Expensive “U-Lock” bicycle locks can be defeated with a ballpoint pen.

There’s a big storm brewing among bicycling enthusiasts after a post on a popular bike forum showed how easy it is to unlock a popular bike lock using a Bic ballpoint pen.

This is the most absurd thing I’ve seen in a very long time.

As you guys might remember, I recently had the nicest set of wheels I’ve ever had stolen from me. Today I was hanging out with a friend and we got to talking about that – he said his friend showed him just recently how to open a U-Lock with a ball point pen.

Of course I didn’t believe it. That is until just thirty seconds ago when I opened my own Kryptonite Evolution 2000 with a bic ball point pen!

This has to be the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen. Try it. Take the end off the pen, jam it in the lock, wiggle around and twist.

Please tell everyone you know and make sure they do something about it right away. The thieves probably already know this trick but from what I’ve heard it’s fairly new. I figure the information is going to get out anyway and so it’s better to let the honest people know first and hope this problem gets fixed.

You’ve got to be kidding me – most people consider these the standard for locking up. And it’s a BALL POINT PEN that can break them open!? WTF. I will be on the phone with Krypto first thing tomorrow morning.

Movie #1: http://thirdrate.com/misc/krypto.mov
Movie #2: http://biginjapan.com/extranet/asse…ev_disc_web.mov
Movie #3: http://biginjapan.com/extranet/asse…o_ev_speedy.mov
Movie #4: http://www.engadget.com/common/videos/pt/lock.wmv (right click, save as)
Movie #5: http://gallery.iamjp.com/ids/albums…eo/MOV00104.MPG

Reading the thread gives a clearer picture in that it appears this flaw only affects certain models of lock which use a rounded key mechanism and the type of pen used must be pretty specific, but if you have one of the locks in question it’s ridiculously easy to open them using the method described. Folks have been on the phone to the company, Krypto, and the company is already looking into the issue further. Considering how expensive these locks are this could be a devastating blow if they don’t address it. Check the videos out for examples of how it’s done. If you own a Krypto lock you may want to contact the company to see what plans they have to address the issue:

1-800-SAY-LOCK (USA)
781-828-6655 (outside USA)
437 Turnpike Street
Canton, MA 02021, USA


17 thoughts on “Expensive “U-Lock” bicycle locks can be defeated with a ballpoint pen.

  1. I have an older version of this lock – now I have to check the bugger. *sigh*

    Things like this always give me pause. On the one hand, as a consumer, I am happy to be informed if I have potentially misplaced my confidence in a product. On the other hand, now a lot of people know how to pick these locks that didn’t know prior to that thread. So… which outweighs which?

  2. Minx, there’s some indication that the bad guys already know about this technique as various people have complained about their bikes being stolen despite the lock still being locked to whatever stationary object they had attached it to. The guys that make the lock have even admitted that there have been a few mysterious thefts. Whether they should have revealed how it’s done is open to debate, but without the explanation I think most folks would hold some reasonable skepticism of the claims validity purely on the lock’s good reputation and thusly would have continued to be at risk of having their bike stolen. Plus this way the manufacturer is encouraged to come up with a solution quickly.

    Patch, my guess would be either A) they had some background in locksmithing and thus thought this might be a possible vulnerability or B) they’re dumb as rocks and try to insert Bic pens into random objects as a form of entertainment and got lucky.

  3. I used a Papermate pen, but it definitely was able to open the lock with only about a minute of work.  Unfortunately, I am having difficulty relocking it with the pen and now the key does not go in either because the lock is turned.  I suppose relocking is not a problem for thieves though.

    Going back to fiddle some more.

  4. Holy crap!  I’ve got the same lock used in the top video clip securing my $600 mountain bike right now!  I guess I’ll be headed to the bike store after work.

  5. Paul – one of the users on BikeForums.net ground the little tab off the outside of the key, and was then able to get the key into the lock to allow the shackle back into place.

    Man, what a boondoggle. I’ve got an old Kryptonite lock; it appears to lock differently than the ones in the videos, but still, I’ll have to check the thing.


  6. I posted an entry about this on my blog as well, and that is exactly what I did with my spare key to make the lock useable again.  Thanks for the idea though.

  7. Uh, dumb question time….but Paul, why would you want to use the lock again? I’d be tossing it and finding a new way to lock up my bike.

  8. Not to speak for Paul, but the company is likely to offer some form of re-coring the locks once they come up with a better design, possibly at little to no cost. They have a rep they wish to maintain and these locks are very good other than this one major flaw. Very tough to cut off or break otherwise. Not sure if the company will honor the request if the lock appears to have been jammed open though.

  9. It also happens to be the only bike lock I own, and I use my bike nearly every single day.  I mostly lock my bike up in safe and public places, and I am going to wait for the company’s response before doing any new lock purchases.

  10. I mostly lock my bike up in safe and public places,

    Whereabouts do you live?  I’ve been meaning to get a new mountain bike.  cool smirk

    Seriously, with the proliferation of this information you might want to pick up a secondary lock until the company gets it act together.

  11. Funny this is just hitting the news bigtime now…When I heard about it originally a few months ago, it was certain brands of laptop locks that people were worried about.

  12. Uh shit….
    Grabbed a Bic pen, tried it on a friends 2 bikes. pen too narrow, Used the end of a dryboard marker pen… Just Right! Pushed in and turned.. nadda.. eased off a bit, wiggled, kept at it for 20 second.. POP!! Then spent another 3 minutes getting the damn thing closed, Cause of course the key WONT FIT NOW..
    Fairly new cheap CANADIAN TIRE (in Canada) Supercycle brand..
    Tried on OLDER, rusty off brand.. 10 minutes, no luck..
    SO…….. Rusty old off brand U locks better..

  13. For no reason what so ever, my kryptonite lock jammed, the key wouldn’t fit in the key slot. I was super mad; I would never have imagined it happening. Emailed kryptonite, they told me to call a locksmith (yeah right like a locksmith would open one of these locks). After 2 month, I got faculties management on our apartment to cut it open (these things come of super easy with the right tool.

    Happy to get my bike back, got a new lock…. BUT IT HAPPEND AGAIN!!!!
    But it’s really cold here now, the first time it happened it was during the summer, I don’t know if that has anything not do with it, but I’m so mad at kryptonite now! My 300$ bike is locked to a bike rack again!

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