Since a picture "can be worth a thousand words," this page shows a bunch of seat mod pics. At the bottom of the page are a few links to sites with more pics. If a description of the pic is available, it's included. Otherwise, you'll see just the pics. Hope this helps. If anyone has more to share, please let me know by sending me an email. As I get photos, and the time to post them, I'll put them up here to help others.

2001 Suzuki DRZ400S

I love these bikes, but their stock banana seat is a killer for my tailbone pain, which has become worse over the past couple of years. For me to enjoy this bike, I really needed to make sure that the seat minimizes (or even eliminates) pressure against my tailbone. This is the only way I'm able to have fun off-roading on this versatile bike. The approach I show here employs some different techniques, and clearly shows how I created a "no contact zone" for the tailbone area. The stock seat was your typical dual sport banana seat, like this:

I don't have all the pics from every step in the process, but here you can see the layers I used.

Let me explain what you're looking at in the above pic. First, I wanted to flatten out the pitch a bit (though there isn't much required for this with these type of seats). To do this, I added some firm foam in the low spot towards the front half of the seat pan, right up to where the nose starts its rise. This foam is also used to build a base for a slab of 1/2 inch wood that you can see. This slab of wood — which I've since replaced with a 1/4 inch piece of plywood to reduce the height a tad — plays a few important roles:

  • It widens the area of the seat that carries my load, making sure the outside of my butt carries more of the pressure than the center part (where my tailbone is), as is the case with the skinny, stock, banana seat.
  • It improves the cradle, by expanding the area that carries load.
  • It provides a hard base for the foam on top, making sure that the seat has an extra-firm feel. This is important for tailbone pain sufferers, since it prevents the butt from sinking into the seat and putting pressure on the tailbone area.
The white-ish foam you see on the outside of the seat is "Great Stuff Big Gap Filler" polyurethane insulating foam used for house insulation. You can get this stuff pretty much at any local hardware store. It's a nice product to use to fill in gaps and smooth out the seat shape before wrapping it in 1/4 inch smoothing foam. I simply layed down a nice layer of Great Stuff in the areas where I had holes or gaps (e.g., right under the wood slap where there was a bit of an overhang), let it dry and expand, and then grinded it smooth to create the desired contour. This type of product is great for these purposes. However, I would not use it as supporting foam in areas where my butt made direct contact with the seat. It's very firm, will compress with pressure, and would not be comfortable.

I covered the wood with a 1/2 inch piece of closed cell foam that is typically used for gym matts. It's firm but supportive, rebounds after being compressed, and waterproof. This worked fairly well, but I eventually decided to put a piece of 1/2 inch firm open-cell foam over it for more padding (don't have a pic of this). It was a bit too firm I decided. You can see in the pic below the 1/4 inch smoothing foam, pulled back over the front while I'm working on the seat. When possible, I like working on the seat while it's on the bike, so that I can easily see how it feels as I make changes.

Since I didn't care to spend the money for a fancy upholstery job, I avoided cutting the vinyl cover by suing a fold in the front bend of the seat by the nose to take in the slack vinyl. It's amazing what you can do with one piece of marine grade vinyl if you take your time. If I wanted to make it more finished looking, I would create a nice, finished strap of vinyl and cover this fold. For my purposes, however, this is just fine.

2003 Suzuki VSTROM DL1000

I'm 6'4" and this is where I wanted to sit on the seat   —   basically, back further and higher than the scooped-out stock seat would allow.

The bump in the back of the seat, while it looked kind of cool, had to go.

The back lip, while it may help keep the rider planted, also hurt my tailbone area  —  a problem I have to deal with all the time.

Ultimately, I'd like it nice and flat, thereby allowing me to move back easily, and also to move front to back to adjust positions on longer trips. A flat seat would also raise the seat and increase leg room.

I definitely wanted to have the option to return the seat to stock shape, if/when I decide to sell the bike. Thus, the plan was to avoid shaping any stock foam. So, I first cut out a piece of foam that could easily be glued back into place. I would then build up as needed on top and around the remaining stock foam.

Sometimes I use paper to trace out the shape of the foam I want to cut.

