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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

What You Need To Know About Motorcycle Key Replacement

by Ralph August 4, 2021

Based on the way many motorcycle keys are manufactured, there is a high demand for motorcycle key replacement. But what are your options for motorcycle key replacement near you? Do you need a motorcycle locksmith? We will cover all of this and more as we explore options beyond hiring a motorcycle key locksmith… Though that is our ultimate recommendation.

Which type of motorcycle key replacement do you need?

  1. Standard Key
  2. Transponder Key
  3. Key Fob
  4. Padlock Key


How much does a new motorcycle key replacement cost?

Modern motorcycle key replacement has an average price of $120. This higher price is the result of many new motorcycles being more mechanically complex and requiring programming or the need for key code cutting. As an automotive key, these devices share many of the same traits as contemporary car keys, using transponder chips to interface with built-in immobilizer units, and in some cases having fully keyless ignitions.

What are the options for motorcycle key replacement near me?

The top two options for motorcycle key replacement are the dealership or an automotive locksmith. It is rare for hardware stores to stock a variety of motorcycle keys, but you may be able to get a key cut, which you purchased online as long as you have a spare motorcycle key. For motorcycle key replacement with no spare key, you will have to contact the dealership or a locksmith.

If I buy a motorcycle key online, can a locksmith cut and/or program it?

New motorcycle key blanks purchased online can be paired to your bike by a professional locksmith as long as the key blank uses the correct profile for your year, make, and model. If the key blank is damaged or missing any functionality, it will not be usable for motorcycle key replacement. If you want a locksmith to be able to guarantee that your new motorcycle key works, buy from them.

Can you move a motorcycle without a key?

In most cases, a motorcycle’s wheels will remain free to move even without a key. However, if the steering column is locked, it will not be possible to turn the vehicle while you are rolling it. The motorcycle ignition key can be used to release the steering wheel lock. If you do not have a working key, rather than trying to transport the bike to the dealership, call a mobile locksmith.

Are there any motorcycles that have a keyless ignition?

Many modern high-end motorcycles use keyless ignition fobs. You can also use aftermarket keyless conversion kits, so almost any bike can use a keyless ignition fob. You may also see motorcycles with both a physical key and a key fob option. Check to see if your motorcycle already has a fob.

How do I find a motorcycle key locksmith near me?

Most locksmiths who offer car key replacement can provide motorcycle key replacement. The limiting factor will be a locksmith’s specific experience working with motorcycles and their access to the necessary key blanks. Because motorcycle locksmith services are less common, it is less common for a locksmith to prominently advertise these services.

Top Reasons For Motorcycle Key Replacement

The reason you need motorcycle key replacements is potentially going to limit the available solutions. When we get into the types of motorcycle key replacement, you can apply the information in this section to the replacement options and know what is and is not possible. You can also use this information to increase the longevity of your new motorcycle key.

Broken Keys 

The two main ways a motorcycle key can break are to literally snap in two or no longer turn in the keyway. Both of these problems are very common because of the metal used to manufacture motorcycle keys. The metal is very often weak in terms of brittleness and malleability. If you are using a keyless ignition fob, always check that the batteries have a charge and the onboard computer is working properly.

If a key broke off in the ignition, there is the added hassle of trying to remove a broken key from a lock. When you call a locksmith, they can handle removal, gathering the key code, and the motorcycle replacement. When the key is no longer working, they can diagnose the issue and provide a new key from the VIN (vehicle identification number).

Lost Keys

There are many ways to find lost keys, but once your motorcycle keys are gone, you will need to copy your spare key. If you have lost your keys and have no spare, you will need a professional motorcycle key replacement to access your key code and cut the key by code. Be careful when buying new motorcycle keys online if you do not have a spare you can use to visually confirm the style and profile.

Depending on the circumstances that caused you to lose your keys, you may also want to consider going beyond motorcycle key replacement. For example, if the keys could be tied back to your vehicle or the keys were stolen, you will benefit more from rekeying your ignition than getting a copy of a compromised motorcycle key.

Stuck Keys

Because motorcycle keys are made of more malleable metal, they are likely to warp and distort in ways that cause them to catch in a lock cylinder. A key stuck in the ignition may also be the result of a broken ignition. A locksmith can diagnose the cause and tell you if you require motorcycle key replacement or ignition cylinder replacement.

Regardless of the reasons your motorcycle key is stuck, it will need to be removed. This can be dangerous to do on your own as several methods of removal present the risk of causing further damage. To limit what needs to be removed and replaced, it is best to call a professional to handle every aspect of service.

Types Of Motorcycle Key Replacement 

Whether it is getting a hold of a replacement key blank or turning that key blank into a working motorcycle key, your options are tied to the key you are replacing. It is impossible to make a single article that will go over every consideration for the variety of each year, make, and model motorcycle key, so we will keep the information to the generalizations about the various motorcycle keys.

