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Old 02-12-2015, 09:59 AM   #1
MotorcycleWriter OP
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Reshaping seat foam and reusing cover

I have an '89 BMWR100GS that I really like except it's a tad tall for me. I suspect that, while I am vertically challenged (30" inseam) much of the problem could be alleviated through reducing the width of the beam - er, I mean seat, that BMW supplied with the bike. I bought an R1150R one time that seemed too tall until I took off the Corbin seat and put on the stock(that was narrower) and I could flat-foot the bike. The problem is the width of the seat at my inner thighs.

Has anyone pulled off the cover, shaved a bit of foam off the sides, and reinstalled the original cover? I'm sure I could get Cee Bailey's or any of a number of places to make me a new cover, but I'd kind of like to preserve the old, blue one with the GS lettering. It is riveted on and I'd probably need to create a few new holes to draw it tight. I also suspect the 25 year old cover might not stretch and leave me with some floppy spots.
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:56 AM   #2
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I don't know anything about that particular seat, but fwiw I've done that with my VFR seat for the same reasons. I used a 2x4 block with 80 grit and shaped it the way I thought would work. I would then go on a long ride with the vinyl draped back on it and noting how the contouring felt. Since you can't add foam, it took several sessions of sanding/riding but over a few days I got it absolutely perfect. Way cheaper/better than having a seat person guess at what he thinks would be comfortable. All I had to do then was pull the vinyl taught, staple it and it still looks factory.
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Old 02-12-2015, 12:03 PM   #3
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you can try a variety of shaping tools. some use bread knives and electric carving knives but also you can use sand paper and wood shapers too. smaller but longer staples are better. Im sure there are lots of youtube vids of the recovering process. Harbor freight has cheap air staplers.
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Old 02-12-2015, 12:34 PM   #4
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I pulled the seat cover which was just stapled on KTM 950A. A sawzall blade was the tool of choice to reshape the foam. Once the foam was sufficiently hacked up, I used some duct tape on top of the cut foam to smooth the results a bit. Restapled the seat cover and called it done.
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Old 02-12-2015, 01:54 PM   #5
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To the OP, while some folks have gotten away with using electric carving tools with great success, I did that once to a seat and cut too much. If you don't know what you're doing, and even if you do, I highly recommend just using the 80 grit sandpaper on a block. It just takes patience to get the shape absolutely perfect, but you'll get a much smoother appearance and it's harder to screw up that way. Good luck whichever route you take.
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Old 02-12-2015, 02:10 PM   #6
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if you cut too much you can glue it back on with spray adhesive.
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Old 02-12-2015, 02:22 PM   #7
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I like the electric filet knife.... worked good. also my 4" grinder for roughing, and a low speed air grinder with 60-80 grit paper. there is a lot of stuff about seat foam and sites that had DYI how to stuff.... heres one I had saved

http://www.diymotorcycleseat.com/index.php
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Old 02-12-2015, 02:31 PM   #8
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Never tried it with just a sanding block but in time should work. I've used a cheap electric carving for rough shaping then used an air powered angle grinder with a sanding disc for fine tuning the shape. Yeah if you get in a hurry and don't keep your head in the game you'll easily remove too much foam. I've only done this twice so I just have a hand squeeze stapler for the cover. You don't need an engineering or arts-n-crafts degree to cut-down/reshape seat foam. You do need patience and focus so save the barley pops for afterwards.
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:59 PM   #9
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Guess I'll give the sanding block a try this weekend. Sounds like I can incrementally get a very nice, feathered curve and try it out before riveting the seat back on. This old BMW uses rivets to hold the seat cover on! Guess I'll have to drill the old ones out. FUN!!!

I'll take pictures along the way and post the results - even if it is a disaster!
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Old 02-12-2015, 07:21 PM   #10
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If you have an arts/crafts store handy to your location, stop in and get a piece of 15# 3/4" foam.
After roughing the seat to your new spec, spray glue and stretch the new foam over your handy work and reinstall the cover.
The foam won't add any real bulk but will allow you to form the seat cover into a nice finished product. Did that on my cruiser and BMW seats and it works quite well.
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Old 02-12-2015, 07:56 PM   #11
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Low speed electric sander makes quick work of foam. Lay out your cuts with a felt tip marker checking for symmetry as you work you way down.
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Old 02-13-2015, 12:03 AM   #12
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I forgot about the low speed air grinder. I tried using it on high speed and it would catch and make divots. Low speed with too much pressure would cause it to stop completely so it required low speed with low pressure or medium speed with medium pressure on the correct 'edge' so that it would travel the direction you wanted it to. I did have mild success with that, but personally preferred using the block and sandpaper technique.

Looking forward to the pics!
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Old 02-13-2015, 11:36 AM   #13
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Seat Shaves

I've shaved/reshaped many seats.
Road bike seats mostly to remove sharp edges or move the step further back.
I cut the foam with a hacksaw blade, with the teeth facing me, so it cuts when pulled.
I mark/layout the cuts with a magic marker, and use coarse foam sanding blocks for shaping.
Many times I've used marine grade vinyl from Jo Ann Fabrics, even on seats with big contours, it can be slippery stuff though.

That HF air stapler works great, and spraying the re-shaped foam with silicone before covering it, allows the cover to stretch/move better.
The Seatconcepts site has some good vids about installing the cover.
Here's some pics, I'm bad about "before" pics:
DRZ400


VX800
Sharp edges before:

After re-shaping, marine vinyl, foam is old/bad/lumpy:

600 Seca II
Re-shaped next to stock:


Marine Vinyl cover:

Sorry, I'm a pic ho
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Old 02-13-2015, 09:30 PM   #14
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I've done a few, electric carving knife works fine, a hot wire is deluxe but time consuming to make the jigs and I sand with a 80 grit belt off a belt grinder on foam blocks.

Taking foam from the sides of the Corbin seat on my GS made a world of difference.
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Old 02-23-2015, 05:09 AM   #15
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Just a reminder that if you are using new foam to use a high density style that won't absorb water. Nothing like a wet seat from inside the cover.
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