Re-Cover your Motorcycle Seat

Nothing lets a motorcycle down like a split, marked or faded seat. Therefore re-covering a motorcycle seat is something ever motorcyclist should at least have some knowledge about how to fix it.

First you need a sheet of vinyl. Vinyl is available in many different colors and textures, you can find it on markets and upholstery stores around Pahurat area in Bangkok. Failing that try one of the many online web-stores. Vinyl is typically supplied in lengths 54 inch wide; a meter will do about two seats. 1.2mm is a thickness for motorcycle seats. The following advice assumes a plastic seat base. If yours is metal, use contact adhesive instead of staples. Let the coat of glue dry fully. Start work when the second is fouch-dry.

For re-covering your motorcycle seat you will also need

Pen and measuring tape, scissors, scalpel, ruler, staple remover, a heat source (hairdryer will do), a decent staple gun, 6 and 8mm staples and pliers or pincers.

Remove old staples from the motorcycle seat

Pluck them all out. Staple removers are handy because by twisting the handle you wrap the staple around the tool, letting you pull it out. Tap stuborn bits of staple out with a hammer, or winkle them with pliers. Sweep you bench afterward; old staples will scratch and punch you new vinyl and if they get caught between the foam and the new vinyl they'll be troublesome and highly annoying and visible.

Cut out your new motorcycle seat cover

Cut an oblong of vinyl a couple of 5 or 6cm bigger than the old cover – you want the extra material to help you pull the seat cover into position. Fold in half length-ways and cut the corners off at each end to give a V-shape in the middle of each short side.

We're assuming your foam and base are reusable. If not it can be built up using sheets of foam carved to shape. If the foam is damp, dry it out in an airing cupboard first.

Start with the Straights

Line the Vs up with the middle of the front and back of the base. Fold the vinyl over at each end and secure it with a couple of staples (8mm is ideal but if your base is exceptionally thin in places go for 6mm staples). You want a nice tension to the vinyl but nothing too tight. Do the same halfway down each side, smoothing the vinyl out from the middle before you secure it. If you're not happy with the way it's sitting, simply pluck the staples out and try again.

Fix the Diagonals in the seat

Continuing the same way, fix opposing diagonals with a couple of staples as you go, but leaving the corners of the seat for now. Tuck the vinyl neatly behind any tabs before you secure it. For tricky contours heat the vinyl gently with a hairdryer to help it follow the contours of the foam smoothly. Unless the foam itself is convex there should be no air between foam and vinyl. If there is, try again, with heat. The pull on the staples should always come from the middle of the seat.

Neaten up the Seat Corners

If you're happy with the fit so far, work you way round securing the vinyl with a couple of staples per 3cm. If there are centimeters of excess in some places, cut in back. At the corners, tightly pleat the vinyl and staple it securely in place. Keep the pleat small – no trace of them should be visible on the top of the seat.

If you're struggling to fold and pleat the vinyl, use heat from the hairdryer again.

Finishing up your newly re-covered Motorcycle Seat

When you're happy with the new cover, scalpel the vinyl to within 5mm of your staples. If you're making a replacement pillion strap, be sure to sew webbing into the vinyl strip.
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