Mechanic: Alex “Country” Ewing
By Dan Worley, photos by Garth Milan
It’s common nowadays to see freestyle goons with shaved seats and huge holes cut out of their rides in the strangest places. With all of the new tricks being pulled, a lowered seat seems very practical in FMX. Not quite so obvious is their application in the world of racing, but in reality, shaved foam is just as prevalent at the racetrack as it is at the Mulisha compound.
Seat foam tailored specifically for your exact height can make a huge impact on the ergonomics of your ride. RC has been running lowered seats forever, and like him many shorter riders also lower their stock foam. Most cite the fact that when the bike decides to kick, it hits them a lot earlier with high foam. Whatever your reason for making the chop, modifying your seat can make a huge difference in cornering, whoop sections, and overall confidence on the bike.
Paul Carpenter’s mechanic Alex Ewing came down to show us how he slams Paul’s KXF250. Paul was a little unlucky in the height department, living proof that coffee does stunt your growth. Paul prefers his seat lowered 14mm from the stock height. The factory teams customize every bike to accommodate their riders’ every desire. Mechanics of today have become professional upholsterers on the side when they’re not busy building race motors.
Our mechanic Alex was brought up in a small desert town in the middle of nowhere, mastering the blades of a carving knife through years of practice on fresh road kill. For this month’s Race Shop, TWMX decided to have the expert bladesman share all of his treasured secrets with you (about shaving seats, not dicing possums). So break into your wife’s or mother’s kitchen supplies and get ready to ride low.
Step 1) Remove the seat from your ride. Take off the seat cover using a small, flat-blade screwdriver and pliers to pull the staples out.
Step2) Now it’s time to decide how far you want to slam your ride; whether you crave a more comfortable riding position or a can-can set up, the choice is yours. It is a good idea to use a black Sharpie to draw out the area that needs to be cut out. These marks can be measured and used as guides while cutting for the rookie slicer. Alex has enough experience that he just free hands it.
Using an electric turkey-carving knife, start to cut the main part of the foam out. Take your time; if you take too big of a cut the foam can’t be reattached, so it’s easier to go back and trim a little more off later than to make a big mistake.
4: Step 3) Now that the main portion of the foam is removed, it’s time to finesse the seat back into a comfortable shape. The electric knife can be used to knock down any sharp edges and to round out the corners.
Step 4) To make life a little easier, Alex likes to use a right angle die grinder with a Scotch Brite disc to smooth out any sharp corners that are left. This will save a lot of time when it comes time to hand-sand the foam.
Step 5) The final prep involves some elbow grease. Using a long piece of 80-grit sandpaper, sand the foam from side to side. It can take a while to remove all the high spots, so take your time and look at the foam from many angles to discover any imperfections.
Step 6) Take a break, because you’re probably tired from all that sanding. Once you get your breath back, it’s time to install the seat cover. Alex starts by lining up the nose of the seat and sticking it into place with three staples.
Step 7) Move to the back of the seat and line it up. It usually works best if the cover is pulled straight across. This will help eliminate wrinkles in the middle of the seat. Once in place, use three staples to secure the location.
Step 8) Line up the middle of the seat. Pull each side down and overr until the cover is perfectly centered. Staple each side a few times to hold it in place. Use the graphics on the cover as a guide to keep the thing aligned correctly.
Step 9) Now that your cover is lined up, work your way around and staple every half of an inch. Use one hand to pull, and the other to run the staple gun. Remember, you need to pull hard so that the cover hugs the foam tightly.
Step 10) Most seat cover manufacturers leave the edges of their covers long to help the installation process. Use a razor blade to trim off any excess material. If it isn’t removed it is guaranteed to bunch up and make seat installation a chore.