How to Pick a Bike Lock: Step-by-Step Instruction

This article is a comprehensive guide you will find helpful for picking any type of bike lock without keys.
By
John Watson
John Watson
Writer
John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
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Reviewed By
Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
Expert Consultant
Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: January 08, 2023
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Have you lost the keys to your bike lock, or they simply aren’t working properly? You’re probably at a loss for what you do, and you need to figure out something fast. Without a key, you are left with very few options to open it. But it pays to be aware of your options and know how to pick a bike lock in the event that you’ve lost your key or damaged your lock somehow. 

Picking a bike lock is difficult, but it is not impossible. In the worst-case scenario, you may end up completely damaging it, and you’ll need a new one. But in most cases, you should be able to get the lock open again on your own. Read on to discover ways to open a bike lock without a key. 

What are the types of bike locks?

There are different types of bike locks that you can use depending on the size of your bike and other factors. What this means is that there is no universal method for unlocking a bike lock. Removing a bike lock without a key begins with getting familiar with the different lock types. While there are different types, each with varying strengths and levels of security, no lock is impossible to open. The following are the major lock types for bikes. 

Combination bike lock

How to Pick a Bike Lock: Step-by-Step Instruction
Combination locks are arguable, the most common of all types.

Although it is very unlikely that you’d forget your combination and won’ be able to open bicycle lock, it still makes sense to be able to pick a combination just in case. The four-digit lock combination locks are the most common. But there are other types as well including cheaper ones with just three digits and more expensive ones with up to six digits. Regardless of the number of digits, most locks operate the same way, and the method of opening them (if you forget your code) is the same. Choosing this type, you can wonder: “how to pick a bike lock combination that I won’t forget?”.

Key-based bike lock

How to Pick a Bike Lock: Step-by-Step Instruction
It is the most popular and easiest to attach kind of bike lock.

Key-based bike locks are fairly common as well, mainly because they are quite cheap. They are the easiest to crack, especially if you know the right process. With the correct tools or some improvisation, you are able to open your key-based bike lock in a matter of minutes. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to open bike lock without key.

“Unpickable” lock

How to Pick a Bike Lock: Step-by-Step Instruction
New design features a keyhole that’s impossible to see let alone access with conventional picking tools.

Unpickable locks are often touted as the best type for your bike. They are considered more secure and should be able to protect your bike better because it is quite difficult to open bike lock. While this should mean they’re the hardest to pick, they have some vulnerabilities too. Your basic knowledge of cracking a bell bike lock may not work here. Nut if you know a few tricks, you should be able to crack it with no stress too. 

Picking a combination bike lock

So how to pick a bike lock combination if you can’t pick your last lock? Picking a combination bike lock is not very straightforward since there is no lock to pick. Still, the process is quite easy Trusted Source How to Crack a Combination Bike Lock in Under 30 Seconds « Lock Picking :: WonderHowTo All you need is a bit of patience and you’ll have your figure out your combo in no time. lock-picking.wonderhowto.com . If you find yourself ever needing to pick a combination bike lock, here’s a simple procedure you can follow. 

  1. First, set all the numbers on the panel to “1” or the first letter (in the case of a lettered combo). 
  2. Tug at the lock on both sides. 
  3. If the dial is set to the right number, you will notice a gap between each column and the hole between the dials. 
  4. If there is no gap yet, keep turning the numbers and tugging at the lock with each dial. Once you notice a gap, then you can be sure you have the right number. 
  5. Move to the next dial column and repeat step four again until you notice a gap between columns 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and so on. 
  6. In the last column, keep turning the dials and trying to open the lock until you get the last number correctly. 

And that’s it, you should have your code cracked in no time and open bike lock if you follow this process.

Cracking a key-based bike lock

If you have this type of key, you may wonder “how to pick a bike lock without a key?” It is very common for people to ask about picking a key bike lock since keys are easy to lose. You’ll be surprised at the number of people that lose their keys regularly. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s a simple procedure to follow and open bike lock without key

  1. Insert a torsion wrench into the bottom of thelock hole 
  2. Next, insert a pick into the top of the hole 
  3. Apply some pressure on the torsion wrench in the same direction as it turns 
  4. At the same time, rake the lock pick from the back to the front. 
  5. Repeat step 4 above as many times as possible until you’re able to pop it open.

Opening an “unpickable” lock

One would expect an “unpickable” lock to be the hardest to open without a key. Ironically, it’s not difficult at all and you can have your bike lock open in minutes. While this type claims to be able to keep your bike safer, as it turns out, there are very easy to open especially if you have the right tools. All you need is a bump key and a fist-sized object. If you don’t have a round bump key, you can improvise using a bobby pin, hairpin, or paper clip. So how to pick a bike lock with a paperclip?

