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Tracer 900 Seat Rebuild

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It seems I don't like doing things the easy way. I could just buy a seat. Instead, I am going to spend money on materials, then use countless hours of my time to make my own. This is the way.

I'm weird, because I don't hate the stock seat. It is the most comfortable stock seat I have had. 4 years and 26k miles later, I haven't done anything except the JK3D slope mod, to keep my boys out of the tank. The stock seat is not, however, all day comfortable. Let's fix that!

This isn't the first seat I've done. I started in 2015 with my 2012 NC700X seat. I added foam and reshaped things. It turned out ok, but I didn't know how to sew at the time. A local upholstery shop did the cover for me.



It is a messy process. Wear PPE and have a plan to keep things clean(ish).


The completed seat was pretty comfy. I did a 3600mi trip to run the PCH from Seattle down to San Francisco. From Salt Lake and back it was 7 days. Those were some long days in the saddle, and seat comfort wasn't an issue (rain on the other hand...).



When I sold the NC for an '07 FJR1300, I decided to try the Seat Concepts route. They sent the foam and cover, and I stapled it on. It worked pretty well, and was a reasonable cost. I did several rides that were 700-900 mile days without issue. 


The next seat I did was my 2007 Dirt Ninja. The stock seat on a Ninja 650R is horrendous. I removed most of the stock foam, added some back on, and shaped it up. Then I sewed a cover, and it was awful! Turns out, domestic machines don't like sewing through 3-4 layers of vinyl...



The seat was fairly comfortable, but not amazing. I bought a new, heavy-duty domestic machine and tried again. A little more reshaping and I ended up with this. 


Still far from perfect, but it looked way better, and was a bit more comfy. 

My buddy also built a Dirt Ninja, and he needed a seat too. I got to work. With what I learned to this point, I was able to come up with something that turned out pretty nice. The seat was much more dished out (he has a cruiser background, and that's what he wanted).



There were still some issues with sewing where the different panels meet, plus keeping a consistent stitch length in those spots was a struggle for the HD domestic machine. But the seat still looked pretty slick. 




Enter the Nakajima 180L! I picked this up for pretty cheap, and it was hardly used at all. Other than dust, the machine looked brand new. Usually these industrial machines have signs of wear in certain spots from hands always rubbing them. 


A couple weeks ago, I pulled the cover off the Dirt Ninja's seat, did a little more fine-tuning to the foam, extended the seat pan (I added a Versys 650 gas tank for +1 gallon, which left a large gap between the tank and seat), and stitched up another, much nicer cover. The seating surface is Sunbrella canvas, and I stitched the hexagon pattern in it. I was inspired by Blackstitch Label, a local leather worker who does seats and bags. She's on Instagram, if you want to see the art she creates.


The Nakajima beat the pants off of my domestic machine! It made everything much easier. 

That brings me to yesterday, when I pulled the seat cover off of the Tracer. I have been running the seat in the high position, with the JK3D slope mod. The plan is to put the seat in the low position, so the gap between the seat and body work is minimized, and build up the seat foam so it is wider at the rear (similar to Russell, but probably not as extreme). I want the seating surface to be the same height it was in the high position. I will have to fill the gap between the front of the seat and the tank trim. I'll extend the seat pan an inch to do that. 

I am removing the weird silver plastic trim that goes between the front and rear seat. I hated how my tailbone would sit on that if I scooted back on the seat. 


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Love it!  That's dedication.

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2015 FJ-09 / FJR touring bags / oil plug mod / Evotech rad guard / SW Motech bash plate / VStream touring windshield / Seat Concepts:  Sport Touring / Vcyclenut ABS rings (speedo correction) / Cosmo RAM mount

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On 2/3/2024 at 6:11 AM, 2and3cylinders said:

Where'd you find the Nakajima?

I found it in the local classifieds. I had an alert on for anything "walking-foot," and I jumped on it as soon as I got the alert. 

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I made a ton of progress this weekend. I should have the seat done this week. 

I extended the seat pan, both front and rear. The rear portion was unsupported where the plastic trapezoid thingy used to be, so that needed something to hold up the foam. It seems I didn't get a picture of that rear support...


Then I added a 1" layer of foam to fill in the base, and attached a bolster support of sorts. RDL use a steel spring support, but I don't have the material to make something like that. Hopefully this HDPE will offer enough support to keep things from sagging too much under my fat but.


