How To Prevent Your Bike Lock From Jamming : Tips To Deal With It

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Though they are meant to protect your bike from cycle thieves, bike locks have a really bad reputation for jamming at the most inconvenient times.

If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of inserting your key, only to find that your bike lock won’t open, or not being able to even insert your key in the first place, then you may need to learn a bit more about bike locks and how to maintain them.

Bike lock problems can be completely avoided in a majority of cases if the right technique is adopted.

Bike lock jams can be caused by a number of factors including rust, dirt or debris buildup in either the mechanism or the body of your bike lock.

You can normally tell where the problem lies by simply attempting to insert your key. If you try to insert your key, and it will not go in or it goes in but doesn’t turn, then the problem lies in the mechanism, but if your key is inserted freely and the lock doesn’t budge, then the problem lies in the body, where two parts connect.

It’s always better to prevent the problem than to try and solve it, so here are some tips that will keep your bike lock from jamming altogether.

Preventing your Bike Lock from Jamming: Tips & Tricks

A) Avoid Cheap Bike Locks

It may seem like a good decision at the moment, but cheap locks will just cause you stress and heartache, not to mention that it makes it easier for a cycle thief to make off with your bike.

Cheap locks will not only jam easily, but they fail pretty quickly too, and they are normally not able to withstand exposure to certain weather conditions.

dont use cheap lock

The smarter decision is to spend a little more and get a durable and weatherproof bike lock. If you do this in the first place, it’s very unlikely that you’ll have any bike jamming issues in the future.

If you live somewhere with unpredictable weather (spontaneous snow or heavy rainfall), search specifically for cycling brands that specialize in this type of lock, and you should also consider getting a lock with a key cover to prevent dirt entering and causing issues.

A good bike lock will last you for years on end, so spend the time to research and then choose wisely based on your specific circumstances and environment.

B) Proper cleaning & maintenance of the Lock

Your bike lock has two main parts that need to be taken care of consistently, the body and the mechanism.

The body doesn’t require too much maintenance, the ends of the bar and the lock holes just need to be cleaned by wiping them down every now and then.

It is essential however to lubricate it at the section where the bar and the body join together using an oil or grease.

For the mechanism, the best thing is to keep it clean, but if substances get inside, you can clean it using WD – 40.

Simply turn the lock upwards, and apply the WD – 40 into the cylinder to get rid of any dirt or debris. After cleaning your mechanism thoroughly, apply a lubricant.

Depending on your weather conditions, find a lubricant that is best at driving back the damage that can be caused by the elements. This combination will allow your bike locks to last longer and prevent any issues.

C) Lock with keyhole facing downwards

To prevent your bike lock from being infiltrated by dirt and debris, remember to turn your keyhole downwards after locking.

This will eliminate one of the major causes of jamming, by preventing any water or other material from entering in the first place.

Even if your bike lock comes with a cover, try your best to point your keyhole downwards for extra protection.

D) Be gentle with the key when opening

You may be rushing to get to work or school on time, but remember to treat your bike lock with care. It’s better to be gentle than to cause jamming or damage because of force, which will only make you later when you think about it. Make sure you insert your key gently and don’t turn before it gets all the way into the keyhole.

No matter how expensive and well made your bike lock is, if you turn the key before it’s fully inserted, the lock will jam.

Inserting the key starts the process of swiveling the discs in your lock, but if the key isn’t fully inserted, you mess up the process and cause confusion, which again only works against you.


The truth is that preventing your bike lock from jamming is a completely attainable task, and with the right skills and maintenance, you’ll be benefitting from this process for years to come, but remember, cheap bike locks are never the way to go. Practice the tips above and it is likely that you’ll never have this problem again.

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