Product Review : Ottolock Hexband Destruction!

Hexband is the new improved product from Otto Design Works offering improved security and durability. In March ’19 the company plans to sell a version of their “cafe lock” design with better engineering and much improved security features. Coincidentally the Ottolock has taken a lot of flack in the past few months mainly due to criticism that it’s too easy to break into. Having used the Ottolock for over a year now, mainly as a “cafe style” lock I never had an issue and its been a great opportunist theft deterrent when locking up all kinds of things including bikes and coolers when camping.

Still, not a u lock replacement, the Hexband aims to offer a higher level of security and to help with expectations the company are providing tips on their website here: Guidelines

At first glance the Hexband looks identical to the Ottolock
Hexband Grey – Ottolock Gen 2.5 Orange

Before we get into the nuts and bolts, where the beauty lies in flexible locks is versatility. I love the multi-use functionality that Ottolock provided when securing various things including front wheels, bikes to car racks, camping coolers and even moving dolly’s. Needless to say it’s versatile lock that prevents an opportunist theft which may not have been covered otherwise.

The tumbler case / head got tougher with a Zinc based housing.

Hexband is beefed up in various areas but yet retains the same small, portable lock feel. The unit looks very similar to Ottolock, and I should point out that I have an refined sample, as things are still changing before final release. The Hexband I have sports matte grey finish, no color cerakote. It looks durable and somewhat sophisticated, at this point it’s unknown as to the color options on this new product.

The new Zinc heads can be identified with the logo mark on top near the tumblers.

A tad heavier – The Hexband is ~60g heavier than the Ottolock Gen 2.5. The weight is in new materials in the band and the head. The head is made from a special grade of Zinc which is stronger and more durable. (introduced in Ottolock 3 -Sept 2018). Earlier Ottolock’s locks were made from a type of aluminium alloy. This additional weight is slightly noticeable in hand , but only being a few grams it will not affect usage or the way you carry it – it’s still highly portable.

New band thickness measured out to a 3.7mm

The band got tougher and more secure with 6 layers of steel instead of 3 in the Ottolock. The Kevlar fabric layers are still present and prevents breakage from twisting motions and cutting from knife attacks (Kevlar fibre dull blades). The band feels a touch stiffer and less flexible than the current Ottolock, which makes sense due to the added material.
My band sample is slightly thicker, but not by much, in fact I think this is just production variance. A rumor is the company is beefing up the thickness of 6 steel bands before the launch in March, so the band may get more hearty than this review.

Pictures above from my original Ottolock review.

The tumblers feel notably different – a harder more clicky feel reveals some modifications to the inside internal engineering has taken place to further prevent against picking. I had heard some feedback that the Ottolock’s tumblers were too sloppy feeling, so this change will be accepted well. The company has also optimized grease placement also, too much grease can attract dirt that can jam the mechanism.

Comparision

HexBandOttolock 3
Ottolock 2.5
Release Date:March 2019(Sep 2018
onward)
Pre Sept 2018
Head Construction:Zinc BasedZinc BasedAluminium
Alloy
Head Strength:BestBestBetter
Lock tumbler security:BestBetterGood
Band – Steel:6 bands*3 bands3 bands
Band – Kevlar:2 layers4 layers4 layers
Weight:218g (7.7oz)152g (5.4oz)152g (5.4oz)
* thicker steel
used.

Otto Design works is based in Willsonville, Oregon and have so far not released pricing or firm release dates.

Alternate Uses

I found the Ottlock and Hexband to be good in other applications also. Supplementing a bike lock on a car rack or even temporarily locking up a moving dolly between floors.

The Cut test

Like a lot of stuff on the internet, you can never quite tell what is truthful or just plain wrong. One thing I knew was that on the very first version of Ottolock I was impressed. The product idea and the security it provided (within the bounds of that cafe lock concept) were innovative and usable.


Even though I had already cut through bands of the original Ottolock (review is on this site) I decided I wanted to really understand the new Hexband. So I went after it again.

Hacksaw, Snips and Boltcutters.