1. Standard Motorcycle Key Replacement

Motorcycle key replacement for all standard non-electronic keys is extremely straightforward, only requiring a new key blank, the original key code, and a machine to cut the new key. You will not be looking to fix a broken key because replacement is required. It may be worth it to try and bend a key back into working order for the short term, but for the long term, you need motorcycle key replacement.

Locksmith – A motorcycle key locksmith can access all available key blanks for classic and current motorcycles. If you are buying a key to have it cut, this can be done at your location via mobile service. If you have the key blank and just need it duplicated, most locksmiths will recommend going to a hardware store.

Dealership – As long as your motorcycle’s manufacture is still operational, they should have available key blanks you can purchase from a local dealership. You will need to come to the dealership with either a spare key or the motorcycle so the new key can be cut.

Hardware Store – Availability of motorcycle key blanks may be scarce at your local hardware store. If you have already purchased your key blank and have a spare key that can be duplicated, a hardware store is likely your best choice for motorcycle key replacement.

Online – The cheapest options for standard motorcycle key blanks will be through online retailers. Beware of misleading year ranges on online products as sellers will often knowingly incorrectly state which vehicles the keys will fit. 

2. Transponder Motorcycle Key Replacement

If your motorcycle key has a plastic shell over the bow of the key (the part you twist with your thumb and forefinger), it likely uses a transponder chip. This means you need transponder key programming as well as general automotive key cutting. Modern motorcycles use immobilizers, so a key is not enough to start the engine. The chip sends a coded signal as a secondary key.

Locksmith – The benefit of calling a motorcycle key locksmith is that the full motorcycle key replacement can be handled at your location without having to move the bike. The locksmith can arrive at your location with a new motorcycle key, and programming and cutting can be done with or without an existing key.

Dealership – You will need to go into the dealership for programming and bring your motorcycle if there is not an existing key to duplicate. This option is almost always the most expensive for both servicing and replacing parts.

Hardware Store – It is unlikely that your hardware store will have the machinery needed to copy the transponder signal of a working key. If you can purchase a new transponder motorcycle key replacement and have an existing key, a hardware store should be able to handle the cutting.

Online – When you are buying transponder keys online, you have to be aware of the dangers of aftermarket electronic car keys. If you are confident that your seller is reputable, make sure there are self-programming instructions or documentation on how the key is meant to be paired to the motorcycle.

3. Motorcycle Key Fob Replacement

As keyless ignitions become the norm for drivers, the trend is making key fob replacement a concern for more and more motorcycle owners. This type of motorcycle key replacement will require you to choose between DIY or professional key fob programming. In some cases, professional programming will be the only option.

Locksmith – As long as your local motorcycle key locksmith is granted access to new key fobs and programming equipment, they will be able to handle this type of motorcycle key replacement. If you are using a third party or from a secondary market, a locksmith will not be able to guarantee programmability.

Dealership – In the case of some manufacturers, they will have sole rights to sell key fobs and sole ownership of proprietary programming equipment. In these cases, there is no other option other than the dealership. This allows for no competitive pricing.

Hardware Store – If you have used a third-party keyless ignition conversion kit, they may work with the generic automotive key fobs you find in hardware stores. Ask the manufacturer about which products they recommend before purchasing, and make sure you have a method for programming.

Online – The key fobs you purchase online need to be from a source that provides programming instructions and over-the-phone customer support. Even if there is no method of reaching the seller to work through issues with the product, I do not recommend wasting your time or money.

4. Motorcycle Padlock Key Replacement 

It takes more than just the factory keys and locks to establish proper motorcycle security, so the motorcycle key replacement you need might be for a padlock. A padlock is any lock that can be removed once opened. So disc brake locks and handlebar locks will fall into this category as well. In the event where the padlock key cannot be replaced, you will need to treat it as if you are removing a broken padlock.

Locksmith – Many locksmiths do not handle padlock key replacements but can include this service as part of more extensive servicing. If you have one of the best padlocks that use patented key blanks such as Medeco, Mul-T-Lock, Abloy Protec, etc., a locksmith or the manufacturer will be your two options.

Manufacturer – If you have documentation that includes a key code, you may be able to request a precut replacement key. In the case of higher-end motorcycle padlocks, companies may offer to send you a new lock instead of taking on your key request. Lower-end products will have no customer service to take such requests.

Hardware Store – Hardware stores will not be able to cut any patented keys. It is highly improbable that these establishments will have any key blanks for padlocks in general. However, if you have a key blank and an existing key, they should be able to make you a copy of a non-patented key type.

Online – Before seeing if you can get a key blank for your padlock, consider that without a duplicate key or key code for the lock, making a new key will be difficult. It may be more cost and time-effective to replace your lock instead of attempting to replace the key.

Final Advice 

I would recommend shying away from any online motorcycle key replacement service offering to cut your key before they send it to you. Having your vehicle information, key information, and your address tied to a single digital footprint from a third-party website creates avoidable risk. In some cases, you will be limited to your dealership, but a motorcycle key locksmith will be the best choice in terms of affordability, convenience, and quality assurance.

Category: Automotive, Car Keys

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