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DIY Reupholster Motorcycle Seat

Motorcycle-RideAs a motorcycle owner, reupholstering the seat is something you may have to do at some point. For example, you might need a new seat if your old one begins to deteriorate after years of use, sustains damage in an accident, or is too low, too high, too angled, or too uncomfortable in some other way. Reupholstering a seat is also something that will eventually appear on your To Do list if you enjoy restoring vintage bikes in your free time. Regardless of the reasons why you’re tackling the job, here’s how to do it yourself:

  1. Remove the seat pan from the motorcycle using a screwdriver. Be sure to keep the screws in a safe place so as not to lose them.
  2. Carefully remove and discard the staples used to attach the upholstered seat cover to the seat foam. Retain the cover itself for reuse (if intact) or to trace as a pattern for a new cover.
  3. Use the old seat foam as a pattern for your new foam. Replace it with a sturdy base layer of dense closed-cell foam and a top layer of softer polyurethane (open-cell) foam.
  4. Determine the desired height and angle of the seat, and then trim the new foam to these custom dimensions with an electric carving knife. Go slowly and recheck the fit as often as necessary during this step.
  5. If the changes you made to the new foam are within an inch or an inch and a half of the original dimensions, the original seat cover should still fit. If the changes were more substantial, cut a new cover out of leather or vinyl using the old cover as a pattern. Just make sure to allow for extra inches where needed.
  6. Staple the seat cover to your new foam seat. Start by stapling one side and then placing the next staple directly across from it on the other side. Keep the seat cover taut throughout the process to yield a smooth, wrinkle-free finish.
  7. Replace the seat pan on the bike and reattach with the screws.
  8. Go for a test ride and make note of any abnormalities or imperfections that need to be adjusted.

Whether you have to replace or restore a damaged seat or simply want a more comfortable ride, doing the job on your own is a great way to save money. Check today for the closed-cell and open-cell foam required to complete this DIY project.

12 thoughts on “DIY Reupholster Motorcycle Seat”

  1. I am re-foaming my seat on a 2019 Yamaha MT-09. Any suggestions on what I need to purchase would be appreciated ?

  2. Hi,
    I have a Suzuki motorcycle and after a few hours of riding I am more than ready to get off. But for long trips this can be a hassle. I am thinking of placing foam over my existing seat to see if that gives me an easier ride. can you recommend a foam or combination that might work. FY, I have used the Airhawk system but this has not worked for me either. Thank you.

  3. I am looking at replacing the foam on a 2-up seat (combined main and passenger seat combined) and would like to have a 2 layer foam system. I am looking for something that provides a firm seat, but a little cushion to it for comfort. Can you recommend a base layer foam, as well as a “thinner” top layer foam that will work well together?

  4. I am making a custom seat that will only be about 3 inches thick. what would be the most comfortable foam I could use?

  5. I am working on a 1978 Honda CB550, with an edict that everything must look like it could have if the factory made it today and cleaned up the lines a bit and trim the fat. With that directive, I’d like to take some height out of the seat. I’ll use the original seat pan, but I’d like to create a seat that is 40-60% the height of the original. New covers will be made to match the original look. We would like something dense and plush at the same time. We’d like to be able to put a full day in on the bike without the rider’s behind in serious grief. Is memory foam an option? Should we use a multilayered approach? I’m not sure where to begin on this. Thanks!

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