Motorcycle aesthetics. If they're not up to scratch on a motorcycle no matter what else you do the overall effect is never how you'd like it.
Shabby seats in particular have a worryingly disproportionate effect. The odd crease or the tinniest tear in the vinyl can spoil the machine's visual lines and even the most strategically placed piece of tape will always look naff.
Not many of us has the skill to actually stitch a new seat cover and even fewer have access to the correctly patterned vinyl.
If the seat foam is damaged or rotten you're on your own here. We may be good with out hands here at our workshop but we're emphatically not sculptors. Anyone who has ever tried to trim down seat foam will know and appreciate just how difficult it actually is. The professionals use devices like electric carving knives but they also have a good level of artistic ability. However, if the foam is okay, or you can get a good quality replacement, then in most cases it's perfectly feasible to fit out your own seat cover. Like many of these jobs, taking your time and not rushing is key. In this article we're working with a seat that has mounting tangs around the edges. Some older motorcycles may have clips on the seat base or the cover may be pulled down over the base by an integral draw-string. More modern machinery may use a plastic seat base that requires the cover to be stapled in place. Whatever the type the basic rules and methodology still apply.
Getting hold of the replacement seat cover is the primary governing factor in doing the job. Surprisingly the material for quite a few seat covers for motorcycles sold in Thailand is still available as per our one in this very feature.
When it comes to having a seat cover made there's vinyl and then there's vinyl. Getting the right grade is important and if the motorcycle's seat intended to look identical to the original then graining of the covering may well be of importance, ditto the actual shade.
Similarly if the seat cover is ribbed with faux stitching, lines, embossing or similar it may also be crucial to ensure the correct number of ribs are there. It might sound anorakish in the extreme but if the seat cover's supposed to have 14 ribs it may just look plain wrong with 12. It's also the sort of thing critics and friends pick up on as you tell them you replaced the seat cover.
Things like the diameter of the piping between the vertical sidewall and the horizontal seat itself may also be important. Aftermarket seat covers are readily available online, but this may cost some extra money.
We'd politely suggest extreme caution in buying genuine aftermarket seat covers. They were generally made down to a price rather than up to a standard and intended to be a quick fix rather than a genuine replacement. Years of being crammed into a box will have done little to enhance the final fit. Know that flexible plastics tend to go hard over time and you may very well end up with a cover that has more wrinkles and cranks than a prune. In Bangkok, and probably in many other cities in Thailand, you can find shops that are very capable of recover your seat while you can enjoy a cup of coffee on the street corner. This shops can generally recover your seat for a few hundred baht, but, most of this shops can also offer a much advanced seat cover if you're willing to pay more...
Whatever seat cover you manage to obtain always ensure it's fitted when the warmest time of the day; it makes the final tensioning and trimming so much easier and generally delivers that slick factory look.