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How to Unlock a Bike Lock Without Keys

So you’ve managed to lose the keys to your bike lock, and you’re now wondering how to unlock a bike lock without a key!

Without a key, you’re left with a few fiddly options. But keep reading, because below ill teach you the best ways to unlock a bike lock without a key.

If you haven’t already, go check out what to do if you’ve lost your bike key before attempting the more drastic steps below.

It’s likely that you’ll be able to open your lock with the help of the article above!

The first two ways to unlock a bike lock without a key in this list require someone else to help. If you want to unlock your bike lock yourself, read the other steps!

If you’ve managed to snap a key in the cylinder of your bike lock, read my 5-step broken key removal guide, before returning here. 

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    Please note:

    The methods stated below should only be used in last resort. If you decide to attempt any of the below steps, you’ll be doing so at your own risk and may end up damaging your lock.

    If you have lost the keys to your bike lock, check out the simple steps of how to find your lost bike keys. These steps should be attempted first as they aren’t as likely to damage your lock!

    If none of the steps in this article have worked for you, the steps below will show you some great methods of how to unlock a bike lock without a key.

    Minors and children should not attempt these steps without adult supervision.

    1. Use a Locksmith

    If you’ve lost the keys to your bike and have attempted these simple steps already, you might want to contact a local locksmith.

    Locksmiths have great knowledge or locking systems and will be able to help you unlock your bike lock without it’s keys.

    You may also decide to use a locksmith because you don’t want to damage your bike lock or be accused of stealing! Both are perfectly good reasons.

    This method is probably the most expensive out of the methods I’ve suggested, but also the most likely to work!

    A locksmith may end up having to cut your bike lock off, but at least you’ll have your bike back. It’s now time to get a good quality replacement lock!

    A locksmith will have the tools needed to remove almost any lock, which will save you time and dignity!

    It’s worth asking for a quote from different locksmiths so that you get the best price possible.

    2. Contact a Local Bike Shop

    Some bike shops will have the tools needed to unlock a bike lock without keys. Most bike locks will be able to cut the lock off for you, and are likely to charge a small fee for doing so.

    If your bike lock was not expensive this may be the best way forwards.

    Call around your local bike shops and ask if they can help!

    what to do if you lose your bike keys

    3. Use a Lock Pick

    The old faithful. Whilst this may sound like a secret services mission, lock picking is one of your best choices when attempting to unlock a bike lock without keys.

    Lock picking is not easy, many newer locks feature extremely complex locking cylinders, which make them very hard to pick.

    To pick a lock, you’ll need a few tools:

    • A lock pick set
    • A tension wrench
    • Lock picking skills & knowledge
    A basic lock picking toolkit
    (credit: GeoTrinity - wikimedia)

    Cheaper locks are much easier to pick, so if you know your lock is cheap, you may be able to unlock it without keys. Bear in mind there may be laws where you live regarding the picking of locks, so make sure to do your research.

    Now, to pick your bike lock, you’ll need to insert your tension wrench into the keyhole (plug) and apply some tension to the cylinder. From here, insert your picking tool and feel for the key pins.

    Once you have located the first key pin you’ll want to slowly nudge it up, maintaining tension with the wrench.

    Once the key pin has pushed the driver pin past the shear line, you’ll feel a small click. This is the sign to move onto the next key pin.

    Repeat this process until you’ve set all of the pins in place. You should then be able to twist the lock open with your tension wrench!

    Congratulations if this worked for you! If not, try some of the other methods of opening a lock without keys!

    4. Use a Plastic Pen (BIC/Biro Style Pen)

    This is an extremely old-school method of lock-picking, that is unlikely to work on newer bike locks as they no longer use tubular cylinders.

    Using a pen to unlock a bike lock without keys is an extremely old-school method of lock-picking. This technique is unlikely to work on newer bike locks, as the pen simply won’t fit into the cylinder.

    The picture below shows an example of the cylinder needed for this trick to be possible (a tubular cylinder).

    If your bike lock’s cylinder is tubular, you’re in luck, you may be able to unlock it without keys!

    How to unlock a bike lock without keys

    Take a BIC style plastic pen and remove the ink tube from inside along with the cap from the end. Now you should have the plastic body of the pen, which can be inserted into the tubular cylinder.

    You may have to press firmly for the pen to insert into the lock, but doing so should force the plastic into the shape that they key would have been.

    You’ll probably need to keep pushing and wiggling the hollow pen tube into the keyhole for a good period of time before anything happens.

    Whatever you do, don’t snap the pen inside the lock, by pressing too hard!

    5. Use a Shim to open the lock without keys

    If you haven’t had any luck with the BIC pen method, using a shim can also be a good way to open a bike lock without keys.

    Again, this method is unlikely to work on more expensive bike locks as they have features that protect them from basic picking such as shimming. But, if you have no other choice, this could be worth a try.

    Make sure to wear protective gloves and use the necessary equipment when making your shim. The metal you use can be very sharp and could easily cut you.

    To make your shim, you’ll need an empty fizzy drinks can.

    A shim works by inserting a point of metal in-between the locking bolt of a lock and its shackle. Doing so prevents the bolt from holding the shackle in place and can open the lock.

    The video below shows how to make a shim, remember your protective gear and don’t do this if you aren’t confident it’s safe for you.

    Now that you’ve made your shim, insert it into the shackle hole, and attempt to override the deadbolt.

    If your lock is double bolted, you may need to use two shims (one on either side of the shackle) to unlock your bike lock.

    6. Cut the Lock off Yourself

    If you have the tools and skills required to remove a bike lock yourself, you may decide that this is the best option.

    Try out the other methods of unlocking your bike lock without a key, before attempting this. This should be considered a last resort.

    If your you use a cable lock to secure your bike you should be able to remove the lock without the need of power tools.

    A pair of wire cutters or a pair of bolt croppers/cutters should do the trick. This is one of the safest and easiest ways to remove a bike lock without keys.

    Using an angle grinder, you’ll be able to cut through almost any bike lock, apart from these. If you have an angle grinder or other similar power tools, you may decide to use these.

    Wear your PPE and make sure you’re not putting yourself or any members of the public in danger when doing so.

    Summary - How to Unlock a Bike Lock Without Keys

    If you were wondering how to unlock a bike lock without keys, hopefully, the above steps should have helped. The best way to unlock any bike lock is with the keys, so if you haven’t already read these simple steps and you may be able to find/replace your missing keys.

    If you use a good-quality bike lock, it’s very likely that it will have to be cut off. If you didn’t use a good quality bike lock, then you’re lucky that a thief hasn’t stolen your bike already.

    If you’re interested in buying a new bike lock you should read my review of the 8 best bike locks on the market.

    Otherwise, if you’re on a tighter budget, read about the best cheap bike locks for some more budget-friendly suggestions

    Lock it, or lose it.

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    Me and My Bike

    Hello! My name’s James, I’m an avid cyclist and the lead editor of BikeLockWiki.

    I’ve invested over four years into researching & studying bicycle security. Now I want to share the information I’ve learnt, for free, with the online cycling community.

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