My key has snapped off in my bike lock and I'm wondering if bolt cutters are going to do the job and if not what else will?

Its this lock that I have: Lock

  • if it proves too easy to break the lock, you might want to replace it with a different one!
    – PeteH
    Nov 2, 2014 at 21:20
  • There was a very good article in bicycling magazine some time back about bike lock design. As with any security concern, you must know your adversary. bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/unlocked Nov 3, 2014 at 15:16

6 Answers 6


Angle grinder is the preferred tool of bike thieves.

  • And how would you know this? Unless....you're a bike thief yourself?!
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 3, 2014 at 2:13
  • C'mon, really? There's plenty of research on this point, through incident reports and interviews and whathaveyou.
    – D.Salo
    Nov 4, 2014 at 14:23
  • @dsalo Bad attempt at a joke, sorry
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:07

Use a metal pick and pull the broken key out. You can make a pick out of a paper clip, hair pin, or anything that has harden metal. This way you can use the 2nd key that came with the lock and don't have to buy a new one.

  • 3
    That is a good point in that a locksmith can likely extract the broken-off key, even if you can't. Nov 3, 2014 at 3:16

The cable in the picture appears to have pieces of hardened steel tube around the cable (under the plastic cover). This is to discourage hacksaws and bolt cutters. A bolt cutter might still work, but you're probably better off with an angle grinder and cutoff wheel.


Got bolt cutters, a fair size and they couldn't get through it! Seems the lock was stronger than we thought. In the end it was a good old fashioned hammer and chisel into the key chamber that did the trick, managed to shift it round into the unlock position :D


The best option would be to ask the police or something to cut the lock for you.

Bolt cutters or even possibly some wire snips after cutting away some of the plastic around the cable should easily cut that cable as it looks quite cheap. Before trying this though, you may want to see if you can use some needlenose pliers or something to remove the key and use the other key.

Invest in a better lock next time, as well. See this question as well (along with some of the other questions in the side bar like this one.

  • Got somebody meeting me after work with some bolt cutters, just one I have is actually one up from the one i posted, its quite a bit thicker so fingers crossed it will work. Needle pliers wont work as none of the key is sticking out :( Nov 2, 2014 at 12:37

You may be able to use the stub of the broken key to operate the lock and unlock your bike (after putting in some lube). Either way, you should either take it to a locksmith to pull out the key (and perhaps make a duplicate to replace the broken one) or just get a new bike lock with stronger keys.

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