6 Steps to Removing a Motorcycle Ignition Switch

A motorcycle ignition switch and key on a white background.
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What You'll Need
Allen wrench
Bolt extractor tool
What You'll Need
Allen wrench
Bolt extractor tool

Taking your motorcycle to a shop to have the ignition switch removed can be costly, especially considering that you can do it yourself in your own garage. Motorcycle owners sometimes become victims of theft and the ignition switches are often destroyed in the process as the thief tries to hotwire the bike. When these are recovered, the ignition switch can be badly damaged and will need replacement. With the right tools, you can easily remove your ignition switch. These steps are specifically for the Yamaha R-1, but they can apply to other bikes as well. Just be sure to check your owner’s manual for any additional information you might need.

Step 1 – Position the Motorcycle

Park your motorcycle on a flat, level surface with ample lighting nearby. Ideally, set up outdoors if the weather is clear or indoors with a lot of windows or bright lights. Be sure to have your tools close by.

Step 2 – Disconnect the Battery

Before going any further with removing the ignition switch, you’ll need to disconnect your battery. Remove your rider’s seat to access the ignition area of your motorcycle and set it aside. Always start by removing the negative terminal wire lead before the positive terminal wire lead, never positive before negative or you could burnout or short circuit the battery.

Step 3 – Loosen the Pinch Bolts

Loosen the two Allen head, pinch bolts that hold the upper triple tree to the front forks. This is also the large bracket directly above the handlebars.

Step 4 - Remove the Damper

Remove steering damper next if your motorcycle has one. Unscrew the bolts that hold it up on the upper triple tree, but leave the opposite end of the steering damper attached to the frame. Simply just pivot it opposite the triple tree to move on.

Step 5 - Remove the Triple Tree

Remove the 32 mm nut and washer that hold the upper triple tree to the steering stem, and then pull the upper triple tree and off the stem and fork.

Then, trace the original wiring until you locate the connector in your motorcycle. Disconnect the connector by separating the ignition from its wiring harness.

Now you can remove the entire upper triple tree and ignition switch from your motorcycle and lay it down on a wide table. Make sure this area is free of clutter so you do not lose any small parts. It also helps to lay a white towel or sheet on the surface so any loose parts will stand out and be easy to see.

Step 6 – Remove the Ignition Switch

Set ignition switch facing down and locate the two bolts that hold it to the underside of the triple tree. The ignition switch may be secured with either one-time use bolts or hex head bolts, but either way it must be removed with a bolt extractor tool.

Gently remove the ignition switch from the upper triple clamp. Finally, you can replace your old ignition switch with a new set and reverse these steps to re-install the device.