Dirtbike seat recovering -The easy way
Your dirtbike’s seat has a hard time. From the endless wear from your butt moving back and forward while riding and the regular slathering in mud and dust, to the inevitable jet washing at the end of the day to shift all that clag, its a tough life. So with the upholstery on the Ride Expeditions beloved KTM EXC250 looking well past it’s sell by date it was time for a refresh – and hence time to show you how we go about Dirtbike seat recovering – the easy way!
So with the seat detached from the bike by the astoundingly simple process of removing one bolt under the mudguard – love KTM’s simplicity – we need to remove the old cover.
Using a thin bladed screwdriver, we set about loosening off the multiple staples that secure the cover on the underside of the seat. We’re not going to try to totally remove the staples, just raise one edge initially.
Once you have loosened off every single staple around the edge of the seat, you need to swap tools to a set of flat-nosed pliers.
Work your way round the seat carefully removing the staples and collecting them in a small pot or jar to ensure they do not end up on the floor of your garage – they are super sharp and will puncture the tyres on your bike – guaranteed!
Take your time here as you don’t want bits of snapped staple left in the seat base as they will rip the new cover.
Once done you can then free up the old cover from the base and foam and totally remove it and throw it away. No matter how much of a hoarder you are , do not be tempted to keep the old knackered peice of vinyl – there will never be an opporunity of need to use it again. Be like Elsa and just Let it Go
With the foam now exposed, it’s time to inspect and see whether you are going to need to replace that too! Our foam is a little stained from water ingress, but other than that it’s in acceptable condition and OK to fight another day, so we’ll reuse it, but if not we’d be looking at a replacement from either KTM or a suitable aftermarket option. A new seat for the EXC is going to cost over £100, so a replacement cover is a much cheaper option!
So we should have mentioned this before we started, but before we set about ripping off the old seat cover, we’d sourced a suitable new one. The stock KTM one costs around £45 or there are plenty of online companies offering options, but it’s easy to end up with poorly made covers if you just pick the cheapest from an auction site.
We found a fantastic bargain on 24MX – a site we regularly use for parts and clothing. The custom-sewn seat covers were on offer at £19.99 which with packaging came in at just £23.00 all in. Although there were seven colour options, we went for the Henry Ford option as that’s what colour the original was and it’s the most practical.
Now it’s time to offer up the new cover and check on the alignment needed and the fit. It might sound unnecessary but it’s possible that with a custom made cover, it’s not correct for your bike so it’s best to check before you start firing staples into it! the 24MX cover was spot on, but as it’s got two seams running from front to back, getting the alignment right is going to be important.
The first step is to secure either end of the cover. The positioning here is very important as it will control the way the rest of the cover goes on, so get it right first time! Once happy with the positioning, we fire in a series of double staples to hold securely, but not enough to totally finish the fitting at the ends as we will come back for that.
You’ll notice that we’re using a compressed air stapler, as it is by far the easiest and most professional option. Electric staplers are OK too, but trying to do the job with a hand stapler, it’s far more difficult – but still possible.
With either end in place, then the next step is to secure either side. With a seamed seat like this one. getting the alignment central is important as it will look terrible if it’s off kilter! You also need to get the tension correct so that the cover sits onto the foam correctly.
We have the seat on our lap while fitting the cover as it’s easier to keep it in place than on a bench, but clearly care needs to be taken with the stapler …
Again we take our time and once happy, fire in a couple of pairs of staples to hold in place. Check again before progressing further – you can pull out a handful of staples if they are wrong, but it’s more tricky once you’ve fired off fifty!
We then add in a few more staples around the front of the seat, so get it properly located and tensioned.
Time for another check, so we flip over the seat and check it’s looking right and the tensioning is correct. Looks good!
The cover is prettty much where it should be all round, so now we can start firing in multiple staples to secure it – we don’t go mad, but fit just enough to ensure there will be no movement or ripping once refitted to the bike.
Around the raised parts of the seats, it’s a bit more difficult, but we just keep the tension up and work our way slowly but steadily along the seat.
We continue our progress round the outside of the seat, gathering the cover at the rear section. We’ll come back to this to tidy it up, so we proceed round the cover to meet up with where we started.
Once we’ve gone all the way round the seat, then it’s a chance to inspect what needs trimming off before we fit the final staples. There’s not much to remove, but it needs taking off otherwise the seat will not sit correctly on the frame rails.
Talking a craft knife, we trim away the excess material carefully to finish off the fitting and add and additional staples needed. Care is needed here as it’s a complete pain if you accidentally slash the new cover!
And that’s the job done – thanks to Mitch Boyland at Technical Solutions in Bristol for acting as both photographic model and expert upholsterer.
Mitch normally spends his time expertly fettling dirt bike suspension and engines, but he’s a pretty good seat cover fitter too! Cheers matey!
2 comments on “Dirtbike seat recovering -The easy way”
I’m waiting for my Seat Concepts replacement pad and cover for the seat of my ’05 WR450 which feels like if was made of marble. Your article is quite timely and very informative. Thank you!
Glad to hear we’ve helped Robert