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Re-dying the DR650 seat (from blue to black)

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I have a Renazco seat on order, but it won't be ready until November. I've been converting my blue '05 to black, and the last major component was the seat. I ordered my Renazco in black, but in the interrim, I wanted an idea of how it would look, and wondered if using vinyl dye, of the kind made for dying shoes a different color, would work.

So I went on eBay and bought some dye and some cleaner to prep the vinyl.

The prep (Angeles Professional Leather Preparer and Deglazer) bills itself as leather prep, and on the label it says "contains mineral spirits and acetone". Opening it, it had the very distinctive odor of acetone. Honestly, I think you could use plain acetone or fingernail polish remover with the same results. You're just trying to get any grease off of the vinyl so the color can stick, and to whatever extent possible, soak in.


I cleaned the vinyl with the solvent and hung it from a wire from the rafters in the garage so I could spray all sides of it at once.


The dye I used is "Meltonian NU-LIFE Color Spray". I did some research and it seems well known for changing the color of leather and vinyl shoes. I read several seemingly genuine reviews from people who changed the color of a pair of shoes with this stuff and claimed that even a year later, you would never have been able to tell the shoes weren't originally that color.


The cans are small, and about $9 each or so. The can says it's for vinyl, plastic and leather. I wonder if it would be good enough on plastic to recolor plastic fenders and frame covers. I may at some point try using it to make my headlight cover black. I like my side covers white. I did spray the underside of my seat slightly and I'll go back to it and see how it handles scratches and the like.

You spray the dye just like spray paint. It acts like paint, but it is quite a bit thinner... you can't really detect any thickness building up like with paint. I'm sure it's really more like a paint than a dye... I don't think things really "soak into" vinyl, but I was worried that it might just build up and leave a layer that can crack, and at least initially, it doesn't seem like it will.

Here is the seat after two light to medium coats:


The seat is all black. There is no blue showing through at all. It took exactly one can to get to this point.

An interesting note about the Suzuki logos on the sides of the seat, especially if you are dubious about the idea of "spray painting" your seat. The Suzuki logo is just painted on with what seems like similar stuff. When I was using the acetone mixture to prep the seat, it smeared the white logo. With lots of elbow grease and a fair amount of acetone, you could probably remove the logo altogether (though that wasn't really the point of dying my seat... I wanted to make them black. I would have been fine with a simple white Suzuki logo).

The Suzuki logo has enough thickness that it makes the seat slightly smoother there, and you can barely make out the logo through the new dye, because the texture is slightly different. I think it makes kind of a cool effect.


The spray-on dye dries very quickly (though it was 85 degrees F when I was spraying). I'm pleased that it dries without any paint-like "tack" at all. It feels almost exactly like it did before I sprayed it. It is a bit more glossy than before. I have left the seat to really dry and "cure" for a few days before I ride it. I somewhat expect that gloss to tone down after some use, but I'm not sure. If it doesn't do it on its own, some really fine steel wool will probably do the trick.

I flexed, poked, and stretched the seat, and it acts like it was always that way. The dye stretches with the vinyl and just generally makes the formerly blue parts look and feel like they were always black. It doesn't have any kind of stiffness like you would expect from a conventional spray paint.

I did use a second can on the seat, because I wanted to cover even the existing black sections to make them the same glossiness and because my original seat had a few light scuff areas that made it look lighter there. Also, I applied a bit extra around the seam between the black and blue sections, to ensure that rubbing by my legs wouldn't wear through the layer of dye, in case it really is more like a paint. But after feeling it dry, it really seems like it's going to stay black and not get rubbed off. Time will tell.

The end result:





The harsh light in the garage makes the seat seem more glossy than it is (though it's definitely satin rather than flat like the original). It really doesn't look at all out of place. I'm happy with the results. She's becoming a right sexy beast.

If, after riding and rubbing on the seat under use, I start to see any weaknesses, I'll come back and report on that here. But my first impression is that this is a perfectly viable way to color your seat. Although going from blue to black is probably an easy task, I'm encouraged enough that I'd consider using this method to go from black to some other color, like blue or even yellow. The dye doesn't add any detectable thickness and there's nothing like runs or built-up areas like you'd see with spray paint, so with some careful masking, I bet you could apply stripes or even stencil on some kind of logo if you wanted.

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If anyone wonders about the durability of vinyl spray here is a photo of my XL 250 with a seat I sprayed. The first photo was taken in Colorado in 1991 about a year after I put the zebra stripes on the seat (hey,it was the '90s!). The second shot was taken 14 years later in Arkansas on the TAT. The seat still looks good as new. Between those times the bike was ridden hard and often in the dirt. When I finally gave the bike to my son last year the spray job still looked as good as the day I did it.


(that's not the same shirt)

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  • 4 months later...


I had my seat reworked by Creeper at Renazco... beautiful! No more owmyass!

The dye worked great up to the point I removed it, with one exception. On the heat-welded seam between the blue and black parts of the seat cover, the dye doesn't seem to stick to the vinyl as well. Riding eventually caused this little 1/8" stripe to gradually turn blue again. Hitting it again with the dye would take care of it for another few months, and I imagine it would eventually stay black. I bet if someone creatively used some fine sandpaper to 'rough' that seam very carefully, it would stay black.

Of course, the dye does nothing about the 2x4-up-the-butt comfort level of the seat, but I was pleased with the cosmetic results.

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  • 2 years later...

MotoSeat sells seat covers for the DR650. I just got the gripper style in black and it looks great. Travis down there is great to work with. My bike is '95, so seat covers were not obtainable anywhere except from MotoSeat. check 'em out. It seems much faster and easier to me.....

don't get me wrong, this is a great idea and your seat does look good. I just think this is more permanant.

Edited by willn69
need to give props to poster
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