Introduction: Cover Your Worn Bicycle Saddle With Real Leather

Picture of Cover Your Worn Bicycle Saddle With Real Leather

Right, I found this stray bike to fix myself this cheap recycled bike to get around (another instructable topic). It had a decent Selle Italia saddle on it, however the vinyl cover on it was completely shot. Fortunately the foam was intact and in good shape. So I decided to refinish the saddle with some natural looking leather.

I got the leather pieces from ebay. If you search for leather at hobbies and crafts section, you'll find plenty of them at very good prices. Try to get a thinner (1-2mm) leather since it is easier to work on.

For this instructable you need:
- a saddle in bad shape
- scrap leather large enough to cover it
- impact adhesives (i.e., Evo-Stick for UK)
- scissors
- a ballpoint pen

Below are the origins of the saddle and the final looks of it.

There are not many hazards/risks with this job. Watch out what you are cutting with scissors, I know one story involving scissors where a joke ended up with death. Impact adhesives are mostly solvent based, so I advise you to do this job at a well ventilated area, or you may get high (unfortunately :-). But really, don't forget that these adhesives are carcinogenic, really.

Step 1: Strip the Saddle From Old Cover Including Glue Remnants.

Picture of Strip the Saddle From Old Cover Including Glue Remnants.

This is not so hard. Your aim is to achieve a clean base for your work. I had to dry mine under sun for a few days since the foam sucked all rainwater. Clean it thoroughly since we will basically glue the leather on it. We need a very clean surface. Peel all glue remnants off... Use some rubbing alcohol to clean the inner edges, we will glue the leather there.

Step 2: Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Picture of Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Now you have to measure the leather to the saddle size, and mark it for cutting. Tightly wrap the leather over the saddle, and mark the edges. Then draw a 10mm (~1/2 inch) offset around the saddle edge marks. Finally I added a longer edge for the nose since my saddle has a screw there which can be used as an extra fastener for the leather.

Cut the leather using scissors. I used pinking shears (zig-zag scissors), cuts look way cooler and professional. Zig-zag cutting may also help folding the concave edges, the edges won't crumble too much.

Step 3: Glue the Leather and Saddle Edges.

Picture of Glue the Leather and Saddle Edges.

Impact adhesives need to be applied on both surfaces. Use a thin nice coat of adhesive on both edges, and spread it evenly using your fingers (not so healthy maybe, but ecstatic feeling to peel it off). Let both sides to dry, for something like 10 minutes. For a better adhesion, repeat the application and wait for another 10 minutes.

Please read all the instructions and warnings on the adhesive packaging!.. They are important stuff and there are good reasons why they are there.

Step 4: Stick the Leather on the Saddle, Finish the Application.

Picture of Stick the Leather on the Saddle, Finish the Application.

Start from the nose. In my case there was a screw hole where I could attach the longer nose edge of the leather. Stretch it towards rear and glue the rear edges. Then move towards the front piecemeal on both sides and meet up at the nose.

Impact glue is a wonderful thing. It holds strongly immediately, but also it is very elastic. Great stuff.

Put the plastic pieces and screws back in place (i.e., the rear and nose pieces in my case).

Adore your final product.

One note, though. I found out that my leather was not water-proof. Even worse, it sucks water like a sponge. So, I have to keep it covered with a plastic bag to save it from rain. :-) Maybe someone has an idea on waterproofing it (but without ruining its looks)...

Comments and questions welcome!..



boostdemon (author)2013-08-16

Mink oil will break down the leather and start to decompose it (thats how it makes it "soft"). Thats fine if you dont plan on keeping it for a long time. I would look into some of the leather boot protectants and oils. My recommendation would be products from Obenauf's but you should read up on whats out there and make your own choice. Seat looks fantastic by the way, good job!

robbied (author)boostdemon2016-02-11

Mink oil shouldn't degrade the leather, since it is used for water resistance. The softness in leather is made mechanically by 'milling' the leather. You pack it full of oils first so it doesn't crack.

jmoore96 (author)boostdemon2014-04-20

I have never heard this about mink oil. I've used it a lot and read about others using it and never heard anything negative except it darkening leather

wobbler (author)2015-09-27

Hi, informative instructable. I waterprroof my saddle with a plastic carrier bag over it when it rains.Works fine unless you forget to put it on.

dipankar_nath (author)2014-07-19

Hi! I work with leather as a hobby. Try rubbing with beeswax and then heating with a hot air gun (Even a hair dryer will do in pinch. Will take longer though). Your saddle seat shall become darker. Finish with a nice even coat of polish. Hope that should do. That's what I use for making leather water resistant. It needs regular polishing afterwards however. Also try to apply a regular coat of beeswax. Uneven layer shall darken it in an uneven manner. Hope this helps.

