It has been a while since I have done any work to the 1981 GS650L. I had a list of things that I wanted to do through last summer, but spent most of my free time completing a long anticipated screen porch for the back of the house.
With this project completed, hopefully I will have more time this summer for other activities. I got started today, while the temperature is still around freezing, with replacing the original seat cover of the 1981 GS650L. I bought the new cover from B&H Specialties. There are a few seat cover vendors mentioned on the GS Resources forum, but this was the only one that I found to have a cover for the GS650L. Here are the old and new seat covers with the old still mounted on the seat pan.
The seat cover is held to the seat pan with pointed metal tabs that pierce the leather of the seat cover. Newer bike are most likely stapled with a plastic seat pan.
The outer edge of the leather seat cover has a metal wire running through it to reinforce the leather once you pierce it with the metal tabs. It lasted for 35 years this way, but I was not very comfortable with needing to pierce the new leather cover as a tried to straighten and tighten the cover.
The only real issue encountered is that GS650L has the seat lock in the rear of the seat. The new seat cover did not come with a hole to access the seat lock. B&H customer service indicated that they do not cut the hole, but you would think that this should be the same with any GS-L seat cover. Nothing was provided to cut or finish the required whole.
Here I loosely fit the new cover to determine where the hole should be located as best I could.
It was a search to find a grommet large enough to finish the hole and not require purchasing a punch and setting tool for hopefully a one time operation. I found some one-inch diameter plastic curtain grommets that snap together by hand that did the trick.
I warmed up the new leather with my wife’s hair dryer to stretch it onto the seat pan. It seemed that the new cover was cut a bit oversize and I didn’t want to pierce the leather outside of the wire reinforced strip, so I did my best to get it tight and avoid wrinkles, but would have liked to be able to get it a bit tighter.
I did not use any adhesive when installing the new cover. We will see how it holds up in use, but it looks much better now without black duct tape holding it together.
Now to keep fine tuning the mechanicals and clean up the paint and chrome work.