4Strokes.com Technical: Painting Vinyl Motorcycle Seats by Dale Wagler

XR400R seat being painted black

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 and Bulldog Adhesion Promoter Seat off bike and being cleaned Spray Vinyl Prep on seat Spray seat with 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. 2. Remove the seat from your bike (this is important) and clean it with a nylon brush and soapy water. 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. 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 XR400 seat painted black XR400R seat painted black XR400R with seat 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. 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. 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. 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.

Forum topic on this article: Painting Vinyl Seats

Credits: Article written and submitted by Dale Wagler. Edited and published by 4Strokes.com.

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