I have a kryptonite U lock and lately it's been sticking a lot while trying to turn the key. Usually I can eventually get the key turned. It was getting worse though and a few days ago I (unable to find any lube/wd-40 etc) cleaned it out with soap and water which seemed to help a great deal. I also started being very careful to make sure the little key-hole guard engaged. Last night when I was totally unable to get my bicycle unlocked and had to leave it there and walk home. The key would fit into the lock and turn half way and then stop. I'm going to go try and pick it up now, but I don't know the best way to try and make sure this doesn't keep happening. It's winter here and I wonder if that might have something to do with it.

Edit: I ended up at the hardware store and the guy there (who had built his own bike in his garage, conveniently) recommended jig-a-loo. This made the lock move really well but I still couldn't get it open. This is when I noticed that my key was twisted (From trying to force the lock probably). I flattened the key back in a clamp and was able eventually to unlock it, but I can't seem to lock it again, so I ordered new keys. I'll have to wait till they come to see if that solves anything or it's actually a problem with the lock...

Edit again: Some graphite and new keys seemed to do the trick!

  • 1
    If there was any lubrication in there, you probably cleaned it out with the washing. Have you tried to get some wd-40 in there now?
    – Cascabel
    Feb 26, 2012 at 21:13
  • 5
    In locks, you normally don't use oily liquids, but graphite. Feb 27, 2012 at 1:23
  • My experience with "dry" teflon lube, such as finish line, has been excellent. I leave my lock outside locked to a rack 24/7. I had the exact problem you describe, and a generous amount of lube helped quite a bit. Eventually I also got around to spraying some speed degreaser in the keyhole, then relubing, and now the lock is good as new. Nov 19, 2013 at 15:56
  • This all could have been avoided if you grease your locks once in a while. It helps a deal. An oz of prevention is better then a pound of cure.
    – user10410
    Feb 26, 2014 at 7:42
  • Great idea.. what do you recommended for grease in locks (esp given the comment above not to use oily liquids)
    – Damon
    Feb 26, 2014 at 15:06

13 Answers 13


You can follow the advice in this thread to get your lock off, although my guess is that the lock was either damaged from washing it or water has frozen inside the lock.

Once you get it off, if the lock is damaged, Kryptonite has a lifetime warrantee on their locks. I'd call them up and ask if they'll replace it.


The thing to use in locks is TriFlow (Teflon spray lube). Though you can use a bit of WD40 first to clear out any sticky gunk.

Washing with soap and water was probably not the best approach.

  • 1
    Every locksmith I have ever met discourages using WD-40 in locks. It turns to gum. Mar 2, 2012 at 0:19
  • Well, a bike lock is a hair different from a standard lock, and I don't recommend WD40 as a lock lubricant, purely as a way to wash out whatever gunk may be clogging the mechanism. Mar 2, 2012 at 1:32
  • 3
    My experiences with using TriFlow to both de-gunk and re-oil the cylinder in a Kryptonite U-lock has been very positive. It'll take quite a few drops, but it works a lot better than WD-40.
    – moshbear
    Apr 19, 2013 at 11:33
  • 3
    One alternative "degunker" is "lock de-icer" spray. This is generally an alcohol-like product with modest solvent properties, and it leaves no significant residue behind. Apr 19, 2013 at 18:29
  • 1
    Thin wet lube for bike chains also works well in a pinch to get the lock moving smooth.
    – Benzo
    Jun 2, 2013 at 15:09

I was told by a locksmith never to use graphite on locks that stay outdoors (like bike locks) because it mixes with air vapor and turns to mud inside the mechanism. He recommended spraying in a good dose of ether-based cleaner (e.g. electrical contact cleaner) and then a bunch of silicone lube after.

Keys totally wear out. I've had both a flat key and a tubular key break off in two separate U-locks. It's a pain. So as soon as the lock and key starts to get iffy, ether-clean the lock, lube it, and if it's still iffy, replace your key with a spare ASAP.

Also, as tempting as it is (and especially if you're irritated), NEVER force keys with pliers. That was my downfall with the breakage both times. I've learned to get good with an angle grinder metal cutoff wheel.


