Cover Your Worn Bicycle Saddle With Real Leather

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About: I love fixing things...

Intro: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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!..

thearchitect.

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    55 Discussions

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    alex.hall.9822

    Question 6 months ago on Step 4

    Did you only put glue on the edges of the leather or did you also put some on the sides (where the legs are)
    Can you post a picture of where you have put glue?

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    boostdemon

    5 years ago on Step 4

    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!

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    robbiedboostdemon

    Reply 2 years ago

    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.

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    jmoore96boostdemon

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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

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    wobbler

    3 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    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.

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    bansai8monkeybiker24

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

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

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    arichard1

    5 years ago on Step 4

    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.

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    coachjoe

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    Texas saddle project.jpg
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    bikeboy

    6 years ago on Introduction

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