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Picture of How to Replace Motorcycle Seat Cover
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If you own a older motorcycle there is a good chance that the fabric of the seat is quite worn out. You know that the black duct tape is not gonna cut it anymore and you just need to get it replaced. But why not do it yourself? All you really need for it is a sewing machine and and a new fabric.

In this instructable I will demonstrate how I changed the seat cover on my Honda CB400N from 1983. I was doing a longer motorcycle tour around Europe when I just could not take the old seat cover anymore. It kept sticking to my buttocs all the time (due to the adhesieve in tape). So instead of a new layer of duct tape I desided to try and make a complete new seat cover.

Your bike will most likely not have the exact same seat design but basic principles will stay the same. Of course, the new cover will not look as good as tailor made one but what the hell!? You made yourself a seat cover - that is something not many motorcyclist can say, eh? And of course, you can make it as tough as you want it making sure it last for years and years.

I would like to point out that I am not a professional sewer - far from it! I am just a guy with a old sewing machine that I got as a birthday present from my grandmother. My main interest is woodworking but from time to time I also like to fiddle around with sewing. I do not really watch any instructional videos online, I just figure things out as I do. And that is why there might be some flaws in my work but the seat turned out quite nice in my opinion. Much better than I had expected.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
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For this project you will need:

  • New fabric for the seat. It can anything as long as it is thick enough not too stretchy and a little water resistant. I chose brown synthetic leather.
  • Double-sided tape or spray adhesieve
  • Strong thread (synthetic)

Tools:

  • A good sewing machine. My experience has shown that usually the old machines tend to be much better and more capable. I personally own a 70´s Singer machine but this time I used an old Pfaff machine.
  • Good scissors. It really makes the difference - ecpecially with thicker materials!
  • Basic sewing tools (measuring tape, tailor´s chalk, ruler, clothepins, pin needles)
  • Toolkit from your motorcycle
  • (Staple gun)
n4mwd1 month ago
Any idea where one could purchase motorcycle seat foam? The stuff at the craft store is too squishy. Motorcycle seat foam is very dense and closed cell.
CraftAndu (author)  n4mwd1 month ago
I actually had this question myself as I am planning on making a custom seat from scratch. I found one seller on Ebay from Germany. Type in "motorcycle seat foam" ;)
n4mwd CraftAndu1 month ago
I didn't find anything on ebay, but I did find several complete seats from china. So when the time comes, I may have to buy some seats and cannibalize them for their foam. I also found this website: https://itstillruns.com/kind-foam-used-motorcycle-...

Which suggests that the dense foam used in motorcycle seats is called "closed-cell, polyethelene foam".

I have a Ninja which sits fine for the first half hour, but then transforms into a razor blade after that. On trips, I have to plan to stop every 20 minutes to walk around the bike. I was thinking about making a custom touring seat that was shaped more like a bucket seat for better long term support. That would mean extra foam and not just what it comes with. I found this photo online which is pretty much what I want to build. It diverts more of the rider's weight to his thighs.
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Beautiful job! It looks like you sent it back to the factory to have it done.
CraftAndu (author)  Gone-To-The-Dogs1 month ago
Thanks! I really appreciate your compliment:)
nuclearnco1 month ago
I have done this a few times already. On two Polaris Jetskiis and a 2000 Honda Magna that was totaled in an accident. I tried like the dickens to fix my baby and ended up trading it for a sailboat that I sold on Ebay. 650 to buy back the bike from the insurance company and traded it and a 200 dollar tool for the boat, sold the boat for 2,500 9 months later. Not bad, but, in the process, I did recover the seat. Here is a tip that I didnt see. When seperating your old pieces, you should use a sharpie and mark both the tops and bottoms with something to identify which side of what piece connects with which side of the other piece. My Honda seat had 6 pieces in total, Top of rider and passenger, sides with front on both and the back side panel. Unfortunately, I sewed one of them backward on both pieces and when attaching to the seat foam - that had to be glued backtogether as the pet dog found the foam fun to tear - was when I noticed my error. I tried to take apart and put together correctly, but once pleather is sewn, it doesnt sew again a 2nd time and hold good. Now the pieces were too small, so I had to go and purchase new fabric. in the end, it would have cost the same to just buy a new skin off of the internet. Still; it is very rewarding to dyi it. THanks for the memories with your 'ible.
simon-may1 month ago
Places, within Europe, to ride a motorbike ? Ireland - for sure. I would recommend the coast road in Northern Ireland from Larne up to Coleraine - stunning. This is Northern Ireland, rather than the Republic of Ireland, but the whole island of Ireland is great.
CraftAndu (author)  simon-may1 month ago
Awesome! I will add this to my to-ride list ;)
I sold my motorcycle a long time ago and now ride a bicycle. Have you ever tried your method for a bicycle? I would like to make the seat a bit softer and am wondering if your method would work for a bicycle seat.
CraftAndu (author)  Eight is Great1 month ago
Hi! No I have not tried this method on a bicycle but I imagine unless it is a super-duper racing bicycle it would work just as well. I am not sure how the fabric is attached on a bicycle seat, though
gizmologist1 month ago
I, too, did this once. My problem was the original seat cover was molded in one piece to the foam, and I didn't want to cut it off and potentially make myself a bigger mess.. I solved that by taping newspaper to the seat and marking edges with a marker, then adding seam allowances to create a pattern. It turned out pretty good.
CraftAndu (author)  gizmologist1 month ago
Awesome! Is there any way to see your work, I would love to check it out!
seamster1 month ago
Well done!! This is the kind of sewing project I love to see. Now I need to get a motorcycle, so I can have an excuse to make a new seat cover for it!! ; )
CraftAndu (author)  seamster1 month ago
Thanks Sam! Well, this is a fantastic excuse to get a motorcycle;)