Motorcycle enthusiasts with older bikes often take the time to replace some parts to keep the machine looking nice and running well. One of the most common DIY projects involves replacing the motorcycle seat cover. Learning how to replace your motorcycle seat cover isn't that difficult. It does, however, call for some level of dedication.
With that in mind, here's a step-by-step guide on how to replace your motorcycle seat cover with the help of a sewing machine.
Note: If you don’t want to use a sewing machine, there are readily available seat covers you can buy. Many seat covers, such as Air-Flow Seat Covers™, have been designed to serve you well in hot climates.
These motorcycle seat covers have a unique design that works well with motorcycles, ATVs and scooters. This is a new and revolutionary product that would work perfectly well if what you want is to simply replace your old motorcycle seat cover with a newer, better option.
Necessary Tools and Materials for Replacing a Motorcycle Seat Cover
As with any DIY project, it's best to gather all the necessary tools before starting the job. These are the tools you will need if you are to successfully replace the seat cover on your old motorcycle.
- A familiar sewing machine (you could also contract a tailor)
- A good, sharp pair of scissors that can easily cut through thick material
- Staple gun
- Typical sewing tools such as tailor's chalk, pin needles, clothespins, measuring tape and so on
- Your motorcycle toolkit
- New seat fabric (this can be anything, but it's often advisable to get a water-resistant fabric that's also tough, such as synthetic leather)
- Spray adhesive (you could also use double-sided tape)
- Synthetic thread
Step 1: Remove the Worn Out Fabric
To remove the old fabric, you'll have to first remove the seat. This is easy enough to do and will depend on the kind of motorcycle you have. Some will require you to use a special wrench to remove a nut at the very back of the seat, while others will require you to use the motorcycle key to unlock it.
Once you have removed the seat, it's time to remove the fabric. Turn it over and see how the fabric was attached in place. Some will have been attached using hooks, while most will be attached using staples. Either way, remove the old cover methodically, ensuring it stays as intact as possible. This is because you can use it as a template to cut out the new fabric.
Cutting the new fabric into the pieces you need is quite tricky and calls for extra care. If careful enough when removing the old fabric, you should have a workable blueprint.
However, a few allowances need to be made, especially if you used a pair of scissors to remove the old fabric. You might need to leave an extra 10 mm around the edges of the new fabric if you used a pair of scissors. This is the overhang that will give you enough working room.
It's important to copy the left and right sides when cutting out the symmetrical shapes if you want to end up with them.
Note: This part is delicate and time-consuming. If you hire a tailor, it's easier to show them the kind of results you want and let them work. If you are determined to make this a DIY project, here are the instructions.
- Cut out all the pieces you will need as per the old fabric
- Get two outer faces to face each other by sewing 10 mm from the edges
- Fold it out
- Sew two parallel lines of around 4-5 mm from the middle
- Make a zig-zag stitch in the middle to finish it up
This might sound straightforward enough, but it calls for extreme care even when using the old fabric as a template. You must play around with the sizes and pieces to bring them together nicely.
Step 3: Replace the Seat Cover on the Seat
Once you are done with all the sewing (or have received the fabric back from your tailor), it's time to fit it back onto the seat. It's important to use some adhesive to attach the fabric to the foam. Not only will this help the fabric keep its shape over time, but it will also keep it from moving around whenever you are riding your motorcycle.
You have several options when it comes to adhesive choice. You can use a spray adhesive, which is sure to get the job done properly, but you have to be very careful when using it. Any mistakes would mean ripping out the fabric and potentially damaging your hard work.
The second, less problematic option is to use double-sided tape. This is quite effective and doesn't have the permanence that spray adhesive does should you make a mistake.
Either way, apply the adhesive of choice and then systematically attach the fabric, starting from the inside out. Make sure that it's nicely stretched over the foam. Once you get to the edges, pull the fabric tightly over the seat and then use your staple gun or re-press the hooks using your pliers.
After you are satisfied with the final results, all you have to do is put the seat back on the motorcycle and try it out. If it's comfortable enough, then you are good to go. If the fabric doesn't feel quite right, you might need to change it and do this all over again, or it might just be a matter of making a few adjustments. In many cases, you will find that all you need to do is make it tighter against the foam by using more adhesive.
The best thing about this is that now you can customize your motorcycle seat cover as you see fit or according to your style. The entire process shouldn’t take more than an afternoon on a lazy weekend.