Ducati 1198 Saddlemen Gel Channel Sport Seat Test

Don’t get me wrong – the Panigale Ducati superbikes have uniqueness like no others.

But I’m a trellis frame and non-Superquadro type of guy, and highly addicted to the 1098/1198 superbikes. The Testastretta engine has serious torque, and once the 1198 is planted, its trellis frame provides non-stop feedback.

My 1198 frequents the track, but most of its beatings arrive during spirited backcountry rides. And as many know, comfort isn’t the best asset of the 1098/1198 knows. My biggest complaints, especially on the street? A torched right thigh and a sore ass. At least Saddlemen has the cure for one of those issues with its Gel Channel Sport Seat.

The stock seat is perfect for the track where the behind is never planted for more than a few seconds. But on the street it’s like sitting on an empty pizza box, providing barely any comfort.

The Saddlemen Sport drastically improves comfort levels. The secret is its split design and creation from a firm – but not too firm – “SaddleGel.” This material provides enough cushion when on long stretches of the highways, but is firm enough to provide that sporty feel when leaning off in the canyons.

A channel divides the seat’s SaddleGel portions, and is designed to relieve pressure to the perineal area. The channel keeps blood flowing, helping to prevent soreness. Studies also show that lack of blood flow in the perineal area has affected men’s reproductive organs, causing impotence, so this channel can help some others in more ways than one.

The Saddlemen Sport is covered with plush “SaddleSuede,” which looks like it would absorb water during rain. But the suede – along with the leather channel – dries quickly, even after being subjected to rain for long periods of time.

The Saddlemen Sport’s shape is similar to the stock seat, and retains the 1198’s 32.3-inch seat height. It does feature a wider rear section that’s slightly bucketed, no doubt assisting in the comfort factor, and a narrower nose. The Sport is also slightly pitched rearward, not pushing the rider into the gas tank as much as the stock seat.

Installation is straightforward and only involves removing the two stock hex-head screws that are reused for the Saddlemen Sport seat. Conscious of overall styling, Saddlemen also provides a cover for the stock pillion that matches the Sport seat. Speaking of styling, the Sport is not the most aggressive looking, but helps enhance the sharp lines of the 1198.

A word on track use – I used the Sport seat during a track day with Absolute Cycle Experience at my local track, Pocono Raceway. But after a few laps, I realized the stock seat was easier to slide across when transitioning from full tuck to hanging off while corners. Regardless, track days are the only time I use the stock seat. Any other time, the Saddlemen Sport is in place.

But if you wanted a seat for the track – or other designs pique your interest – Saddlmen has got you covered. It offers the same SaddleGel design in three other versions – Tech (easier movement), Track-CF (more movement, carbon fiber look) and Chicane (designed for track/road racing use).

The Saddlemen Gel Channel Sport Seat fits 2007-2011 1098/1198, and 2008-2013 848 superbikes, and retails for $273. For additional information, visit Saddlemen.