And then just start to build up the seat using 1/4" to 1/2" pieces of firm foam that I had available. Spray adhesive between each piece helps keeps everything secure and makes the shaping easier.

Because I have a problem with tailbone pain, I made sure to cut out a section of an lower layer to reduce pressue on that part of my butt. Making the cutout in a lower layer of would ensure that the ridges around the cutout would be smoothed out by higher layers of foam.

I even "shimmed" the outer areas of the lower layers to reduce tailbone pressue, to increase cradle a bit, and to more evenly distribute weight. As you can see, I eventually removed more foam around the center of the lower layer. This gave the seat a nicer feel.

Each time I completed a "version" of the mod, I wrapped the seat in some headliner foam that I had available. I like this type of foam, since it has a thin layer of backing. This makes it easier to gently peal up without tearing it when I want to make some follow-on modifications (which always happens, until about the 3rd or 4th time).

I then wrapped the seat with some marine-grade vinyl that I like, and this is what it looks like. Sorry about the pictures  —   I'll have to take more. It's definitely not the prettiest seat in the world, but it's an enormous improvement in comfort over the stocker. If I want it covered in something more custom looking, I'll take the seat to an upholster, knowing that what's under the cover is just what I want.

2008 Kawasaki KLR650

Just bought a new 2008 Kawasaki KLR650. I was really curious to see what an enduro bike is like, and I've been itching to get off the roads for some of my riding. I've paid with fines and injuries for my aggressive street riding, and have to admit I find it difficult to poke along at the speed limit. Plus I want to check out some places that are beyond the pavement.

Of course, I was hoping that the new bike might have a stock seat that I could live with. Not! The KLR650 seat is flatter, which is OK since it doesn't grind me into the tank. However, it's thin (read hardly any "cradle"), and the foam is that firm, factory molded polyurethane that doesn't cut it for me. I drove it home from the dealers -- a ride that was about 100 miles. The first 30 miles weren't bad. After that, it became increasingly clear that I would have to do another seat mod on the new bike. My arse was aching and my bad back started to flare up as well.

For this project I wanted to make sure that I could get the stock seat back to its original look and shape, should I decide to sell the bike in the future, which given my desire to try different bikes, is a real possibility. The posts that follow show what I did. This was my approach.

First I marked the section of the seat that I knew would need more cradling and better cushion. I taped off this section of the seat. Notice that I also put pieces of tape on the body so that I knew where to mark the foam after I removed the stock seat cover.

I then loosened the staples, and used a pair of needle nose pliers to quickly pull out all of the staples.

Just to make sure, I checked that the staples were the standard 1/4" length 3/8"-1/2" crown

Eight minutes later, off comes the stock seat cover.

I put it back on the bike and mark the section that I want to widen and put in new foam. You can see the black marker lines line up with the tape placed on the body.

This is the piece of rebond that I'll work with to change the width of the seat. Just seeing how it fits, and where I'll need to make cuts.

Mark the cutting lines on the seat.

It's no wonder my butt hurts after only 30 miles or so.

Here we go, with the old carving knife. I'd like a Bosch foam cutter, but can't really justify the cost. This works fine for now.

Here's the piece cut out.

I'll store the original piece, along with the stock seat cover, so that I can easily return the seat to stock, if I want.

Any seat mod requires that you have good quality foam adhesive. It's absolutely necessary for keeping foam in place while it's being shaped, to bond/laminate pieces together, etc.

Because the seat pan is not even across the bottom, and had a dip in part of it, I filled in these parts with pieces of 1" rebond, and added some 1/2" 50lb polyurethane. I then feathered out the pieces so that they formed a nice, smooth, even base.

I then added the 2" rebond, marking the stock seat lines with tape. I marked the lines so that I would not make the seat too wide and look bizarre. Just wanted to use these as guidelines.

Using the tape lines as guides, this was my basic idea on how to modify the shape of the seat. I planned on tapering the foam on the front and back so it smoothly transitioned into the stock pieces that I left on the seat.

Cut the piece of rebond at the outside tape line -- actually a bit outside of the line, knowing that I could always take some off if necessary.

