This is the seat that came on my fixed gear project bike, it was in about as bad condition as the rest of the bike and I didn’t want to reuse it as it was. This was the last part of the bike that I repaired, and was the one I had the least confidence in being able to get right.
First I took apart all the metal hardware and all the layers of the seat padding and vinyl, just to get a look at what I had to work with. The metal support frame, bolts and the red plastic piece that holds the shape of the saddle itself were all in good shape and just needed to be cleaned up.
I wanted to use leather for the surface for durabilaty and for the old style look. You can buy a big sheet of leather at a leather store for not much money, I got a piece about 3 feet by 5 feet several years ago and have used if for a bunch of projects like a guitar case, camera case and nail bags. Here is the leather I cut for the seat surface. Of course a utility knife goes right through this stuff, but these scissors worked fine too.
I wrapped the scrap around the plastic seat and put softening liquid on it. Then I tied strings around the whole thing and left it for a few days to take the right shape.
For padding I bought a silicone seat pad for ten bucks at target. It’s made to go on the top of your seat which is ridiculous and ugly, so I cut it up and threw away most of it.
Here you can see what is left of the pad after I cut off the fabric that is supposed to wrap around the seat and hold it on. This pad is still too wide so I had to cut it some more.
This pad is now small enough to just rest on the top of the seat and not hang down over the sides, which would make the seat uncomfortably wide.
I started to stitch the leather to the plastic seat base. This required a hole punched in the leather and the plastic seat base for each stitch, and it was a huge pain to do. This much stitching and hole punching shown above took about two hours. I eventually gave up and decided to use rivets, which are way easier to install and have worked well for some of my leather projects before.
With a Hammer, Rivet punch, 1/8″ hole punch and anvil, these rivets take only about 5 minutes each while you are also watching TV. These are bronze rivets I think, or maybe brass. I bought a box of them at same store where I bought the leather, and they were pretty cheap, only a few cents each. I used 27 rivets instead of the 300 or so stitches which it would have taken to go around the whole seat. Here’s the rivets half way done, seen from the bottom. This is also before trimming off the excess leather on the sides.
Since it was a flat piece going onto a curved shape the leather had to be cut in a few places, and I didn’t do a very clean job, but you can hardly tell from 5 feet away. I left the stitches in the back section because it would have looked ratty to have them sitting there. Also I had cut the leather a little too short already front to back, so I couldn’t just pull the whole thing back and cut off the holes. The leather piece I used was about 6 years old and was pretty dry, it didn’t stretch as much as I wanted even with the softening oil, which left a slight bump in the middle of the seat. And there are mistakes all over this thing, but the final result actually looks really good. It complements the old style look of the rest of the bike.
Not perfect, but not too bad either. The padding is not very soft but is comfortable enough. I think this project turned out pretty decent considering I had never done a bike seat before and didn’t know what I was in for. I want to do this again with another seat and make it look a little better, but I am keeping this one on the bike.