How Much Does It Cost To Reupholster a Motorcycle Seat?
As your motorcycle gets older, the seat cover may see a significant amount of wear and tear. If you’re ready to bring the original aesthetic appeal back to your bike, you may be wondering: “how much will it cost to reupholster the seat?”
If you choose to visit an auto upholstery shop to have your motorcycle seat reupholstered, expect to spend anywhere between $100-$300.
If you choose to reupholster your seat yourself, however, all the material will likely cost you under $100.
Keep reading to learn more about the cost of reupholstering your motorcycle seat, as well as some tips and tricks for doing it yourself.
How Much Does it Cost to Reupholster a Motorcycle Seat?
An auto upholstery shop will generally charge more to reupholster your seat than you would spend doing it yourself.
While the exact cost will depend on the type of bike you have, the seat’s material, and the shop you visit, most shops charge between $100-$300 to reupholster a seat.
If you don’t want to spend a ton of money to restore your seat’s original appeal, you can try reupholstering it yourself.
A DIY reupholstering will typically cost under $100 for all the materials and tools. In addition, doing this job yourself will allow you to get more creative!
If you want to upgrade your seat to something more comfortable or more aesthetically pleasing, it’s more economical to reupholster it yourself.
You may want to replace your vinyl seat with leather, or you may want to add some extra padding to make it more comfortable. Whatever the case, there are several materials you can use to increase the comfort of your motorcycle seat.
Leather vs. Vinyl Seats: Which is Better?
While motorcycle seats may be made with many different materials, leather and vinyl are by far the most popular.
There are many pros and cons to choosing either material, so the decision is completely up to you. Below, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both leather and vinyl.
A Leather Motorcycle Seat
Many people prefer the appearance of leather over vinyl. A leather seat gives your bike a classic look, and it typically lasts for many years.
It’s very comfortable to sit on, and lots of people enjoy leather’s unique grain. Leather does not fade evenly, which can help give it more character. Unlike vinyl, it also tends to soften as it ages.
However, it can lose its grip over the years and get shiny in areas of the seat that see a lot of wear. A leather seat will require more maintenance than its vinyl counterparts.
It’s much more prone to staining, so anything spilled on it will need to be wiped off immediately. At least a couple of times a year, you’ll need to use a leather conditioner on your seat to keep it looking nice and prevent any cracking.
Leather picks up and holds moisture relatively easily. Because of this, you’ll want to remove your seat any time you wash your bike.
Leather can also be prone to fading and cracking when out in the sun or rain, so it will need to be covered in these types of weather.
While it looks and feels nice, leather is one of the most expensive seat materials. It also requires a lot of maintenance.
If you like the look of leather but don’t want to pay the premium price, you may only want to consider faux leather instead.
A Vinyl Motorcycle Seat
Many motorcycle seats are made out of marine-grade vinyl. While it’s not as comfortable as leather, it’s a good option if you go on a lot of short-distance rides.
Compared to its leather counterparts, it’s much more affordable and requires significantly less maintenance.
Vinyl is typically much stretchier than leather, and it’s a more “breathable” fabric.
It often has a grippier surface than a leather seat, which is great for motorcycle riding! Plus, if you spill anything on it, it will be much easier to clean than a leather seat would be.
However, vinyl can heat up a lot more than leather on long-distance rides. It also tends to get harder with age, as opposed to leather, which gets softer with age.
While each option comes with its upsides and downsides, vinyl is a great option if you’re looking for affordability. It’s much lower maintenance than leather, and will usually last just as long.
How Can You Make a Motorcycle Seat More Comfortable?
Seat cover material definitely plays a part in comfortability, but the real comfort level depends on the foam underneath.
Most seats come from the factory with polyurethane padding, which isn’t always the most comfortable material.
If you want to increase your bike seat’s comfort level, consider adding some extra padding while reupholstering the cover.
You can add any padding material you’d like, but gel and memory foam are often popular choices.
A gel seat pad will be more cost-effective than memory foam at about $45-$80. However, the gel can get hot when left in the sun or on longer rides.
Memory foam, on the other hand, is significantly more expensive, at between $75-$100 for a seat pad. However, it won’t heat up and is typically considered the most comfortable padding material.
Why Should You Reupholster Your Motorcycle Seat?
Most motorcyclists take great pride in the appearance of their bikes. After many years of riding, your seat may be cracked, scratched, stained, or ripped.
To keep your bike looking good as new, you need a quality seat cover. From an integral standpoint, keeping your seat cover in good condition will protect the foam.
Your seat cover can’t do its job if it’s not completely covering the material underneath. If you wait too long to replace your seat cover, you may end up having to replace the padding, as well.
How Do You Reupholster a Motorcycle Seat?
If you’ve decided to save some money by reupholstering your motorcycle seat on your own, you’ll need to first gather all the right supplies. To do the job correctly, gather the following materials and tools:
- A staple gun and staples
- Your new seat cover material
- A heat gun or hair dryer
Choose a Staple Gun
When choosing a staple gun, it’s important to consider how much power and versatility you’ll need. A pneumatic staple gun is often the best choice because it offers a lot of versatility and can staple nearly any material well.
The next best choice is an electric staple gun. A corded gun will give you more power, which may be necessary for this kind of job. In a pinch, a handheld staple gun will work as well. Just be sure you can operate it as needed!
Check Your Staples
Before you purchase the new staples for your seat cover, check the length of the ones you currently have and try to choose a similar length.
If your staples are too long, they may stick through and poke you. If they’re too short, they may not hold the cover securely.
Remove the Seat and Old Cover
Before you can take off the old cover, you’ll need to remove the seat from your bike. This should be an easy task. Typically, you’ll only need to remove a couple of bolts that are holding the seat to the frame.
If you can’t figure out exactly how to remove your seat, consult your owner’s manual. There should be a diagram in there highlighting the points where the seat is connected.
Once you have your seat off, use your pliers to remove the staples holding the cover on. Typically, these staples will be on the bottom side of the seat.
Measure, Cut, and Stretch the New Cover On
Using the old cover as a guide, cut your material roughly into shape. To help it stretch out faster, you can leave the new material in the sun for a couple of hours.
If this is your first time doing a project like this, make sure you have extra material in case of mistakes.
Now, it’s time to stretch the fabric onto the seat. This part is very easy to mess up, so work slowly and carefully. Here are the exact steps you should follow:
- Staple one end of the fabric to one end of the seat, preferably the most elevated end.
- Using a heat gun or hair dryer to loosen up the material, pull it taut around each side, placing a couple of holding staples as you go.
- After making sure there are no creases and folds, and that the material is tight around each side, staple perpendicular to the direction you pulled in around all the edges.
Once you’re satisfied with the appearance of your new seat cover, reinstall the seat onto your bike. This process will take a couple of hours, but it will be much less expensive than having a professional do it for you.
Reupholstering your motorcycle’s seat is key to helping your bike look its best for years to come. If you have a professional do this job for you, it will cost somewhere between $100-$300. However, you can always save some money by performing the reupholstering yourself. After purchasing all your materials, a DIY project should not cost more than $100.