Get the cylinder code
If you’ve lost the key, and you don’t have a motorcycle key copy, there are many things you can try to get a new one. The first thing you can do is access the cylinder code. The reason we recommend you trying this first is that this method is the easiest and least expensive.
However, this is only possible with older motorcycles. Even if you have a newer model, you will still be able to replace the motorcycle key, but it will cost you a little more. So how do you get the cylinder code?
You will need to locate the ignition cylinder, which is usually found between the tachometer and the speedometer. The cylinder code should be located on the side of the shaft, right where you put the key in. The code is usually 3 to 4 digits long, and you may need to get the shaft loose to see it or use your phone to take a picture.
If the shaft is dirty, it may be difficult to read the digits, in which case you will need to clean it first. Once you have the digits, you can take this code to a local locksmith. Not all locksmiths can make motorcycle keys, so you should either call ahead of time or look online for a locksmith that does.
By using the code, the locksmith will be able to cut a replacement key for your motorcycle. The average motorcycle key replacement will cost you anywhere between $100 to $200, depending on the shop you choose. It is a hefty price, but it is understandable since creating a replacement is much more time-consuming than making a copy.
What if you can’t get the cylinder code?
While most motorcycles do have a code on the ignition cylinder, it is possible to be unable to read the code or for it to be missing altogether. There is no need to panic yet since there is still a method to get your replacement key; it’s just that you will need to put a bit more work into it.
In this type of situation, your best approach is to take the entire ignition cylinder off the bike and take it to the place where motorcycle keys can be made, namely the locksmith. Before you start unhooking the ignition cylinder, you should first do a bit of research and look for locksmiths in your area that can make new motorcycle keys using the ignition cylinder.
This shouldn’t be a difficult endeavor since most locksmiths can do it, but you don’t want to waste time on the road since there are still a few that do not. When removing the ignition cylinder, you will find that it is held in place by a wiring harness and two bolts. You will need to take the two bolts off and unclip the wiring harness.
If this is your first time taking the ignition cylinder off, you should label the wiring harness so that you can remember where everything goes. You should also keep the two bolts in a safe location since they are very easy to misplace and lose.
Once you get to the locksmith, the person there will insert a blank key into the lock and turn it. This will create an impression of the lock, and it will show the locksmith where he or she needs to make the cuts and files on your new replacement key.
Overall, the process is fairly simple, and the hardest thing is to get the ignition cylinder out of the motorcycle.
Replacing the ignition cylinder
If you can’t read or find the code on the ignition shaft and you can’t get a locksmith to make a key from the ignition cylinder, one option is to replace the cylinder. This method works because along with a new ignition cylinder, you will also get a new key that’s compatible with it.
This seems very simple on paper since all you need to do is remove the old cylinder by removing the two bolts and then unclipping the wiring harness. Then you will need to attach the new cylinder to the bike. Sounds simple, right?
The problem is not with attaching the new ignition cylinder but with finding one. To get your Harley Davidson ignition key replacement, for example, you will need to research online, typing the year, make, and model of your motorcycle along with the part that you need. In this case, the ignition cylinder. If you are lucky, you should find a compatible one on eBay or other similar sites.
This is time-consuming since it can take a while for the new part to get to you, and there’s always the risk of the seller trying to deceive you and sending you a part that is not compatible with your bike. Similarly, make sure to read the description carefully and get only a cylinder that comes with a new key since otherwise, you’ll be back to where you started.
This method is something that you should consider if you are not pressed for time, and you can afford to wait a few days until the part is mailed to you. If these three options don’t work for you and you need a Suzuki motorcycle replacement key, for example, there is one last thing that you can try.
Call your dealership
If you’ve tried all the other options, it is now time to call your dealership but be aware that this will probably end up costing you considerably more than any of the other three options. It is also more time-consuming. Thus, you should only consider it once you have exhausted all the other methods or if money is not a problem for you.
This is also the only option for newer motorcycles that don’t offer easy accessibility to the ignition cylinder. What you will need to do for this method is to get the Vehicle Identification Number for your motorcycle, and this is usually found under the instrument panel and on the steering neck.
