How to Cut a Bike Lock – 8 Ways

After an exhausting bike ride, you park your bike and leave to grab a cup of coffee. You lock your bike so it doesn’t get stolen. However, upon returning, you’re can’t unlock the bike lock. You notice the lock has already been tampered with, making it difficult to unlock it.

A biker needs to learn how to cut a bike lock cable and get out of the situation comfortably for a situation like this. So, you might be wondering what the best way to cut a bike lock is, does it need some special sets of tools and skills, and when to call a locksmith; all these questions and other related information will be answered in this step-by-step guide.

Before you go further, you need to know this article is in no way promoting criminal activities. These steps and a few guidelines are for those people who have lost their keys or their bike lock is stuck accidentally.

These methods will not be effective for every person of every skill level. If you have one of the best padlocks, you might need professional help to open your bike lock.

Reasons Why You Would Need to Cut Your Bike Lock

Other than unlawful and criminal reasons, there are many reasons you would need to cut a lock. You need to go back home but cannot open the lock, and in such cases, you need to know the procedure to cut bike locks. These are some of the reasons you would need to know these steps:

Kryptonite New-U New York Standard Heavy Duty Bicycle U Lock Bike Lock BLACK/YELLOW, 10

1. You Lost Your Keys

One of the main reasons bike riders look for ways to cut locks is that they drop or lose their keys after locking their bike. Retracing your steps and searching for the key is a difficult task.

If you’re prone to losing keys, and it has happened a lot in the past, it is better to learn ways to cut the lock instead of spending time looking or hire a professional locksmith to do the job for you.

2. The Lock Is Tampered With

What do you mean by a tampered lock? When kids try to enter sticks into the bike’s lock or thieves try to unlock a bike but their efforts fail, that is when the lock is said to be tampered with. 

You won’t be able to enter keys in a tampered lock-hole and face difficulties unlocking the bike lock. A tampered lock can’t open freely, and that is why you need to know of ways to cut or unlock your bike. 

3. Bolt Lock Failure

Sometimes, even though the lock would look in perfect condition visually, it would still fail to open using keys or enter the secret combination of numbers or letters. A bolt lock failure is when there might be an issue in the internal part of the lock.

The bolt lock failure is when the system inside the lock has malfunctioned, making it unable to open the lock. The most common reason why this failure happens is the age of the lock itself. 

Read Where to Put Bike Lock While Riding

Types of Bike Locks

There are many different types of locks used to lock your bike. Some of them are U-locks, chain locks, cable locks, and wheel skewers.

To figure out how to cut locks and unlock your bike, it is first essential to discuss all of these locks individually to better understand how they work.

1. U- Locks

It is one of the most secure locks for bikes. A U-lock is very difficult to break with a hammer chisel and mallet. This lock is the most common one used by bike riders because it offers safety from thieves.

It will fit well with your bike to limit the space for hammers and other tools to enter. Theft is more possible if there is space between the lock and bike.

Kryptonite New-U Evolution Series 4 LS Bicycle U-Lock, Black, 4" x 11.5" 14mm (002147)

2. Cable locks

Cable locks are the next option of security for your bike. They are flexible cables that are wrapped around the equipment and locked around with a key.

They are not as strong as U-locks and can be easily broken using tools and even with your bare hands. That is why if you plan to secure your bike from theft, it is important to use them as a complement to U-locks.

Amazon Basics 6 ft. Adjustable Keyed Bike Cable Lock, Black, 1-Pack

3. Chain Locks

As the name suggests, chain locks are made from a chain. It offers security to the bike if the right type of lock is used; that is why to choose thick chains in areas of insecurity.

The thicker the chain, the more difficult it is to break and cut through. This kind of lock is heavier than other forms of locks.

Kryptonite New York FAHGETTABOUDIT 1415 14mm Chain & New York Lock 15mm Disc Lock , Black

4. Wheel Skewers

The wheel sketwers locks offer security even they look smaller in size. If you need to break them in an emergency, it is only possible if you have some special tools. These locks are perfect for the areas where there are more possibilities of bike theft.

Check out, How to Clean Disk Brakes on a Road Bike

How to Break Bike Locks?

Learning how to cut bike lock cable is an important skill to use, especially during times of emergency where a biker fails to open the bike lock for some reason and should not be used for illegal purposes.

Breaking and cutting locks should only be done as a last resort. If you do not have the proper tools, you risk damaging the tool and possibly harming yourself. Bolt cutters are the go-to tool for how to open a bike lock by cutting it.

But there are various ways to cut and break a lock that you can use to unlock your bike.

1. With Your Bare Hands

You can break many locks easily with bare hands; you don’t need to be the incredible hulk to break it. For example, you can easily break cable locks if you get your bicycle stuck to the bike rack or locked to a pole.

2. Wire/Cable Cutters

If you’re looking for a quick and easy fix to this problem, use a cable cutter to cut through most cable locks to set your bike free. This method is inconspicuous, easy, and cheap, and you can easily carry around this tool in a coat pocket; bike thieves mostly use these tools.

