How to Remove the Ignition Switch on a Yamaha R-1

Yamaha's flagship super bike, the YZF-R1, has been tearing up the road and racetrack since its introduction in 1999. Featuring technology developed for Yamaha's premiere Moto GP race bike, the YZR-M1, the R1 has been a tantalising motorcycle for the speed-hungry. Unfortunately, the appeal of the R1 has also led to an increase in thefts, leaving many of these fine motorcycles the worse for wear if returned to their proper owners. One of the many parts that are often damaged in these cases is the ignition switch, which can be battered by a screwdriver in an attempt to hotwire the bike. Luckily, replacing the ignition switch can be done with the right tools.

Park the motorcycle on a smooth, level surface and remove the rider's seat. Disconnect the battery, starting with removal of the negative (-) terminal wire lead followed by the positive (+) terminal wire lead.

Loosen the two Allen head pinch bolts that secure the upper triple tree (the large bracket directly above the handlebars) to the front forks. If your R1 is equipped with a steering damper, remove it at this time by unscrewing the bolt that secures it to the stay on the upper triple tree. Leave the opposite end of the steering damper attached to the frame and swivel it away from the triple tree.

Remove the 32mm nut and washer that secure the upper triple tree to the steering stem then pull the upper triple tree up and off of the forks and stem.

Follow the original ignition switch's wiring until you locate the connector. Separate the ignition switch from the wiring harness by disconnecting the connector. Remove the entire upper triple tree and ignition switch from the motorcycle and transfer them to a clear workspace.

Set the triple tree/ignition switch face down onto the workspace and locate the two bolts that secure the ignition switch to the underside of the triple tree. Depending on the year your R1 was made, the ignition switch may be secured with either hex head bolts or one-time use bolts that must be removed with a bolt extractor tool. Remove the bolts using the appropriate tool and pull the ignition switch free from the upper triple clamp.

Install the new ignition switch into the mounting hole on the upper triple tree. Apply a drop of semi-permanent thread locking adhesive to the threads of the mounting bolts before tightening into place.

Attach the ignition switch's wiring to the motorcycle's wiring harness and slide the upper triple tree onto the fork tubes and steering stem. You may need to seat the upper triple tree by tapping it lightly with a rubber mallet.

Slide the washer and 32mm nut over the steering stem and tighten.

Tighten the pinch bolts on both sides of the upper triple tree to secure the upper fork tubes.

Reinstall the steering damper onto the stay on the upper triple tree.

Reconnect the battery, starting with the positive (+) terminal wire lead followed by the negative (-) terminal wire lead. Replace the rider's seat.


Consult a service manual for comprehensive details about this process, torque specifications and other requirements. If you do not feel confident that you can complete this task, have the work performed by a qualified technician.


Follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer when using bolt extracting tools. Failure to follow these directions can damage the tool. When disconnecting the battery, do not let the terminals contact the frame to prevent electrical shock. Be sure that the steering stem nut and pinch bolts are tightened properly to prevent a loss of control. Be sure that the seat is locked into position. A loosely mounted seat can shift while riding and cause a loss of control.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Allen head socket set, metric
  • Hex head socket set, metric
  • 32mm hex head socket
  • Socket wrench
  • Electric drill
  • Easy-out or similar bolt extractor
  • Rubber mallet
  • Replacement ignition switch and bolts
  • Semi-permanent thread-locking adhesive
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About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.