Many customers have asked what I could do to make their motorcycle and scooter seats more comfortable. I’ve always recommended installing a gel pad – which only measures ½” thick, but feels like a couple inches of foam.
There are two ways to do this job – depending on a customer’s preference and the amount of comfort desired.
The first and more comfortable option is to glue a gel pad directly over a seat’s bare foam cushion. However, this tends to give seats a thicker look that many customers don’t like.
The second option is to cut out a section of a seat’s foam and replace it with a gel pad. While this keeps the seat’s original profile, it’s the less comfortable option.
Both, however, are definitely more comfortable than no gel pad at all.
I recently installed a gel pad using the second option. Here’s how I did it:
After stripping the seat’s cover, I marked the cushion’s center and outlined the section where I wanted to install the gel pad. Install the gel pad where the customer feels the most discomfort.
Using a sharp razor blade, I cut out the section where the gel pad would be placed.
I drew a line on all sides of the cut section measuring ½” from the bottom. Discarding the bottom section and using the top enables me to keep the factory curve of the seat.
To keep the foam steady while cutting it, I glued it to a piece of wood.
I glued the top half of the foam back inside the seat, but only after tracing it on a gel pad. This guarantees that the gel pad – once cut – will be the appropriate size.
I cut the gel pad and glued it on top of the foam I just re-installed.
I cut a piece of headliner material large enough to cover the entire motorcycle seat.
I glued the headliner material over the entire seat. This ensures a uniform look that is free of bumps or creases once the seat cover is installed.
I then trimmed the motorcycle seat in ostrich-grain vinyl.
And there you have it, a more comfortable motorcycle seat!
I buy my gel pads from a Philadelphia-area supplier, George Shaw & Associates, for $55. I’ve experimented with other pads that cost less, but they tend to repel glue. The pad that I use has a thin plastic-skin covering that glue adheres to very well.
The installation process takes time, but isn’t too difficult. I like offering the service because it allows me the opportunity to up-sell customers who need a new seat cover, as well as attract those who are just looking for a comfort fix.
What are your thoughts on gel pads? Do you use a particular brand that you think is best? Or do you use memory foam instead? If so, what are the pros and cons of using one over the other?
* Naseem Muaddi is owner and proprietor of Delaware County Auto Upholstery – the Philadelphia-area’s premier custom trim shop.