To be perfectly honest once I added a little foam padding under my seats on my TI, and fixed the straps so the don't slip all the time, I feel the TI standard seat is quite comfortable, provides sufficient lumbar support (if pulled vertical) and can be quite comfortable for most of the long days I'm out every single weekend.
As far as the mirage drives go, I pedal the drives on my TI's at least 15 miles every single weekend (and usually more), and have never had a mirage failure of any kind since 2007 (not even fins), they are simply rock solid in my opinion (I'm a product designer myself and this is one of the best designs I have seen).
When I bought my first TI in April 2010 if I remember correctly it cost me $4000 dollars (I traded in my 2007 Oasis for $1800 to purchase the TI along with all accessories so the prices may have been skewed a little, since I had already bought many Hobies from that same dealer ( I realize that)). My 3rd TI which I bought in 2012 cost me $5250 (30% price increase) . I believe the 2014 TI's run $5500 (37% increase). There have been no changes to the initial design other than manufacturing process improvements (which shouldn't affect prices greatly since they are producing the exact same parts just better designed versions (ie... examples, AKA knuckles, are now better and stronger, AKA mast holder X bar is now double welded, and the mirage drives now have 2 guide fingers to assist insertion, an improved rudder design (which is likely cheaper to manufacture), and the seat attachment is now twist and lock ( a better design, but no more expensive to produce). If the price of a 2015 Tandem Island goes up to $6000 that would mean a 50% price increase over the original TI released just 4 yrs ago. I understand inflation and increased manufacturing costs for everything, but to my recollection inflation has been very flat the last 4 yrs accounting for maybe 10-15%. I fully understand price adjustments often reflect actual manufacturing cost reviews and adjustments to reality and actual costs of manufacture vs projected (when an initial product is released), and we all expect Hobie to make a profit on their products.
All the improvements I have seen to date are welcome improvements to the product, but the basic boat itself has not changed. I personally would have liked to see improvements in the sail ability of the boat like widening the boat to 12 ft vs the current 10 ft. Viable jib and spinnaker options (which would be extra of course, they can't say it can't be done because I've had both for over 4 yrs now)). An optional hardened version of the boat certified for offshore use ( CE 'C rating), which is where I am most of the time in the Florida Keys ( I had to harden mine myself). A better tramp design would be desirable, along with Optional Hobie built spray skirts and HAKA's specifically designed for the TI.
Some of these options would bring the boat into the class of the Windrider 17 or the WETA trimaran, but a much better and way more versatile design in my opinion.
I don't mind paying more for options that would make the boat more useful for more experienced sailers yet still attract new sailers (in the typical winds we have in Florida I can only bear going 3-4 mph for so long before getting very bored). I'm not complaining about the TI's performance in moderate winds, it's great in anything over 10-12 mph winds, but improved performance in lower winds would be greatly appreciated, additional sail options like the Windrider 17 has (jib, screacher) can easily be added without increasing the complexity of the boat to suit those what want just a little more ability, and have ran the course of using the boat in its basic form and want more, as they become more proficient, and realize that the TI does not have enough sail area for low winds, yes the mirage drives do help, you would have to pry them from my dead feet to get them away from me (LOL).
I thinking of TI owners who have owned their boats for a yr or two, and the newness has worn off, they have gained a little more experience, and are now ready for a little more, currently there is nothing they can do except switch to a different sailing platform (ie... WETA, Windrider 17, etc), I suspect former TI owners who have ran the experience course are the best customers for these types of boats, it's a shame for Hobie to lose them.
Think back 10 yrs, Hobie was faced with a serious dilemma of declining sales in the cat line of boats, because of the one class rules and such, not everyone wants to compete and just drive around little bouys.
Hobie purposely developed their Kayak lines with mirage drives, and from the ground up every kayak can sail with the optional sail kit, this was all intentional, to try and attract a new generation of sailers into the sport, then they came out with the mirage adventure line of boat ( kind of by accident I suspect). They totally invented a brand new category that they are still trying to get their arms around, that literally exploded on them with sales between sailing kayaks and the adventure line 10,20, even 30 times anything they could have ever imagined way bigger than anything they had done in the past with any of their cat lines in years gone by. THEY BASICALLY INVENTED A NEW CLASS OF SAILING. Stirred a totally new market much larger than anything ever seen before. All with the intent I suspect of feeding their sagging cat market (absolutely brilliant in my eyes).
No one knew what this market would develop into (who could have guessed). I feel there is a philosophy still within Hobie that they should limit the capabilities of their kayak and adventure lines of boats, with the express self interest that as sailers get more into the sport, they will want to expand into their traditional lines of cat boats (basically a built in feeder market (a dream come true for them)). Now the other huge thing they did was to promote kayak fishing in a big way with every kayak they make being a total fish slayer, this all of a sudden gives the kayakers something to do with their kayaks (a reason to go out so to speak), I don't think anyone fully realized the impact of this move by Hobie. Lets face it I can count on one hand the number of people I have seen actually fishing from an H16 or a sunfish in my entire lifetime. I believe the market they created is 100-1000 fold bigger than anything they even imagined. I'm in this class of people as a former powerboater who moved to kayaking (because I couldn't afford powerboats anymore). In my life time I never had any desire to own a Hobie cat or a sunfish (though I did own a sunfish when I was a kid, I got bored with it very quickly). I can only speak for myself, but I simply have no desire whatsoever to sell my TI and purchase a hobie cat or a sunfish, or a laser, or even a monohull sailboat.
I like what I have and what I do with my kayaks and sailing kayaks and have no plans now or anytime in the future to change that. I don't think I'm alone in my feelings, I suspect the majority of this new generation of people that Hobie invented all feel the same way.
Now Hobie can continue to limit the ability of their kayak lines in order to coax people who grow tired of their kayaks have someplace to go (basically outgrow your kayak and buy a Hobie 16 I suspect is their policy). Or they can face reality and realize this new generation of people and market that they invented themselves is thousands of times larger than even they could of ever hoped for and imagined ten yrs ago ( a totally new breed of people), trying to feed a market whose hey day has gone by, it's entirely their choice in my opinion. They need to feed this monster of their own creation with someplace to go for all of this new generation of people as their skills develop, and they want more, and speaking for myself only, that direction is not a H16, a Getaway, a sunfish, or a Wave. And remove the silly upper limit of their kayak line products capabilities in the futile hope it will promote sales into a sagging segment that has ran it's course.
I'm just sayin, Hobie open your eyes to your own market that you yourselves created.
I'm just rambling now, but that's my 2 cents worth.