K1600 Seat Modification

I’ve put over 8,000 miles on the BMW since I got it in August 2012.  Overall I’ve found the K1600GTL to be very comfortable.  I like the position of the handlebars and have adjusted to the position of the foot pegs.  However, something needs to be done with the stock seat.

Initially I had some concerns about the foot pegs being directly underneath me but I quickly adapted to the new riding position and with the addition of the Illium engine guards and footpegs, I can stretch my legs when necessary.  I still think I prefer the feet-forward position of the Electra Glide on longer rides but the GTL is better than I thought it would be.  One thing I like about the GTL pegs is that you can stand up when going over railroad tracks or other bumpy patches of road.  With the floorboards on the Harley, you really can’t stand up easily.

On my 2010 Ultra Classic, I had the most comfortable motorcycle seat (Harley Hammock) that I’ve ever ridden on.  I could easily burn a full tank of gas without stopping or getting uncomfortable.  It was the perfect seat for me and even after 800+ mile days, I felt good at the end of the day.

The stock seat on the GTL isn’t horrible, but after about an hour, I start getting uncomfortable.  After 2 hours, I really need to stop and get off the bike and walk around for a few minutes.  I’m not looking forward to sitting on this seat when I head to California this summer.

Aftermarket seats of all shapes and sizes are plentiful for Harley’s but there seem to be very few options for the GTL.  The aftermarket seats for the GTL also seem to be rather expensive and require the use of your existing seat pan adding shipping costs and additional time to the process.

The main problem I have with the stock seat is that there seems to be a high spot running down the center of the seat.  This is the primary cause of discomfort for me.  I would also like the seat to be a bit softer – the stock foam is pretty firm.

I did some internet research and from what I found, it looks like modifying a seat is a project that can be done easily and inexpensively.  All you need is some foam, some spray glue, a sander to shape the foam, and a stapler to put the seat cover back on.  The DIY approach also allows for test fitting and adjustment to ensure that the seat is shaped just right for me.

Spray adhesive – $6.00
1″ high density Foam – $20.00
1/2″ foam – $10.00
Staples – $3.00

Harbor Freight Air Sander – $15.00
Harbor Freight Air Stapler – $20.00

Start by removing the staples holding the seat cover in place.  I did this with a small flat blade screwdriver and needle nose pliers.  Since I only plan to modify the front part of the seat, I left some staples in and just moved the front part of the seat cover out of the way.

Once the seat cover was, out of the way, I unplugged the heating element and peeled the seat foam from the seat pan.  There was very little glue holding the foam to the seat pan so it came right out.

Next, I removed the top layer of 1/4″ foam and carefully peeled the seat’s heating element from the main chunk of seat foam.

Reshaping and Assembly
At first I tried to just reshape the existing foam but after sitting on the reshaped foam, I still didn’t feel real comfortable.  So, I found a local upholstery supply company and went ahead and bought a sheet of 1″ thick foam to add to the seat.  The foam I got is pretty firm and just slightly softer than the stock seat foam.

I went ahead and glued a layer of the 1″ foam on top of the existing foam and then used a sander to shape the top layer.  After a couple of test fittings, I was satisfied with the shape and decided that it was time to put everything back together.

I set the heating element on top of the newly sculpted foam and then glued a piece of the 1/2″ foam over the top of everything.  This thin layer of foam smooths everything out before fitting the vinyl back over the top of the foam.  Fitting the seat cover took some effort due to the added foam thickness.  As I stretched the cover over the edge of the seat pan, I stapled the edges to the seat pan making sure to work out the wrinkles.

The cover isn’t perfect due to the added foam and slightly different shape but overall, it looks presentable.  The whole job only took about 3-4 hours which isn’t too bad when you consider that this is the first time I’ve ever modified a seat.  Sitting on the bike in the garage, it feels good.  I’m looking forward to a nice long ride once the weather warms up.

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