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How to Unlock a Bike Lock without a Key (Know These Easy Steps)

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to unlock a bike lock without a key

Are you going on a bike trip but accidentally left your bike key at home? Or did you lose it somewhere? Unlocking it may seem impossible, but not with the proper knowledge on lock picking.

Knowing how to unlock a bike lock without a key is beneficial. Lock picking helps you save money without asking for help from a knowledgeable locksmith. There are many tools you can pick locks with, like a lock pick or a plastic pen.

Read this article to know how to unlock a bike lock without keys, or also known as lock picking.

Try Out These Simple Tools to Open Your Bike Lock


Option 1: Plastic Pen

This pen trick for lock picking is only applicable if your lost bike lock key comes with tubular cylinders, which we rarely see with modern bike lock designs.

You might have never expected your favorite pen to be helpful in times like this. My BIC pen perfectly fits a tubular designed bike lock, and other cheap bike locks. For those who are unfamiliar with this pen, it looks like this:

So, if you have a tubular bike lock, luck’s definitely on your side because you can easily unlock it with no keys.

Option 2: Empty Fizzy Drink Can

To unlock your bike, you can build a shim out of an empty coke can. The shim method requires gloves because you will be dealing with a sharp metal that can be dangerous.

Instructions for Unlocking Bike Locks Without Keys


Option 1: Plastic Pen

This is the most common procedure to open a bicycle lock without a key, especially for a U lock.

Step 1: Get the Pen and Remove Ink Tube

It’s time to look for your pen with a similar diameter to the bike lock and make it the picking tool. Once you have the pen, open the metal cap, and remove the ink tube inside.

Nobody wants their ink tube to get damaged during the process, so it’s best to remove it. Do not use the metal cap; only use the empty plastic container of the ballpen.

You will use the plastic tube to insert into the tubular cylinder of the bike lock.

Step 2: Push and Wiggle the Hollow Ballpen Tube

After removing the ink tube and the metal cap, it’s time to insert the hollow tube into the lock. Make sure to press it slowly as far as it goes, and keep on wiggling the hollow pen tube for a reasonable period before you do anything else.

Another method of insertion includes pressing it firmly into the lock. However, I do not really recommend this method because it would force the plastic tube to mold into a new shape that would be useless after.

Ensure that you do this step carefully because there is a chance that the pen tube may snap inside the lock if you do this step too hard.

Step 3: Keep the Pen Wiggling Until the Lock Comes Off

Keep the pen wiggling a bit as you put counterclockwise pressure. The main goal of this process is to clasp the pins in the plastic at the pen case’s end.

After a few minutes of wiggling and pushing, this would make the bike lock open. You do not have to do it aggressively because this method only requires patience and caution. In no time, you can use your bike again.

Watching a video is an excellent option to visualize this step correctly. So, check out this YouTube video on unlocking an old Kryptonite lock with a Bic pen.

Option 2: Empty Fizzy Drink Can

If you did not have luck using the BIC pen method, a shim is also an excellent way to remove a bike lock without a key, especially on cheaper bike locks.

So, what is a metal shim? A shim is a thin piece of firm metal or plastic found in cans. You put this between the shackle and the locking bolt. It primarily moves the bolt out of its restraint.

One downside of this method is that it doesn’t work on more expensive bike locks or cord locks because they come with features that keep them safe from basic picking methods, like shimming. But if the ballpen method didn’t work, this one is definitely worth trying.

Check out the second method on how to make a bike lock open.

Step 1: Wear Protective Gloves

Before following all the steps in this method, I highly suggest wearing protective gloves to keep your hands safe from cuts, as you will be dealing with a sharp metal from a fizzy drink can.

Step 2: Take an Empty Fizzy Drink Can

The next thing to do is to get your empty drink can and start making the shim. There are also readily available shims in specialized shops. But you might want to be as resourceful as possible and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Cut a rectangle piece of the soda can and hollow the middle into an M-shape. Fold the piece until you get something that looks like a flat cigar. Then bend the shim in the middle so it forms an L-shape. Do this with extreme caution. The pointy tip of the shim goes into the shackle of the bike lock’s body.

Step 3: Insert the shim into the lock

Put the shim in-between your bike lock and the shackle. Insert it carefully into the shackle hole and carefully try to override the padlock.

If you have a double-bolted lock, you would have to use two shims. Using two shims is also ideal for higher-quality locks.

Step 4: Depress the Bike Lock

The next step to do is to depress the bike lock, which eventually retracts its locking mechanism. If you got this step right, it would prevent the bolt from gripping the shackle in place. Picking a bike lock this way would make all locks open immediately.

You can also watch this video for a more thorough guide on opening bike locks using a shim.

Now that I finished elaborating on the two simple options of how to pick a bicycle lock, I will show more alternatives that should help if the above steps did not work.

Cutting the Lock Off

This option does not fit in unlocking a bike lock without the right tools anymore, because you will be using gears and skills to break it. But I highly advise you to visit a reliable and knowledgeable locksmith before doing this.

Before you break bike lock with a stubborn locking mechanism, I highly recommend trying different methods beforehand. Only consider this a last resort.

The type of bike lock affects your capability to cut it off. If you are only using a cable lock to secure your bike, you would not need many tools. A tension wrench is enough. It is known to effectively cut through cables.

Aside from a tension wrench, a pair of wire cutters/bolt cutters should also work. Bolt cutters are also reliable tools in cutting through bike lock cables. There are also bike shops that offer an electric lock pick, so make sure to visit your local bike shop.

These are among the safest and most convenient tools to remove bike locks if you lose the keys. You can also get a lock pick set in a bike shop.

Using an angle grinder or power grinder also helps a lot. It may be an unfamiliar tool for most of us, but simply put, an angle grinder or also known as a disc powered angle grinder, is a handheld tool used to abrasively cut and polish.

Never forget to wear your personal protective equipment (PPE), and ensure that you will not put yourself or other loved ones in danger when you try to unlock the padlock.

Finally, if all these bypass methods have failed, you will have to hire a locksmith.

Pro Tips:

  • Before you start deciding on the right method to use when you unlock the bike lock, it is crucial to determine the correct type of lock.
  • When you lose the original key, never panic and calmly assess your bike lock.


Did you like the tutorial? If you did, help us by sharing the article with your friends and family. Knowing how to unlock a bike lock without a key will help you get away from the hassle of getting a replacement key for bikes.

You can also save money because you do not have to ask for help from a bike shop. We’d also love an honest review of the article. So, don’t forget to share your experience in the comments after you follow this tutorial.

Furthermore, you can check out other relevant tips & tricks here:

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