Corbin Saddle for Virago - worth the trouble?

I think everyone agrees that the first thing every Virago owner gets from his new toy is sore butt. People have looked at my stock saddle and asked if it's comfortable to ride because the saddle looks nice and wide. The looks, as we all know are deceiving and Virago's saddle is a perfect example. After a 100 mile or so, you will be vey painfully aware that the wide sides of a saddle provide practically no support whatsoever and the saddle raises towards back too soon, putting a lower back of taller riders to very awkward angle. The passanger seat is very narrow and too soft as well, smaller models even do not have sissy bar.

I decided to spend some money and try out the aftermarket saddle. I went for Corbin because they are on the net and I read some really good oppinions about their work in newsgroups. I hope that following paragraphs will prove beneficial at least to some of other 'sorebutts' out there.

As I wanted sissy bar and my XV750 did not have one, I ordered this first from Yamaha of Cucamonga. I wanted the sissy bar in hurry and as I was not yet sure about Corbin so I was not worried about the fact that the sissy bar was shown as set with the sissy bar pad with the price tag $148.95. If you are seriously into Corbin, ask YOC if you can just buy a plain sissybar because you will get a pad that matches your saddle from Corbin. The sissybar comes with all the needed bolts and fits into original grabhandle's place without any trouble at all (you will have to remove the saddle and toolbox to get access to all bolts but that's about it). I don't think you will have any trouble with shipping from YOC, at least I've found the shipping charges acceptable all times.

Now, ordering a saddle is entirely different story. First of all, you will have to decide about model, color, material and design features. Then make sure you negotiate the shipping charges. My first shipping quote from Corbin was $420! After couple of exchanged messages they offered a much cheaper (a bit slower) parcel surface delivery which was $82 - that's what I call serious savings :). The second important thing to keep in mind is that they charge your card 6-8 weeks before delivery.

I chose smooth naugahyde material because it's supposedly maintanance-free stuff. Leather would be better looking and probably more comfortable but in Estonia's lousy climate it would probably rot too fast :(. I did not use any of the qute design options like studs, but I did order rider's backrest. The saddle was $259, Sissy bar pad $59 and rider's backrest $139 - that's a serious $457 for a new seat (I wonder how many of you bought a whole bike for that or even less?).

I received my new seat after 2 month wait and slapped it on the same day. Is it perfectly made? I would say it's a tad less than perfect. The stiching shows some sloppy work on the right side and the rider's backrest design is not very good, not to mention that it's a bit too loose in it's mounting tube. The sissy bar pad comes with four mounting bolts, but I used ones from a stock pad because they are allen bolts with nice chromed caps (Corbin sent cheapo bolts with flat-blade screwdrive slot).The saddle itself is very hard compared to stock one, a bit narrower and the rider's seat is deeper and eliminates the problem with the lower back position. However, it does not help you with the riding position much because it forces you to sit even more close to front than stock saddle.

As it's pretty cold outside, I will not be able to ride a lot before next spring, but I did a short test ride just to see how it feels and it certainly felt different. The first thing was that the material felt slippery onder my nylon pants, probably because the saddle was quite hard in about +5C. Instead if sitting on my 'tail', I was sitting more on my buttocks, sides of the saddle felt even too clearly but Corbin says that the saddle will mold itself after it's rider in 2000 miles or so. The sissy bar pad seems a bit narrower and taller and is a bit differently shaped (compared to stock one) as well. What you will also notice is that the passanger seat is more supportive, but more leaned forward, so you will have more of your passanger on your back :).

What I did not like again was rider's backrest - it was just too upright and supported my back with it's tip, not entire surface. Considering the fact that your SO won't fit between two backrests (unless she's virtual or from another planet) and on longer trips you will probably have the tent and sleeping bag tied behind your back anyway, you may want to skip the backrest at least initially - if you tell Corbin that you want you saddle with the backrest mount, you can always order a backrest later. At least on my short experience, I consider the rider's backrest expen$ive mistake for me.

So is it worth the trouble and money? As it feels different from stock saddle, I guess it's safe to say yes, but I do not recommend the driver's backrest, at least for tall riders.


Comment from Joe Beautz

Date sent: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 08:29:23 -0700 To: mast@forex.ee From: Joe Beautz <ridevirago@loop.com> Subject: Corbin Hi Madis, Thank you for your write-up on the Corbin saddle. About 8 or 10 months ago, one of our members bought a Corbin saddle just as you had described only in leather, not naugahyde. He bought it mainly for the backrest, because he has back problems. Corbin guaranteed that they make the best motorcycle saddle in the world and that their product is unsurpassed. Needless to say, when he received his saddle and found the total absence of workmanship with regard to the backrest, he contacted Corbin. Their reply was something similar to "We make the best seat in the world and if you want any changes, return the seat at your expense and we will inform you of the charges to make the changes". Corbin absolutely refused to stand behind their product's shoddy workmanship as far as the backrest was concerned. After much correspondence with Corbin, we gave up and simply boycotted any of Corbin's products throughout our local chapter and through the VOC newsletter and other newsletters. I have since designed a simple fix for the wobbly backrest by adding shim stock to the inside of the backrest receiver and by drilling and installing a stop to limit the amount which the spline slides into the receiver, thereby creating some adjustment to fit the rider. These simple fixes were suggested to Corbin, but they totally ignored our suggestions, again wihth the statement that they make the best saddle in the world. We therefore will not advertise in any way for Corbin. Joe

I have now disassembled the riders backrest to see if I can change it's angle. It's not easily done, but the spline is held in place by one bolt which I pulled out and then made a cut in the spline to allow the backrest to lean back more. The backest cover is quite a tight fit, so be careful when you pull it back over. I also used the cut a bit higher in the cover to stick the spline out the back of the cover, not the bottom.

Along with modifications suggested by Joe, you can probably make the backrest fit your taste more or less.


Copyright © Madis Kaal 2000-