Method: I clamped one end of the main band in a bench vice and left the other end to dangle. I decided this was a good solution, as it replicated an in use situation. The band is not going be solidly anchored down in use, and the instructions recommend a loose fitting to make it more wiggly for a thief to attack.

Hexband hanging out of a vice

Test 1 – 24TPI Hacksaw, inexpensive, could be just used as a blade, something a thief could easily carry. Result – It was difficult, the hacksaw made notches pretty quickly yes with vigorous activity, but keeping the cutting momentum going to get through the strap while it was flexing was really difficult. I estimate it would take 25 – 35 mins to get through the band with a hacksaw.

Test 2 – Bolt Cutters 24″ – these are a bit extreme as they would be difficult for a thief to conceal but a possibility. Result – the bolt cutter were slightly less effective than a hacksaw. For a straight on attack they mangled and deformed the top plastic surface but in general the steel seemed to stay pretty intact by flexing out of the way of the jaws. For the hacksaw this was not the case, you can attack the steel easier, although a slower process. I managed to snap a steel band with a lot of violent twisting and force. I estimate at least 30 mins of vigorous attacking from several angles.

Brad getting on it with the “Keys to the city” the cute name for 24″ bolt cutters.

Test 3 – Snips – I used the metal snips we had in the shop, not the highest quality, not the lowest (shown in the middle of the picture above). Probably something you would find a tweaker or homeless person with. Definitely under $10 at a tool shop. Note: I don’t know if these are the same as LPL uses) A thief could easily carry and conceal these. The bolt on the snips was adjusted for the snip blades to work correctly. Result – pretty darn useless – The biggest issue was the flexing of the metal inside the Hexband construction it made it really slippy for the tool.


Destruction Pics


Verdict

Portable, Lightweight, Efficient.
So there you have it. – Short periods of time are fine. With a manual tool you need at 30mins and a lot of energy to get this one off. For any lockup for longer switch to a U Lock. The advanced internal construction of the hexband seem to be very critical to its success. With six layers of various thickness steel sliding around, kevlar weave and a slippy plastic coating.

There is no doubt that adding one of these to you bike either wrapped around your saddle bag or using the holder will benefit you. The many uses make it a no brainer… car rack lock up, cafe stop, popping into the atm or the mexican restaurant after a long ride.

As with any security device, they can be defeated with the right tool and amount of time. Think about the extreme of a cordless angle grinder!. Again context is important, can you put a Hexband in a jacket pocket? – YES . A Kryptonite New York Legend Chain (16lb) – NO WAY. As the company recommends, select a lock combo for your situation. Just use common sense and you will be fine!

And to reinforce this, its always worth checking out Ottolock’ss security guidelines here:

Product : Ottolock Hexband – $75 – Manufacturer site: https://ottodesignworks.com

Other links to my Ottolock reviews here:

Jan 2019 – First look at Hexband – Link
Nov 2017 – Ottolock V2 (not Hexband) – Link
April 2017 – The first review of Ottlock (not Hexband) Link

62 thoughts on “Product Review : Ottolock Hexband Destruction!

Add yours

    1. He doesn’t at all. He just likes to show vulnerability in various locks. He easily cut through with a pair of tin snips. Not sure what you did wrong. It’s possible because he does this on a regular basis with many different locks is knows the perfect angle to cut at. where as a normal bike thieve. may not but lookng over your review I have a feeling you maybe “just a tad” exaggerate how long it would take someone. Claiming 30-45 minutes to cut through using various means seems unlikely. A normal hacksaw could cut through in 5-10 minutes but most thieves won’t take that much time anyway

  1. LPL had never even dealt with this brand until their prior model. He bought one of those and cut it easily with snips.
    Now the new model comes out, and the only difference is that it took him two hands.

    He’s disgruntled with everyone who makes a shoddy product. This appears to be one.
    Try it yourself and post a followup. Get a pair of regular tinsnips like his and give it a shot. Unless you handicap yourself by not putting the ottolock all the way in the back of the jaws or something, I’ll bet you get the same near-instant failure.

