Making your own custom Gel Seat. - article by Tom Monroe

I love the SV so much that I decided the best bike for my wife to ride (graduating from her GS500 with a lowered Corbin seat) would be my trusty SV650. The problem is that she's much shorter than I am.

She tried the bike in stock configuration, and felt that it was a little too tall for her to ride safely. I then started looking into options for shortening the ride height.

Initially, I looked at purchasing a lowering kit. There were a couple of options for dropping the bike's suspension close to 2", starting from about $100. I was a little bit nervous about doing any suspension work myself, so I checked with the Suzuki dealer, who quoted me about $140 in labor. So for about $240, I could drop the bike down 2", however this might affect the handling of the bike, and could not be easily undone.

She already wears boots that give her about an extra inch in height at the heel, so the next thing to look at was lowering the seat.

Both Corbin and Sergeant make seats for the SV. She was a little disappointed with the Corbin seat I bought for her GS500 (it only seemed about 1/2" lower than the stock seat). Sergeant's seat is made using Gel, and its claimed to lower about 1 1/2".

I also read about people having upholstery shops trim down the foam pad on the seat. This seemed like a good option, but I decided to take the seat apart to see if I could do a better job myself.

I started by removing the seat (4 allen head bolts), then removing the vinyl cover from the seat.

They are only Staples after-all... Just remember you'll need a stapler capable of stapling into plastic.

It took me about 5 minutes to pry out all of the staples. Once done, I discovered why upholstery shops can easy lower the SV650 by cutting the foam padding... The padding is about 3" thick where you sit on it.

It blows my mind that a thick piece of foam like this is so uncomfortable...

The foam pad sits on top of a plastic base. I started by cannibalizing a huge mousepad that I've been using for the last few years. The mousepad was very nearly a perfect fit for the top of the plastic base.

I used a commercial quality spray-on 3M adhesive to glue the mousepad to the plastic base, although from what I undertstand, contact cement may have been a better option.

The adhesive I used recommended spraying both surfaces, then allowing the glue to sit for one minute before bringing the surfaces together. Uh, yeah, that's what I did uh-huh...

Once I applied glue to the mousepad, I trimmed the edges with scissors  to match the seat, then used duct-tape to hold the mousepad against the seat while the glue dried.

Creative use of duct tape to hold the foam mousepad to the plastic base.

I let the glue dry for several hours... even though the can indicated it would only take several minutes.

I then temporarily reattached the vinyl to the seat (okay yes, I used duct tape) to have her test seat height and to ride the bike a little to try it out. With only about 1/4" of padding, the seat was not as uncomfortable as you'd imagine, but the vibration is pretty annoying. Plus, I think a rough ride would be pretty uncomfortable.

I decided to add a gel pad (this was basically my plan from the start). Both Travelcade and ProPad make extra-large raw gel pads for Motorcycles, and can be ordered on the web. I was completely unimpressed by the rep I spoke to from Travelcade. They basically told me that even though they had the pads in stock, it would take them about a week (or longer) to get around to shipping it, even though I was willing to pay for expedited shipping. Propad was a lot more accommodating, and their extra large pad is actually a bit larger than Travelcade.

The extra-large pad is $69.95, and its 15" x 17" with a 1/2" thick core. They also advertise the ability to trim it. Although I was able to trim it, its not particularly easy... the inside seems almost like a liquid, and very sticky. It doesn't "squish out", but it will easily gum up even really sharp scissors.

Measure twice... oh forget it...

To be honest, I was hoping that the extra large pad was going to be large enough to completely cover the seat... as you can see, it was not quite. But it was more than large enough to cover the part where it counts.

At this point, I was getting pretty nervous that I was going to have something that was going to look pretty darned amateurish. The gel was gumming up everything I tried to cut it with. I was hoping for a clean edge for the vinyl to rest against. I trimmed the gel as best I could, and then started reattaching the vinyl.

I used duct tape to hold the vinyl tight and in place. I then pulled the vinyl tight as I drove the staples in. My mechanical staplegun gave up after 3 staples. Even my electric staplegun was not quite able to push the staples all the way in. But it did push them in far enough for me to be able to use pliers to push the staples the rest of the way... also, remember, short staples... if you use anything much longer than about 1/4" long, you run the risk of the stapes poking through the vinyl.


The final results were actually better than I had expected. The gel pretty much stays squished in place on the sides, and presents a pretty smooth surface. Its not quite as smooth as the stock seat, but it seems to be a little more comfortable.

The side benefit is that the seat height is now about 2 1/2" lower than stock. My wife... who had been unable to flatfoot on her GS500 (even with a lowered Corbin seat) is completely able to flatfoot with the gel/mousepad seat. She's 5'2" tall, and the seat now is very comfortable to her.

Updated 8/06/03:

I've been working on a source of mousepads. The only one's I've found that are as big as the ones that CompUSA used to sell are quite a bit thinner, made by a company in the UK called Everglide, the Deskrut pad (There are a couple of sources in the US of this pad as well).

My wife has been riding with the seat for several thousand miles, and she thinks its great! The only problem so far has been that the gel seems to get really hot in the sun.

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