Motorcycle Seat Replacement

Introduction: Motorcycle Seat Replacement

About: I live with my wife and children in Fort Worth, TX. We enjoy day-trips and junk stores. I'm a firm believer that homemade food tastes better and I love to try new recipes. When I can, I like to head out to the…

I've been thinking about changing out the seat on my bike for a while. I'm really cheap though....

At some point in the life of this old Kawasaki, a previous owner removed the original seat and installed this cruiser style saddle. The padding looks comfy, but your eyes will lie to you.

The seat is in too good of shape to just rip off the cover and reupholster it. Even if I did that, there is no guarantee that just recovering it would improve it.

Plus, if I mess this up, I can at least put this one back on.

Step 1: Template Time

Determine how you will remove your seat. I recommend a repair manual for your particular cycle. As mine is designed to flip up for battery and tool access, it was a simple matter of removing 3 cotter pins and pulling the hinge hardware.

Place your high tech stencil making material (cardboard) and draw a rough outline.

Cut it out and place it on the seat area to give you a very, very rough idea of your new seat.

This one is sort of a cafe racer / Brat style seat.

Step 2: The Pan, Part 1.

Take your fancy template and transfer it to a more rigid material.

I chose to use a metal shelf from an old work cabinet for my materials. You could quite easily find something similar from a local home store. This shelf will work because it's fairly rigid, but malleable.

This panel was approximately 16 gauge, so I was able to cut the pan out with a jigsaw with a metal blade.

By the way, be careful with that metal, it'll bite you! Yes, I was wearing gloves, just not long ones.

Step 3: The Pan, Part 2

Place the pan on the bike to check fitment and to work out any curves that may be required.

As you can see, I cut the pan a little larger than necessary. I'd rather have to go back and trim than wish I had more to work with. I placed some duct tape around the edge to dull it a bit.

Step 4: Padding

I had some high density carpet padding in the garage. It was the other half of the roll from soundproofing my Jeep's back hatch.

I made a template using the seat pan and cut out four layers. Using spray adhesive, I glued them to the pan. On top of that, I added a layer of fiber fill. I used some duct tape to attach the top layer of fiber fill and to compress it.

Step 5: Cover It

The first thing I covered it with was an old cut up t-shirt. I wanted to get an idea of the seats profile with all the padding.

I took some vinyl I had laying around and stitched straight lines into it with some quilted padding underneath. This should provide a pillowed appearance.

I then laid the vinyl material on top and made a rough outline with a marker. In hindsight, I wished that I had used some thin cardboard or something to make a good template first.

After I had the top cut out (roughly) I attached long strips along the sides. It's difficult to explain exact sizing, because every seat will be slightly different, and the vinyl I used stretched quite a bit.

About this time, I was getting a little impatient, so I went a bit too fast on the stitching and forgot to take pictures.

Suffice to say, I put the cover on the seat and pulled it off multiple times to get the right fit.

After stretching it on the final time, I pulled it as tight as possible without popping stitches and glued it to the underside of the seat. Then I trimmed the excess.

I used zip ties to install it. I may switch it out with heavy duty Velcro for easy maintenance access.

Step 6: End Result / Final Thoughts

Well, I made a seat.

Does it look like a pro did it? No, but it is the first seat I ever made, so I'm willing to allow for the learning curve.

Am I satisfied with it? Yes, for now (though I will probably end up changing out the vinyl so it looks a little less..... vinyl)

Would I recommend someone try to build a seat? You bet. Isn't that why we post projects on Instructables?

Would I do it again? Yes, definitely. Though I would take more time on my sewing, I would add a double row of stitching, and I would make a better pattern.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, just ask!

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    6 years ago on Step 6

    Keep an eye out at your local Salvation Army or thrift stores for a leather jacket or better yet a long coat; on half price days I have paid as little as $5 to $10 for a long "duster" kind of coat; this gives you a LOT of leather for the money! And it is not too thick to work or stitch. One thing to keep in mind is to START at the FRONT (tank) end and work your way back; on your relatively flat pan seat you might be able to rivet right thru (Use something inbetween the seat edge and the leather tho) And if you work from side to side--instead of working along one side and then the other--this will help even out your tension (this is the same way you keep a canvas stretched properly) You can also buy hide pieces on ebay just make sure to check the thickness and that you have enough to COVER the seat.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I ended up working on the back of the seat first. In hindsight your suggested method makes sense. I have made outdoor cushions before that I used on my old go-cart, but they weren't any sort of fancy shapes. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for a leather jacket to sacrifice. Thanks for the tips!


    6 years ago on Step 6

    I have a Suzuki 1979 GS-1100E that I need to do this to.I can just buy it for less than $100 but haven't made up my mind to try and do it myself or buy the ready made for $89.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Tough choice. If you do decide to build it, you get the whole "personal satisfaction" feeling. Of course, if you're in a hurry, just buy it. The ball is in your court.