Also ground the highlighted area of the seat very slightly to add a bit of extra cradle. I wanted very little indentation, though, since I knew I'd be moving around a bunch on the seat when riding off road, and also because the seat didn't feel like it needed much extra cradle at this point for comfort.

I then added a piece of 1" 50 lb polyurethane softer foam to add a bit of padding and smooth out any minor unevenness.

Wrapped the entire seat in 1/4" smoothing foam. What looks like a ridge at the rear of the seat is actually just a difference in the color of foams under the smoothing foam. Actually, it probably would have been better to add two layers of smoothing foam to make sure that the seat was smoothed out before adding the seat cover.

Luckily, I had an extra piece of black, carbon fiber style vinyl. Since the temperature was cold in my garage, I put the vinyl in the dryer for a couple of minutes to soften it up, and then used a heat gun to help tuck it around some of the corners.

I knew this was going to be Release 1.0, so I wasn't too worried about some of the glitches I saw and felt. I've never redone a seat and got it right the first time. So I'll test it for 5-20 miles or so.

So... I rode the bike for a bit, being aware of how the seat felt over different road and riding conditions. I quickly realized that there were a few things about the seat that I didn't much like and would have to fix.

First, the seat pitched slightly forward, making the natural position a bit too close to the tank for me. Second, due to foam type and shaping differences there was a small ridge that my butt had to climb up as I slid backwards on the seat. Given the nice, flat, long seat on this bike, I wanted to used as much of it as I could, allowing me to comfortably find different positions relative to the handlebars. This ridge made this harder... so it had to go.

The areas highlighted in the pic below are where it needed some tweaking.

The first task was to take the piece of stock foam off the back that I had originally kept on the bike. Luckily I had some extra rebond around so I added this to the piece I had already installed. (BTW, this is why I suggest getting plenty of foam at first -- it's almost a given that you will want to make adjustments as you test your work; and these adjustments often require extra foam.)

I then carefully feathered the piece of 1/2" soft top-layer foam that I had installed. I didn't want this transition to create any ridging. Also, I smoothed out and shaped a bit the edging around the back part of the rebond foam.

Next step was to cover the top with a 1" piece of 50lb, polyurethane top-layer foam for extra comfort, and to angle the seat nose up a bit. You can see that I used laminated two pieces of top-layer foam together to make sure that it covered the whole seat. In the process, I also made sure that the spray adhesive was applied to BOTH edges of the 1" foam and that the butt ends created a seamless lamination. Done correctly, and using good quality foam and spray adhesive, iit's pretty easy to fuse two pieces of foam into one, smooth piece. The different colors in the pictures below are the result of tinting due to aging, but are nice in that they show you where the pieces went together.

Then I covered the seat with smoothing foam to hide any small imperfections, etc. In a case like this, since I did fairly extensive modifications, I probably should have used two layers of 1/4" open-cell smoothing foam or two layers of 1/8" neoprene. You can see the slight folds in the bottom part of the seat. These are fairly well hidden by the seat cover, but if they're larger they can be seen through the seat cover. For jobs that need serious smoothing/covering, a layer of 1/4" neoprene works wonders.

Ready for some more riding.

POST MOD REPORT: So far, I've ridden 200+ miles on this seat. It's WAY better than the stock version. I wouldn't say it's perfect for me yet, but awfully close. I could leave it this way for thousands of miles and probably be fine. I also may do some very minor tweaks; and I'm a bit curious to give a gel pad a try -- we'll see. Since I've had bad back problems lately, I'm a tough case.

After a couple thousand miles (not at once), I realized that the seat should be revised again. It was awfully close, it seemed, but due to back problems I've been having I was still having troubles with longer rides.

So, I decided to really increase the cradling, and increase the width of the seat to spread out the load further. This required a fairly big modification, which involved adding pieces of foam on both sides of the seat, redoing the soft layer that sits on top of the whole seat, and the smoothing foam that wrapped the final version. This is was I came up with.

Couple things you can notice right off the bat -- a) the seat is REALLY wide and b) I had to make a custom cover for the seat.

