket above those speeds. But then ask yourself how much THAT sucks, and you know the misery of commuting on steaming-hot DC Beltway pavement an hour a day in August. I don’t care if the law says you can’t lane split, when traffic is dead stopped in the summertime, I’m crawling forward just to stay alive until I reach my destination.

THAT SAID... would a cooled seat help that problem? Maybe? I’m ATGATT, so my pants are usually pretty insulated already, so I’d think that seat would have to get really cool for me to even notice it. And even then, I’m not sure how much that would regulate my body temperature compared to, say, just wearing a Chill Towel around my neck. Now, if we could get chilled hand grips, THAT would do a number on body temperature...