You ask we answer. Here's the latest in our "Ask a Mechanic" series.
Q: I recently bought a Kawasaki Ninja 300. I have a tendency to lose my car keys so before I run into trouble I was wondering how to start a motorcycle without a key?
A: Your motorcycle has a key? Just kickstart it and go! OK, not exactly, though Hollywood sometimes makes it look that easy.
Yes, motorcycles have a key just like a car and if you lose it you are out of luck just as you would be with your car. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure therefore - you in all likelihood received TWO keys to your motorcycle. You only need one. Use one as your main key and store/hide/keep the other key in a safe place and remember where you placed it. A safe, a desk drawer, even the utility drawer in the kitchen where you put everything that doesn't have a home but needs a home. If you misplace or lose the primary key then you have the secondary key as back-up.
Outside of the spare motorcycle key you will need to buy a whole new key and switch set. You can skip the locksmith though if you go that route you'd need to find a qualified auto locksmith. So, in your favor, the ignition switch and key set generally qualifies as an OEM replacement part. Not in your favor is the cost. Expect to shell out some cash to a dealership for the parts and installation, and since you can't turn the bike on you have to somehow get your motorcycle to the dealer.
You can always go the hotwire route but we won't provide instructions for obvious reasons.