How to Deal With a Frozen Bicycle Lock

Bike locks can’t take the cold. If you’re trying to get on your bike and the lock is all seized up and frozen, here’s what you can do.


A good lock will keep your bike safe from thieves, at least most of them, but it won’t offer much protection from the weather.

If you live in the north and ride your bike in the winter, you’ve probably had your lock freeze on you at least once or twice. So we figured we’d walk you through how to tackle it.

The easiest way to prevent a bike lock from freezing is to not have the lock outside in the first place. If that is unavoidable, then you can put a few drops of WD-40 or Teflon Oil into the lock. It is also important that you keep the lock clean.

In the rest of this post, we will talk about two things:

First, how to keep your bike lock from freezing on you in the winter. Second, the things you can do to deal with a frozen bicycle lock so that you can be back on your way without hassle.

How Do You Prevent a Bike Lock From Freezing?

Generally speaking, three things can help you keep your bike lock from freezing. These include:

  • Keeping your bicycle lock clean
  • Remove debris with WD-40
  • Lubricate with silicone oil

The best option is not to have the bike locked up outside during the winter. Of course, we know that this won’t be possible for everybody.

Let’s walk you through how to prevent that bike lock from freezing. This method can be used for most bike locks. If you have a combo lock, then some of these tips won’t help as you don’t have a lock that you can oil up.

Keep Your Bicycle Lock Clean

You will want to give your bike lock a good wipe down a couple of times per month. This means removing it from the lock and using a dry cloth to wipe away any debris.

If you have a combo lock, then make sure that you wipe down the numbers properly. Dirt and grime tend to gather around them, which is far from ideal—and they can cause the lock to jam more easily in bad weather.

Remove Debris With WD-40

During the cleaning process, you will want to spray WD-40 Multi-Use Industrial Product into the following places:

  • The keyhole
  • The insertion points for the bike lock
  • The numbers, for those of you have a combo lock

Some people will use compressed air for the job instead. However, we prefer to use WD-40.

This is because WD-40 is a blend of oils that helps to clean, lubricate, and displace water in the lock’s mechanism, which will reduce the risk of it freezing. That—plus the fact that most of us will likely have WD-40 kicking around the home anyway.

Lubricate With Silicone Oil

Many people think that WD-40 is a lubricant, but it isn’t.

After spraying some WD-40 into the lock, add a few drops of DuPont Silicone Lubricant With Teflon.

Again, this is something that you will likely have anyway. Or, if you don’t we recommended that you get one. Silicone lubricant is a handy thing to have at home, including when you’re assembling and disassembling your bike.

The lubricant can be placed in exactly the same places that you have put the WD-40. The whole idea behind it is to keep everything well lubricated and to prevent the internal mechanism of the lock from seizing up.

Open and Close the Lock Several Times Per Month 

Once everything has been cleaned up and wiped down, open and close the lock 5-6 times. It allows the WD-40 and the silicone lubricant to spread about the components.

You only need to clean the bike lock once or twice per month.

However, we encourage you to open and close the lock a couple of times per week, especially if you don’t use your bike all that much and you keep it parked outside.

This helps to prevent the components from seizing up. It will also allow you to deal with any dirt and grime quickly. You don’t want that to become too much of a problem! 

If you follow these tips, then we reckon that your bike lock should be able to survive winter.

Although, do bear in mind that some bike locks will fare a little bit better. If you plan to have your bike locked up outside during the colder months of the year, try to opt for a quality bike lock. They tend to have features that make the bike lock a little less likely to freeze (or at least a little easier to unfreeze without braking).

How Do You Deal With a Frozen Bike Lock?

Okay… So you put in all the effort and went through the hassle of cleaning and using your bike lock.

Still, cold is cold, so the lock seized up on your anyway! What happens if your bike lock has frozen up? What are you supposed to do to be able to go on your way?

Obviously, you can just leave it there and wait till it gets warmer. It’s likely to thaw out eventually. But if you need to use your bike right away—and not come summer—the following guide should help. 

Use Lock De-Icer

Lock De-Icer has one job. That is to remove ice from locks. Spray some into your lock and leave it in there for a minute or two. Chances are that it will melt that ice away and you can be on your merry way.

Use a Hairdryer

If you don’t have any de-icer and you can get the bike close enough to the garage or house, then you can use a hairdryer. Turn it up to the highest heat setting. Again, this should melt the ice away.

That being said, we would recommend that you avoid using a hairdryer on the cheaper locks. They have cheap plastic components that could soften and melt.

If you do use a hairdryer, go through the cleaning procedure above to displace the water and lubricate the lock.

Don’t Force The Key In 

Try to avoid forcing your key into the bike lock. We know, it can be tempting!

However, if you try to force the key in there, there is a good chance it will just snap. Trust us, dealing with a broken key in a lock will be a lot tougher than dealing with an iced-up lock. 

If you have a key, you may want to heat it up with a lighter. Some people have found that placing a hot key into the lock will melt the ice. 

Final Words

Preventing a bike lock from freezing isn’t too tricky.

As long as you check on the lock a couple of times per month and ensure that you give it a good clean, then we have no doubt that it will be able to get through the winter months.

However, where possible, try to avoid putting your bike outside in the first place. While your bike lock may survive, the bike may not.

For your convenience: The three products mentioned in this post are WD-40 Multi-Use Industrial Product for cleaning, DuPont Silicone Lubricant With Teflon for lubricating, and Lock De-Icer for—no prize for guessing—de-icing.

By Dim Nikov

City dweller. Recreational cyclist with a knack for writing. Always trying to find the right balance between life and bike.