How to Shave Your Dirt Bike Seat

Do it for the economics. Do it for the custom fit.
Just do it right.

I originally wrote this article for CRFsOnly.com’s form. It is a sticky on that site.

Since the original write-up I had taken photos of another seat that I shaved and incorporated some of them into a modified version of the article for this site. I have since made a few adjustments (last 03/20/2021) but I am sure there are some spelling errors or things that can be improved. Let me know if you see something that should be adjusted.

While this version does have the benefit of including current seat designs (low profile) and more details, the basic instructions are the same as the original how-to.

Get Your Head Straight

Shaving your dirt bike seat is a one-way ticket. You may be able to take more off, but you cannot put more back on. A shaved seat is a good alternative, or addition to, lowering your bike by using a lowering link or internal suspension work. I can pretty much guarantee that it will not look stock, and it will make your seat harder. If you have a KTM, the latter will not matter much as you are already sitting on a plank.

Shaving the seat provides a wider base that can be more comfortable than some stock width foams. It also provides an opportunity to roll the edges of the foam by sanding it for more custom fit, although you can do this without shaving the seat. The largest advantage to learning how to shave your dirt bike seat is being able to find the height that allows you to avoid tip-overs by being able to plant a foot, possibly even 2, on the ground or gain the additional room for movement you have been looking for without having to raise the pegs.

Having some additional clearance between you and the seat when things get rough is an added bonus. Learning how to shave your dirt bike seat is not for everyone and it can be costly if you mess up.

Before you proceed you may want to consider an aftermarket seat foam in either low, or soft. Durelle Racing, Guts Racing, and Enduro Engineering, and likely others, make some nice alternatives. I have personally owned seats from Durelle and EE. Both are high quality foams, but keep in mind that soft gel foams are heavier than stock seats but you simply cannot get more comfortable units.

If you are not interested in costly suspension work with the added penalties of lost travel and ground clearance, or, less expensive suspension options such as a lowering link and raising the forks in the clamps which still suffer the same lost ground clearance and can have a profound impact on handling, shaving your seat or a lower profile aftermarket seat are the options to be considering.

If you decide to learn how to shave your dirt bike seat there could be known and unknown costs beyond time, and there are no assurances that you will like a lowered seat. If you are working with an older foam, you may find it deteriorates or has de-laminated from the pan and needs to be replaced. While unlikely, you could uncover or potentially crack a seat pan.

Many aftermarket seat covers, especially the ones that come with the aftermarket seat foams, are not all they are cracked up to be and riders decide they need to purchase something different. If you are looking for a new cover regardless of the reason, you should be safe with just about any SDG or Guts season. Then you start getting picky and realize where grip matters or causes you grief, if ribs matter to you or if you can even tell they are there, etc.

If you are planning on buying an aftermarket lower seat but are just not sure if the lower height will be a benefit, go ahead and whack your stock unit down and see how if feels. If you manage to salvage the stock cover long enough to at least try out the new height you will be out nothing but time.

Should you decide to take the plunge and learn how to shave your dirt bike seat, take your time. It should go without saying, but you can take more foam off but you cannot put more foam on. Okay, technically you could add foam, but we will stay away from that one for this article.

Tools, Time, and Materials

This list seems a bit long but it is just basic items. Most of which you will likely have on hand. If you are comfortable working on things and use an electric carving knife, the process itself takes about 60 to 90 minutes of your time depending on how the cover replacement goes.

Note that I own a hot wire foam cutter and use it on other projects but the density of MC seat foam does not appear to be a good fit so I have simply not tried it. The electric knife is fast and cuts flat.

  • Power sander (finish sander is preferred) or sanding block
  • 120-180 grit sandpaper
  • 60 grit sandpaper for use by hand (no power, no block)
  • Flat blade screwdriver
  • Permanent markers, 2 colors are better
  • Hammer
  • Long sharp knife, or electric carving (preferred) knife – you could probably use a hot knife foam cutter foam wire but it may be harder
  • Pliers
  • Ruler, preferably something with some flex
  • Sharp scissors
  • Shoe Goop or similar flexible adhesive
  • Spray paint, cheap in any color, just not the same as the seat foam
  • Staple gun, electric, pneumatic, or manual with a strong hit is required
  • Stiff wire, aluminum tie wire is best
  • Masking tape (optional)
  • Electrical tape (optional)
  • Punch (or use the screwdriver)

1. Get Uncovered

Remove Seat Cover

Remove Seat Cover being sure to not puncture or tear it if the plan is to reuse it.

 

2. Top of the Pan

Find Top of Seat Pan

Find the Top of the Seat Pan using thin but stiff wire.

 

3. Mark the Red Zone

Line where seat pan is

Draw a line connecting the holes from the wire that indicate where the top of the seat pan is.

 

If you have a logo on the side of seat cover and want any chance of seeing it after you put it back on, you will need to mark its original location. The best way to do this is place the cover back on the foam, center it, and roll the side up until you get to the bottom of the logo. Make a mark on the foam indicating this bottom position, then continue to roll the cover until you get to the top of the logo, and mark that position as well. Make additional marks for the beginning and end of the logo.

You only mark one side of the seat when doing this. Marking the other side along with some explanation of pitfalls come a little later.

 

4. Cut Line

Tape for cut line

Some trial and error may be needed to find where you want the final cut line to be.

 
Mark the final cut line

Once you have the exact location, mark the cut line which is usually top of the tape.

 
Measure factory seat shape

Measure from the factory shape to the tape on one side. Use those values to adjust the location of the line on the other side ensuring a level seat.

 

5. Clean Shaving

Thin cuts in foam

Make thin cuts in the seat foam. Use an electric carving knife if at all possible.

 

6. Make Some Dust

Old style seat with guide coat

Mist only enough paint on to use it as a guide for sanding.

 

Sanded old style seat

As you sand the foam the low spots will still have paint. Don’t chase all of them!

 

Seat foam ready to sand

You can see from the foam slices on the left there was not much that could be taken off the top. This seat needs very little sanding.

 

7. Test Fit and Adjust

Test fit foam

After sanding test fit the seat foam and make any final adjustments to the height and main contour.

 

10. Round the Edges

Round off edges on seat foam

Protect the top of the seat foam before you round-off the edges.

 

11. If Your Crack is Showing

Foam crack fill

Score the area to be repaired with 60 grit paper. Apply shoe goop and the sanding dust and gently work it into the damaged area.

 

Repaired foam

Lightly sand the repair once it has dried. Note this seat foam went close to 200 hours after this photo was taken without getting any soft spots.

 

12. Cover Up

Supported seat

It may help to support the seat while you are using the staple gun.

 

Staple flat from edge

Keep staples flat and away from the edges. You don’t want them poking through the cover when the foam gets compressed while riding.

 

Secured cover

The fully secured cover should be even underneath and smooth on top.

 

13. Trim Job

Trim the cover

Trim excess material from the fitted cover using sharp scissors. If the seat has mounting tabs, leave enough material around the tabs to keep the cover from rolling up.

 

Install and Ride

Old style Honda

After photo of Honda CRF-X with shaved seat.

 

KTM 450 XC-W with shaved seat

After photo of KTM 450 XC-W with shaved seat.

 

The decision to rebuild the site from scratch was a decision to dump all comments that were on any article prior to the rebuild. While I am not aware that anything that should have received a response went unanswered, feel free to re-post if needed.

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