Replacing your motorcycle seat cover
A torn seat cover quickly becomes saturated with water. This does the foam core, and the seat of the trousers, no good at all. Fortunately Louis has everything you need to carry out a repair, and in no time at all.
Replacing the seat cover – here's how
Preparation for the repair
Overview of tools required
You can temporarily fix the damage by patching with special adhesive tape, but you should aim to replace the entire seat cover as soon as possible. It's best to remove the new seat cover from its packaging a couple of days before you plan to begin the repair, and spread it out in a warm room to allow the packaging creases to disappear. You don't need much in the way of tools – screwdriver, pliers, Pattex, hot-melt glue gun or stapler and a carpet knife should do the job. You might also want to get a couple of clamps from the DIY store, as these are often useful as a second pair of hands if needed.
Detaching old cover
Bend up metal clips
Before you tackle the seat cover, unscrew and remove anything that may get in the way when re-upholstering. This includes grab straps, decorative trim, mounts and rubber pads on the underside of the seat. You'll generally find metal clips on the metal base plate – use a screwdriver to prise them up, and then a pair of pliers to bend them out of the way. Staples can be removed from a plastic base plate using a small screwdriver.
Drying and repairing the upholstery core
Strip off old cover
Once the metal clips have all been bent up, or the staples removed, you will be able to take off the old cover. Now check the seat foam and base plate for signs of damage. If the metal base plate is corroded, remove the rust with a wire brush and treat with rust converter. You can then give it a coat of paint, if you like. Check the foam core for damage and moisture. It is essential to let the foam dry out completely, even if this takes several days. Largish holes need to be repaired, as otherwise the new cover will not sit properly. To do this, buy a small piece of foam of roughly the same density in an upholstery shop, cut it to the right size to fit snugly in the hole and affix with a few drops of adhesive You may even find an upholstery shop that will do this job for you.
Aligning the new cover
Align new cover
Now place the new cover over the seat and align with the side edges and any grooves on the seat surface to make sure that the cover is absolutely centred and straight. Double check that the decorative grooves are straight and not wavy, and remember – the more care you take now, the better looking and more professional the end result will be.
Tensioning and fixing the cover
Now for the hard part – tensioning and fixing your cover. The following section tells you how to fix your cover to a seat with a metal base plate, so skip to the next section if your seat has a plastic base plate. Place the seat upside down on the floor and start at the rear end.
Base plate made of metal
Attach to metal plate at the sides
Lightly tension the material and clip it in place centrally. Moving outwards from the centre, carry on clipping the cover into place on the right and the left until the rounded rear end is secure. Now repeat these steps at the front of the seat, making sure that the cover is straight lengthwise. If this causes the rear edge of the cover to slip forward, you will need to pull it back again. If doing so causes the seat to become misshapen, you will unfortunately need to unclip the cover and start again. If this is the case, make sure you position the cover slightly further back towards the rear end when you start again. Don't bend over the metal clips completely until you're sure that the cover is a good and snug fit – so that you can make further adjustments if need be. If the seat has a curvature or ridge, the cover will not lie flat on the foam at this stage, but this will change when you pull the material tight at the sides and secure it. When fixing the cover at the sides, again start at the rear one clip at a time, alternating between left and right side. Continue in this fashion, working towards the front. Make sure that you tension the material evenly. Every two clips or so, turn the seat over and double check that the cover is still straight.
Base plate made of plastic
Staple to plastic base plate
Modern seat bases are generally made of plastic. In this case, the cover is tensioned in the same way as before (see 6a), but then affixed using a stapler. If you don't own an electric staple gun, you will need to get a strong mechanical stapler from your local DIY store – an ordinary office stapler will be no good at all for this job. To make sure you get the right size staples, take one of those you removed from the old seat with you. It's important to get this right, as incorrect or over-long staples would dig into the foam and penetrate through the edges, which will make for a less than comfortable ride – unless of course you enjoy sitting on a bed of nails.
Cutting off surplus material
Remove excess material
When you've made absolutely sure that the cover is straight and wrinkle-free, bend all the clips over fully onto the metal base plate. Use a sharp carpet knife to cut off any excess material, which would prevent the seat from lying properly on the motorcycle. But before doing so, fix the cover using the clamps you got from the DIY store to make sure it is tight against the base plate.
Gluing the new cover
Once you have cut off the excess material, you can remove the clamps. Stick the loose edge of the material to the base plate using Pattex. And to make sure it all sticks properly, apply the clamps again for half an hour or so.
Final assembly of the seat
Now re-install the decorative trim, the mounts and grab straps. And you're done! All in barely an hour and at a fraction of the cost of buying a complete new seat.
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The Louis Technical Centre
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These tips for DIY mechanics contain general recommendations that may not apply to all vehicles or all individual components. As local conditions may vary considerably, we are unable to guarantee the correctness of information in these tips for DIY mechanics.
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