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Old 02-02-2010, 08:11 PM
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bpgxx bpgxx is offline
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Default Goofin' in the garage

Gotta admit: the ice & falling sleet took away riding options Saturday, so I took advantage of the downtime to get some good garage time in. Fabbed up a new, "more BPG-proof but we'll see about that" GPS mount, wired up a heat-troller for the heated jacket, and most importantly did a chop job on the stock seat.

I'm still kinda new to dirt riding, average height, and own a pretty tall bike (especially for a Big-4 250 dual sport). 95% of the time the height is fine, but that other 5% sure does cost a lot of aggravation and energy when I can't catch the bike with a quick dab and end up tumbling down a rocky hillside... ;D Oh yeah, I should mention I have poor balance and worse coordination...

With that in mind, I did some mods to my seat to make it lower and a little better for long road rides:

Popped the staples out first. I left a few factory staples in the front, this was to ensure proper alignment when I replaced the seat cover. Even with those few remaining staples, I could peel the cover completely off the top of the seat to have full access for the next steps.


Marked out a rough pattern for the desired profile:


Sawzall time. Some use electric bread knives for this step. Being below freezing helped, this made the foam more likely to be cut smoothly rather than deflect the blade. If it were summer, I'd suggest putting the seat in the freezer...


The sawzall/breadknife is great for reaching a rough profile, but it is just that - rough. Next step is a grinder to smooth things out a bit (kinda like working wood or doing auto body work - start with the right tool for roughing in and get successively finer). Again, I'm pretty sure that the cold temps made all these steps easier.


Dry-fitting, cut & grind some more (repeatedly). Baby steps man, baby steps.


Little more cutting, little more grinding:


Grinding got stuff "close", but not perfect. One last step - the belt sander. FWIW I tried a random orbit sander at various grit sandpaper as well, but it wasn't nearly as quick and precise as the belt sander (@ 80 grit, I believe). I had a thin (1/4") sheet of foam that I was going to use a a "final wrap" to cover up any imperfections from the shaping process - the belt sander did such a great job that this was unnecessary.


Getting closer:




One final trial fit felt great - time to staple the cover back on. A standard construction-style staple gun couldn't penetrate the thick plastic of the seat pan, so I snagged a pneumatic brad nailer/stapler from HF for $20. I do a lot of construction/trim work and always wanted/needed an air stapler anyway. Besides stapling, this thing also shoots the exact same 18-gauge brads (up to 2" long) as the Stanley-Bostich brad nailer I've had forever. The air stapler really made it easy to pull the cover tautly and staple with lots of control.


Like all the previous steps, it was important to take time and care when re-covering the seat. Nothing too troubling about it if you carefully stretch it into place and take small bites as you move up the sides, but I can see how seat covers get wrinkled if one gets into a hurry (I'm sure we've all seen pretty obvious "DIY" seatcovers before!).


Finished product:


WAY better, now I can flat-foot w/ both feet.

Also, the stock seat is kind of convex right where yer bum goes - as someone pointed out, the stock seat is like sitting on a loaf of bread. I actually dished this area in a bit - can't tell from the pics but you can definitely feel it on the bike. This allows better, fuller, and wider support for the parts of YOU that actually touch the seat - a good thing for long days.


"But how can it be more comfortable - you took away foam?" I learned this from an old-timer who made horse-saddles from scratch - it's not the MATERIAL, or especially the AMOUNT of material that makes a saddle comfy - it's the way it fits the customer's individual rear end (and the horse, as it were). This guy could make an all-day comfortable seat out of oak & leather - so by following those principles it was a cinch with foam (and power tools!) Frankly, OEM seat foam is so soft and spongy that a firmer, well-shaped cut is always worlds better anyway.


(the discoloration in the rear is just dirt from where my cargo net usually drapes)
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- Brendan

By road:
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