An organized rider would always have spare keys for his/her motorcycle.
But like me, if you procrastinated on keeping a backup key, you are in deep trouble.
All is not lost though. There are a few solutions.
Here are your options if your motorcycle key is lost:
- Rebuy the key from the dealer using VIN or security code
- Re-make the key from a locksmith using the key code
- Change the ignition lock entirely
- Expert locksmiths can make a duplicate key
Let’s discuss each of these steps one by one:
#1. Rebuy the key from the dealer using VIN
For most motorcycle models, this is the right way (and the best way) to recover a new key when the old key is lost.
Why is it the best?
You are rebuying the new key from the dealer. The OEM outlet.
This is safe.
And also with the least amount of hassles.
It might not be cheap though.
All you need to do is go to your dealer and rebuy the key using your motorcycle VIN number. Or the security code.
In fact, for a few high-end modern motorcycles – this is the only way to start your motorcycle once you lost your key.
With increasing theft, motorcycle manufacturers are ensuring that the only form of duplicate keys comes from them.
So, what to do?
If you have lost the bike key with no backup, go to your dealer.
Explain the situation.
Tell them your motorcycle VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
And re-buy the new key for your motorcycle.
How to find VIN
If you are not sure how to get your motorcycle VIN here’s what you need to do.
First, a VIN is a 17-digit alphanumeric code that is unique to each vehicle.
The VIN provides identification info of the vehicle including – production plant, year, vehicle attributes, etc.
Unfortunately, the location of the VIN is not uniform across all the motorcycle models.
Different motorcycle models have their VINs at different locations.
But with some inspection, you can easily find your motorcycle’s VIN.
All you need to do is:
Look for a 17-digit alphanumeric code etched on the motorcycle chassis or the frame.
Look for the VIN near the steering head frame, front of the vehicle, front forks, frame below the seat, and near/on the engine.
You should be able to find the VIN.
Alternatively, you can also check your registration or insurance document to get the VIN.
Once you have the VIN info, go to the dealer to get the new ignition keys.
#2. Re-make the key from a locksmith using the key code
If buying another key from the dealer using VIN is not an option, then the next best thing is to make a duplicate key using the key code.
You can do it either with the dealer or with a locksmith.
Most bike models provide key codes which can be used to make a duplicate key.
All you need is to get the key code.
And take it to the dealer or a locksmith.
It’s not really that different from using the motorcycle VIN to get another key.
But not all motorcycle dealers have that functionality – to provide another key using the VIN.
So the key code method comes in handy in such cases.
The only thing you need is the key code.
And the locksmith will re-make the key using that.
How to find the key code
There are 3 ways you can find your key code:
First, the key code is sometimes stamped on the motorcycle key itself.
If you have noted the key code down or remembered it, things are easy.
But if you don’t remember the key code on the key and now that you lost the key, we gotta look for other methods.
Second, the key code is sometimes stamped on the face of the ignition lock.
Right along where the OFF, ON, LOCK labels are present.
Or on the side of the ignition cylinder. You have to dismantle the lock to see that.
This is not common though.
But still worth checking.
Third, sometimes the dealer or the previous owner will write the key code on the owner’s manual.
So check your motorcycle owner’s manual once.
Fourth, check the gas tank lock.
Or even the helmet lock.
This is tricky since you again need the key to open the gas tank or the helmet lock.
But if you can by any other means – take out the gas tank lock, you can see the key code stamped below the gas tank lock.
Once you get the key code, re-making a new key from the key code is far easier.
#3. Change the ignition lock entirely
If both the above options – re-making the ignition key using either the VIN or the key code do not work, here is another option:
Change the ignition lock cylinder entirely.
This is a costly affair.
And does not work with complex ignition lock systems.
But for street motorcycles and older motorcycle models, this should work just fine.
Take your motorcycle to the dealer or a locksmith.
Ask them to replace the ignition lock cylinder entirely.
The ignition cylinder has a code stamped on its surface. That should help the locksmith to find the new ignition lock cylinder.
And refit a new ignition key lock on your motorcycle.
Can you change the ignition lock by yourself?
If you are good at DIY, you can change the ignition lock cylinder by yourself.
Dismantling and removing the existing ignition lock is quite easy.
However finding the new ignition lock with the same code and refitting the new ignition lock onto your motorcycle is difficult.
And might not work as you expect.
So it’s better to sit out this one and opt for an expert locksmith to change the lock.
#4. Expert locksmiths can make a duplicate key
If all the above methods are not working, here is one last option:
Ask the locksmith to make a duplicate key using the impression method.
Expert locksmiths can make duplicate keys even if they don’t have the key code.
They take the ignition lock, use a blank key, and file the key to unlock the ignition system.
Of course, this does not work with advanced ignition lock systems. Which is more common in modern superbikes.
But if you are using regular motorcycles – street, standard, cruisers – this should work.
Is this method safe?
Make sure you are going to a trusted locksmith though.
Expert locksmiths who can make a duplicate key just from ignition lock impression, have all the means to delve into theft as well.
So, be diligent with which locksmith you go to.
And ensure the locksmith does not make another key for himself.
Look closely at how he is making another key.
Any suspicious activity, you must bail out.
Preventive measures – how to not lose the key
Here are a few tips to prevent losing your motorcycle keys and not able to start the motorcycle:
- Always have a spare key.
- Note down your motorcycle VIN and the key codes on your mobile phone. The saved numbers come in handy when you need them.
- Give the spare key to a trusted friend or a family member. In case you lose the bike keys, you can fall back on the spare key easily.
- Use a key chain or a key bunch for your motorcycle key. The chances of losing the key become lesser.
- Always practice taking the ignition key off the motorcycle before you get down from the motorcycle. This ensures you not leaving the key on the bike.
- Try switching to an electronic key system. Or buy your motorcycle with such digital keys. Nowadays you can find remote keys with fob, security code, electronic key, etc.
A note on motorcycle insurance if you lose the key
If you go for replacing your key with a locksmith and not the dealer, there might be some complications with your motorcycle insurance.
Of course, this depends on the region you are in and your motorcycle insurance provider.
But what possible complications you say?
Here’s the thing:
Many insurers expect you to either get a new key from the OEM or replace the ignition lock entirely by the dealer.
Simply making a duplicate key from a local locksmith is not acceptable to many bike insurance companies.
So, if your motorcycle gets stolen, and the insurer gets to know you have replaced your key from a local shop – you won’t be able to claim insurance.
Yup. Insurance companies are cunning bad-stars! 😉
So be aware of the insurance terms before replacing your keys.
A smart move would be to insure your bike keys along with the motorcycle.
Purely from a safety perspective, here’s how you should get a new key for your motorcycle:
Opt for dealer replacement using the VIN or security code first.
If this doesn’t work:
Next, go for replacing the ignition lock altogether with the dealer.
Go to a locksmith or a local shop as a last resort.
Before you go…
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