Special thanks to Michel for providing this How To.
Reupholstering your stock seat:
My '03 600R had the
most bland seat I could imagine. It was nicely padded, but felt slick and flat
like an MX saddle. After 500 miles, I decided to dive into the project and see
what I could do to improve it. Looking at it, one can see the simlicity of it's
construction. One seamless sheet of vinyl stapled over padding to plastic pan.
Even if you screw your custom padding up, you can easily return seat to stock
form with same old cover.
1) Get some needle-nose pliers, dykes and a small screwdriver and carefully pull all those staples. I made 4 alignment marks on pan and stock cover before removing so I could realign old cover if all else failed. Be careful to not tear holes in vinyl as you remove staples. Get them all out and set vinyl aside.
2) If you have gone this far, no doubt you have SOME idea of how you wish to change the shape/padding of the seat. In my case, I had three goals. One was to raise front of seat to make it more level and less sloped into the tank. Second goal was to move "break" in seat forward and make it more pronounced to give me something more to shove my ass against. Last was to add a bit of height. I am tall and wouldn't mind greater distance to pegs. Your goals may be different -- reducing height of foam for lower seat height, changing to softer foam or replacing torn cover. Think about what you want to do before you just start cutting.
3) Time to cut/hack/modify/mutilate the seat. I will say this, somewhat out of order--The choppy, topographic-looking job you see in picture below feels totally smooth once I put the cover on and pulled it tight. I didn't even try to replicate the smooth, stock foam shaping. Don't worry about it for now. Cut your foam into the various shapes you desire and put them in place with double-face tape, packing tape or something removable at this point.
Following my goals,
I have a piece near front/tank area and a stack of pieces in back to reshape
and move seat "break" forward several inches. On far left, you can
see another piece of foam that is cut to lay over ALL of the foam you see, from
tank edge to stock seat "break" as a top sheet. This helps smooth
out the entire layout and adds some heigh to seat, too. Individual pieces are
held in place with double-faced tape. Topsheet went on with same tape as well
as longer strips of packing tape to hold it all in place. I also took a sharp
razor blade and tapered the edges of the topsheet for a better transition between
it and the stock foam. Just hold blade at an angle and "saw" it back
and forth to create angled edge of your choice.
Foam I chose was from backpacking sleeping pad. It is 1/2" thick, dense and cheap. Other places that have foam include fabric shops, foam bedding businesses and upholstery shops that may have scraps cheap. Pick something that has density you think you will like.
With pieces taped down good, put seat back on and sit on bike to judge your progress. Now is the time to make small changes or start over if you are not creating what you want.
4) Time to cover it up and test ride it. For initial recover, pick some crap fabric from your ratty t-shirt collection or from the sale racks at fabric store. May as well pick something really ugly as it will only be temporary. Lay out fabric and set seat on top of it. Cut fabric into big rectangle that is 2-3" longer and wider than the seat. Pull and stretch fabric to see how much movement it will provide. Cutting fabric too big is not a problem at this point. Grab your staple gun (not stapler...) and tack fabric at top, center, tank edge first. That is, start right under where the family jewels go, between the two "ears" that go slightly farther forward and down. Once you have a staple or two in front-middle, pull cover tight straight toward top-center-rear of seat. Wrap fabric under and staple here, too. Now pick a point midway along seat and pull fabric snug to staple left then right side. This creates a front/back and left/right axis of tension. Work your way around the rest of the seat and anchor cover down as best you can to minimize wrinkles. You won't need as many staples as original, yet, as this is just the test run. Once adequately held down, cut off excess fabric leaving enough so staples won't rip out.
5) Take it for
a few rides of varying lengths. Make note of changes you would make to your
padding, so that when you are confident, you can remove cover and adjust padding
for one last time. When you are happy with what you've got, glue padding in
place with rubber cement and recover it with outdoor vinyl or leather or faux
fur or whatever. Fabric stores have lots of funky stuff as well as traditional,
black, outdoor vinyl. You should have little trouble finding whatever material
you wish for final cover. Stretch cover evenly and restaple with enough staples
to keep it in place for the long haul.
These are the results of my very first attempt at this. On my previous CBR, I always wished I had a different seat, but was too chicken to try it in the 20k I had it. Bike you see here has not even made the 600 mile oil change. I decided to dive in and do it. It was totally easy. No reason to be scared. The ONE issue that came up, when I began to install my temporary black velour is the staples didn't want to go back into plastic seat pan. A trip to Home Depot to buy shorter staples worked better as tall staples were buckling. Shorter ones sank in better.
The little bit of riding I've done on it so far has been great! I have accomplished my first two goals easily--Seat is more level and butt-rest keeps me in position much better. Little height that was added is not noticeable. Probably won't do any more to add height, however. I wouldn't want to sit much higher overall.
That's it! I did all the work in 2 hours instead of watching TV. Time WELL spent.