Long Distance Motorcycle Riding Pain

Seeking advice for relieving lower back and private parts discomfort

long distance riding pain softail deluxe

I have been riding for several years. I ride a Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe and I am pretty short. I have several problems with my lower back and private parts hurting if I ride for any length of time. Have you heard of any other women having this kind of problem? Any suggestion or help you have would be much appreciated.

Roseville, Michigan
Via reader comment

Please share your advice in the comment section below.

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23 thoughts on Long Distance Motorcycle Riding Pain

  1. Riding from California to Virginia to visit the grandkids can wear on your body. I’ve done that ride on my 2005 Deluxe with no backrest but handlebars with more pull back, and it was comfortable. The trick I used on my Deluxe was to hang my heels on my passenger footpegs. It rolls your hips into a forward position which gives your lower back relief. But my second Harley, a 2011 Street Glide with backrest and Flanders handlebars (with a 10 inch pull back) was like sitting in a Lazyboy chair. Really! The suspension on the Street Glide is made for long rides and the wind protection from the fairing allows your whole body to relax. I highly recommend a Street Glide or Road King if you are going across the country. It may take a few modifications—lowered shocks, cut down seat, pull back handlebars—but this little 5 foot 5 inch grandma has had 68,000 miles of amazing adventures on my black beauty!

  2. There’s a new product on the market called the PakRest. It’s a piece of motorcycle luggage and an adjustable backrest in one. It has a very large backrest pad and provides support for your back. You can lean back into the backrest pad to take the pressure off your private parts. Unlike a custom seat it is easily transferable to any bike you ride. Plus you can customize it with all kinds of pockets and pouches. I love mine and I have a friend who has a lot of back issues and it really helps him, too.

  3. I’ve had all kind of bikes and they all seem to affect my body in different ways. Sportbikes affect my wrists and thighs, cruisers affect my arms and back. The important thing is the correct fit of the bike you choose. Harley has the most customized fit and the Sportster even though top-heavy is a good fit for me and so is the Fat Boy. I had pullback bar risers, easy clutch, and a lower seat fitted for the correct fit for me on both bikes.

  4. I am definitely trying the corset. I too, get back pain and groin pain. Thanks to all the ladies for sharing!

  5. I have a Softail Deluxe also. I’ve found the stock seat quite comfortable, but would suggest the riser change and/or different handlebars as well as highway bars with footpegs to allow you to change positions frequently (I do this often…both feet up, down, or one up one down). When I’m doing a long ride (650 miles or more) my bag makes an excellent backrest so I’ve never felt the need to add that. The handlebar and riser switch has probably made the most difference in comfort as my posture became more normal for me. I do stop frequently to refuel, hydrate, or use the bathroom, and will suggest that if you aren’t stopping to do the last two between refueling you aren’t hydrating as you should, and that makes a huge difference in your level of fatigue after a long ride. Best of luck sorting this out, have fun, and be safe!

  6. Try putting a gel seat on your seat before springing for a new seat. Get a good one. Take one suggestion at a time so you know what works. In 39 years, I have had a Sportster, FXR, Road King, Ultra, and a 1996 and 2007 Deluxe. After days of riding all day, or 9 hours in the saddle, my lower back hurts on all of them. Having the right handlebars and seat etc. can help alot. As will getting off and stretching and walking around a parking lot a bit. I rode from New York to Florida on my ’96 which is not counterbalanced. Stopped every hour to get off a little and stretch. After 650 miles on day one my behind was horribly sore. It vibrates way more than the newer ones. I got a gel seat the next morning and it made a huge difference. My behind has been happy since. You likely will not get rid of all the lower back pain but should have lots less. Good luck and ride safe.

  7. I have a 2006 Heritage Softail Classic and for the first two years I dealt with back and neck pain because I love to ride. I finally bought a seat with a backrest and since then I have no more back or neck pains. I will ride 150 to 180 miles before refueling but when I do stop I make sure I stretch and unwind for about 30 minutes. I now can say I have successfully ridden to and through 45 states including Alaska and loved every minute of it.

  8. I ride a Harley-Davidson Springer Classic, which has the same frame as yours. You need to sit taller, which can be changed by adding handlebar risers. The spread on the handlebars may also be too wide. I prefer a 90% shoulder to hand grips. A good H-D dealer can fit a bike for your particular needs for good posture. Try to remember to sit tall, not hunched over ducking behind a windshield. I also went to a Mustang seat with a rider backrest. I move my foot position to front or back of my floorboards. I get off and walk around every hundred miles. One secret I found that really made a big difference to my back issues was loosening my belt and/or chaps. They need to be looser in a sitting position than in a standing position. It was totally amazing the relief I found when I did that simple thing. Most of all, have fun and relax!

  9. Hi Debbie. I too have a Softail Deluxe. I just returned from the Run for the Wall ride from Ontario, California, to Arlington, Virginia, and back home. On average I log more than 10,000 miles a year. I ride with a beaded seat which helps with airflow and I have a custom Corbin seat. Corbin customizes your seat to your body. They moved the back of the seat forward approx 1.5 inches, tapered the sides to be narrower, and formed the base of the seat to fit. As stated in other comments, posture is key. Best of luck in finding your comfort zone.

