How to Refurbish a Motorcycle Seat




About: Mostly, I study chemistry but sometimes I work wood. Also, the game.

The condition of your motorcycle seat can make or break a ride. It can transform a lovely automnal ride into a nightmare of butt-rearrangement and pain management.

I'm about to leave for a 2000 km trip and the seat of my old honda was, well... passable at best. Which is fine for a casual ride but not for riding several days in a row.

When I saw that going to a professional upholsterers would set me back about an arm and a leg (not really but 300 euros is a hefty sum), I decided to undertake the restoration of the seat myself. It took me 4 hours and 3 beers last evening after work, cost me 30 euros in foam and 10 in neoprene glue, and I learned a lot in the process. Worth it if you ask me!

Step 1: Assess Damage

The main issue was that the foam was "cooked": it became all crumbly, didn't come back to its original shape after I sat on it, was slacking and coming apart in different places. I was basically seating on the frame of the seat..

Additionally, the neoprene glue that was holding the fake leather was not glue anymore as much as a goo of rust and crumbled plastic, which leg to the cover shifting around. That had to be fixed as well.

On the brighter side of things, the fake leather itself was perfectly fine, the style reasonably decent that I wouldn't want to bother remaking a cover and the seams held tight. Less work, more rest. Aka heaven.

Step 2: Tools and Materials


Bread knife

Dremel with cutting attachment



Dense motorcycle seat foam (3 to 4 cm thick)

Lighter, more flexible foam (latex, 4 cm thick)

Neoprene or spray-on glue

Fake leather or real leather if you have to redo the cover.

Step 3: Remove the Cover and Old Foam

I removed the stables from the cover and pulled on the old glue which came apart very easily. I saved the cover to put it back later on as it was in great condition. If it ain't broke, use the time you just saved to drink beer.

I slid a kitchen knife under the foam to remove it and tried to keep it as whole as possible: this was my first time doing this and if it went incredibly wrong I wanted to be able to still have a backup plan of putting the foam back in. Thankfully, this did not happen and [Spoiler Alert] I now have a great new seat.

Step 4: Clean Up the Seat Base

With the help of sandpaper, orbital sander, step-sister or brush wire, remove all the nasty stuff: foam, glue and rust. The pic is about halway through, forgot to take one afterwards.. I was in a rush and a tad drunk at that point to be completely honest.

Step 5: Jim Halpert

Pretty self-explanatory.

Step 6: Glue the Dense Foam

I cut the rough shape of the seat in the dense foam and glued it using neoprene glue.

Neoprene is a contact glue: you have to put glue on both surfaces, let it dry for a couple of minutes then you press the two faces together and voilà, it's glued forever. So make sure you're glueing it correctly on your first try!

Step 7: Carve the Foam

Using a bread knife, a dremel rotary tool with a metal cutting disk and sharpened fingernails (known in the foam beezwax as "the tools of the trade"), I carved the dense foam to match my legs and sitting position.

This was done through repeated fitting on the motorcycle and marking the places that needed shaping with a marker.

Here are a couple tips:

1) Remove less than you think you need then test again. Better safe than sorry and it's easier to remove a bit of foam than have to glue some more back on.

2) Test test and test again, accounting for how your legs are in driving position but also when they rest on the ground.

3) Go for a test ride. It'll first show you how comfortable this is now and you'll adjust your position in the most natural way possible.

I forgot to take pictures of the final carving but it looked slightly better than what's pictured here.

Step 8: Add a Thinner, Softer Foam

I used the latex foam as a way to homogeneize the surface, get a bit more comfort and add some tension under the fake leather. I glued it to the dense foam and beveled the edges with the dremel to somewhat break the angles. If I could have found some, I would have wrapped the whole thing in 8mm finishing foam but I couldn't find it anywhere :(

Step 9: Put the Cover Back, Glue It and You're Done :)

And now you've got youself a new, comfy motorcycle seat!



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    12 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I use this: under a zinc-chromate primer. Slows down rust when it's already started...


    1 year ago

    Looks great! Your refurb was the inverse of mine; my cover was shot and the seat pan was heavily rusted. Anyone excavating down to the seat pan should consider passivating and priming the steel before replacing the foam, however.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    What is passivating?


    Reply 1 year ago

    Coat something with a protective material. Never heard of it either, but Google helped me out.


    1 year ago

    Excellent job! I admire you for tackling something so difficult. I had to repair my seat, but it was only the cover and I was able to take patterns from the old one.


    1 year ago

    I heard using a electric turkey carving knife is a good way to trim foam over a dremel..!!!


    1 year ago

    Nice! I will need to refurbish my motorcycle seat soon too! Where do you plan to go during your 2000 km long trip?

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I was planning to go around the south of France but my cam chain broke. Hopefully the engine is not too damaged inside. I ended up going on my vacation by train, which was a bummer but also much more resting!

    Let me know how your restoration turns out. What's your ride?


    Reply 1 year ago

    Ah moi j'habite à Marseille justement! Il y a des routes très sympas dans le coin, avec les calanques d'un coté, et la Camargue de l'autre. J'ai passé mon permis moto à Montpellier et c'était super d'aller rouler au bord de la plage avec les flamands roses!

    Sinon j'ai un 600 diversion Yamaha de 1992, et la selle commence a être bien abîmée... Il va falloir que je répare tout ça!


    1 year ago

    Nice project. Some times the worst part of a project is getting up the courage to try it. But you did good. Thumbs Up sir!

    1 reply