DUCATI MOTORCYCLES & THE DREADED RED KEY DILLEMA! WHAT DUCATI OWNERS SHOULD KNOW!
In their early 2000 models (up until recently in 2007/08), Ducati motorcycles came with keys that have a specialized anti-theft device. These keys send a unique signal (each key blank will have it's own unique signal) to the motocycle's computer which are required for operation of the bike using the stock ECU.
* Black keys are used to start the bike. When the bike turns on it will read the signal from the black key and a valid signal is required before the bike will start.
* Red keys are primarily used to program the ECU to accept new signals. It's false that a red key is required for any service on your bike (unless that service is specifically programming new keys into the stock ECU).
Thank God! After 2007 Ducati moved away from the dreaded red key and now only uses key cards on 08 and newer bikes.
THE RED KEY, WHY IT IS GOD ALMIGHTY AS FAR AS YOUR DUCATI IS CONCERNED!
Buying a Ducati motorcycle is one of the best purchases you can make. They are quality, they hold their value extremelly well, and are a dependable means of transportation that gives your freedom back to you, and will save you a crap load of money on gas.
Whenever you buy a Ducati motorcycle, whether it is a new one or a used one, there are 3 separate keys that you must have when you purchase your bike, most importantly THE RED KEY, which cannot be replaced if lost! The RED KEY is the single most important key you will ever own, when it comes to your Ducati. If you plan on making any adjustments to your bike for any reason you must have the original red key produced for that bike. If you plan on ever selling your bike, again you must have that red key! If you don't plan to change or adjust anything on your bike, and plan on riding it until it dies, then the black keys will be all you need.
If you are purchasing your bike new or used, you want to make sure that you have a red key however, if a red key is not available don't assume that the bike is stolen. There are a lot of things that get in the way of keeping up with the key. It does get lost on occasion. Unfortunately, the OEM Ducati key cannot be reproduced once it is lost, stolen, or destroyed. In order to use the red key again, you will need to purchase an entirely new electronic system.
When you buy your bike from a private seller, make sure that the seller has three keys to give you- two black keys and one red key. The red key, or code key, will be the only way that you can reprogram a replacement to operate the immobilizer circuitry, which is electronic. If you have lost the red key or it needs to be replaced for any reason you will end up paying almost $3,000. This can be too much to spend on something that you didn't have anything to do with to begin with. The most affordable way to save a great deal of money and stress as far as replacing your red key is Ebay Motors.
You don't need the red key unless you need to reprogram any of the electronics on the bike. If this is the case then you will need your red key. However, if you don't have it you can always buy new electronic devices including a new ignition and ECU, which will give you a new set of keys.
BUYING A DUCATI WITHOUT THE RED KEY
If you are considering buying a bike without a red key, use it as a bargaining chip to get the price down, but don’t let it scare you away or immediately assume that the bike is stolen - crazed girl friends and repo’s happen! If you already own a bike that has no red key, don’t despair, you have some options for additional keys and no, you don’t need a red key to remap the fuel injection.
If you have a black key, but no red key, you can make a copy of the black key. You will need a Silca KW17T5 transponder key blank and a locksmith with one of the following cloners (Ilco/Silca - RW2 or RW3, Strattec - Quick code, Jet – Smart clone, Bianchi - Repli-code). However if you just happen to lose all your black keys and don't have the original red key, simply put you are screwed! If this happens, the bits for your Ducati that you’ll need to get a new red key are a new gauge cluster; ECU; ignition/keys, there is now way to get around this.
If you want to take your chances, and have one black key and want to McGyver it, just in case you were to ever lose it. You can take the dynamic D sticker off of your black key, push the cross pin out so you can pull the key blade out of the plastic head, then fish out the transponder and JB Weld it on the inside of your ignition housing. If you are successfully able to do this, feel free to go get all the $5.00 keys made you could ever want!
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