Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats

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Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats
Ralf Petersen

Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats

Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats

Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats

Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats

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Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats
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counselor

workshop

Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats

Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats
Refurbish smartly and cheaply

She is anything but “for an ass”. Because without a smart seat, the driver’s comfort and driving dynamics are seriously lacking. In this workshop series we show how everyone can smartly and cheaply refurbish their upholstered motorcycle seat.

Ralf Petersen

02/06/2017

There are many reasons for tackling the bench: at the latest when it is worn or cracks appear, it must be replaced. Or you want to change the seat height by upholstering or cushioning, you want more comfort or you want to give it a chic, individual look. A simple change of cover can also be easily done by a hobby screwdriver. If a major change is planned, then it is advisable to go to the professional with technically and visually outstanding results. We show both variants.

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Screwdriver tips for motorcycle seats

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Refurbish smartly and cheaply

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Standard bench mostly for 1.80 meter drivers

Motorcycle seats are almost always constructed in a similar way. The base is usually a base plate made of plastic, with older machines it can also be made of metal and is then also susceptible to rust. Above it sits the cushion, consisting of a layer of foam that is fixed to the plate, and finally the actual cover, which is usually made of synthetic leather and is usually stapled to the base plate.

The artificial leather hardens slowly but surely over the years, as the plasticizers contained in the cover evaporate. As a result, it becomes brittle and fragile, and ultimately the bench will also crack. If it is still raining, the upholstery will soak up water, which will significantly diminish the pleasure of sitting in the long run. As a temporary measure, smaller cracks can be taped with duct tape, but that rarely lasts long and doesn’t really look great. Not only the cover, but also the upholstery ages and increasingly loses its cushioning function. At some point the bench is “worn out” and long tours become torture. The biggest shortcoming of a standard bench seat is its standardized structure, which is designed for an average biker (180 centimeters tall / 80 kilograms). If you are smaller or taller, lighter or heavier, then the bench is often at least not ideal for the driver. Individual adjustment can therefore have a very positive effect on the seating position and comfort. Simple upholstery by removing part of the seat core is not recommended because this significantly impairs seating comfort.

Care of the bench

Appropriate maintenance makes sense to ensure that the bench is a long-lasting pleasure. The best way to clean them is with a soft microfiber cloth, warm water and washing-up liquid. Under no circumstances should you use aggressive cleaning agents. A synthetic leather care product can then be applied, but it should not contain any solvents and should work on a water basis (e.g. Big Block Protectant). In this way, the cover stays supple for longer and also retains its color and shine.

Change of cover

If you just want to change the cover, doing it yourself is not a big act. This requires comparatively few tools and skills. A suitable replacement cover for the seat of my Honda NTV 650 used here as an example is offered by Louis for an inexpensive 35 euros. When comparing the old with the new cover, it is noticeable that the replacement cover also has seams in the area of ​​the seat. These either have to be sealed, or a plastic film has to be installed as an intermediate layer. After dismantling the bench, it is turned over and the old staples can be removed. You can use a special stapler remover for this, but you don’t have to, because alternatively the staple needles can also be lifted with a small, narrow screwdriver and pulled out with combination pliers. The old needles are used as patterns for the new ones.

After removing the cover, the foam seat core is examined for damage and condition. If the core has already crumbled, it must be renewed. Any smaller holes can be repaired. The foam of the same strength required for this can be obtained from a saddler or upholsterer, who can also carry out the repairs if necessary. If the core is damp, then you have to let it dry completely before covering. The core of the NTV bench was still in very good condition, so that only a new cover was necessary.

Screwdriver tip for motorcycle seats

First, the seat core is covered with a plastic film and then placed on a stable, sufficiently large surface. All tools should be close at hand, because tensioning, blow-drying and stapling at the same time requires appropriate coordination. Now you put the new cover on the seat core and align it as carefully as possible so that it really sits straight later. Then it is stapled on both sides for the first fixation exactly halfway up the bench. It is important to pull the cover quite tight so that it is nice and smooth later and does not wrinkle. If it is not tight enough, it can be warmed up carefully (!) With a hairdryer. This makes the cover supple and adapts better to the contours of the seat core and the base plate.

