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
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.
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.
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.
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.
|HexBand||Ottolock 3||Ottolock 2.5|
|Release Date:||March 2019||(Sep 2018 |
|Pre Sept 2018|
|Head Construction:||Zinc Based||Zinc Based||Aluminium |
|Lock tumbler security:||Best||Better||Good|
|Band – Steel:||6 bands*||3 bands||3 bands|
|Band – Kevlar:||2 layers||4 layers||4 layers|
|Weight:||218g (7.7oz)||152g (5.4oz)||152g (5.4oz)|
|* thicker steel |
Otto Design works is based in Willsonville, Oregon and have so far not released pricing or firm release dates.
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.
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.
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 15 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.
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 amateur bike thief person with. Definitely under $10 at a tool shop. Given the size a thief could easily carry and conceal these. The bolt on the snips was adjusted for the snip blades to work correctly. Result – these particular snips were pretty useless – The biggest issue was the flexing of the metal inside the Hexband construction it made it really slippy for the tool.
Portable, Lightweight, Efficient.
So there you have it. – For its intended use as a cafe lock or supplemental lock as noted above – short periods of time are fine. With a manual tool you need at 10mins and energy to get this one off. The 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 takeout at he 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! Choose the right locks for your situation. Again context is important, can you put a Hexband in a jacket pocket? – yes its highly portable and small. 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’s security guidelines here before making a purchase:
Product : Ottolock Hexband – Purchased in May for $75 – Manufacturer site: https://ottodesignworks.com
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