How to Start an Electric Bike Without a Key [6 Ways]

Electric bikes are the newest introduction in the growing world of urban transportation. Following electric vehicles, electric bikes are very popular amongst people who have daily commutes and prefer fitness over anything. Why choose a regular bike when an e-bike is faster, more reliable, economical, and easier to use than an electric car.

However, one problem that people face with electric bikes is losing their keys. If you don’t have your key, you can’t start your bike, and you’re essentially stranded. Right?

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Well, not quite. Ideally, electric bikes need keys to start, but there are a few other ways you could start up an e-bike without an e-bike key. You could also ride the e-bike manually until you figure out a plan of action.

Read ahead if you want to learn more about why electric bikes need keys, what you should do if you, unfortunately, lose your keys, and some ways to start up the e-bike without a key.

Do Electric Bikes Need Keys?

The keys to an electric bike do not work exactly how they would for a motorbike. They do not power up or start the bike, but rather, the keys secure the battery in the e-bike. So then we come to our main question, do electric bikes really need keys? The answer is yes, but maybe an indirect yes.

Without the keys, you cannot secure the battery of the e-bike. This means that the e-bike’s motor cannot be powered unless the battery is secure, and the e-bike cannot start up without the key.

You can push on the pedals and start to manually ride the bike without the keys, but there will be no power from the battery to the motor unless the keys are plugged in and turned on.

Most e-bikes come with two identical keys so that you have one for everyday use and one to keep as a spare.

Each e-bike has a specific key, meaning that you cannot use your e-bike key to try and power up your friend’s e-bike. This is an important and helpful safety measure in keeping your electric bike safe and secure.

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What You Should Do If You Lose Your Keys

If, by some unfortunate circumstances, you do end up losing your keys, try and remain calm. It’s not the end of the world if you lose your keys, and there are a few things that can be done.

Start by remembering where you keep your spare e-bike key. Remember, e-bikes usually come with two identical keys, so one of those keys is likely kept somewhere safe in your home.

If you don’t have a spare key, you can reach out to the bike’s manufacturer and order yourself a new set. This will cost you some money, and you may also need to pay additional shipping costs depending on where the e-bike manufacturers are located.

To order the replacement keys, you will be required to have a special key card that comes with the bike.

While you wait for a new set of keys to arrive, it wouldn’t be remiss to start double-checking common places where you might have lost your keys.

Check around your home and office, check all your laundry in case you left the keys in some pants pockets, look in your bags and ransacks, and even ask your friends and family if they remember seeing the keys lying around somewhere. Chances are you haven’t lost your keys for good and have just misplaced them.

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6 Ways to Start an E-Bike Without a Key

If you’ve looked everywhere you could think of and have come up empty-handed, you might need to find alternative ways to start your e-bike while waiting for new replacement keys.

The primary purpose of e-bike keys is to secure the battery and allow power to flow from the battery to the motor. Without a key, you can still manage to get the power to flow manually.

It is actually relatively easy and manageable to start an electric bike without a key.

However, we wouldn’t recommend it unless it is an emergency and you have no other options. This is because some of the methods for manually starting the bike are not very safe and can cause damage to your bike, the motor, and the battery.

So, here are six ways to start your electric bike without a key. Go through each of these ways and consider which method seems most convenient and easy for you to use. You can even try out multiple methods and see which one suits you best.

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1. Connecting Wires

Connecting wires is an alternative way for ignition. An e-bike ignition does not work the same way as it does for a motorcycle or a car. The only function of the e-bike key is to complete the circuit and provide power from the battery to the motor. You can connect wires manually and complete the circuit without the need for the keys.

To do this, you need to take a few minutes to find the correct wires that need connecting. The ignition wiring will most likely be under where the key-lock system is located.

Once you have identified the right wires, you can cut them and connect them. Once the wires are connected, the circuit will be complete, and your e-bike will start.

However, only try this method with keeping safety measures in mind. There is a big chance of giving yourself an electric shock when dealing with open wires. Wear rubber gloves to avoid getting shocked.

