How to Upholster Leather Motorcycle Seats

motorcycle image by Goran Bogicevic from

Although many motorcycles are works of art, the motorcycle seats can become uncomfortable when the foam padding deteriorates. There are also times when the original leather motorcycle seat gets worn or just looks dated and needs a new look. A new leather motorcycle seat can be very expensive but for about $50 and a little labor, you can have a new, comfortable and stylish motorcycle seat for your ride.

Remove the seat pan from the motorcycle by unscrewing it from the bike using a flat head screwdriver. Retain the screws for reassembling the seat pan later.

Turn the seat pan over and expose the underside. Remove the leather seat cover carefully by removing the staples with either a screwdriver or a tack/staple remover. Dispose of the old staples properly to prevent any accidents. Do not tear the old cover as this will become the pattern for the new seat.

Place the new piece of leather, wrong-side up, on a clean, flat work surface. Place the old leather seat cover on top of the new piece of leather, wrong-side up. Trace the old leather carefully with a carpenter's pencil. Put the old leather cover to the side.

Cut the new leather cover with very sharp scissors or a craft knife.

Check the old foam rubber padding that was under the leather cover and use it as a pattern for the new piece. Replace with a piece of new two- to three-inch thick open-cell foam. Trim the front part of the foam piece (called the "nose") down a little so that there will be less bulk when you place the leather cover in place. This will also make the seat will be more comfortable. Use an electric carving knife to cut and trim the piece of foam.

Position the new foam piece on the seat pan. Place the new leather cover, right-side up, over the foam and be sure to align it with the foam piece.

Turn the seat over carefully and make sure that the seat cover and foam are in the correct place. Begin by placing one staple on each side, directly across from each other with a staple gun. Be sure to pull the leather tight before placing the second staple. Continue stapling and pulling the leather around until the leather seat cover is secure.

Place the motorcycle seat pan back on the bike and secure with the original screws.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Tack/staple remover
  • Leather piece, approximately 1/2 yard
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Sharp scissors or craft knife
  • Open cell foam, 2 to 3 inches thick, 1/2 yard
  • Electric carving knife
  • Staple gun and extra staples


  • You may want to take the old leather cover with you when you purchase the new piece of leather. Since leather is expensive, you will be better able to choose a piece of leather that will fit your needs without paying for excessive leather.

    Consider adding a gel pad to your foam padding if you are looking for a softer, more comfortable ride.

    Condition the new leather cover with saddle soap, water and a soft, clean rag. Repeat periodically to keep the leather in good condition.