How to Paint a Motorcycle Seat

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How to Paint a Motorcycle Seat

Postby 4Strokes » Sat May 14, 2016 12:32 pm

Painting Vinyl Motorcycle Seats by Dale Wagler
Are you tired of that old faded seat? Do you have a late 80's KLR with a color scheme designed by Kawasaki's watercraft department? You don't have to buy a new seat or new seat cover, you can paint the old one!

My Honda XR400R came with a red vinyl seat. I don't like red at all, especially not for upholstery, so I decided to do something about it. I painted it black. Relax, I've done this before and I'm almost a professional!

Things you'll need: nylon bristle brush, soapy water, towel, SEM Professional Vinyl Prep, SEM Color Coat, Bulldog Adhesion Promoter, piece of cardboard, and something to keep the seat up off the ground (I used a few empty soda cans).

SEM Vinyl Prep & Bulldog Adhesion Promoter
1) SEM and Bulldog products can be found at your local auto paint supply store (not auto parts). You want a place that caters to professional auto body shops.

Seat off bike and being cleaned
2) Remove the seat from your bike (this is important) and clean it with a nylon brush and soapy water.

Spray Vinyl Prep on seat
3) In a well ventilated area, apply SEM Vinyl Prep to the portions of the seat that you'll be painting (basically, all the vinyl). Follow the directions on the can, but don't worry, it's not rocket science.

Spray seat w/Adhesion Promoter
4) Prime vinyl with Bulldog Adhesion Promoter. Follow can directions--you want several light coats. Bulldog is extremely tacky and ready for recoat in 3-5 minutes. Ensure that all vinyl to be painted is covered with Bulldog.

Seat being painted black
5) After waited 10-15 minutes for the Bulldog to cure, you can now paint the seat. It's the same process as the Bulldog--several light coats. It took me half a dozen coats to fully cover my seat.

XR400R seat painted black
6) You will want to ensure that you spray as deeply into the stitched areas as possible to cover your previous color, be careful not to overspray in these areas; it is easy to do.

XR400R seat painted black 2
7) You're basically done now! If any of you are concerned that it won't look "real", worry no more. It will look exactly like a fresh piece of vinyl. Here is a close-up of the texture showing through the paint.

XR400R with seat painted black
8) Be sure to let the paint cure for at least 24 hours before reinstalling. If it doesn't have time to cure, it will rub off. If left to cure long enough, it will become one with the vinyl and will never wear through.

I've put 35,000 miles on a seat that I painted and it still looks like new. This is what the professionals do when they repair or refurbish vinyl upholstery. I don't have my receipt for the cans, but I believe it all ran around $20. One can of Bulldog is enough to prime a half a dozen seats and one can of SEM Flexible Coating is generally good for one seat.

Credits: Article written and submitted by Dale Wagler. Edited and published by

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From Forum Topic: Painting Vinyl Seats

Postby 4Strokes » Fri May 27, 2016 2:04 pm

Topic: Painting Vinyl Seats
Author: ZenMoto
Posted: 08/17/2004 01:41:10 AM

Are you sick and tired of that faded old seat? Do you have a late 80's KLR with a color scheme designed by Kawasaki's watercraft department? You don't have to buy a new seat, or even a seat cover can paint your old one! Seriously, above is how it's done. Cheers, Dale

Reply by ThumperTDC on 08/17/2004 08:37:43 AM
Very nice, Thanks for posting it. By chance can you get the stuff in other colors?

Reply by Admin on 08/17/2004 12:16:49 PM
Great post ZenMoto! Please keep us posted on how long the painted cover lasts.

Reply by ZenMoto on 08/17/2004 7:04:12 PM
Well, I did this same thing to the seat on my VFR and it has been 15 months and 15,000 miles since. There is still no sign of wear on the finish! :) It really does bond to the vinyl. Once it cures, it basically lasts as long as the vinyl does. Dale

Reply by ZenMoto on 08/17/2004 7:06:01 PM
Thumper, you can get the flexible coating in a nnumber of colors, though you don't quite get the range of color you would with paint. It is also very easy to mask off areas to create stripes or graphics, I just didn't really want to do that. There is a long list of the colors available. You can match your color sample, so any color is really available, but it's spendy ($48 per can).

Reply by DanDog on 08/18/2004 02:40:29 AM
Wow! What a differance. Your bike looks great.

Reply by ZenMoto on 08/18/2004 5:10:31 PM
Thanks Dan, I have a bunch of changes planned for my XR (parts already on order). I'll be sure to post pics in the gallery as it progresses.

Reply by xr-for-ever on 08/19/2004 08:55:50 AM
That looks Great dude, good info for future mods.

Reply by hilift on 08/25/2004 09:53:17 AM
I notice on the can of Sem Color Coat that it says it's good for rigid plastics. Maybe an excellent way to paint tanks/sidecovers/fenders! Great post Zen!!

Reply by ZenMoto on 08/25/2004 10:03:03 PM
Thanks. I was wondering about that too. I have black plastics going on my bike soon, perhaps I'll have to try painting one of my fenders to see how it comes out. If I do, I'll be sure to post the results here as well.

Reply by doubleodevine on 09/11/2004 6:36:43 PM
the seat looks great. please let us know what happens w/ the plastic. i have a 91 cr500 that has that fire orange gas tank and all white plastic. i am thinking about switching it all over to black. thanks, steve

Reply by campisi on 11/28/2004 3:58:12 PM
Nice job Zen! I like the black seat with red/white plastics better than the all-black bike but still it's an awesome XR! Did you use the Landau Black color?

Reply by ZenMoto on 11/29/2004 01:22:00 AM
Yes, I think it was the Landau Black. But here's an update.

It has already started to show wear. The red is showing through in a line on both sides of the seat where my weight compresses the foam. This was never an issue with the street bikes as the seat doesn't compress enough to flex the paint past its limits. However, I think the foam is simply too thick for the paint to compensate when it is completely compressed.

The seat still looks good, and you only notice the red if you are paying attention. But it is fairly obvious. :(

I suppose if I were going to do it again, I'd simply buy a cover (or a new seat). I may be looking into a tall seat, preferably something with better padding than the stock seat. When I rolled into Vegas at the end of the LA-B-V ride I had serious "Monkey Butt".

I suppose you can always file this away for using on street bikes, or other vinyl things you want to change the color of. I simply think the paint isn't up to taks with the amount of flexibility needed for the dirt-bike seats. :( Cheers, Dale

Reply by Pappy on 01/09/2005 3:01:01 PM
how much did it cost? couldnt u just put a new coat on? or will it reck the seat?

Reply by ZenMoto on 01/09/2005 8:39:05 PM
I think the total cost was around $40. I can spray more black on (if it ever stops raining) and it will probably be fine for awhile. I'm really not too concerned about it. It is, after all, a dirt-bike! :) It was cheaper and easier than putting on an aftermarket cover though.

Reply by TrailRiderXRL on 03/28/2006 11:33:23 AM
Has anyone else tried this lately with good results?

Reply by bpoulter on 04/04/2006 06:52:08 AM
I've painted my seat with spray cans from the local auto shop here in Sydney Australia and have had a similar result. IE looks great except for two bits on each side where the foam compresses and rubs. I may have put a little too thick a coat on here though and it may have cracked as the coats were too thick. The answer is in very thin coats and build it up slowly. However it sounds like an endemic problem with dirtbike seats. I guess I can always touch it up. Would be a good thing to do to tart up a tired old seat to sell a bike.

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