My cable lock is jammed. The key fits in but won't turn. What can I do? My bike is locked up outside on the street so I guess the first thing would be to put a second lock on it in case the first randomly comes unlocked.

  • 1
    Find a good, strong bolt cutter. We regularly remove locks from bikes when we rehab them, and cables always succumb to a good bolt cutter. (U locks we use an angle grinder on.) Jul 26, 2017 at 12:00
  • Hit it with some penetrating oil or WD40. Tap it with a hammer.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 26, 2017 at 14:36
  • I've had locks where the key needed to be taken in and out a few times sharply, rotated 180° in and out again a few times...then worked fine. If that becomes routine, chain lube with PTFE is what I use on bike locks.
    – Chris H
    Jul 26, 2017 at 15:58
  • Cable locks are very easy to cut. Thin diameter or cheap locks can be cut with small handheld wire cutters, although bolt cutters are the best.
    – Nic
    Jul 26, 2017 at 18:58
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of My key jammed in my U-lock. How can I unlock/break it?
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 26, 2017 at 23:21

3 Answers 3


I suggest you secure the wheels and saddle before long. Component theft is an issue especially on bikes that look abandoned or are otherwise left in the same place for some time.


This depends on where you are to some extent.

I would start by asking either the local police or council and if they're not interested a locksmith. Going with someone official makes the job look a lot less sketchy.

Might be worth while having the receipt or some photos of you and the bike handy incase you're challenged.

That said, most cable locks are pretty worthless and if you're not worried about getting stopped, some quality cable cutters or small bolt cutters would do the trick.

And, yours isn't, but for combination locks, you can usually decode them by pulling on the lock body and turning the barrels gently until you feel a click.

  • In the UK, I've never been challenged when cutting mine or friends locks. In the US, there is a good documentary in YouTube showing it to be just as easy. Don't know about the rest of the world.
    – Nic
    Jul 26, 2017 at 19:00

The lock may be corroded inside which has jammed it. You might try spraying a little WD-40 or similar product into the lock and see if this frees it up.

If something has broken in the lock, then you'll have to cut the cable using bolt cutters.

  • 1
    WD40 is terrible to spray in locks. The light lubricant attracts dust and grime and messes them up. Only spray teflon or graphite dry lubricants in a lock.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 26, 2017 at 23:22
  • 1
    @RoboKaren Good point.The only reason I would use WD-40 would be to free up corroded parts and get the thing unjammed. Cleaning with acetone afterwards would get rid of the W4-40. Jul 27, 2017 at 0:50

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