Introduction: Custom Reupholstered Bicycle Saddle

In this Instructable you will learn how to design and construct your own custom reupholstered bicycle saddle out of genuine leather. More advanced instructions will teach you how to add perforations to your embossed logo, as depicted. General instructions will teach you how to emboss a personalized logo without perforations. This Instructable includes text, supplemental audio, images with text, and support video.

If you've been digging in the bins at your local cycling cooperative and your used five dollar saddle needs a little love?

If your favorite saddle for years has been tattered by wear and tear?

If you just purchased a new frame and need to personalize the saddle it came with?

If you just invested in a custom frame and are considering other ways to make your bike unique?

If your plastic cover does not breath and is causing chaffing to your privates?

After this Instructable you will be able to:

  • Deconstruct an existing saddle.
  • Prep a saddle for reupholstery.
  • Design a unique surface for your saddle.
  • Create a pattern for your saddle.
  • Cut and punch your new cover.
  • Apply and adhere your new cover.

Topics include:

  • Deconstruction.
  • Surface and Graphic Design.
  • Pattern Making.
  • Subtraction Fabrication.
  • Prototyping.


  1. 1-3 oz Vegetan Leather.
  2. 1-2 oz Black Apparel Leather.


  1. Saddle.
  2. Barge Cement, or equivalent.
  3. Rubber Cement, or equivalent.
  4. Masking Tape.
  5. Transparent Paper, or equivalent.
  6. Cleaning Alchohol, or equivalent.
  7. *Paint


  1. Screw Drivers; flat, phillips,
  2. Allen Head.
  3. Pliers.
  4. Exacto Knife, with new blade.
  5. Ruler, preferably metal.
  6. Scissors.
  7. Computer/Printer
  8. *Rotary Cutter.
  9. *Hole Punch.
  10. *Mallet or Hammer.

*Needed for more advanced designs.

Step 1: Your Tools, Supplies, Materials

A cutting board is always nice because it preserves your blades and the surface in which you are cutting. A scrap piece of card board is fine too. Art stores generally have both.

A good exacto knife always comes in handy. You can get them at most art stores. Make sure to use a brand new blade.

Hole punch is necessary if you want your designs to have perforations. Tandy's Leather has plenty to choose from.

Rotary blades make cutting leather very easy. But for this project a good pair of scissors will be fine.

Pliers, and screw drivers are a staple in every house hold. You may need to look for smaller versions of both.

A good pair of scissors should not be difficult to find either.

Trace paper is carried in most art stores. But a legal size scrap of paper that is transparent will work fine too.

Sharpies, or equivalent, could be found in most homes….somewhere.

Barge Cement can be found at hardware stores and Tandy's. It is the strongest and most appropriate I've found so far.

If you want to paint your perforations Tandy's sells good water based paints that adhere to vegetan leather well. Your new cover will be black. You can decide on paint color once you start working on designs.

Rubber cement can be found at Tandy's and is found at most art stores.

Cheap masking tape will do just fine.

You might need a phillips head and/or allen head as well. It all depends on the type of saddle you chose.

Alcohol or similar cleaning agent will be necessary. I prefer Bestine. You might want to test it before fully applying. Chemicals like Goof Off can destroy materials.

Most leather retailers will have scraps. Order or buy a small piece of vegetan leather scrap. Maybe a few pieces larger than 6x6". Make sure it is thin, about 1-3oz. Your new leather cover should be apparel grade, 1-2oz. Black cow is the easiest color to start with.

Step 2: Picking a Saddle

I recommend using a saddle that has no cuts, gels, or compound convex surfaces. A simple convex shape is best for this project.

Step 3: Deconstructing the Saddle

  1. Remove plastic bumpers with either a screw driver or allen head.
  2. Use flat head screw driver to pry staples loose.
  3. Use pliers to pull out remaining staples.
  4. Carefully peel old cover. Try not to destroy existing foam. Use alcohol or Bestine to assist in removal, if necessary.
  5. Clean any dirt or adhesives off of foam using alcohol.
  6. Take a long piece of masking tape and adhere it to your cutting board. Cut a long straight strip about .25" long with your straight edge and exacto knife.
  7. Adhere the small strip to the middle of your saddle.
  8. Cover the sides of the tape with marker from your sharpie.
  9. Remove tape. You should have a perfect center line.

Step 4: Preparing Your Design

  1. Design or search for simple artwork to make an embossing on your saddle. This can be a logo, initials, symbol…Make it simple though. Black and white (not even grey scale) or a silhouette of a simple icon is best.
  2. Create several different sizes of your icon on a letter size format and print. Choose the most appropriate size for your saddle and design.
  3. *For a more advanced design add locations on your paper icon for perforations.
  4. Cut your paper icon with an exacto knife on your cutting board.
  5. Use masking tape to adhere it to the back (nappy side) of your vegetan leather.
  6. Trace the outside edge of your paper icon with a sharpie so that the line art transfers to the leather.
  7. Cut the leather on the outside edge of line art. I recommend the exacto.
  8. Now you have a leather icon.
  9. *For more advanced design paint the front of your leather icon a preferred color.

Step 5: Creating a Pattern

  1. Take a large piece of tracing paper and draw a long line down the middle with your straight edge and sharpie.
  2. Take your old cover and lay it flat on the trace. Try to center it perfectly on the line. Trace one half of the old cover.
  3. Fold the paper in half and draw the other half using the original line as a guide. You should have a perfectly symmetrical pattern of your old cover.
  4. Cut the excess paper leaving only the pattern.

Step 6: Preparing Your New Cover

    1. Lay your apparel grade black leather on your cutting board.
    2. Tape the pattern to the back of your leather cover.
    3. Tape the paper icon to the template. Be sure to double check the location of the icon.
    4. *For advanced designs cut holes with your hole punch and mallet.
    5. Cut out the apparel leather with your rotary cutter or scissors.
    6. Using the pattern locate the center of the leather and draw a straight line down the middle of your leather cover.

    Step 7: Assembly and Adhering

    1. Glue the leather icon to the back of the leather cover using the rubber cement. Apply glue on back side of cover. Be sure not to get glue in the perforations if you are doing an advanced design. Let dry.
    2. Now apply a generous amount of rubber cement on the back side of the cover and icon as well as the foam of your saddle. Use the center line drawn on the leather and the center line on the saddle to place accurately. Push excess leather from the center outwards. Pull leather taught using pliers on the edge of the leather cover. Let dry.
    3. Apply barge cement on the edges of the excess leather. Pull it taught and fold underneath the saddle.
    4. Reapply plastic bumpers and let dry.
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