A suspension seat uses padding and build in suspension liner to absorb impacts from bumps. Suspension seats also gives a more comfort ride and let the driver and passengers focus on the road more than parry their body moving around in the seat.
As off-road enthusiasts, we are likely to spend a great deal of time behind the wheel of a UTV. We all know that OEM seats can become uncomfortable as you are being shifted around quite a bit. That is, depending on the terrain that you are trekking on. Whether you immediately feel it or not, you might feel fatigued and exhausted.
The best solution for this is aftermarket suspension seats. Generally, with suspension seats there would be less shifting in the seat, you get to sit more comfortably with good posture, and less back pain. Obviously, those are the desired results, now let’s look at how.
The human body has a well-evolved muscle reflex system, and Its purpose is to protect us from injury. Our reflexes are designed to produce a reaction in our muscles to protect us against impacts. We can see these muscle response in our legs.
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The Sitting Position
Sitting actually hurts. Sitting puts your spine into a C-Shape, and after that, your head’s weight is hanging forward from the supporting structures in your neck. To be direct, this is the worst position to be in when exposed to vertical impact which is what usually happens when your UTV hits a big hole on the road.
It can cause head jolts which can inflict distortion injuries and possible disk ruptures in the neck. This is why UTV suspension seats are designed in such a way that it absorbs most of the impact greatly reducing it to tolerable levels. Of course, we’re talking levels that don’t cause severe injuries.
Basically, when you think of being in a UTV suspension seat is comparable to sitting in a hammock. You are suspended and not really solidly connected to the actual structure of the chair. There is no direct contact with the seat frame that is equipped with some elastic material to keep you steady while being suspended.
With an aftermarket seat, there is no sitting on hard surfaces. Instead, your backside rests on a liner which is suspended. The liner is part of the structure of the seat separating your body from the frame itself. While the rigid structure itself is rock steady the liner itself moves and flexes along with the weight of your body.
Every UTV model has its specifications and features unique to the needs of the owner/driver. Some things are prioritized like tolerance, preference, safety, and comfort. It’s good to know that there is an unlimited number of customizations that can be done to your seat.
What is the Difference Between Suspension Seats and Fixed Seats?
A fixed rigid seat’s frame remains in a fixed position relative to your UTV’s frame as it moves. The general complaint is that during abrupt changes in terrain, the driver would experience discomfort because of the bouncing and shifting within the seat. On the other hand, the suspension seat provides stability through its steel frame and comfort which is provided by the mesh that flexes along with your weight. Your body weight then shifts around as you travel without touching the frame.
Suspension Seat Parts
A tear-resistant mesh that is attached between the frame that holds the drivers back and bottom. It flexes and shifts with the terrain, lessening the impact of bumps and potholes.
The frame of the seat is made out of powder-coated steel and is mounted onto the frame of your UTV. The frame itself won’t be visible since the suspension liner will be placed in between. It is connected via a cord and covered by a seat cover.
Suspension seats are made up of extra elements that add to the comfort. Multi-density foam lines the seat in strategic areas such as behind the head. This is on top of the standard foam that is already contained.
The suspension liner is wrapped around the frame structure then held together with a cord. Some manufacturers use a parachute chod that can support up to 700lbs.
The cover wraps the entire thing which includes the liner, the frame, the foam assembly, and the cord. The material could be made out of marine vinyl, which makes it water-resistant, as well as fade resistant.
Is It Safe?
Suspension seats are designed to absorb the energy of “slam-down” impacts that happen to UTV drivers. They experience such impacts after a rather high jump and coming down hard. While composite seats are generally made to protect the driver from lateral impacts, suspension seats are specially designed to protect drivers from vertical movements such as ones that occur when riding a UTV.
This stunt performance level and military-grade suspension seats just show how reliable and effective these equipment are. Testing for military application indicates that the seat can absorb 300 g’s (gravitational force equivalent) of a 342 g impact. It means that a crash test dummy that was used for the test experienced only 42 g of the impact.
