DIY Motorcycle Seat Upgrade on the Cheap
This is my step-by-step of how you can easily upgrade an OEM motorcycle seat yourself at home by insetting high-grade ‘Pudgee’ foam. An affordable ‘do-it-yourself’ option when you can’t justify a custom built seat from one of the pros. Motorcycle seat comfort is subjective but for me this made the stock seat magnitudes better for long days on the bike and was a fun project to do.
Tools and Materials
What you’ll need (with links to what I used):
- Pneumatic staple gun and compressor
- Quality razor knife with fresh blades
- Stainless staples
- Pudgee 1/2″ Foam
- Dureflex plastic film or similar for waterproofing
- Automotive headliner
- Aftermarket seat cover (optional)
- Ruler, yard stick or straight edge of some sort
- Old screwdriver to pry out staples (don’t use one of your good tools for this)
- Sharpie marker
- Dupont Silicone Spray
- 3m Foam Fast 74 (not Super 77, this is stronger)
In this I’m going to show how I upgraded the stock seat from my R1200R by insetting high quality Pudgee foam. We will not be reshaping the seat, as that is more advanced, but upgrading the OEM seat and keeping the stock shape.
Pudgee is an orthopedic viscoelastic foam from Sunmate that, unlike gel, is not affected by temperature. I think Pudgee is the way to go for long days on the bike as it’s supportive yet conforms better, in my experience.
First step is to remove the staples and cover. Do this very carefully and be patient if you are planning on reusing the stock cover.
Once you’ve got the cover off use your marker to draw a line down the center of the foam, long ways, as a reference point. Sketch out the shape where you will add the Pudgee, roughly a bit bigger than where you sit. In my case I made it wide enough that it just reached where the edges of the seat start to curve down. For ease of install try to keep it to the flattest part so you aren’t altering the shape of the seat at all.
Now that you have the shape of the area you’ll be removing use your marker and ruler and draw a grid on this area. Mine was roughly 1.5″ squares but this doesn’t need to be precise or accurate.
Make a paper template of the area and use this to trace and cut out your foam insert from the Pudgee. Continue using the silicon spray on the blade, reapplying as needed, this made a huge difference for me. I cut my insert about 1/8″ bigger than the hole so I could trim it until it just fit.
Cutting the Stock Foam
This is where it starts to get fun. What you do next depends on the thickness of the foam you are using. I use 1/2″ Pudgee so I set my retractable knife to 1/2″ depth as we only want to cut as deep as the thickness of the foam insert, no deeper! Now that your knife is set to the correct depth (double check before proceeding) spray the blade with a little bit of the silicon spray, this will keep it from dragging and catching when cutting the foam. Take your time and start cutting along the grid lines using multiple passes. We are not yet removing the squares, just cutting the lines.
After cutting the lines it’s time to start removing each square. Push each square to the side and cut at it’s base until it can be plucked off the seat. Once again go slow and take your time with this. After the squares of foam are removed go back and smooth any peaks or high spots.
Adding the Pudgee Foam
Now trim the Pudgee foam insert a little bit at a time with your knife until it fits very closely into the recessed hole you made in the seat. You can see in this photo where I made a measurement error by a couple mm and had to fill it with a strip of additional foam. When you are happy with the fit and are done with any adjustments spray both the seat and the Pudgee with the foam adhesive. Allow it to get tacky for a while and then insert the Pudgee into the recess in the seat.
Spray the entire seat with light coat of the adhesive and attach the headliner foam, wrapping the seat with it. This helps smooth any minor imperfections. If you have any big gaps or bumps fix them before adding the headliner, these will show through the cover if not fixed. I let my seat sit overnight just to be sure it was completely dry before putting the cover on but the adhesive is almost instant.
Putting the Cover on and Finishing Up
Wrap the seat with the plastic film to help keep it waterproof. Put the cover on the seat and get it aligned. Make sure the cover is on straight and put one staple into the front of the seat seat pan through the cover. Pull on the cover and do the same in the center of the rear. If it looks straight go ahead and start pulling and stapling all the way around the seat pan, alternating sides. If it starts looking wrinkled or uneven stop stapling, pull some staples out near the wrinkle then stretch and staple it again. Take your time and do not pull too hard. Make sure the cover is both even and taught without being super-tight. It helps to do this on a warm day or with the cover slightly warmed.
Some folks get away with using a manual or electric staple gun but I wouldn’t attempt it with anything less than pneumatic, at least on this seat pan. I tested both manual and electric staplers before I bought my pneumatic staple gun and neither did very well. You don’t need a big compressor, I get by with a cheap little 2 gallon electric. I set my compressor to just have enough oomph to put the staples in flush and no higher.
You’ll notice my seat no longer looks stock. Since I already had the cover off I decided to get fancy and replace the stock cover with an aftermarket cover from Luimoto. It took a couple weeks before I received it as my order was custom but it turned out great and worth the extra time.