WISEPRO Multifunctional 10-inch Cable Pliers , Non-slip handle、Sharp、Wear-resistant、 High Carbon Steel Wire Cable Cutters

3. Hacksaws

If you don’t own cable cutters, you can use hacksaws to slice a cable lock very easily. Carry one around in your purse when you go on bike rides with your friend. Hacksaws can even cut through U-locks made from soft and thin metals.

LENOX Tools High-Tension Hacksaw, 12-inch (12132HT50), Blue

4. Hammers

If you own a lock that is poor in quality, then even a simple household tool like a hammer can break the bike lock.

However, this is unsafe as the thief can easily steal your precious bike by hitting the lock system by keeping it against a concrete pavement. So using a good locking system is very important if you keep your bike as safe as you can.

5. Crowbars / Scaffold poles

Locking your bike with a U-lock is the safest way to go but also the most difficult to cut if you accidentally lose your keys or someone tampers with it.

Scaffold poles, long pieces of metal, and Crowbars are used to unlock your bike in this case. They work effectively on mid-range U-locks. 

6. Bolt Cutters

The best and the quickest way to cut the most difficult U-locks and thickest chains is using bolt cutters.

They come in various sizes; you can use a smaller cutter to cut cable locks and carried around easily in a backpack, whereas thieves use a medium-sized bolt cutter to cut U-locks and chains.

Bike thieves mostly use bolt cutters to steal parked bikes and break locks without much effort.

KOTTO Bolt Cutter Pliers Set Industrial Heavy Duty Soft Rubber 14" and Mini 8" Bolt Cutters, 8" High Leverage Cable Cutter with Carrying Case Easily Cut Locks, Barbed Wire, Thick Wire

7. Hydraulic Bottle Jacks

Hydraulic Bottle Jack is not a very common tool, but if you’re used to losing keys, then you can get one. This method works by entering the space inside a U-lock.

It applies more pressure to pop open the lock and works for even the most secure locks. This method is what thieves use to break open locks and steal bikes. 

8. Portable Angle Grinders

Battery-powered angle grinders produce more noise and a lot of sparks, so they draw more attention. Angle grinders cut through any lock easily, but thicker locks need a longer time. 

How to Unlock a Bike Locked with a U-Lock?

Using a U-lock to lock your bike safely in the bike rack is the best way to keep your bike safe in an unsafe area; however, they can also be the most difficult to break into not only for thieves but also for you if you accidentally lose or drop your key on your way.

But worry no more; other than cutting locks, there are various ways to bust open a U-lock to free your bike.

1. Opening A U-Lock with A Ballpoint Pen

The Pen Trick is a simple ballpoint, or you can use a plastic pen to open a bike lock. You can do this by removing the pen’s tip or using a tube with a similar diameter; press the hollow cylinder into the keyway and turn to unlock the bike lock.

This trick works best if you have lost your key on your way back to the parked bike but won’t completely be successful if the lock has been tampered with.

In that case, you would have to go through the methods mentioned above to cut locks or instead go for a professional who can unlock your bike without harming the lock.

Kryptonite Kryptolok Standard 12.7mm U-Lock Bicycle Lock with FlexFrame-U Bracket , Black

2. Opening Low-Quality Locks Using Shims

Locks that are low-quality and made of poor material can be shimmed open. Shimming the lock is a very popular method to unlock it and only requires some slim sailor hat-shaped pieces of metal.

You can unlock the bike lock by sliding the pointed end of the shim into the crevasse between the lock body and the shackle.

Position the shim inside the U-shape of the shackle and depress it to retract the locking pawl. 

3. Call a Locksmith

If all the above methods were not successful in opening the bike lock, it is essential to reach out to a locksmith. No matter what kind of lock it is, they would be able to break or cut through it.

Many bike owners try to take this procedure into their own hands and overlook calling a locksmith. But locksmiths, with their professional skills, can easily open cheap bike locks without harming the structure of the lock; this makes the locks usable again.

For more expensive locks that provide high security, a locksmith, in addition to opening the lock, may also be able to service the lock so that you can use it again. A locksmith could save your lock by swapping out the existing core, making a new key, finding your combination, etc.

Choose the right locksmith for unlocking your bike; this way, you won’t have to look up DIY methods to cut through locks, and instead, call a professional to do the job of unlocking for you. A professional would know how to exactly help you relieve a lot of your stress.

How to Cut a Bike Lock
How to Cut a Bike Lock

Let your ego go and know you can call a locksmith whether your bike is stuck at home or in a parking bike rack. There is nothing wrong with choosing a professional to do the work you did not have time to learn how to do yourself.


This article has all the things you need to know about cutting through and opening bike locks. Choose a method that works best for you, and if none of them work due to no tools available at the moment, it is best to reach out to a professional locksmith to do the work for you.

But this information is solely for bike riders with locked bikes in need of some help. Only cut through the lock of the bike you own and do not use this guide for breaking locks for any illegal purposes. Follow the laws in regards to the methods listed above, and good luck opening your bike lock.

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