The testing itself was conducted under NATO’s Stanag Level 2a, measuring a slam down that included C4 explosives detonated underneath the military vehicle.
Apart from the suspension seats, other accessories come as necessary essentials. This includes harness systems and helmets. It is always good to note that when deciding on a suspension seat configuration, it is important that it must be compatible with your existing, or would- be harness equipment. A mismatch of seat versus accessorized belt or harness systems is no less safe than your rigid OEM UTV seats.
Where Can I Find Aftermarket Suspension Seats?
There are many aftermarket suspension seat manufacturers who offer seats for different kinds of UTV models. They have many features at different price points. Some manufacturers make and sell suspension seats with prices ranging from $299 to $800. Many of them are also offering harnesses and aftermarket rigid UTV seats.
Some of the types are single front seats, side-by-side front seats, rear bench seats, and rear single seats. There are infinite possibilities as to even matching your side by side seats to your outfit. One other thing you need to watch out for when selecting aftermarket suspension seats is if it contains all the necessary adaptors and brackets specific to your UTV model.
Whenever possible, you can do research on the right product that will match and work with your UTV. Be sure to look and relook that you have all the proper parts to install. Otherwise, they might end up unusable.
Are Suspension Seats Customizable?
Yes, they are. Different models of suspension seats offer all kinds of customized parts on all possible factors:
• Quality of materials that include, non-slip covers, foam, fade-resistant, and water-resistant covers, air breathable mesh, and so forth.
• Additional bolstering and padding of edges, sides, and head-rest
• Removable Seat cushions for cleaning purposes
• Number of inches on the side for containment
• Quick-release capability
• Enhanced adaptability to harness systems
• Better seating angle
Other than the functional aspect of customizing your suspension seats, there are also countless ways that you can modify looks and aesthetics. Price may also vary depending on the adjustment.
• Logo Colors
• Color of piping
• Color of the back
• Logo of the model
• Color of the stitching
• Color of arms
• Color of the band
• Color of center
• Front goggle pocket
• Water pack
• Rear pocket
• Heating – Read more UTV Winter Riding Tips
• Lumbar supports
New Features and Innovations on Suspension Seats
Just a quick mention of some of the newer features on some of the good brands. Names mentioned here are for copyright and reference purposes only:(in no particular order)
Sparco PRO 2000 Seat
• Combined ergonomics for safety and performance, and comfort
• Non-slip fabric on the shoulder and cushion area for improving cockpit comfort
• Seat design is made of light fiberglass encased in fire-retardant fabric
• A design that cradles the body for better performance
Pro Armor G-Force Suspension Seat
• New advanced feature of easy pass-through belt slots with optimal lap-belt positioning for easy installation, or removing of the harness.
• Multi-density foam for reduced driver fatigue and better lumbar support
• Easy release handle for quick access to the under storage
• Sand drain, allowing water and dirt to fall through the bottom of the seat
Dragonfire Racing Highback RT Suspension Seat
• Best comfort for the bottom and side containment, the height of the back, and headrest.
• Deep bucket design lets you sit in your seat, not on it.
• Vented rear section and seat cushion that can be removed.
• Direct bolting to OEM base plates along with OEM sliders
Simpson Vortex Suspension Seat
• Provides high containment while allowing for easy entry and exit in its cutaway lower bolster design
• Can work with factory slider without having to raise the seat height
• Traditional tube-style-framing that is directly attached to a laser-cut seat base
• Available optional seat heaters and adjustable lumbar supports
Overall, the science of suspension seats functions to protect the spine and the lower back. This is critical for any driver who goes on regular jaunts or maybe for work. The immediate effects of a rigid factory seat can be felt temporarily for the day. But then, we wouldn’t want the long term effects of it either..
Suspension seats can take that worry away, its just a matter of customizing for ultimate comfort and medical prevention.