Help Decode my Bike Lock
July 25, 2013 4:31 PM   Subscribe

I have a bike lock that uses letters instead of numbers for the combination. I locked up my bike a month ago and, of course, have forgotten the code word. I'd love metafilter's help to create a list of dictionary words that are possible from the letters on the lock so I can try them all until it opens. There are four wheels, each with 10 letters.

The available letters are:

Wheel 1: P L B F R M D T S W
Wheel 2: H E L O L A U Y R W
Wheel 3: L A O K S N T M R E
Wheel 4: D L Y P E T S M K G

Hoping there's some kind of online tool that might be able to do this? And, that it can maybe only show real words... Or maybe something in excel and then a way to compare to a dictionary of 4 letter words...
posted by dripdripdrop to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I deliberately chose a non-word on my lock that has five letter-wheels on it.

Based on the wordlist in /usr/share/dict/words that comes with OS X, there are 995 possibilities and I'm not going to post them all here because it seems annoying. But on an OS X machine you can generate it yourself with:

grep -iE '^[PLBFRMDTSW][HELOLAUYRW][LAOKSNTMRE][DLYPETSMKG]$' /usr/share/dict/words

On other Unix systems you can run the same command but with a different file name argumentā€”the word list may just be a file called /usr/share/dict

If I were you, I would probably just go for bolt cutters.
posted by xueexueg at 4:40 PM on July 25, 2013 [7 favorites]

If it's any of these, you can get default-combination lists and possible-word lists from the link. (Should speed it up some, this way)

If it's from a different company, they likely also have wordlists online as well.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:43 PM on July 25, 2013

Here's xueexueg's wordlist pasted into Google Docs.
posted by dfriedman at 4:43 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here are the 818 words that are in the (obsolete) third edition of the official scrabble player's dictionary. I did the same thing as xueexueg.

Are you sure that the second wheel has two L's on it? Because that seems dumb.
posted by aubilenon at 4:44 PM on July 25, 2013

Response by poster: aubilenon - you are right, its an I and an L on the second wheel, so it is:

Wheel 2: H E L O I A U Y R W

I've used xueexueg script with the right letters and have pasted into Word. Removing words I don't recognize since I would never use them to set it, we'll see how many are left.

posted by dripdripdrop at 4:52 PM on July 25, 2013

I wouldn't bother with a lookup table, you'll exhaust the key space much faster by incrementing the wheels in order without looking. There are only 10,000 combinations, I've cracked a similar lock in about an hour while watching a movie. You can also try "picking" it - many combination locks catch on one wheel at a time and you can feel which wheel is stuck by pulling and then turning each wheel gently to see if one is more difficult to turn then the other until it slips and then move on to the next wheel.
posted by ChrisHartley at 5:10 PM on July 25, 2013 [5 favorites]

Adding an I to the second wheel added an impressive 20% more words.

Yeah, vowels are pretty great sometimes. I'm a little surprised that nearly 10% of the possible combinations are scrabble-legal. I'd expect it to be lower.
posted by aubilenon at 5:22 PM on July 25, 2013

Seconding ChrisHartley, mine took longer because I only worked on it while sitting at traffic lights but it was much easier to go by feel than to have to look at the lock for error checking.
posted by jamaro at 5:41 PM on July 25, 2013

Response by poster: I got the list down to about 500 words. It turned out to be word #436.

Thanks all.
posted by dripdripdrop at 6:17 PM on July 25, 2013 [35 favorites]

What was the word?
posted by Simon_ at 2:29 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: It was TARP, no clue why I chose that.

Don't steal my bike!!!
posted by dripdripdrop at 8:13 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

« Older A LoJackĀ® for bicycles?   |   Wedding gift/token ideas for best friend getting... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.