Seat Re-Upholstering - Ex-500.com - The home of the Kawasaki EX500 / Ninja 500R
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 5-4-2017, 3:39 PM Thread Starter
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Seat Re-Upholstering

I don't have nearly so many miles on my bike as a some of you around here but the miles I have put on my bike have been pretty hard. Three years back on a 45 day moto camping trip my seat started tearing bad. I "field fixed" it with some gaffers tape and haven't been concerned enough since to put any effort into it.



Yeah, that's pretty unappealing...

I'd seen a few threads here about recovering a seat so I figured I'd give it a shot. Decent seats on ebay were at least $60 or so with shipping so I wanted to have a go at it myself. I went to Joanne's and picked up two packages of seat upholstery foam and 2 yards of vinyl. All those items were half off and it came to about $18 for those materials. I also got a Black & Decker electric carving knife on Amazon for $13.

First I cut away the old vinyl, pulled the old staples, and removed the old foam. It pulled right off.

Then I used 3M spray adhesive to stick the two squares of upholstery foam to the plastic base. Then a piece of cardboard and some ratchet straps while the glue set.


Then I just started shaving away with the electric carving knife. Took it nice and slow trying to keep things symmetrical.


Here is my first attempt at covering. Throwing the yard of vinyl in the dryer for 20-30 minutes on low makes it a lot more pliable.

I didn't build the foam up enough at the crotch and I could feel the plastic base of the seat when I rode. No good. Tore that off, and used some foam scraps I shaved off to try and build up more padding. I used the second yard of vinyl that I'd bought and did it again.





It's far from perfect but it's a big improvement over the horrible tape job, and really didn't cost that much.

My advice for anyone doing this: when tacking in the vinyl, don't worry about getting it perfect and wrinkle free immediately. I had to keep circling around the piece and incrementally stretch the vinyl and pull out any wrinkles. This meant I had to keep pulling staples I'd already put in, pull out slack, then restaple.

Also, it would be good to have an upholstering stapler for this project. The staple gun I used worked well enough, but wasn't able to drive staples in the narrow or tight spots.
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Last edited by melon rancher; 5-4-2017 at 3:43 PM.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 5-4-2017, 4:07 PM
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Looks nice.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 5-5-2017, 8:29 AM
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The entire fleet of EX's are ageing, requiring various component refurb. My 19 year old VFR...did a seat recover. I stumbled upon a Euro made cover....pro install here in NY I was quoted $115 PER HOUR labor...prompting a DIY....my first ever recover.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 5-5-2017, 11:14 AM
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Looks really nice. and Easy. Should be stickied, I tell you

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 5-5-2017, 11:21 AM
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on the EX recovering is both affordable and doable, vast improvement as witnessed by Melon Ranchers efforts and pics clearly show.

************************************************** *********************************
Left a message with my Euro supplier, want to do my Ducati as well....see if they can supply for my older vintage 900SS.

From their advert....German leatherette, 0,5 cm foam

The additional foam does make for added comfort, confirmed on the VFR cover ...I'll take all the comfort improvement I can get on the Duc.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 5-5-2017, 4:15 PM Thread Starter
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Very nice installation on the VFR. I like the piping and stitching. Might have to ask my mom to help me sew up something for the next go around
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 2-28-2019, 2:56 PM
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alternately, there is always Chunkys seat mod. Consider.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 2-28-2019, 4:25 PM
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Looks like the porcupines dropped in for dinner!
post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 3-31-2019, 1:22 PM
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I'll be the first to admit I'm not a pro upholstery guy....but a precaution learned within my VFR recover. If you've got any sort of seat cowl while installing a thicker cover, or with larger piping.... I've noticed a slight interference between the larger seat profile (due to larger piping) and the seat cowl. Its just occurring at the rearmost tail area. I'll compensate by trimming the seat foam back there, thus providing a bit of needed clearance.

Lacking recover experience, I wasn't good enough at this to be able to predict the small variance and needed compromise.

On my SS800 Ducati...about to install a very tight fitting leather cover (I'm not willing to heat and stretch it) sourced from Great Britain. Again, I'll compensate (MAKE it fit) by mildly trimming certain, non-critical areas of seat foam. As its from "across the pond", returning is out of the question, not an option.

Point is, always be prepared to improvise for unplanned "variances"......we can always ask Chunky on that subject. He knows.

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Last edited by ducatiman; 3-31-2019 at 1:39 PM.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-4-2019, 9:00 AM
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I have a 91 Interceptor with the original seat cover, bike has 80,000 miles on it. The blue seat cover is a Sergents seat cover, forget the cost but I paid $25 to have it stapled onto my old pan, that was on my 93 which had a ripped up neglected seat.


EX has a nice Sergents seat cover stitched with orange thread. I had someone refoam the seat a while back it makes a difference compared to the old seat, duel density foam etc.



I removed the drivers seat from my Jeep and had the same doode who stapled the motorcycle seats re-due my seat cover. Came out nice, re-installing kinda sucked though, I am glad I had some pair of knipex pliers kicking around cause they were perfect for gripping the hog rings, I also used some safety wire. Nice write up btw, with pictures.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-4-2019, 3:18 PM
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very nice blue VFR cover.