The first step is to insert the bump key or any other object you’re improvising with into the hole. Next, you hit the bump key with the fist-sized object in the direction that the key turns in the cylinder, and that’s it. 

General methods to pick a bike lock

Unless you have bought a terrible lock, cracking it should not be too easy. After all, this device is meant to protect your bike from getting stolen. But that’s not to say it is impossible to pick. So how to crack a combination bike lock? Here are a few general methods that work for picking the lock. Before you do the extreme and attempt to open it, be sure to double-check and try to find the keys first Trusted Source Lost Keys to Bike Lock? | 8 Simple Steps to Unlock Your Bike Have you lost your bike lock’s keys? Losing keys is always a pain. Lost keys to bike lock can be a real pain, but hese 9 simple steps will help you! www.bikelockwiki.com

Use a lock pick set

How to Pick a Bike Lock: Step-by-Step Instruction
A lock pick set can help to get rid of the common problem quickly.

You can open pretty much any type as long as you have the right lock pick set and know what to do. If you can buy a pick set, you should be able to pick a kryptonite bike lock and pretty much any type of possible. But don’t expect it to be as easy as it looks in YouTube videos, especially with high hand one. But for the cheap rudimentary devices that most people use on their bikes, you should be able to use some picking tools to get it opened. 

Use a plastic BIC pen

Perhaps the most unconventional way to open a lock you can learn is to pick it with a Bic pen. This is an old-school method for opening, and this technique may not really work for most modern locks.

If your bike lock has a tubular cylinder, then this method should work for you and open bike lock. Just take a Bic style pen and remove the ink tube and the cap from it. Next, insert the plastic body of the pen into the tubular cylinder. You may need to press it firmly to get it into the lock. Once it locks into the cylinder, try wiggling and pushing it until it opens. But be careful not to press too hard so that you don’t snap the pen in the lock.

Use a Shim 

Using a shim is another method you can use to open your bike lock if you’ve lost your keys. Note that this method is most effective for cheaper models but may not work with more expensive ones. But it is worth trying. You can make a shim out of any empty thin can. Just be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands when you do this since the metal can be quite sharp. Opening with the shim involves inserting the pointed object into the locking bolt the same way you would with a pick pin and attempting to override the lock deadbolt. You may need to use more than one shim if the lock is double-bolted. Finally, you will open bicycle lock.

Cut a lock

How to Pick a Bike Lock: Step-by-Step Instruction
The easiest way to pick a bike lock is to cut it.

Finally, if all of these other methods don’t work and you can’t pick your last lock, another approach is to cut the lock. Note that you should only resort to this if you have tried all the other methods and nothing seems to be working. In most cases, you don’t need any power tool. A simple pair of wire cutters or bolt croppers should be able to get the work done. This is the simplest way to remove the bike lock but comes at the expense of damaging the tool completely. 

Contact the Locksmith

Another very easy way to open your bike lock without a key is to find a locksmith for bike locks. If you have attempted all the methods highlighted above, or you don’t want to go through the stress of doing so, you can simply call a professional instead. They have a great knowledge of different locking systems and will be able to get the lock open in no time. In most cases, they will also be able to open the lock without damaging it. But in rare cases, they may have to cut off it completely. Either way, locksmiths have all the right tools, and they also save you the embarrassment of loitering around your bike and being accused of stealing it. Of course, this method is probably more expensive than trying to do so yourself. It’s well worth it as a final resort, though, to unlock bicycle lock.

Final thoughts 

Even if your bike costs less than $1000, keeping it secure with a bike lock when you have to be away is important. Of course, using a lock means there’s a chance you might lose your key at some point. Being able to open a bike lock without a key is one of those skills you don’t think you need until you actually do. You may suddenly find yourself stranded with a jammed lock or lost keys at any point, knowing any of these techniques will come in handy to help you open your lock and get you going in no time. Most of these techniques are pretty basic, and anyone should be able to use them. And if all else fails or you don’t know how to pick a bike lock on your own, you can simply call for the services of a professional locksmith to get you out of the fix. 

References

1.
How to Crack a Combination Bike Lock in Under 30 Seconds « Lock Picking :: WonderHowTo
All you need is a bit of patience and you’ll have your figure out your combo in no time.
2.
Lost Keys to Bike Lock? | 8 Simple Steps to Unlock Your Bike
Have you lost your bike lock’s keys? Losing keys is always a pain. Lost keys to bike lock can be a real pain, but hese 9 simple steps will help you!
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