How to: Copy A Motorcycle Key

Many of us have the habit of losing or misplacing things, including a motorcycle key.

Or, in the case of a barn find motorcycle, you may have purchased it without the key at all.

Owning a motorcycle and not being able to ride it due to a lost key can be very annoying.

If you are worrying if there is any solution for a missing key, yes there is and this article tries to answer all your questions.

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Can you copy your motorcycle key?

Yes, it is possible to copy your motorcycle key.

However, how easy it is and how cheap or costly it is, depends on the situation.

Easy way: Take your motorcycle key to a local locksmith and get a copy made within minutes.

If you lose your motorcycle key, you will still be able to get a copy or duplicate made by the following methods:

  • You can use the ignition cylinder code to get a duplicate key made from a locksmith.
  • Take the ignition cylinder to the locksmith and get a duplicate key made (in case the code is not located or not readable).
  • You can order a duplicate key from your motorcycle dealer by sharing your motorcycle VIN.

Reason to Copy your Key (Before It’s Lost)

The easiest (and cheapest) way to copy of motorcycle key is to do so before you lose it.

Making a copy or duplicate of your key as a preventive measure can save you money and time in the unfortunate event of losing or misplacing your motorcycle key.

How to Copy a Motorcycle Key

Check out the different methods of making a copy of your motorcycle key.

1.  When You Still Have the Key

Go to your local locksmith and give them your key.

The locksmith can make a copy of your key within a short time and it does not usually cost you too much.

The locksmith uses a small machine that traces the profile of the key with a probe and transfers the movements to the cutter to create an exact copy.

2:  When the Key is Already Lost

If your key is already missing or you bought the bike without one, you’re not out of options. You can still get a replacement key.

Here are some of the common ways to do so.

Using the Ignition Cylinder Code

The ignition cylinder is located at the center of the motorcycle handle (between the speedometer and tachometer) and has a shaft where you insert the key and turn it to start the motorcycle.

You may have to pull out the shaft to locate the ignition cylinder code (refer to your owner’s manual and understand how to do it or take the help of your friend or a mechanic).

The code may be 4 or more digits long.

Note down the code carefully and take a photo of it on your smartphone.

A locksmith should be able to make a copy of your key using this code.

Locksmiths will have a reference table with values and codes and they will be able to do the job using those values.

You should confirm with the locksmith before going there.

The cost of the duplicate key will usually be reasonable.

Taking the Complete Ignition Cylinder to the Locksmith

If you are not able to locate the ignition cylinder code or the code is not visible clearly, then the option is to carry the complete ignition cylinder to the locksmith.

Identify a nearby locksmith who can make a duplicate key to your motorcycle by using the ignition cylinder.

You can either take out the ignition cylinder from the motorcycle yourself or if you are not confident take the help of a mechanic.

Take photos at every stage to make it easier when you reassemble.

The locksmith selects a blank key that goes into the key slot and by turning the key the locksmith gets the impression on the blank key.  The locksmith uses the impression to file the profile on the blank key (using small files) and makes a duplicate key by continuously inserting the blank key into the ignition cylinder and doing corrections by filing. 

This will take slightly more time and can costs you more than the earlier methods (still affordable).

Replacing the Complete Ignition Cylinder with a New One

After taking out the ignition cylinder, if you can not locate the code on it nor locate a locksmith who can do a duplicate key using the ignition cylinder, the next option is buying a new ignition cylinder and replacing it completely.

To do this, note the make, model, and year of your motorcycle, then take a photo of the ignition cylinder and search for a replacement online on the aftermarket items market.

Select the one that is suitable for your motorcycle and replace it with the old one.

Ensure you get a new ignition cylinder and a new key.

Note that if you do this, the new key won’t work on any other locks that may be on the bike such as the fork lock, helmet lock, seat lock, etc.

Going to Your Motorcycle Dealer with the VIN

This is often the costliest option.

First, you’ll need your VIN.

You may find the VIN (vehicle identification number) code on the steering neck of your motorcycle or go through your owner’s manual to find out the location of the VIN code.

The VIN (vehicle identification number) of your motorcycle indicates details about your motorcycle like motorcycle manufacturer, model of motorcycle, place and year of manufacturing, and other details.

The VIN is on the frame of a motorcycle and helps to establish the ownership of the motorcycle by matching the VIN with the documents.

Take the VIN code and documents to prove your ownership of the motorcycle (motorcycle registration, sale invoice, etc.) to your motorcycle dealer.

Talk to your motorcycle dealer beforehand and confirm they can do it, and you may also ask about how much it costs and what documents they need.

Your dealer may give you a new cut duplicate key or may offer you a new ignition cylinder with a new key.

You may need to take the motorcycle to the dealer. Your option is usually either to use a towing service or use a technique to start the motorcycle without a key. Since you are the owner, there is nothing wrong if you do it.

Note: There may be few modern and high-end motorcycles that use a master key or a fob key. If you own such a motorcycle and lost/misplaced your key, you’ll usually need to go through the dealer.

Avoid Losing your Key in the First Place

If you are in a habit of losing or misplacing things (including your motorcycle keys), the following tips may help you.

  • Make a habit of placing your motorcycle key in a designated place or make a keyboard on the wall for it.
  • Keep your items organized.
  • Never leave your key in the motorcycle even when you park it in your garage. Always take the key with you.
  • Make duplicate keys and keep them in a safe place.
  • You may also try to install a GPS sensor or a blue tooth tracker on your key. This can help you track it when you misplace it.

The probability of you losing your motorcycle key may be high or low, but it can happen to anybody.

Taking precautions is the smartest option.