Here's my SS800 DIY full leather (not vinyl) recover. I believe the manufacturer didn't really have his poop together, his dimensions were off. I did what was necessary to get the cover on, but in the process a couple loose areas got by me, being the rookie I am. No biggie, when time allows I'll attempt to correct them, pulling and reinstalling staples, stretching cover as needed. I believe leather to be much less forgiving than vinyl.

Def a learning process for me. Where the hell is Chunky when you need him?
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Last edited by ducatiman; 4-6-2019 at 3:40 PM.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-4-2019, 8:04 PM
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my first time with the car seat thing, I figured if I could take it off, I could re-install it. I won't do a motorcycle seat just because its cheap enough to have a dedicated upholstery shop to install it. Thats just me though, Mr. Subjective. PEacE
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-9-2019, 9:18 AM
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found the seat picture along with an action shot of future EX rider.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-9-2019, 10:16 AM
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Nice job...this by a pro shop?

I wonder what color HER future EX will be?

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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-9-2019, 6:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridervfr View Post
my first time with the car seat thing, I figured if I could take it off, I could re-install it. I won't do a motorcycle seat just because its cheap enough to have a dedicated upholstery shop to install it. Thats just me though, Mr. Subjective. PEacE
I've found car seats to be pretty agreeable to recovering, motorcycle seats, somewhat harder. I don't want to talk about convertible tops.
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post #16 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-9-2019, 7:02 PM
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Is "future EX" a double entendre? ; ) Seat on motorcycle is from Sargent Seats out of FL somewhere. You can talk to someone on the phone and actually have them send you samples of the material before you commit to buy. The Kawasaki I had them use orange thread and a French seam which looks really nice. I have two of them and am very happy, I had the same shop install the seat covers on my seats, charge was nominal 25 dollars.



Car seat cost me $150 - I would have liked to pay $100 but when I saw all the labour it took to stitch up the fabric to my old surrounding seat cover I was ok. My friend is in sales and trades cars in every few years, he can't believe that I would go through the trouble of removing a seat and going through what I did, I changed the steering wheel too, just because the old one was disgusting and I hated touching it and did'nt wana get a wheel cover. In the end he is impressed with the act of keeping stuff going.



Convertible tops could be a bitch I bet! Would be nice to own one down here in sunny South FL though. I hate sunroofs btw the way, noisy and they always F up. Anyway, peace out, gona do fork seals on my EX soon, there is never rest for the wicked it seams. While they are apart I am gona go for some silver VHT (shameless plug) wheel paint on my bottom legs.
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post #17 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-28-2019, 4:23 PM
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Considering another genuine leather cover for the '95 900SS. (from same British vendor I sourced for the 800)
Well over $100 after shipping, but ain't gonna be available forever, these things getting old, mid 90's Duc SS aftermarket parts becoming somewhat rare if not obsolete.

Hmmmm...what would Chunky do?

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post #18 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-28-2019, 5:54 PM
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Thumbs up

I know I've been known to get parts ahead of time, just to be safe.

2006 Ninja500R Purchased new July 2006; 0 miles. Miles as of January 2019; 102,137. It's a GO bike, not a SHOW bike.
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post #19 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-28-2019, 6:10 PM
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^ That you, Chunky?

Its inevitable, there comes a day you find more and more stuff NLA. Ever popular mid 90's Ducati SS exhausts are drying up, precisely why I bought the GPR's when able.

Same happening on the older VFR....reading more and more of *factory* discontinued Honda OEM engine parts.

16" Gen 1 tires very limited choices, another perfect example. Understandable when owning older stuff, pounce while you can.

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post #20 of 23 (permalink) Old 4-28-2019, 9:17 PM
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That's the good thing about the EX, at least for now. From what I can tell all parts are still available stock (although some have been superceded ). But how long will it last, I've noticed other Kawasaki modals that have very limited parts available. Including bikes that are only about 20 years old.

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post #21 of 23 (permalink) Old 5-1-2019, 7:22 PM
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Wet T-shirt contest

Quote:
Originally Posted by ducatiman View Post
^ That you, Chunky?
@ 170lbs. I think not.





But I do have this going on.
I call it the bpe raised center of gravity mod
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post #22 of 23 (permalink) Old 6-8-2019, 12:56 PM
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As i'm not an upholstery expert by any stretch, I can't explain why or how the 2 forward imperfect areas on my 800 seat cover disappeared. The rear, larger imperfection still there, I do believe a mismatch on preloading the 2 sections...a manufacturers sewing error.

In prepping and checking the 800 today for a long ride tomorrow....seat is lookin' pretty darn good and after being on, used (stretched?) and exposed to some heat and cold cycles (?) the 2 areas are now ok.

I'm still gonna have to confer with Chunky (the undeniable expert) .....but I think we got this seat thing down. 1 more to go ...eventually my older 900 while nice covers still remain available for a 25 year old Ducati SS.

EX owners, recover an effective, affordable method to either personalize or simply repair your older seat foam and/or cover. Good stuff.

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Last edited by ducatiman; 6-8-2019 at 1:03 PM.
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post #23 of 23 (permalink) Old 6-8-2019, 3:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducatiman View Post
I can't explain why or how the 2 forward imperfect areas on my 800 seat cover disappeared.
I get crinkles in the forward part of the seat in the winter (when the bike is outside), when the temps warm up it smooths out. Still original seat, never re-upholstered.

2006 Ninja500R Purchased new July 2006; 0 miles. Miles as of January 2019; 102,137. It's a GO bike, not a SHOW bike.
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