With the fairings and all the plastic gone, I wanted to reduce the size and lines of the seat and tail end. I knew however the look that was bouncing around in my head was far beyond my fabrication ability. I would need to be able to cut, weld, bend, machine and various other skills I was pretty weak on. So… reducing my vision to what I could realistically achieve, I set out to reshape the back of the ZZR and simplify the seat as well as sub-frame below.
I started by taping several lines as to where to cut and using Photoshop to get an idea of what might look best. My goal was to integrate a skateboard deck into the seat as well… and that significantly added to the complexity of the design. I had sourced a couple easily available Cafe Racer seat hoops from Ebay. One flat, the other bent. The bent hoop was very close to the tail bend of a skate deck, so I was going to try and combine the two.
First step was to begin cutting back the seat pan. I carefully peeled back the factory vinyl cover in hopes I could re-stretch it later onto the new seat shape. The tail foam and pan came off first with a single cut. I used an angle grinder for the pan, and carving knife for the foam. I was hopeful I could use these parts in the final redesign.
From there, I split the foam and shrunk the depth in order to take about four inches off the overall length. I then began cutting up the tail part of the pan I had just removed as well as shaping the main pain to somehow integrate them back together…
From there, I noticed both sections could be connected with a flat piece of material that would give me the overall length and profile I was looking for. I needed something strong enough to support my weight yet was workable with the tools and experience I had available. I settled on piece of half inch plywood bolted to the original shell.
With my welding skills leaving nothing to be desired, the reshaped seat was starting to take place. Most of this crudity would luckily be hidden behind the skate deck. I was thankful for this as my craftsmanship was continually falling well short of my creativity. I used some of the old tail cushion to fill in the new shortened seat profile. Duct tape to smooth and hold it all together.
From here I needed to stretch the old vinyl and trim to fit. I quickly learned however that even though the old vinyl was in decent shape, the sun had taken all of the elasticity from it. Instead of being pliable, it was rigid and would only crinkle despite my best attempts. I made a decision at this point to recover from scratch. A trip to the fabric store for some new stretch upholstery vinyl and I was ready to go. Well, after watching several videos on YouTube as to how to go about it that is.
I realized very quickly that recovering a seat like this looked far easier than it actually was. The profile of the horn, deep radius of the middle and complicated convex shape of the tail made the job very difficult. On top of all that, I could not find a stapler that would effectively drive into the plastic shell. After many swear words, sweat and minutes passed I still could not get the new vinyl to follow the contours. With some more research, I realized I need to use spray adhesive on top of the foam.
It didn’t have to be super tacky, just enough to hold down the vinyl and let me stretch into shape. Once that was applied, I began to progress… at least on the front. The tail was infinitely more frustrating. I simply could not get the material to contour without wrinkles or bumps. Once lowering my expectations from perfection however, I came pretty close and managed to tug, yank and secure the new cover into place. I would give myself a C+ on the final result. Not bad for the first attempt, and I may give it a second attempt in the future. But for now, it was on to the sub-frame rework which would be a test in regards to my limited equipment and welding abilities.