So far, I love the width, though for shorter riders it would be a problem. And for more serious off-road riding it's a bit high, as I'm not as able to get my feet firmly planted on the ground as I was when the seat was thinner. I could lower the height by removing some of the foam, but I'm going to keep it as is for a while. On longer trips it's a thing of beauty. You can't really see it from the pics, but it's slightly scooped out for better cradling and the front-to-back pitch is virtually flat, making it really easy to move forward and backward.

I first tried to make a single, flat piece of marine grade vinyl fit on the new shape, but it just wasn't going to go without looking absolutely horrible. So I pulled out the sewing machine and ended up with what you see above. Hey, looking at the pics it's probably obvious I don't know much about sewing. I know what a bobbin is on my wife's machine, but that was enough to cut and shape a cover for the seat without spending a penny. It's not even close to a serious, professional custom cover, but it's fine with me for now. If I later decide that I really want something spit-shined, I'll go the upholsterer and have that done.

So, that's where my KLR650 project is right now. Again, this goes to show that, if you know the basics of shaping and padding your seat, you can change it pretty much any way you want, any time you want.

And here are a couple of other pics.

Posted Somewhere (unedited)

Here are a couple of pictures of others using smoothing foam to add a relatively thin, extra layer of foam on the seat before re-installing the seat cover. The purpose is to make the smooth out minor imperfections and make the seat surface uniform before putting the cover back on.

This seat used an open-cell foam (used for auto headliners) for smoothing. Here's a pic that shows the modifications made that will be covered by the smoothing foam:

Here's another example that shows the use of smoothing foam, in this case to cover a gel pad installation:

Shared with (unedited)

The OEM seat is the devil himself. I was numb after a half-hour. Time to take a crack at modifications. The foam I used was bought at Home Depot; originally as garden kneeling pads. I was sick of the squishy foam used by the manufacturers, so I bought the hardest I could find. I'm glad I did! I cut out a large piece of the original foam and laminated the 1 inch thick hard replacement foam in place

I sculpted the seat shape using an electric knife and a firm circular wire brush chucked into my electric drill. Then I rode it for 3 or 4 hours, fine tuning the shape around the pressure points. There were a few voids in the foam due to cutting problems, so I used flexible home-insulation squirt foam to fill them. Worked like a champ!

I sanded that down smooth and put a 1/4 inch layer of regular foam over the entire seat to smooth out the surface prior to covering. As I have no sewing skills I took the seat to an upholstery shop, where a gent sewed me up a cover for $40. While the seat looks a little porky, it feels wonderful ! I can ride it all day without pain. I must have a total of $60 in the entire project. Money well spent. Now my friends have brought their seats to me for modification. I've done 3 so far, and all have turned out well. I've come to the conclusion that the shape is FAR more important than the softness of the material.

From Honda Interceptor Forum (unedited)

I've posted this on other forums but I see a continued interest here by fellow cheap bastards looking for an alternative to Sargent, Corbin, Bill Mayer, etc. This a short write up for the front rider section of the VTEC seat but the same can be done for the passenger as well. I've owned three cobins and two sargents over the years so it's obvious I think they are a worthy mod but sometimes money is tight, right? So.......

Sargent will sell a 12X12X2in blank of their foam for $25 plus shipping (foam is shipped in box of foam peanuts=oh the irony). You'll need a stock seat (duh), an electric carving knife or a very sharp blade, med. to fine grit sand paper, cotten batting (walmart fabric section), spray adhesive or some sort of glue that works with foam, and a staple gun (not a desk stapler).

Remove staples with a flat blade screwdriver or similiar from the front working your way about 3/4's of the way back. No need to remove entire cover which would only make recovering more time consuming. Determine the part you want to replace, mark it, and get busy with the knife.

Next is to measure, cut and shape the sargent foam back into the void. Take your time, measure twice/cut once, etc on this part. Once satisfied, glue in place. If you examine these first two photos, you may notice how little padding there is near the "hump" on the stock foam. I added more there which reduced the step a bit and gave me a little more "user" space. happy.gif

Add batting on top to mask any blems. If you're damn good at the shaping/fitting part, you might be able to skip the batting. When trimming it, leave enough to wrap underneath the seat to staple along with cover. I didn't glue it in place in case I wanted to try a different shape (I did) or need to make adjustments (ditto).

