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Thread: Seat Covers

  1. #1
    aka Johnny Hammerlane bullet's Avatar
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    Seat Covers

    I'm curious to know if there is a market for a service that would provide expert seat re-covering at a reasonable cost.
    As we all know, there are many after market sources for custom made seats, Sargent, Bill Mayer, Russell, etc. If someone wanted merely to have the vinyl seat skin replaced and keep the seat in its stock shape, where would he go to have this done?
    Perhaps the seat was damaged in an accident of some sort, on the road, in the garage, or the slip of a tool caused a puncture of the vinyl. Maybe the seat cover has worn out and the foam is damaged and needs some TLC to make it look new again. Maybe a new color is desired.
    Where would you go to have this done?
    If there was a service whereby you could box up your seat and send it away for repairs and have it shipped back to you looking good as new, would there be any interest?
    I'd like to hear from the membership on this topic.
    It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it.

  2. #2
    Curmudgeon At Large Bobmws's Avatar
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    Almost any automotive upholstery shop is capable of recovering a seat in the stock pattern. Being able to discuss and see the work in person is a big plus for me.
    Additionally, OEM covers are available for many bikes and fairly easy to install.
    Bob Weis
    '04 K12RS - Hannigan Hack
    www.earplugco.com

  3. #3
    Registered User lmo1131's Avatar
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    If someone wanted merely to have the vinyl seat skin replaced and keep the seat in its stock shape, where would he go to have this done?


    If there was a service whereby you could box up your seat and send it away for repairs and have it shipped back to you looking good as new, would there be any interest?
    You have already named one... Sargent Cycle. They do excellent stock configuration "rebuild" work.

    Perhaps a definition of "reasonable cost" is in order??
    "It is what you discover, after you know it all, that counts." _ John Wooden

    Lew Morris
    1973 R75/5 - original owner

  4. #4
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    Local upholstery shop.
    Howard Edwards

    2014 Road King; 1975 R75/6

  5. #5
    rsbeemer 22600's Avatar
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    I bought a spare solo seat for my '78rs a few months ago. The seat had been in a fire and part of the seat cover melted/burned. The foam underneath was in good shape. I took it to a couple of local shops and the estimates were from $200 to $300 because of the shape of the seat (3/4 solo) and the time involved to do it. Everyone wants a easy job it seems. I had gotten the seat pretty cheap but didn't want to a lot more into it since I have a solo seat already for my bike.

    Anyway, I found this ad on ebay for custom seat covers, location, Thailand. I emailed the guy and he said if I would send my seat cover to him, he would make a pattern and make me one for free. He did not have a bmw solo seat pattern so was willing to do some trading. He said he would normally make one for $100 usd if he had a pattern for it.

    The seat cover he sent back was an identical match to the original, same color(the dark blackish/blue and fit perfectly. When I say identical, I mean it had the same raised pattern as for as lines in the seat as my old one. So, now I have two solo seats for my bike and not sure why, except that I'm a hoarder when it comes to beemer parts.

    His email is pitreplica2@gmail.com ...he goes by TC ..I think he still sells them on ebay also

    DW
    1978 R100rs MOA#22600 125cc Kymco
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

  6. #6
    aka Johnny Hammerlane bullet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lmo1131 View Post
    You have already named one... Sargent Cycle. They do excellent stock configuration "rebuild" work.

    Perhaps a definition of "reasonable cost" is in order??
    By "reasonable cost" I mean that which is both attractive to the consumer and profitable for the supplier of the service.
    It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it.

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    They teach upholstery at the state pen in LaGrange,KY. There are plenty of local places to get the sewing done all over the country. The labor cost varies a bunch as does the cost/choice of materials . I ha a Bultaco cover sewn by a local lady that did excellent work but had a high priced supplier as she wasn't privy to the web sources. She also wasn't aware of the fact that some vinyl was UV/marine & some not. Using the old cover as a pattern can equal an economical solution locally. Is the op trying to re-invent the wheel here?

  8. #8
    100,000+ miler 32232's Avatar
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    A local auto upholstery shop can do the job.
    Dave

    '06 Triumph Scrambler (Trans-Labrador veteran)

  9. #9
    aka Johnny Hammerlane bullet's Avatar
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    Yes but can a local upholstery shop, which specializes in kitchen chairs, give it a motorcyclist's TLC and attention to detail?
    It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it.

  10. #10
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullet View Post
    Yes but can a local upholstery shop, which specializes in kitchen chairs, give it a motorcyclist's TLC and attention to detail?
    I don't have a shop near me that could recover a seat to look original. If I had a seat that needed a new cover I'd be interested.
    I can think of two seats I wanted recovered and could not find anyone that could do it. I called Corbin on one seat and it seems like they wanted half of what a new seat cost.
    I have not seen new seat covers on the parts fiche from BMW.
    Lee 2011 K1300S
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  11. #11
    NC Piedmont Rider ncstephen's Avatar
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    Do a search under Hydro Turf. Also CeeBailey does recovering at a pretty reasonable price.
    I had one recently done at an upholstery shop. Price was a little above these and I am not sure the material was as high grade as it could be. So do shop around a little.

