The number of custom motorcycle seat companies demonstrates one of the most common complaints about stock motorcycles: The seats feel uncomfortable even after only short rides. For a person with the dollars to spend, getting a custom seat can take care of the problem, but a motorcyclist does not need to spend all his money on a custom seat if he reshapes the motorcycle seat himself to make it more comfortable. The results can feel and look just as good, with less monetary investment, but more physical labour.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Needle nose pliers
- Electric knife
- Current motorcycle seat
- Spray glue
- High density foam
- Disk grinder
- Pneumatic stapler
- Dust mask
Remove the seat from the bike. Turn the seat over and remove the seat covering using a needle nose pliers to pull out the staples that hold it in place. If only part of the seat needs modifying, and if you want to reuse the same cover, only remove as many staples as necessary to get easy access to that part of the seat.
Shape the seat. If part of the seat feels too wide, use the electric knife to remove large amounts of foam at once, and use the disk grinder to remove smaller amounts. If the seat needs widening, attach a piece of the high density foam to the seat using spray glue. Once it has firmly adhered, use the electric knife and disk grinder to give it the correct shape.
Smooth the surface. Using the disk grinder with the finest grit pad you can find, smooth the surface of the seat so no bumps or hollow spots will cause uncomfortable pressure points when you are riding. Pay special attention to areas where you bonded the foam to make sure the seam is even. Add more spray adhesive if the foam shows signs of separating.
Test the seat. If you removed the original seat covering entirely, put the foam seat back on the bike and sit on it. If you feel any areas that need a little more reshaping do it now before you start recovering the seat.
Recover the seat. If you only removed the original covering part way, pull it tight and staple it back in position. If you removed the original seat cover entirely, use it as a guide for creating your new seat cover, and make sure to leave enough extra material to give you room to put in the staples. You can always trim the excess once the seat is covered. Start at the nose of the seat and pulling the fabric tight, staple it in place. Staple the rest of the cover in place working from side to side to keep the fabric tight without causing it to wrinkle. Once the seat is covered, cut the excess fabric leaving about an inch margin.
Tips and warnings
- Mark changes you want to make on the seat with a marker if you completely remove the cover. This gives you more precision as you make your adjustments.
- As you ride, you may need to make smaller adjustments. Do so by following each step. After you are satisfied with the feel of the seat, you can trim the excess fabric down to a quarter inch. Leaving the extra until you know you are finished tweaking the seat makes it easier to restaple.
- Leather and many other fabrics stretch over time, so you may need to periodically tighten the covering.
- Foam dust from grinding down the seat, and fumes from the adhesive can get into your respiratory system or your eyes. Work in a well-ventilated area, and wear eye protection and a dust mask.
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