With all of the technology available in today’s automotive industry, it is not an uncommon question as to whether or not a motorcycle uses a key. Without a unique key, anyone could take off on your bike whenever they chose! Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that no two bikes are created equal - not even in the world of keys.
The majority of motorcycles on the road today use a version of a regular key as we know it. A key may or may not be “chipped,” which means that the key has a small computer chip embedded in it as an extra security measure. Some modern motorcycles have a keyless start with a key fob, which transmits an identification signal to the electronic system to start the engine.
Unless you are riding a much older/vintage motorcycle, which may still have a kick start, expect that you will need to carry a physical key or key fob to get going. Nevertheless, each make and model of motorcycle presents its own set of start-up options, security features, and key recovery. For more common questions related to motorcycle keys, read below.
Can You Start a Motorcycle Without a Key?
The answer to this question depends on the reason why you are asking it! There are tips and tricks all over the internet that provide everything from simple steps to detailed orientations on how to cross some wires and start up a motorcycle without a key.
- Did you lose your key?
- Did your key fob battery die?
- Do you want to avoid keeping track of a key?
If you lose your keys or you are stuck somewhere with a dead key fob battery, knowing this answer is critical. If you cannot call a locksmith or obtain a new battery at a nearby store, then there are some options out there. Websites like ">YouTube and online motorcycle forums can offer an endless array of step-by-step instructions and videos on how to hotwire your bike to get it started.
Some manufacturers, like Harley Davidson, offer a unique option for those who may have lost their key fob. Depending on the model of your Harley, you can enter a unique PIN code to start the bike.
The process of starting your bike without a key will depend on the make/model of your motorcycle and how “smart” it is. Unfortunately, there is no lazy man’s way of starting a bike without a key every time. Riders should follow the typical operating instructions for safety and, in best practice, start the motorcycle with a key.
How Do I Get a New Key For My Motorcycle?
If you have lost your key to your motorcycle, have a key already, and you need a copy or are starting from scratch - don’t fret! Getting a new key for your bike is pretty simple, but make sure you have the following information available:
- Make/Model of your motorcycle.
- Production year of your motorcycle
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Proof of purchase
Call A Locksmith
In non-urgent situations, you will need to call around and answer some questions and provide proof of ownership. Calling the dealership is an excellent option for seeking out a new key, but it’s typically the most expensive option. Try calling a local locksmith first. You may expect to pay anywhere from $100-250, and it may take as little as an hour to get yourself a new key.
Check With the Dealer
If your situation is beyond the capabilities of a locksmith, then a dealer will be your best bet. If you have a smart bike or an ECU with no key, no master key, and no fob - it will be more difficult. You typically have to order a new matching key set and ECU from the dealer, which is usually expensive.
Where Can I Have a Duplicate Motorcycle Key Made?
It is usually simple to get a duplicate motorcycle key made. The type of key affects how you do this. Some higher-end bikes like Ducati add a layer of difficulty with their “smart keys”.
Duplicate motorcycle keys are made by one of the following, depending on your bike and urgency:
- Home Improvement Store
- Online key companies
According to the service team at Moto Republic in Los Angeles, a standard, non-chipped key, a duplicate is made like a standard house key. Expect to pay about $5.00 at any home improvement store.
Chipped keys, on the other hand, can be tricky. If you have a master key, or a working chipped key, a locksmith or dealer can program a replacement blank chipped key. Expect about $100 or less for this service, and a dealer will likely charge you more than a locksmith will.
Duplicate Key Fob
Obtaining a duplicate key fob will likely require a call to the dealer and a heftier price tag. If your need is not urgent, there are some online options to check out. Websites like this one offer key copies made, or even chipped blanks that you can purchase online.
If you have an existing working key, smart key, or key fob, you are in good shape. You should have some duplicates made and stashed at home for when you lose the keys.