    1. I used Tin Snips but not the same double leverage force model that he had, mine were more basic. I still feel like he has some type disgruntled unfinished business with the ottolock guys. Who knows prior life things.

      1. You know, if someone on the street wants to steal a bike, they won’t use a hacksaw-they use something portable. Tin snips and try like a cop is going to nab you. Fairly easy it seems.

      2. I mean with that attitude you would have to assume he has unfinished business with every lock manufacturer since he breezes through a lot of locks. So say for example i had the exact same $10.97 tin snips that he uses and made a video of me cutting through them the same way, does that mean i have unfinished business with ottolock? I can’t see how that has any bearing on the video he made at all and you bringing that up in the first place just makes your review seem more disingenuous.

      3. Bucky, please don’t invent a backstory or falsely suggest that I have bad or ulterior motives. To be clear, I’ve never met or dealt with the folks at Ottolock (other than to purchase their products), and have no “unfinished business” with them. I’ve published almost 900 hundred videos testing locks and educating consumers as to their weaknesses. There is/was nothing special about my Ottolock videos other than, perhaps, the disturbing speed and ease with which their products were defeated using a very low skill attack.

      4. Cool cool, thanks for clarifying things. Thanks for the work reviewing stuff. Glad you posted here.

  2. Buckyrides, stop being a fanboi and admit you got it wrong and these locks are no more secure than a cable tie.

  3. 30 minutes to cut less than 4mm of steel with a kevlar sleeve with bolt cutters? I think its about time to hit the gym. Or get new bolt cutters.

    1. Try it. The action of the bolt cutters doesn’t help to get through it. It’s really well designed against bolt cutters.

  4. Hi Bucky, thanks for the review.

    What concerns me is the third image in the “Destruction Pics”. It seems that the steel layers are presenting themselves to be easily cut 1 by 1. It appears as though the plastic sheathing could be cut with a knife to expose the layers, where they could then be cut very easily. It looks as though they are strong all together but definitely not by themselves. This attack would take significantly less than your >30 min predictions, however I’m not sure it would still be entirely practical. Like you said this isn’t a U-Lock replacement so perhaps this attack that I’m describing would take longer than the 30 seconds or so that it would be recommend to leave you bike with this lock alone.

    1. Yes I think you are correct with a lot of lateral movement you can start to break down the individual steel layers, it’s arduous and takes a lot of lateral movement as the steel is quite flexible and tough, but it can be done. However from trying to do this in a vice at waist level, it takes a while. And yeah, it’s not a U lock replacement.

  5. Bro you NEED to get new bolt cutters or adjust the pin. Our custodians at school regularly use bolt cutters to cut hardened steel locks off kids lockers. Takes seconds.

    1. Hardened steel locks are much different than the Hexband. Yes bolt cutters go through steel shackles, I agree with you, but much different case here. The hexband is flexible and thin strips of steel, the way bolt cutters are mechanically designed is not good for cutting the Hexband. The layers in the strap, tend to flex out off the way of the sheering force.

    2. Bolt cutters really are design for bolts. Shackles are similar to bolts and therefore tend to be weak against bolt cutters. This lock is specifically designed to be tough against bolt cutters. Tin snips on the other hand cut through it on a lock picking channel (linked above). I’m hoping Bucky will adjust his tin snips and try again.

    1. Nope.I have been a fan of the first gen ottolock. I think the design is innovative and fresh in a stale market. More manufacturers should take risks and bring ideas to market. The company has had some other innovative products that have since died out. I admire that in a company, they are willing to try, try make a difference and change the norms.

      1. Hey Bucky, I’m just honestly wondering what you paid for these locks considering you had a prototype.

      2. Right, I understand you cut a retail version. You actually did make that clear in your post I’m just wondering what you paid for each item or if either we’re gifted.

      3. All gear is paid for. I did put a link on that review page that is Amazon Affiliates, so if someone purchases one through my link I get about $0.01 . 🙂 ha! but seriously, thanks Amazon, at least you do that.

