Step 1: remove seat cover from seat.
The cover was stapled on at the factory. The seat consists of a plastic form with a removable polyurethane foam insert over it, not attached; the cloth-backed vinyl seat cover keeps it all together and it's held in place with staples.
This is not a bad thing; in fact that's how 90% of all upholstery is done. The cloth or vinyl outer layer is usually held on with staples or hog rings or some combination; occasionally this mechanical fastening is aided with spray adhesive. Watch the car shows on Spike TV; when they do custom upholstery, most of the time they're using staple guns and spray adhesive to do the final assembly.
Having seen it done once or twice, I didn't feel too apprehensive about my ability to put the thing back together once I was finished. I've seen it done, and it's not advanced engineering, rocket science, or brain surgery. (And only one of those three have I not done, anyway, so WTF.)
A small screwdriver served to pry the staples out, and the stubborn ones only required a little more work with needle-nosed pliers to remove. After a few minutes' steady and patient work I had the cover off the seat.
Seeing that it was indeed cloth-backed vinyl (I was not surprised by this) I went to get the patch material, and managed to get two 5" square patches for under $3 with tax.
There, I stalled. I made some grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches, then played WoW for a few hours; when the power failed (for about 2 minutes) because of a passing thunderstorm I decided I'd log out of WoW and work on the seat.
Step 2: iron patch on to cloth side of seat cover to close the rip.
It took me longer to go downstairs, get the iron and ironing board, and then evict the stupid cat from the basement than it did for me to iron that patch on. I just used an entire 5" squrare patch, putting it diagonally over the tear so that it had plenty of material on either side to hold the thing together.
I used some duct tape to hold the rip closed while I did, which was a mistake because the iron melted the adhesive and made it transfer to the vinyl. But I was able to get it off with isopropyl alcohol, a washcloth, and elbow grease.
There was also a cut in the vinyl near the front edge of the cover, where it sits against the tank. A corner snipped off the remaining patch was enough to repair that one. The edge of the vinyl--which, when the thing is assembled, is out of sight under the seat anyway--got a bit melted and messed up. It's a minor thing and it shouldn't have any effect on how the seat holds together once I reassemble it.
Step 3: reassembly.
So--the repair to the cover complete--I dug out my staple gun in order to reassemble everything.
Of course it didn't work.
The staples are bending rather than penetrating the hard plastic base of the seat. I don't know if it's the staples or the staple gun that's the problem, but if I had to guess I'd say it's the former. The gun seems to have enough oomph to drive the staples into the plastic, but the staples themselves are too flimsy and not sharp enough. These were the staples that came with the $7 Harbor Freight staple gun I'm using to try to drive them, so it's not terribly surprising, but it is annoying.
So tomorrow I'll go to the hardware store and see about getting some other staples which--hopefully--will be better suited to the task. Then I can put the bike back together and maybe ride it, if the weather cooperates.
Well, no one said it would be easy.