No Key, No Problem! Learn How to Unlock Your Bike Lock Without a Key

Key Takeaway

  • Unlocking a bike lock without a key can be done in several ways. The method you choose will depend on what type of lock you have installed.
  • You may pick a bike lock using a lock-pick to open it without the key.
  • You can also bypass the lock by shimming it, using the pen trick, decoding the combination lock, or even cutting the lock with bolt cutters. 

As I watched my daughter standing by her bike in tears in the morning, I realized that the key to her bike lock was missing. As a result, she couldn’t take it to school, so I dropped her in the car instead. 

After coming back home, I racked my brain, trying to remember what I had read about opening bike locks without the key and decided to give it a shot. With a bit of patience and perseverance, I was able to get the bike open without a key.

When my daughter returned from school, her bike was waiting for her with the lock open, and she seemed genuinely happy and intrigued, asking lots of questions about how it was done. While I was explaining the process to my budding lock enthusiast, I decided to pen down the information for my readers as well.

Hence, in light of my experience, I decided to write a blog post about unlocking a bike lock without a key. Hopefully, the post can help others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

What Type Of Lock Is Installed On Bike?

What Type Of Lock Is Installed In Bikes?

When it comes to bike security, there are a variety of locks that are installed on bikes. The most common types of locks used are U-locks, chain locks, and cable locks.

U-locks are made of metal and use a key or combination to unlock them. Chain locks usually have a thick metal chain with a locking mechanism at one end and use a key or combination to unlock. Cable locks are made of woven steel cables and also use a key or combination to unlock.

When it comes to unlocking a bike lock without a key, it is important to understand the locking mechanism for each type of lock. U-locks are more difficult to open as they require picking the lock, which can be difficult if you don’t have the right tools. 

Chain locks are slightly easier to open as they can often be shimmed or picked with a single pin pick. Cable locks are the easiest to open, as they can be cut with bolt cutters or decoded by trying out combinations. 

Overall, it is possible to open a bike lock without a key, but it can be difficult and time-consuming depending on the type of lock installed.

How To Open A Bike Lock Without A Key

In this section of the article, I will highlight some surefire ways to open a bike lock without a key and discuss them in detail.

Pick The Bike Lock Using A Pick

Pick The Bike Lock Using A Pick

The easiest way to open the bike lock is to use a lock-pick. This is an effective way of picking a lock and can be used on many different types of locks, including those found on bicycles. 

Here are the steps to do so,

  • Step 1: First, insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the lock. The tension wrench should be inserted at a slight angle so that it can apply pressure on the pins inside the lock as you attempt to open it. 
  • Step 2: You will then need to insert your pick into the top of the lock. Use the pick to push each individual pin-up in order to clear them from the shear line. 
  • Step 3: When all the pins have been pushed up, turn the tension wrench, and the lock should open.

Just remember to be careful when attempting this method, as you can easily damage the lock if too much pressure is exerted.

Bypass The Bike Lock By Shimming It

Bypass The Bike Lock By Shimming It

One of the easiest and most efficient methods of how to unlock a bike lock without a key is by using a shim. Shimming is an easy technique that can be used to open a bike lock without much effort or expense.

A shim is basically a thin piece of metal that can slide into the crevasse between the lock body and the shackle pushing it until the latch is lifted so that the lock can be released.

In order to use a shim, you will need to have access to either a manufactured shim or make your own. To make a homemade shim, you can use an empty aluminum can. Begin by cutting the can into two halves, then take one half and bend it until it has the shape of a long thin strip. 

Keep in mind that this method may not work on all types of locks as some are designed to resist shimming. However, it is worth trying out if you need to quickly break into a bike lock without damaging it. 

Bypass The Bike  Lock Using The Pen Trick

Bypass The Bike  Lock Using The Pen Trick

The pen trick is a popular method of lock-picking tubular locks on bikes. This technique is likely to only work on older bike locks, as most modern bikes do not use a tubular lock.

Here are the steps to do so.

  • Step 1: Pull a plastic pen and take off the ink tube from the inside as well as the cap from the end in order to pick the bike lock with it.
  • Step 2: Place the pen’s plastic body into the tubular cylinder and push firmly to secure it there.
  • Step 3: Insert the tube derived from the pen into the keyhole by pushing and wriggling it for a while, but be careful not to press too firmly lest the pen break inside the lock.