The material expands when it is heated, and contracts again when it cools, giving it the necessary tension and preventing wrinkles. But be careful – do not heat up selectively, but over as large an area as possible, otherwise too much heat could arise in one place. The cover is now fixed in the same way at the beginning and at the end of the bench. It is essential to check whether something has slipped. It gets a little more complicated at the corners. You pull the cover tightly over the corner and you can also staple it in place with an overlap, as long as the folds only appear on the underside of the bench (this takes some tension out of the cover).

The whole thing is done from one corner around the bench. When stapling, you should ensure that the staple needles are relatively evenly spaced. If necessary, you can now cut off the protruding material of the cover with a sharp knife or scalpel – done. With the NTV bench I needed about 60 minutes for a good result. The Louis cover is a perfect fit and looks pretty good when it is fully assembled – a real recommendation for the slim purchase price.

Accessory banks

Depending on the model, the aftermarket offers a whole range of options for complete replacement. Simple benches e.g. B. for Cafe Racer conversions are available from 100 euros. However, only as a universal bench, i.e. you have to build the bracket / attachment to the frame yourself. Type-specific Bagster or Touratech benches, on the other hand, already cost 250 to 400 euros. As a rule, all these replacement benches are similar to the originals designed for standard motorcyclists, so there is no individual adjustment to size and weight.

Bench conversion by professionals

So if you want a custom-made product (e.g. because of the seat height) or have special ideas about the shape, design or material, you cannot avoid a professional bench builder. As a hobby hobbyist you quickly reach your limits because there is a lack of material, experience and knowledge. On my Honda Seven-Fifty, which I am converting in retro style, the seat was, on the one hand, much too soft and, on the other hand, the cover was relatively stylish. There were many suggestions on the Internet, a suitable model seat and the address of a professional near me: Niklas Lange in Solingen was the right man for the conversion and custom-made seat core and cover, for which the motorcycle must be brought along. The objective was clear: the “dream seat” should be comfortable and suitable for touring, and it should also look chic. Incidentally, almost anything is possible with a conversion, depending on the customer’s wishes, individual shapes, colored covers, embroidered emblems, gel cushions and even seat heating are in principle feasible, but the advice and experience of the professionals should be followed.

After a short discussion and the assessment of the template photo, the actual work begins, which will ultimately take almost five hours. After removing the old cover, it turns out that the bench has already been changed, but with unsuitable, far too soft material. This is now removed and the seat core is matched to the size and weight of the driver with various layers of upholstery material. It is important not to have a seat that is either too soft or too hard, but an optimally adapted one. In between, the bench is repeatedly mounted on the machine and tried out.

The manufacture of the cover is just as demanding. After the temporary cutting of the cover, Niklas determines the topstitching seams according to the photo template and sews in a thin layer of foam. In addition to skill, you also need appropriate experience so that the whole thing really harmonizes in the end. The side parts are sewn on, the seams are additionally sealed, then the core is covered with a plastic film that prevents the penetration of water. The actual procurement hardly differs from the procedure described above, just faster and more professional. The best moment is then the “final fitting” of the custom-made bench. As expected after the carefully executed preparatory work, it not only fits perfectly on the motorcycle (there are not the slightest gaps, protrusions etc.), but it is also a real gem that gives the Seven-Fifty an individual touch and a Bringing a touch of the charm of the 70s. The seating position, the subjective seating feeling and the comfort are excellent and, as the season progressed, beyond any doubt even on long journeys. The wages for this professional work, on the other hand, are relatively modest: 283 euros are really not paid too much – especially compared to the standard replacement bench from the accessories.

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