      4. Oh – strange. Not meant to sound that way at all. I will take a look at that. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Hi Bucky. Thanks for the review. I appreciate the effort. May I suggest that you may be using your tin snips in a less than ideal configuration? The blades should not have any gap. They should close just like scissors, making contact at the crossing point but easy to close when not cutting. Also there should be very small serrations on the blades, otherwise they are for cutting softer metal or plastic. My understanding is the Wiss Aviation snips are the ones most often found on bike thieves. I own a pair of these myself for cutting sheet metal and have been able to cut some older braided cable locks with them when I’ve lost the key or the combo wheels rusted in the rain.

    Hoping you’ll try again and update us. I’d love to use this lock on my roof rack but can’t justify the cost if they can’t resist snips.

    Cheers

    1. Yes the snips I used were of a very simple kind not as “advanced as a Wiss” I use my hexband on my bike rack all the time, I have found it’s of a better security than the rack manufacturers built in cables.

      1. I don’t know that I would call Wiss snips “advanced”. Mine were less than 10 bucks. They’re just designed to cut metal like this lock which is why they are preferred by bike thieves. Yours may be very similar but you specifically stated that you adjusted them to have a gap in between the blades. The screw there is generally used to disassembled and sharpen the snips. The blades shouldn’t have a gap when the snips are in use.

      2. Compound tin snips are far from advanced. They are required tools for the HVAC, auto body, aviation, and many other industries. They are readily available at any hardware or home improvement store. Even found at many second hand shops and pawn shops. They are often referred to as aviation snips and have been around since roughly 1934 when they were developed for aviation’s rapidly advancing metal working. The aviation industry was among the first to use titanium and harder nickel aluminum alloys requiring a better tin snip than the single shear type you used here. Please, run down to home depot or Harbor freight and get a pair. We would love to see your results.

  7. Here’s a good video on how to properly set a pair of snips with a spring. You can essentially do the same thing with your snips buy just holding them by the top side of the handle and backing the screw off just barely enough that gravity opens the snips. Would you be willing to try cutting the lock again with your snips adjusted correctly?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SZGgIUCLzCM

    1. I believe my snips are properly adjusted, but I will check out your video and make sure im not incorrect or misleading. Thanks for the link.

  8. Thank you Bucky for posting. There’s a lot of critics posting comments here with no videos of their own to back it up. Talk is cheap. I’ve tried it, too, with same results as Bucky. Have you?

    1. Thanks Jerry. As they say haters will be haters who often don’t even fully read the review! but when you look at the big picture it’s all opinions. Different levels of opinions of course. People who treat the internet as hard facts are really looking in the wrong place and they should conduct the research themselves. Thanks for your reply.

    2. I don’t think commenters are “hating”. There is genuine upset that a company is charging $75 for a lock than can be cut in seconds by the pocket-sized cutters most often used by bike thieves. The Lock Picking Lawyer, who has made nearly 1000 videos about the quality of various locking devices, clearly shows how insufficient this lock is for its stated purpose. Given what we now know about the Ottolock Hexband, a review saying that the lock provides 30+ minutes of protection against opportunistic attacks is problematic. It would be wrong for commenters not to say so, given potential customers may read this review. Why not just get a pair of clippers actually used by thieves and try to replicate the exploit?

      1. I totally agree with you. What you don’t see are the comments I delete which are just hateful. There’s a difference between hate and constructive argument. Most of the haters don’t really understand the premise of Ottolock or Hexband , I’m not sure they even read the full review, understand the context and I suspect they are not even cyclists, just internet trolls looking for the joy of argument. Anyroad, I agree with your points and I would like to get the exact snips the LPL uses and try. Given that, with the tools I used, I still stand behind my review. Bolt cutters and hacksaw blades are still tools in contention.

      2. Fair enough regarding the hateful trolls who you’ve blocked.

        As Ottolock is using your review as a marketing tool (see Twitter), and as most potential customers won’t bother to read down into this comment section, have you considered amending your review to include mention of the LPL video, even with a note that it doesn’t match your experience? Telling a buyer that using this lock is a “no brainer” as they sit inside a Mexican restaurant for the duration of a meal just feels a little irresponsible to me, given the LPL results. Why not edit your review to include some of the new data you’ve received since the first draft?

