If you’ve ever lost your motorcycle key and don’t have a back-up, you’ll know how expensive modern keys can be to replace.
Many modern motorcycle keys now have a security code for the ignition immobiliser. It can be etched on the key itself, written down on purchase documentation or owner’s manual, stamped on a card or engraved on a metal tab attached to the key.
If you lose your keys and have the security code, some bikes have an emergency contingency for starting your bike, usually using a series of controls on the indicators or other controls.
A new key could only cost about $50. However, the security fob can cost several hundred dollars.
Harley remote key fob
But if you lose the keys and your security code, you could face thousands of dollars to get a new ignition security system and sometimes the ECU as well!
If you are buying brand new, you will get two sets of keys and/or fobs plus a pin code.
Immediately put your pin code in your phone along with your VIN (vehicle identification number) and keep a copy with your spare key at home in a safe place.
If you buy a bike second-hand, always ensure you get the back-up set of keys. If they say they lost them, be suspicious as they could be planning to visit your place and reclaim their bike in the middle of the night!
Older bikes without immobilisers will have a key code on the ignition cylinder which you will have to pry out. If you can’t remove the ignition cylinder, try the seat lock, fuel tank or steering lock as they should be the same.
A locksmith should be able to replicate a key based on that code for a reasonably small fee.
If you can’t find the code or it’s rusted off, call an automotive locksmith.
They may still be able to help you based on the model details, so long as you have proof of ownership.
If you have a pre-immobiliser bike and only one key, it’s a good idea to get a spare cut from that key. Again, it’s cheap insurance.
Keep it in a safe place at home and maybe get a third key that you keep in your wallet or jacket.
The best way to avoid any of the above costly problems is to never lose your keys.
Many riders, including myself, forget to take their keys out of the bike when they park.
That’s because there is so much to do when you stop: Kill switch, side stand, glasses, helmet, gloves, etc. It’s easy to forget to take out your key.
Thieves have been known to steal motorcycles with the keys still in them.
It’s not only dumb to leave your keys in your bike, but also illegal in some states with fines up to more than $100. I’ve seen cops fining riders who are more than 3m from their bike with the key still in it!
So get into a routine when you get off your bike: take out the key first.
Also, put your key in exactly the same pocket of your jacket or pants every time you get off the bike. Make sure it’s a secure pocket with a zip.
Keep a spare key with your vehicle ownership records at home in a safe place. Maybe keep a third set in another place or in your wallet or jacket. Never “hide” a spare key on your bike.
Thieves are not that stupid. They will look under the seat and fenders, etc for zip-tied spare keys.
You can also buy a “tile” which goes on your keyring and pairs via Bluetooth to your phone to show you where your keys are.
They cost from about $20 to about $100. Obviously, the more you pay, the more reliable they are.
Most are made of plastic so they won’t scratch your bike. However, you can get keyrings with covers to protect your bike.
There are now more hi-tech options that will even track your bike on an app so you know where you parked it in case you forgot or it’s stolen!
But make sure it’s waterproof like the BlaqWold key tracker which costs $24.99. You can use it for a lot of other uses, as well.
As we said, thieves usually aren’t stupid and will identify these trackers and remove them, but at least you will be notified if your bike has been stolen.
Sometimes keys can get bent or damaged and won’t turn in the ignition.
A locksmith may be able to fix that or replicate the key.
But first try white graphite powder in the ignition barrel.