Key ignition is shot, I think. Can I bypass it?

Information and questions on GL1100 Goldwings (1980-1983)
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Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:09 pm
Location: Fort Scott, KS
Motorcycle: 1983 GL1100I

Key ignition is shot, I think. Can I bypass it?

Post by bofler »

So, I think my key ignition might have failed. After looking through fuses and battery connections, I'm guessing that's the problem. Is there an easy way to test whether it's the key ignition or not? Also, anyone out there ever bypass the key ignition permanently? I am not overly concerned about theft, and also don't believe that a key will prevent a determined thief from starting the bike or just taking it by putting it in a truck (along with a few strong friends). I was thinking maybe to bypass the key and have a switch somewhere behind the gauges, like a second kill switch.

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Re: Key ignition is shot, I think. Can I bypass it?

Post by the_big_h »

I did exactly that on my '84 Nighthawk.
The ignition had 5 wires total - one from the battery, 4 going out to stuff. I tied the 4 all together, and put a switch between that connection and the one from the battery. Put the switch out of sight behind the "fairing". I could swipe the switch ON very unobtrusively while putting on my gloves. I rode it like that for several months before getting around to repairing the ignition.
Your 1100 may be a bit more complicated, just pull up a wiring diagram to see which wire(s) power comes in on, and which wires need power going out.
If there is more than one source of power, you should use a multipole switch to keep them separate. For example, I suspect the GL1100 may have 2 separately fused power wires to the ignition, so you should use a 2-pole switch.
Edit: Looking at the wiring diagram, there is some goofiness where the brown wire gets fed via a 5-amp fuse when in Park, but a 15-amp fuse when in RUN. So I believe you can just join all 5 wires together (except the red), and feed that junction from your new switch, the other side of the switch connected to the red wire.
On my nighthawk I used 1/4" male spade connectors and stuck them into the ignition connector, so I didn't molest the bike's harness in any way.
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bruce swaybill
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Re: Key ignition is shot, I think. Can I bypass it?

Post by bruce swaybill »

Is it the key lock or the electrical contact module the lock rotates that has failed?

You can replace either or both. eBay has plenty of both new and used. Bypassing it will be no less work because you will need to get at the 8 or 10 wires and the contact module is buried in the steering head area.

Good luck!
Bruce S.
Have a nice day! :)
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