Great tip. Thanks!

monkeybiker24 (author)2008-01-11

I could get my hands on leather, so i re-used some old jeans, my version: "Demin Saddle"

Stone_UFO (author)monkeybiker242013-11-02

that's great

nejo0017 (author)monkeybiker242013-11-01

love it!

balabay (author)monkeybiker242012-05-28

Шов жопу сильно натирает.

bansai8 (author)monkeybiker242011-01-23

Looks really nice, but another seam on the saddle? Might not be most comfortable option, but it is cute!

santy22 (author)monkeybiker242009-07-17


Awesome!.. I loved that asymmetrical touch! Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!.. K.

arichard1 (author)2013-09-23

Might try Sno - Seal or Otter wax. Will make the water just roll off. I'd wear a pair of test jeans though, the wax may rub off and make pants a bit darker.

Thanks for the instructable, my cat though it would be funny to scratch up the vinyl on my saddle, now I just gotta keep an eye out for scrap leather.

coachjoe (author)2011-09-11

Still covering saddles with custom leather tooling--be creative! This is one that I made for my friend in Denmark to remind him of his stay in Texas. Hand tooled and finished in contrasting lace. He applied it to his commuter bike with wooden fenders; one of my favorite projects for the bike.

coachjoe (author)coachjoe2011-09-11

a closer look at the custom tooling . . .

josh (author)coachjoe2012-04-04

Yes! please do! I'd love to see an instructable on this!

canida (author)coachjoe2012-02-12

Wow, this is gorgeous work. You should post an Instructable!

bikeboy (author)2011-11-18

Excellent idea! The texture would be very cool with the non shiny "suede" side out.

dmcdade (author)2011-04-24

Hi, amazing work, but could you please explain what you mean by "Impact adhesives need to be applied on both surfaces"? Do you mean the adhesive needs to be applied to both the leather and the saddle?

TimBoLee (author)2011-03-15

I like that, good job. I think i'll do that with an old leather jacket I have and fix-up an old sadle I have. I like working with leather any'ways. Thanks.

noel0leon (author)2011-03-02

Nice instructable. One suggestion, use a scrap piece of fabric to mark out the size for cutting and use it to see if it fits properly. Then use that template to cut out the leather. Saving you a possibly expensive mistake if the template is wrong

ivanjunge (author)2010-05-25

 Nice work! Consider a semi-regular application of mink oil. It should keep it supple and keep the water off. 

coachjoe (author)2009-11-01

Custom leather tooling is possible too . . . with hand lacing.  Drill directly into the seat pan along the edge (lower to eliminate leg rub on the laces).  Use a closed stitch like a double cordovan & work the lace so it lays nicely along the edge.  5-8 oz thickness works best so it can stretch and take on the shape of the saddle without too much trouble.  Make sure the leather is moist for better shaping.  One of my recent works:

baileyscot (author)2009-08-12

wherever you buy shoes you can probably pick up a spray can of leather sealer and protectant. just make sure you use several good coats. i use it on all my shoes and they stay clean and nice way longer than without. great instructable.

CHED F.B (author)2009-03-10

Hi, great instructable, I'm in Oz, Do you think Impact Adhesive is the same as Contact cement - I'm doing my seat on my reliable 10 speed racer which I got secondhand about 12 years ago and have had great reward from keeping on the road for this period, thanks for the instructable - very clear - good instructions.

thearchitect (author)CHED F.B2009-03-11

Hi, thanks, yes it is the same thing I think. As long as it is an elastic glue that works both on plastic and leather, you are good to go. Good luck! K.

James Haskin (author)2009-03-10

To waterproof it you could try Aquaseal. Or you could use a marine vinyl. Get some free samples. I was thinking about recovering my amp in this stuff.

yammymyyammy (author)2008-10-28

to protect the leather...try using a scotchguard water repellant..Give it a few coats. You can pick some up wherever you buy leather shoes which need protection from winter weather..

northstar54 (author)2008-09-03

did you cover the entire piece of leather with glue or just the edges??

thearchitect (author)northstar542008-09-03

I covered the entire leather and the sponge surface of the saddle with glue. You need to apply this type of glue on both surfaces. K.