    So to the original OP question. Yes there is a market, but it might be small. I think most folks go to a custom seat when a seat needs repair. I find the OEM seat works well for me. When the first one wore out on my bike, I found an lightly used take off for 80 bucks. When it began to crack, I took the rattiest one to a place I had been told about. It was thought it would be about 125. It ended up being 50% more than that. I went ahead with it to give this option a try to support a local business. I wish I had gone ahead and used some of the other options I had found for around 125 when doing a search. The biggest down side for shipping it out would be turn around time. If I decide to redo my seat, unless I have another old one to use while it is being done, how long will my bike be down while the seat is off. You can do a quick turn around but then you also have to consider the shipping to/fro time. If you put a rush on this then the bill gets higher quickly.

    Good luck with your considerations.


    NCS
    03 K 1200RS (Black is Best)
    03 Honda RC51
    74 Honda CB750 K4

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullet View Post
    Yes but can a local upholstery shop, which specializes in kitchen chairs, give it a motorcyclist's TLC and attention to detail?
    My upholstery lady has(probably had, what with the price of natural gas & the coal decline in motion) a mainstay business of doing mining machine seat covers. The basic skill set is the same as a MC seat or the living room furniture she does or the church pews she was doing when I took her my materials & old seat. As to the vagaries of various foams,shapes & shaving it to a certain shape, that's where you get into the MC seat people & experience of a certain kind. My wife is an excellent seamstress but lacks soft furniture construction knowledge different from a MC seat. As to sewing from a pattern and fastening to the seat pan that's the sewing machine operation/cover material assembly & handling the fastening of the cover to the frame/pan aspect which is basic to upholstery work.
    Understanding how to take basic craft skills/operations & break them down is implicit in teaching vocational subjects-which I happened to have been taught to do & applied on the job as well.
    TLC is one thing,knowing how to make that happen is another. Just because your a motorcyclist doesn't mean you have TLC? Maybe your trying to say they are fussy about the finished job meeting their requirements?
    "Attention to detail" is implicit in TLC & to me, the same thing. Another way to say something about the mental approach to craft work is to say: a person can "know how" but be unwilling(or willing) to take the care to do the job right. So, you have the mental=willingness to do the right things & the physical=ability/knowledge to do the job right. WHEW!

  13. #13
    Registered User lmo1131's Avatar
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    By "reasonable cost" I mean that which is both attractive to the consumer and profitable for the supplier of the service.
    Ah, and there we have it. Truth be known, I don't care if it's attractive to the supplier, it's only important to me as a consumer; am I willing to pay for the service at the price offered. Profitable is none of my business.

    If there was a service whereby you could box up your seat and send it away for repairs and have it shipped back to you looking good as new, would there be any interest?
    The business plan you suggest is well established and well served; you've named suppliers. That certainly should not be construed to mean that there is not room for more competition in the field. But if you want to open an motorcycle-specific upholstery shop you must determine what your actual overhead is, and derive your hourly charges from that. If you base your prices on what others ask you may be fooling yourself. The marketplace will determine if your fees are reasonable, and as far as I've been able to determine, one must actually undertake the venture (have the skills, shop space, utilities, equipment, materials, advertising, etc.) to find that out.

    Just my $0.02US
    "It is what you discover, after you know it all, that counts." _ John Wooden

    Lew Morris
    1973 R75/5 - original owner

  14. #14
    Registered User lmo1131's Avatar
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    the mental approach to craft work is to say: a person can "know how" but be unwilling(or willing) to take the care to do the job right. So, you have the mental=willingness to do the right things & the physical=ability/knowledge to do the job right.
    From what I've experienced in thirty-nine years of developing products for people as a professional Industrial Designer is, having the know-how to do a project for them doesn't mean that they have the "appreciation" to pay for it...

    In response to a typical "But that only took you an hour to do!" reaction, I generally, and politely, explain that actually it took thirty-nine years to do.

    But they still determine if they want to pay the price.
    "It is what you discover, after you know it all, that counts." _ John Wooden

    Lew Morris
    1973 R75/5 - original owner

  15. #15
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    People ask me if it "takes long" to do a hickory bottom in a chair. When you explain that at a certain time of year you scour the woods for the right tree,cut it down and skim the outer hard bark off with a draw knife,cut off the inner bark, then cart the large pieces of outer bark to the shop & cut it in strips then roll the strips in wait for the time you have made the chair-THEN! you weave the seat. Their question always centers on the idea of weaving the seat AND never includes the time it took to become able to do the job, which isn't rocket science but who can do it?

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