Kawasaki Seat Recovery
Replacing the seat cover on a 1982 Kawasaki GPz 750
Although we're not 100 percent satisfied with our results (we had a little trouble with the fabric bunching), our "new" 1982 Kawasaki GPz 750 seat looks great, especially compared to the tired old skin we started with.
While most of us might not have the skills to rebuild an engine or transmission, reupholstering a motorcycle seat cover is a project within reach of the average Do-It-Yourselfer.
In the March/April 2010 issue of Motorcycle Classics, we show you how to recover the seat on a 1973 Yamaha TX650. We chose associate editor Landon Hall’s Yamaha because it uses a retaining system similar to many other bikes of the period, with simple metal barbs stamped into the seat pan that pierce the fabric and hold it in place. Exercising patience and working carefully, we achieved excellent results with our new cover from Saddlemen. Frankly, given the somewhat decrepit shape of the underlying seat foam, it turned out even better than we hoped.
But not all seats are created equal, as we learned when we turned our attention to recovering the seat on editor Backus’ 1982 Kawasaki GPz 750. Instead of the Yam’s metal seat base, the GPz uses a molded plastic base. And instead of metal barbs to pierce the fabric, the cover is stapled in place at the factory. That didn’t seem much of an issue until we discovered the plastic base is too hard to pierce with a standard stapler. Using an electric stapler and a heavy duty hand stapler, we could get staples to just pierce into the seat base, but never far enough to securely hold the fabric. What to do?
Looking for a way to nail the fabric in place, we played with a couple of ideas, including fabric tack strips for furniture. Eventually, we decided to simply screw the fabric in place, using 3/8-inch #8 flathead sheet metal screws with finish washers. The 3/8-inch length was important to ensure the screws wouldn’t go all the way through the plastic, and the finish washers ensured the screws wouldn’t turn on the fabric, which would bunch up the fabric. Although not factory correct, it worked perfectly well, and you wouldn’t know the difference without removing the seat and looking at the underside.