Recover, pull tight and staple. An extra pair of hands on this step really helps. While stapling, the seat base needs to reinforced on the backside by a rigid source (countertop, etc) or the staples will not fully go in. This will make better sense when you're doing it. TIP: leave seat in sun or use hair dryer for easier cover stretching.

I rate this mod as about 60% effective of the real deal. I've done a 1600 mile weekend on one and only got monkey butt near the end of the day of interstate droning; never an issue in the twisties. BTW, that tank bag is huge because it's holding two sweaters and a liner I wore during the much chillier morning (damn deserts......)

The better seat bases, covers, and shape design are what make the pro's that additional 40% better. This is my arbitrary rating; others make think this is just as good while others may rate it as not worth doing at all. Full discloser: I have a sargent on it now because: a) I got it used ($$) here on the forum and b) the red piping looks sooooo much better with my rim stripes.

Shared with (unedited)

What do ya do with a old pair of riding pants? You make a seat cover.

I was looking at re-covering the seat on my 77 XS-400 when a friend popped up and offered me some free leather to do the job.. Why not I thought.. What he had was an old pair of Joe Rocket riding leathers. We thought it would be funny to keep the pockets so I rolled on with that idea in mind.

I spent a day ripping all the stitching out of the pants getting it down to the individual panels. The layout was based off the delta pattern of the seat pocket and the limited shapes I had to work with.. Mostly long narrow pieces..

Sewing was done on a 50's cast iron swing machine (heavy sucker) we picked up at a yard sale for $10, We used a leather needle in the machine and 100% polyester exterior grade upholstery thread.. The machine was set to the longest stitch setting it had.. We also got a leather hand needle to stitch under any loose tails form the top stitching. The machine handled the job but it took hand turning through the areas with more then 4 layers.

The old foam was starting to dry up and erode off in spots form riding with a mostly missing cover.. I shaved off any odd lumps and skinned it with a layer of 1/2 foam to bring it back to a semi original shape.

The cover was fitted using binder clips to get the position and tension right before permanently attaching using the factory tabs and trim pegs.

The used leather is a bit rough in spots but I think it goes well with the un-restored look of the bike.

2013 Yamaha WR250R

What a great bike... but the seat is basically a tailbone torture rack for me. The thin seats are great for dirt riding - good leg reach, clearance, manueverability. For riding of any distance - at least for me - this shape just forces my tailbone area to bear most of the weight. The result - increasing pain, starting at about 15 miles into the trip. "Ain't gunna deh-it," as Dana Carvey used to say.

As always, I wanted to make sure I could bring the seat back to stock without a problem in case I ever wanted to sell the bike. As you can see, I started right off by removing foam to reduce pressure on my tailbone. I saved the piece I took out to make it easier to return the seat to stock. As it turned out, I eventually cut out (and saving) a lot more of the stock foam - see below.

Using pieces of 1" inch, firm rebond foam as the foundation I went to work to give the seat a major reshaping. After a lot of cutting and grinding I got it the seat flatter, wider, and with a little more cradle (by having the sides slightly slope into the middle section where I sit. I then added some 1/2" firm open cell foam on top of the seat to soften it a little.

I then covered the whole seat with 1/4" smoothing foam and stretched some marine grade vinyl over it. The seam at the curve in the seat is there to hide excess material and avoid creating ugly looking pleats along the bottom. The more major curves in a seat, the trickier it is to cover with a single piece of vinyl.

It's not perfect, but without an upholstery sewing machine it's a decent option. When I get the seat to desired shape and softness, I can get an upholsterer to make a nice, fitted cover for it. The seat is way, way better than stock and has allowed me to ride bike without killing my butt and tailbone. This shape wouldn't work for someone much shorter than me (I'm 6'4"), or maybe someone who wants to use the bike mostly in the dirt, but for my purposes (some dirt, bunch of street) it's great.

Links To Seat Mod Pics