To learn how to open a tubular lock using a pen in detail, you may read one of my past articles. 

Decode The Code Of The Combination Lock

Decode The Code Of The Combination Lock

If you have a combination lock on your bike, it can be tricky to unlock without the code. Fortunately, there are some methods that can help you figure out the combination. As you decode the lock, be sure to keep the shackle or cable taut by maintaining tension.

Here’s how to unlock a bike lock without a key by decoding the combination code:

  • Step 1: Listen for the clicking of the tumblers. Most combination locks have 4 to 6 tumblers. You can listen carefully and try to identify the tumblers when you turn the dial. If you can hear the clicks, then you may be able to guess the combination by trial and error.
  • Step 2: Feel for vibrations. You can also try to feel for subtle vibrations when you turn the dial. If you feel any slight differences in the vibration, then it could be an indicator of which numbers make up the combination.
  • Step 3: Determine the possible number combinations. Most combination locks use 3-4 numbers for the combination. Use a piece of paper and a pen to write down all the possible combinations of 3-4 numbers from 0-9.
  • Step 4: Write down how many times you turn the dial in each direction. You can try to narrow down the combinations by turning the dial both clockwise and counterclockwise and noting how many times you turn it in each direction before it opens.
  • Step 5: Try out all the combinations you wrote down until you find the right one. Keep track of which numbers you’ve already tried and go through all your combinations until you find the right one.
  • Step 6: Change the combination as soon as you can once you unlock your bike lock. To keep your bike secure, it’s best to change the combination once you unlock your bike lock without a key so that no one else can open it using the same combination. 

With these steps, you should be able to figure out how to unlock a bike lock without a key using a combination lock. It may take some time and patience, but eventually, you’ll be able to get your bike unlocked.

Since my daughter’s bike had chain lock with combination configuration, I resorted to this method to open the lock.

Cut The Lock Using Bolt Cutters

Cut The Lock Using Bolt Cutters

If all else fails, the last resort to unlocking a bike lock without a key is to cut it with a pair of bolt cutters. Bolt cutters are the go-to tool for breaking into many types of locks, including bike locks. It’s a quick and easy process, but the downside is that it could permanently damage the lock and make it unusable.

Here’s how to break into a bike lock by cutting it with bolt cutters:

  • Step 1: Begin by determining the size of the bolt cutters you need. If your lock is thick, then you will need a larger pair of bolt cutters. Test the size of the cutters by placing them around the shackle of the lock and squeezing. 
  • Step 2: Put on safety glasses before using the bolt cutters, as pieces of metal may fly during the process. 
  • Step 3: Place the bolt cutters around the shackle of the lock and squeeze firmly. You should feel the pressure on both sides of the cutters as you squeeze. 
  • Step 4: Continue to apply pressure until you hear a snapping sound, indicating that you have successfully cut through the lock. 
  • Step 5: Carefully remove the broken pieces of the lock from your bike, and you’re free to go! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is it easy to open a bike lock without the key?

Answer – The level of ease in terms of opening a bike lock without the key quite depends upon the type of lock installed on the bike. U-locks are more challenging to open because doing so requires picking the lock, which can be tricky without the proper tools. Chain locks can frequently be shimmed or picked, making them a little bit simpler to open. The simplest locks to unlock are cable locks since they can be broken with bolt cutters or cracked by trying different combinations.

Q2. Can a locksmith make a duplicate key for a lock without the original key?

Answer – Yes, a locksmith can create a duplicate key for a bike lock without the original key by impressioning a blank key through the lock.


Unlocking a bike lock without a key can be difficult, but it is possible. By learning how to pick a bike lock, how to shim it, how to use the pen trick, how to decode a combination lock, or even how to break into a bike lock with bolt cutters, you can gain access to your bike without a key. There are many ways to go about unlocking a bike lock without a key, and with the right approach, you can find the solution that works best for you. 

If you tried any of the methods mentioned in the article, share your experience with me in the comment section.

Leave a Comment

Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.