Derin (author)2008-07-10

paint it with marine varnish,use the bright type,it will still be nice

dudemonkeys (author)2008-06-27

How well does the glue hold? And can this technique be used to wrap a wooden knife sheath with leather?

OddJob (author)2008-06-04

I just recently covered my favorite saddle with scraps from a discarded leather trench coat (my wife's - thank God for style changes). I used a spray adhesive that was smeared evenly on the leather and then massaged over the existing cover. Will try to take a picture and add later. I agree with thearchitect in that it is a soft ride. I used a couple of applications of saddle soap to help weather-proof the leather.

eiwtes (author)2008-05-18

Almost all hiking stores carry a brand called Nixwax. ( at least most that i know of) they sell leather curing solutions to make boots waterproof, as does a boot company called zamberland. the stuff is cheap like 5 bucks a tube. REI, or MEC depending where you live would carry these products.

2shane2 (author)2008-05-06

Ahem... a very good source of usually very good leather, is the "opp shops" or clothing recyclers... / charity shops.... Think LEATHER HAND BAGS....... Ohhhhhhhhhh...... Just think, some broads $500 hand bag, getting shoved up between your sweaty butt cheeks. Excellent.

double2 (author)2008-04-17

Well I would like to try this because my puppy ate my bike seat cover this winter. However I think I need a little padding!! We actually have a "saddle maker" intown I will see if I can get some supplies from him.

sideways (author)2008-03-03

I look for leather furniture being throw out on trash day. I throw the cushions in my car, and use a big razor knife to cut the big flat leather panels from the sides/back/front. I get huge pieces of great quality leather this way.

thearchitect (author)sideways2008-03-03

GREAT IDEA!.. You can even resell them on ebay!.. People buy these stuff, you know (like me). Cheers! K.

sideways (author)thearchitect2008-03-04

Whoa...great idea back to you! I never thought of selling the stuff, duh. I've even passed some up when I didn't need it. Ain't instructables great?

thearchitect (author)sideways2008-03-04

Ebay is your friend. There are tons of crafts people buying leather parts (the larger the better) from ebay. And I believe most of them are scraps like that. But it's always good to tell that they are coming off a used sofa or something. Cheers!.. K.

visdes (author)2008-01-17

hey, someone just sent me this link. i actually did this a couple of days ago with some leather that i laser etched before upholstering. i more or less did the process the same way you describe it here except i used bulldog clips along the edges of the saddle to deliver steady pressure while the tanning cement dried. i removed the clips after about 40 minutes (while the cement was still a bit damp) and massaged out the impressions left by the clips. everything turned out peachy. i used deerskin.

thearchitect (author)visdes2008-03-03

Awesome! I loved the pattern!.. Uber cool. In my case, I didn't need any clips, the contact adhesive was very tacky, and it held the whole thing together, immediately. K.

callous_optimist (author)2008-01-09

Awesome! I just found a blank (plastic only) selle italia saddle that i wanted to reupholster.

Asmodeo (author)2007-12-28

Nice mod! I´ll try it with black leather!!! There is a lot of "waterproofing" products for leather...try any well-supplied shoemaker shop (old style ones have the best products)

thearchitect (author)Asmodeo2007-12-28

Right, I found some on ebay. I'll try... My only concern is staining my jeans. Thanks anyway!..

dchall8 (author)2007-12-28

Very nice. Leather will suck up water or oil. If you fill the pores with oil, water will just roll off. The place where you bought your leather should be able to help you with something. I use Lexol brand protectant on my daughter's saddle. You will have to keep after it with the oil as it slowly evaporates out and squeezes out onto your clothes. Assuming you wash your bike shorts routinely the oil should not be a problem. Your Impact glue sounds exactly like what we call rubber cement in the USA.

thearchitect (author)dchall82007-12-28

Oops. I don't wear bike shorts but use this bike to get around, so I'll be typically in my jeans. I wonder leather protectants would stain my jeans?.. Thanks for the suggestions, though.

camp6ell (author)2007-12-28

looks very nice indeed. i did this a couple of weeks ago with a crappy old saddle and some metallic leather i had lying around. it looks like ass though compared to yours! i would recommend trying to use a saddle like yours which has plastic covers front and rear - they definitely seem to help cover up the folded/stretched leather at the worst points. the one i did didn't have those plastic pieces, so you see lots of wrinkled leather front and rear.

thearchitect (author)camp6ell2007-12-28

Thanks!.. Exactly!.. At first I wasn't sure how it would end up, but right, plastic pieces made it tighter at the end!..

About This Instructable




Bio: I love fixing things...
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