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2. Removing the Battery

Removing the battery is one of the safest ways to start your e-bike without causing any damage to the bike or the battery. Once you remove the battery and disconnect it from the e-bike, you are essentially converting your e-bike into a regular, manual bicycle.

With the battery connected and the e-bike turned on, when you peddle, you start the motor up, and it assists you in peddling and helps the bike go faster. While you are peddling a little bit manually, most of the work is being done by the motor.

When you remove the battery, there is no power for the motor. So when you peddle, the bike will move solely from your manual labor and will function as a regular manual bicycle. There won’t be any need for electric power.

3. Applying a Shim

Another way to start your electric bike without a key is by making a shim. A shim is essentially a small wedge or strip of material that can be used to align the inside of the key-lock system. A shim is a pretty safe and cheap way to start the bike without a key.

The easiest way to make a shim is by cutting up a strip of aluminum from a drink can. Cut off the top and bottom parts of the can till you are left with a plain metal sheet. Then, cut that sheet until it resembles an ‘M’ shape and folds it along the vertical axis.

This will give you the suitable form that you need. While cutting, try and get the size of the shim as close to the length and width of your key. Insert the shim into the lock and bend and twist it to start the bike.

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4. Using a Screwdriver

If you have a toolbox nearby, dig out your screwdrivers, and you might be able to use one of them as an alternative key to start your bike. You have to find a screwdriver with an appropriately shaped tip that looks a bit like your key. It will most likely be a smaller flat-headed screwdriver. 

However, this option might not work with new electric bikes as it usually works in older locks. Also, you have to be careful not to damage the e-bike’s key-lock system while you try and start the bike with the screwdriver.

Too much force and you may break some small component in the key-lock system, and then you will have to get repair work done or replace the system.

5. Using a Bump Key

A bump key is the same as a universal or master key. These are keys that can be used to unlock almost any lock! If you have a bump key on hand or know where to find one, it would definitely be worth the trouble to try it out. If you’re lucky, it will start the bike.

However, the problem with bump keys is that they are not very easy to find. If you don’t have your e-bike’s spare key, you probably don’t have a bump key on hand.

Also, most e-bikes are designed with a key that is specific to that bike, meaning that you cannot use any other key to start it up. For this reason, a bump key might not actually work.

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6. Using a Plastic Pen

And finally, the last method that can help you start an electric bike without a key is using a plastic pen. This is an absolute last option method, and we wouldn’t recommend you try it unless you have tried everything else.

This is because the plastic pen method is quite risky and also a bit old-school in that it mainly only works in older fashioned tubular-shaped locks.

What you have to do is locate a plastic pen and disassemble it. Once you have removed the ink tube and the nib and are left with just the plastic cylinder, place it over an open fire and melt it.

You want to make sure you don’t melt it entirely and only to the point where it is malleable. Insert the malleable pen into the keyhole and wait until it gets cold and solidifies. Then you can try turning it to start the bike.

This method can damage your key-lock system, so we don’t always recommend it. The plastic might become stuck in the keyhole and can be difficult to remove. You might over melt the pen and hurt yourself. There are quite a few risks to look out for.

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If All Else Fails, Ride the Bike Manually

If you’re out and realize you’ve lost your keys, you don’t need to worry about being stranded. If all else fails, remember that you can always just ride your bike manually.

Most electric bikes allow you to switch between using the motors or just pedaling with your legs. This is also a good option for you if your e-bike runs out of charge and you do not have any alternate charging options available.

All you need to do is disconnect the battery or remove it. Once you’ve done this, your e-bike has essentially been converted to a manual bicycle, and you can ride it back home where you keep your spare keys.

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Losing your keys can be a frustrating and annoying experience, especially when you don’t have a spare set to fall back on. If you lose your e-bike keys, don’t worry too much. You can always get a replacement set from the electric bike manufacturers.

In the meantime, we have outlined six ways to start your electric bike without a key. These methods are only for one-time use, and we would not recommend starting your bike with any of these methods more than once. The safest method would be to remove the e-bike’s battery and use the bike as a manual bicycle.