Next, I threw on a big ol' hunk of 3" foam to start creating the the main seat shape. I needed to hack some material to fit in the gaps left under the bolster support too.


Did I mention this is messy work? :D



I find an angle grinder with grinding wheel works best for shaping. A flap disk tends to grab much more. If I had an air sander, that would be even better...

Finally, I arrive at a shape that I like. It has a slight slope toward the rear, rather than to the front like the stock seat. The front is narrow enough that I can straddle the bike comfortably, and the rear gives nice support for my butt!


This got covered with a thin foam to help hide surface imperfections. It still looks a little lumpy, but it will look smoother when the cover compresses things a little more. 


I forgot to get a picture of this process, but I cover the seat in saran wrap, then a layer of blue masking tape. On that, I draw out the seams for the different panels for the cover. I mark the centerline of the seat and then cut up the panels to create a template.



I am going to repeat the hex/honeycomb design, but this time it will be on a dark charcoal material with red stitching. I did a practice piece, and the contrast between the two really makes all the errors stand out! This is the first try:


The red stitching shows my issues too well. Stitches overshot, lines not straight, and the rows of hexagons are different sizes. That's a result of the stencil using the same size hexagons, while the pencil traces around the inside edge of one row, and the outside edge of the other, creating a variation of size. 

I fine-tuned my stencil for the pattern, and started the rear seat again. If I go really slow, I only make minor mistakes that can be corrected. This is going to take a while, but it looks much better. 






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So cool.  Looks like a fun project.

2015 FJ-09 / FJR touring bags / oil plug mod / Evotech rad guard / SW Motech bash plate / VStream touring windshield / Seat Concepts:  Sport Touring / Vcyclenut ABS rings (speedo correction) / Cosmo RAM mount

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16 hours ago, draco_1967 said:

I'm not sure I could charge enough for the seats to make it worth it 😅

I get that by the look of what needs to be done from your photos.  Not to mention the mess created in shaping the foam.

Having said that, I take my hat off to you for having a crack.  And you can only get more proficient with time and practice. 👍👍👍

In 6 to 12 months time we'll all be buying seats from the 'draco custom seat build company'. 😉.

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It is finished! I was able to finish sewing the cover over the last few evenings. The Nakajima started acting up as I was sewing the red top stitch (of course, that is the most contrasting, visible, and unfixable part! 🤬). Skipped stitches, and occasional broken threads made for a really frustrating evening yesterday. Usually, if the machine is doing something bad, it's user error. This time, I missed one of the little thread keepers when I rethreaded the machine. Too much slack was causing the thread to get caught in the hook at the wrong time. After I threaded the machine properly, it worked like a dream. Too late to fix a few mistakes, sadly. I got a few wrinkles when installing the cover at the back of the seat.

Overall, I am very happy with how it turned out. It looks pretty good, and it is comfortable. There are two down sides to it: 1) the width makes it a little more challenging to flat-foot (I don't mind much), and 2) the Sunbrella fabric does not have much friction to it. At least when I'm wearing my Aerostich, if I brake hard, I slide forward. The seat is dished out and definitely slopes away from the tank, but with the front end dropping and the binders grabbing, momentum pushes me forward. It's not ideal, but really only a problem on hard, unexpected stops. If I squeeze the tank and am prepared. I don't slide. I think when I am wearing my Kevlar jeans, it won't be as big of an issue either. There seems to be more friction between the fabric and denim/cotton blends than the slicker Cordura. 







I am looking forward to putting it to the test next weekend. I'm riding out to California for a long weekend.

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Nice work , I tweaked a few seats on my previous bikes but nothing like this . On my roadstar 1600 i made a completly new seat with a hand stitcher . And the feeling that you did it yourself is priceless. 

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I did not have the patience to work on my seat. I found the original seat on my 2021 Tracer 9 GT to be supremely Uncomfortable. Possibly because I am not used to sitting bolt upright on a bike with almost all my weight on my butt.

I tried the Yamaha comfort seat and it was not much better. 

Then I called Seth Lamm of Day Long Seats. Sent him the original seat which he totally rebuilt. What he created was the most comfortable motorcycle seat I have ever sat on. And it totally eliminates the issue of the rider sliding forward on the stock Yamaha seat which slopes down towards the front.

Unfortunately I took on more work responsibilities, eliminating any time for long distance touring. I sold the bike and held back the seat which I am now going to offer up for sale.


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