Once you have the VIN, you will also need to get proof of ownership, and this can be your motorcycle title, registration, or the bill of sale. If you can’t offer proof of ownership, the dealership might not be able to help you since nobody wants to risk making a new key for a stolen bike.
Once you have the required paperwork, you will need to tow your bike to the dealership, where you will be supplied with either a Yamaha motorcycle replacement key, for example, if you own a Yamaha motorcycle, or a new ignition cylinder.
How to start a motorcycle without a key
You might think that starting a motorcycle without a key is a skill reserved only for thieves, but if you can’t get a Honda motorcycle key replacement soon enough and you need to ride the bike, this is something that you may want to consider learning.
If you want to start a motorcycle without a key, the first step is to find the wires on the ignition. Some bikes don’t have the ignition wiring system, covered and in this case, locating them is fairly easy. For models that come with covers that protect the ignition wiring, finding the wires may prove more difficult.
Once you have located the wiring system, you will need to look for three wires that are intertwined together in a sleeve. All the wires should be of different colors. You will need to follow the wires and see where they end. There you should be able to see two wiring caps that are usually made of plastic.
You will need to locate the one that connects to the bike’s ignition and not the one that connects to the handlebars.
The next step is to get the speaker wire that you will have to insert in the socket. Separate the two caps so that you can access the sockets and insert one side of the wire to the first socket and the other side to the second socket. For this purpose, longer wires are ideal, and you shouldn’t use wires shorter than 3 inches.
After you’ve inserted the speaker wires in the sockets, the lights should turn on. If they don’t, you should try to insert the wire in a different socket. Once you see the lights turning on, you should be ready to move on to the last step.
With the lights on, you will need to press the start button, and if everything goes well, the engine sound should be heard loud and clear, and the bike will start. This is not a permanent solution, but it can get your bike running if you can’t get a replacement key immediately, but you need your motorcycle.
Tips to avoid losing your motorcycle key
It is very common to misplace and lose your motorcycle key, but even so, it doesn’t make it less unpleasant. Losing your key can prevent you from using the motorcycle when you need it the most, and it can lead up to you spending a lot of money on a new set of keys. Here you can find a short list of tips that will hopefully help you avoid losing your keys in the future.
The most recommended advice among motorcycle riders is to have a dedicated area for your keys when you do not use them. You shouldn’t throw them in a new place every time. This way, you can know exactly where your keys are, and the other members in your household will learn to respect that space, making it less likely for them to mess with your keys unknowingly.
You can also try to place your keys on a large keychain. Not everyone likes having an obnoxiously large keychain, but there’s no denying that the bulkiness that this type of accessory adds makes it less likely for you to misplace the keys. It makes them so visible even in a poorly organized home that it becomes hard to lose them.
Another useful tip is to have a spare key available. You can keep the spare key yourself or give it to a family member or trusted friend for safekeeping. If you decide to keep the spare key yourself, make sure to place it in a safe compartment where it is less likely for it to get misplaced or lost.
Be mindful of how many spares you make since you don’t want to make it easier for your bike to get stolen.
Lastly, you can also invest in a small Bluetooth tracker that can be attached to your keychain, and that can help you track your key using an app on your smartphone. Try any of these tips or all of them, and hopefully, you’ll never have to say “I lost my motorcycle key” ever again.
Are motorcycle keys chipped?
In the US, not many motorcycles are microchipped, but this is very common among motorcycles in Canada and for international scooters and bikes. Some of the brands that use transponder chips are Yamaha, Vespa, and Honda. Ducati, on the other hand, is a brand that has all its motorcycles microchipped.
The reason why high-end motorcycles are chipped is that this feature adds security to the bike. You can check to see if your bike uses a transponder chip by turning your current key in the ignition and then checking for a red light on the cluster. If there is no red light, this means that your bike can’t take a transponder key. If a red light appears, this means that the motorcycle will need a chip to be programmed to start the bike.