        If your review led to a sale, and a subsequent tin-snip theft of a swanky bike while someone is munching tacos, I think you would be morally culpable given the fact that you were aware of a potential vulnerability that you didn’t divulge.

      3. To address your first point. I did my test before LPL, used different non compounding force snips that I had in the workshop.
        Second point. – never said anything about a no brainer, my article is deeper than that.
        Third point – yes maybe, although I have not tested the compounding force snips that LPL used, so maybe after I do that test, it’s something for me to update.
        Thanks for the feedbacks.

  9. I stand behind what I commented earlier and am disappointed so many are so certain they can cut this lock in seconds, yet none can put up their own video to show they can do it. Why is there only one video commentators are relying on as proof? Where are the pictures of cut Ottolocks from cyclists who had their bikes stolen? On what basis is a police department advising against this lock? Is it the LPL video, or their own law enforcement records? I’ve offered other bikers to bring over their tools and use them on the Ottolock I’ve tested so they’re not out any expense, but I haven’t gotten any takers to date. As you say, what I’m seeing are just opinions and no action. BTW, it’s not my primary or only lock, I’m not associated with Ottolock, and I have the receipts for the Ottolocks I’ve purchased.

  10. It’s tough.. at one end of the spectrum you want a local company that contributes a lot to the cycling community to succeed. But it is misleading. This is a premium product and their intended use case is covered by much cheaper and lighter products. For example, you could buy 3 or 4 of these hiplock z-ties (https://www.moosejaw.com/product/hiplok-z-lok-security-tie-lock-single_10436755) and have less weight and more protection as the thief would have to at least handle the cognitive load of locating and snipping multiple locks giving you more time to run out of the coffee shop and confront them. It’s a giveaway when neither lock has a standardized security rating. In the end I understand the use case but have buyers remorse as I believed the lock would be more secure than these cheaper competitors that make no claim that they’re difficult to cut. That’s the crux of it all really.

    1. Yes, very much so on your point above. Given the use cases and the product attributes I still believe there is “value” in this product. ie it’s better that it exists than not. Going off your “premium” comments – Lot’s of people mention at $75 it’s too expensive for the level of security it provides. I can see that point of view, but I think it’s up to each one of us to determine what their personal tipping point on value is. That’s one of the elements that you factor in / rationalize if you purchase it or not. In my case I use the Hexband and Ottolock a lot, on a near daily basis, mostly in conjunction with a U lock because I live in a high crime area. To me , and the way I lock my bike up, the Hexband has value beyond a zip tie solution, which is very valid point.

  11. LPL used compound leverage aviation snips. Made by Wiss, Craftsman, Irwin, they’re about $10-$15, maybe twice that if you want German-made Bessy snips. Aviation snips cut by a bypass shearing action – much more effective with thin, flexible work than the pinching action of a bolt cutter.which is better for cutting bolts or lock shackles.

    I don’t imagine many opportunistic theives will be carrying aviation snips. As LPL demonstrated, they’ll go through a Hexband quickly, possibly turning your personal area from low crime to high crime in a few seconds.

    1. “compound leverage action” – thats exactly the words I was looking for when I said “advanced” Thanks!

  12. @Jerry Littlefield, you “tried it, too, with same results as Bucky.” Since you are calling out critics who don’t post videos, where is YOUR video? Wiss makes a fine product, affordably priced, and it’s very widely available. If you seek to debunk @Lock Picking Lawyer’s video, It’s not a proper test unless conditions are replicated EXACTLY, @buckyrides. Your approach lacks rigor.

    1. I did my tests before LPL so I wasn’t even trying to replicate. And if you read in the article it states I used the snips I had on hand in the shop.

    2. The “rigor in my approach” was an interest in seeing a cut accomplished by others. My failure was identical to results above and would add nothing to this. In case you’re questioning if I blew $75, I looked for a way to add my video here, but don’t see that. Maybe that’s why no one offers theirs? I don’t have a blog or website to give you a link. If you know how I can upload my video, give me the steps. Anyway, I’m not spending more energy responding to opinions.

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