How to build custom motorcycle seats

Written by karen boyd
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How to build custom motorcycle seats
A custom motorcycle seat can not only feel more comfortable than a stock seat, it can look better too. (Vespa Scooter Seat image by Billy Tait from

Many motorcycles come from the factory with seats that feel very uncomfortable to most users, or that sit so high on the bike that even someone who might otherwise have a long enough inseam to ride the bike can not even reach the ground. Numerous companies build custom seats for you, and do a fantastic job in the process, but these seats are usually quite expensive. An alternative to purchasing a custom seat is to customise your own.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • existing motorcycle seat
  • high density foam
  • needle nose pliers
  • disk grinder with both high and low grit pads
  • electric knife
  • pneumatic stapler
  • spray adhesive
  • dust mask

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  1. 1

    Remove the seat cover. Using a needle nose pliers, pull all the staples holding the current seat cover in place. After all the staples have been removed, pull off the cover so you can see what you are working with.

  2. 2

    Shape the foam. Depending on the seat, your body type, and your riding style you will want to add foam in some places and remove it in others. If you want to lower the seat then use the grinder and electric knife to remove foam from the middle of the seat and to narrow the front part of the seat. If you just want a more comfortable seat, use the spray adhesive to add foam in those areas the current seat does not support, then shape it with the grinder.

  3. 3

    Smooth the seat. Once the seat is shaped, with foam added and removed where desired, use the grinder with a fine grit pad to smooth all the edges and make sure there are no rough spots where the foam pieces bond together.

  4. 4

    Recover the seat. Use the original seat cover as a pattern, tracing around it on your new seat covering material. Add a small margin on all edges to give yourself a little more room to work. Starting with the front, or nose of the seat, pull the cover tight and staple it in place with the pneumatic stapler. Once the nose covering is in place, stretch the rest of the cover over the new seat stapling it in place as you go. To avoid wrinkling, work back and forth across the seat from front to back. If there is excess material after everything is in place, trim it back leaving about a 1/4 inch margin outside the staples to avoid tearing.

  5. 5

    Adjust your seat. You may find after putting some miles on your new seat that additional adjustments are needed. Proceed as in Step 1 through 4 to reshape and tweak the seat until it is perfect for your body.

Tips and warnings

  • As you are working, periodically sit on the seat to make sure the changes you are making feel good and to identify any other areas that need to have foam added or removed.
  • Using a firm foam next to the seat pan, with a softer foam as an upper layer, maximises both support and comfort of the seat.
  • If you have too much trouble getting a seat recovered, or if you want a fancier covering, you can take the seat into an upholstery shop and have it recovered professionally. While this costs more than doing it yourself, it is still cheaper than having a full custom seat made.
  • Grinding and cutting foam releases particles of dust into the air that can cause irritation to your throat and lungs. Wear a mask to prevent this, and if you do not wear prescription glasses, a pair of shop glasses will keep dust out of your eyes.

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