  10. I would get a different seat. Also, I have a seriously bad back and found that wearing European riding corsets, like the Victorian’s did for horseback riding, completely eliminated most of my back discomfort while riding. Make sure you get one designed for you. I also stop and rest more frequently than I did when I was younger.

  11. I had the same problem. This is what I did and do to fix it:• Found a more cushioned seat• Do warm-up exercises before starting the ride (yoga helps a lot)• Make several stops along the way to stretch your legs• Wear comfortable shoes and pants• When I finish the ride, I do exercises to relax the muscles and take a good bath• Stretch my legs a bit while being on straight routesThese tips have helped me, when I have traveled more 15 hours on different motorcycles. I hope this helps.

  12. Aside from a new seat, backrest, and handlebars you may want to get better shocks. Better shocks are tailored to the rider and whether or not you ride a passenger, it may also include lowering the bike a bit based upon your weight giving you a better ride. I can personally say with my own H-D CVO Street Glide it makes a difference and I truly enjoy long distance riding now that I switched out my shocks.

  13. I ride a Harley-Davidson Road King because I was always fatigued on the Softail Deluxe. I rode that for two years and always had issues. Once I switched bikes, many of my discomfort and fatigue issues went away. I use an Airhawk for longer rides.I am little—5 feet 3 inches and 125 pounds.The ride is smoother and the bike is way easier to ride. I’ve had the front and rear shocks lowered. I would never go back.

  14. I’m guessing you have a stock seat. My Heritage seat was not the best at long term rider comfort so I got a Mustang seat. Four years and 70,000 miles later, no problems. But you might also want to have other options for your feet: crash bars, pull back pegs, floorboards. All these options take the pressure off on a long haul. Good luck!

  15. You’ll probably need to adjust your handlebars and/or seat and/or footpegs.As for the private parts, maybe a better seat? Or take breaks more often? I usually only ride for an hour to an hour and a half, and then I take a break. You’d be surprised how even just a short break to stretch can save you from pains at the end of the day.Good luck and ride safe!

  16. My remedy for the situation, since I also ride a Softail Deluxe, is a good full-size gel seat, plus have a back rest installed on your bike if you don’t already have one. Those two things alone provide me with so much comfort when running long-distance.

  17. Very common. I have this issue mostly when I pillion. The shape of the seat, the ability to lean against something or hold myself upright with handlebars change things. Have you made any changes to the bike since buying it that made the issue worse or better? It’s hard when you’re short to add a padded seat like an Airhawk but that may be the solution.

  18. I rode more than 12 years on a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200cc. I had a custom seat made with lumbar support that came up to my mid-lower back to support on long rides more than 200 miles long. I have long legs and am 5 feet 10 inches, so the extended pegs and highway bar to rest my legs on helped a lot. In 2013 I purchased a Harley-Davidson Triglide trike. This has the lumbar support for your lower back and a comfy/cushy seat padded for longer rides of more than 400 miles. I don’t get tired or have any problems with female parts/legs/back. It’s all about getting the right seat for your back/lumbar and legs to support you. The right handlebars and hand cushion also helps.

  19. Hi Debbie. In my opinion you might have a general problem with the lower back and it shows especially when you sit long time in a fixed position. You probably sit too straight forward.I have kind of a similar problem with one side of my hips.I would say try to change position just a little bit to keep your back in motion. Think of straighten your neck, pulling the shoulders to the front and back, sitting straight and so on. If you try you might find an acceptable position.And most important of all: figure out if your back is kind of blocked in motion everyday and you just didn’t notice it.

  20. Not to be snarky Debbie but, try a Honda Shadow Aero. I, too, am “not too tall,” and while I am certainly tired after 400 miles, I don’t have any of the pain you reference and, btw, I am 66 years old. The Shadow has a seat height of 25″ so both feet are firmly planted flat when stopping and the center of gravity is low so a fairly easy bike to handle. I rode from Florida to Ontario, Canada, last year with no issues like you describe. Good luck sorting this out!

  21. I ride long distance and do not suffer this pain. I have, however, added a eutopia backrest, a H-D Sundowner seat, risers to my handlebars, and new bars. All of this to my FLHR (Road Queen). I spent several trips and many hours with my mechanic and we worked hard to get just the right fit. I sit upright and do not have back pain. I have a bad back and have had surgery. I can do 650 miles in a day and I am not complaining. I can’t sit in my car for an hour without needing a break. In short, I set my bike up for good posture because I do long rides and want to be comfy. Others I ride with who have not done this custom-fitting are complaining around 250-300 miles or less. I also did this to my 650 V Star years ago and put 45,000 miles on that baby with 3,000 in one trip! Everyone told me I was crazy to do this but to me if I am not comfortable, what is the point of riding? I even fought the mechanic for the risers. Eventually, I won when he just couldn’t get the bars where I needed them.

  22. You may just need a different seat. I switched out the rather thin seat that came with my Softail Slim for the much cushier Mustang seat. I also added the backrest which took care of my back pain. Another thing you might consider is handlebar risers. They help you sit up straighter and bring the bars closer so you’re not reaching. That said, there is no better cure for butt pain than stopping more frequently. We try to stop at least every hour and a half. Hope this helps you keep riding longer.

  23. I’d look for another seat with backrest, you may need a reach seat so you aren’t arching your back. Good luck, hope you find comfort.

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