Complete Guide on How to Pick A Bicycle Lock?

We have all been in that situation, where you’ve lost the key to your bicycle. Everyone is waiting, and you are sweating awkwardly. Well, no more. If you’ve been in the situation or not, the following tips are going to help you pick a bicycle lock if you’ve lost the key.

how to Pick A Bicycle Lock

Types of Bicycle Lock Available


These locks are made with metal rods as shackle shaped like the letter U (or cascaded steel wires in case D-locks). You can lock the bicycle around polls or Bike racks. Generally, comes with keys, Tubular Keys, and combination mechanisms.

Chain Locks

Here, the shackle is made out of steel chains, often covered with a scratch-proof rubber pipe. These types of locks have one drawback. The joints of shackles are weak points, broken more easily than in a U Lock. But Chain lock can be tied around various parts of the bike. So trying to cut the weak points will take time, resulting in suspicion of pedestrians.

Cable Locks

Cable locks are more compact variants of chain locks. Here the joints are attached and integrated with the lock without any weak points. But the drawback is locks are generally lightweight and easy to break. Cable locks can be broken easily, so it is not adequate to keep a bicycle outside at night with cable locks.

It is the same for the chain locks.

So, say you have searched all of the pockets in your bag. But you just can’t find the key anywhere! Follow these steps:

The Bypass methods

Before thinking about anything like breaking the lock with your bare hands as though you are The Hulk. Think about how you can “bypass” the lock from the pole you have bound. If the pole is free on the top, ask your friend to help you lift the bicycle. Generally, poles are not free on the top for obvious reasons.

You can use the well-known Pen trick to rotate the cylinder inside.

  • Take any dot pen with ink refills because this type of pen has a refill holder that can be unscrewed from the top.
  • Now insert the open top of the pen inside the circular keyway.
  • Try to wedge the pen and rotate in the direction that lock opens with its key

This can open most of the inexpensive locks. But there’s a catch. This trick only works with a specific type of U-Locks that have a circular keyway.

watch this video for visual guidance:

Suppose you use any ordinary padlock. Then use a metal shim made with a soda can or any metal sheet you can find. But you have to careful while using metal shims. They are very sharp and can easily tear the skin.

  • Take a soda can.
  • cut it and fold (Folding will make it harder and will work better)
  • Make a triangle.
  • Insert the shim between the bolt and shackle.
  • Build pressure with the shim to override and free the deadbolt.

Be aware that this will not work with expensive locks due to the rigorous quality check and weakness testing.

The advantage of bypassing is that you can use the same lock afterward.

Pick the lock

If the bypassing does not work and you want to try to pick the lock, then read this part carefully. Lock picking is complicated and for someone who is trying without knowing any basics of bicycle locks. But, if you know the inner workings of locks, you can use that knowledge to picklock. There are several ways to pick locks. You follow some standard methods, or you can improvise. Standard tools for lock picking include A tension wrench and a Lock pick tool kit.

If you a mountain biker or bicycle traveler, you should carry a lock pick toolkit with you all the time. However, if you are a student who uses a bicycle for the daily commute, then carrying lock pick tools is overkill and may be suspicious to some people. In that case, you use a geometry tool or micro spatula and forceps from the dissection box.

Now that you have gathered your tools follow the steps below:

  • Insert the tension wrench (if you are carrying then) or a number 3 spatula inside the keyway to build pressure on the cylinder
  • Take the lock pick or a tweezer with bent tips and try to find a key pin inside.
  • After locating the first pin, rotate it in the opening direction (varies between locks)
  • Repeat this process until the last pins inside!
  • At Last, Rotate the wrench or spatula in the opening direction. This will open the lock!

watch this video for visual guidance:

Picking a lock is not a practical way because it is a time-consuming process. It requires a lot of skills. Nevertheless, if you want to develop the skill, then go ahead.

Diagnosing Shifting Problems

Many of us use locks with combinations of usually four or sometimes more digits. The chance of forgetting the combination for bicycle lock is far lesser than forgetting a password. But still, if you have given a unique combination (Unlike 1-2-3-4), no one would figure it out and one day forgot it. Don’t panic; this is not the end of the world. Suppose you are using a combination padlock with a steel chain. Then just cut that chain. But if you have gone the extra mile and locked around bicycle wheel spoke, it can be a problem.

But there are some ways you can break a combination lock without the combination. There are some ways you can try.

  1. Set all the rings to the first digit.
  2. rotate the second wheel one digit forward.

To know when to stop, feel the click. If any digit clicks more and doesn’t move back or forth easily, then it may be the right digit.

  1. Pull the shackle. If the pull feels a bit lose, then move it should be the correct digit for that ring.
  2. Repeat this process until the last ring on the right.

Watch this video for visual guidance:

If the lock is a single-dial padlock, then rotate the dial back and forth one step at a time. Consequently, pull the deadbolt. You will hear a jolt when the right step comes. This process requires a bit more hearing.

Physically Destroy the lock.

If any of the previous methods do not work, you have to decide to get rid of this lock and buy a new one.

You can break the lock with some construction tools, such as

  • Hammer: Hit the joint between Shackle and Deadbolt with a hammer. Hit hard by aiming correctly. Do not try repeated lighter hits, it will not work.
  • Nut Wrench: Pry open the deadbolt with two nut wrenches.
  • Bolt cutter: Cut the deadbolt with a boltcutter
  • Hacksaw: Cut the deadbolt with a hacksaw
  • Crowbar: If possible, then, pry open the deadbolt with Crowbar.
  • Blowtorch (Not recommended for general purpose, should be handled by professionals)
  • Liquid Nitrogen (Should be handled by adults)

Call the Locksmith!

This is the best way to deal with the lost key type of situations. Locksmiths are professionals. They know how any locks work. If you are lucky, they will pick the lock with their tools in front of you. This saves some money because usually, locksmiths charge less money than the price of a brand new lock. You also raise suspicion of stealing if you do not live around that area where is you are stuck your bicycle. So, calling a locksmith will be the possible way to pick your lock.


If you own a bicycle, then always buy a good lock from a known and reputed vendor. Do not waste your money on generic brand locks from departmental stores. Do not keep your bicycle outside at night. Do not try to break the lock if you don’t have appropriate tools or physical strength. Always call the locksmith before doing anything stupid and yourself harming doing it.

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