Graphite is best, but is preventative. Once it starts to jam up, you're not going to have much luck getting the graphite in there. LPS Greaseless lubricant works well once you're at that point. Avoid silicone lubes, they make a gooey sticky mess out of locks!

  • Your reason for not using silicone is misleading, same could be said of any lube. Please expand on the logic behind your statement, it's kind of a straw man fallacy… it's like saying don't use water to wash your hands because you'll get wet. Maybe you used too much product? Anecdotal evidence suggests silicone works great. Nov 19, 2019 at 3:09
  • @eethirteenzz Different lube types have different characteristics. Silicone is too heavy. In the past I worked as lock repair and keying. I had to clean out a number of jammed up locks that customers brought back where they sprayed silicone in them and it gummed up the works. You might get away with it, but I can't advise it. Stick with something that doesn't leave a sticky residue if you must go oil based. Preferably though stick to graphite. Nov 19, 2019 at 14:25

Go to an automotive supply store and ask for lock deicer.It will melt any ice and lubricate the lock.Spray it in the key opening and rotate the key back and forth,try this several times applying more torque each time.It might help to let it sit awhile between applications.


Because you put water in there it's probably frozen. I would recommend lock de-icer because it's alchohol based. It will also lubricated (for a short time) but more importantly it will help flush anything out of the lock and then it any leftover liquid will just evaporate. Then I would put graphite in it or something teflon based. NOT WD-40 that stuff sucks for locks. It can be used to clean it although a locksmith will tell you not to do it.

If you go to a lock store or a local hardware store they might have a good suggestion but someone else mentioned sending it back on the lifetime warranty and that might be a good option for you as well.


If WD-40 or triflow or the like hasn't helped, and the lock is more than a year old, I'm going to guess the lock is fine, and your key is worn out. Try a spare key.

  • 1
    See related question on obtaining a duplicate key: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/11017/…
    – Benzo
    Sep 25, 2012 at 18:28
  • 1
    I've definitely noticed that kryptonite keys wear out over time and need to be replaced.
    – Benzo
    Sep 25, 2012 at 18:29
  • I've definitely worn out several keys, luckily most new locks come with 3 or 4 keys, so I can wear a few out before worrying about replacing them.
    – Benzo
    Feb 22, 2014 at 4:05

my Kryptonite fagetaboutit wasn't opening. I lubricated it and tried all the keys and each was turning and the U-part jiggled back and forth but it didn't release. I used a small plastic needleless syringe to squirt some bike bio-chain cleaner up the key opening and after a couple minutes of it sitting in there the lock released. I think it cleaned out the gunk that was sticking the release mechanism. I then wiped out the ends where the U seats into, and tapped out any loose liquid, then lubricated keyhole and the nib that springs in and out. Works well now


First. Squirt some lock "de-icer" in there. Insert the key and work it a bit. Redo if necessary.

If that doesn't work...

Second. Squirt some "Liquid Wrench" into the mechanism. Try a couple of times.

If that doesn't work, you'll need to think of cutting the lock in some way.

Bottom line? After the de-icer and liquid wrench, your lock may be fantastic. If not, get a new lock.


Here is something that might help.

How To Fix A Jammed Kryptonite U Lock

  • 1
    Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – Gary.Ray
    Mar 31, 2015 at 19:26

I had the same issue with mine even after lubing it with Triflow. Here's the form to send your lock back because it really shouldn't stop working in less than a year.



As great as all of these solutions are in a pinch you might not have deicer or lube. head to a coffee shop and get a cup of hot water. pour it on the lock and it should open (done this twice). You'll need to dry it out and lubricate it later but it works like a charm and gets you going in a pinch.

  • I don't think the problem is that the lock is literally frozen, so hot water will probably do the same as cold water. Maybe the thermal change will shift things very slightly. But this is worth trying if the alternative is walking home.
    – Móż
    Jan 12, 2016 at 20:34
  • Hot water would tend to soften any congealed lubricant in the lock. Jan 13, 2016 at 2:30

With your key in place, jiggle the lock and key

I've tried everything else. The most simple solution worked out the best!

  • 1
    Welcome to Bicycles @Wilson. If you read the full text of the question you will see that the OP explains several approaches, concluding with what eventually worked.
    – andy256
    Dec 9, 2014 at 23:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.