Ottolock – A flexible high-security lock which rolls up to fit in your pocket. First looks are impressive.
Q: What do you get when a cyclist, an engineer and a businessman walk into a bar?
A: A stolen bike, but the 3 guys then set out to change this.
Ottodesignworks is a company out of the Wilsonville area. The Ottlock is designed and engineered by cycle enthusiasts, it uses six Portland area companies to produce parts for the lock and employs a growing workforce for its assembly line and shipping in Wilsonville. Since early 2016 they have been growing via a successful kickstart campaign and word of mouth which is helped because one of the idea generators is a pro cyclist – Jacob Rathe. The Ottolock is designed and made in the USA with a conscious eye for minimal packaging and is available online and is starting to become available in local bike stores.
Quick errands? popping in and out of shops to drop things off or grab a quickie. Bike rides with your mates that inevitably end up at the burrito place or coffee shop? Yeah we all do this and we all know the feeling of leaving your bike unattended for a few minutes, attentively peering back from the coffee counter hoping that if someone grabs you bike you will still be able to outsprint them even when wearing your oil slick cleats. Well, read on those worry moments could be over.
Small and Featherlight
Lightweight, Flexible strap, Numerical lock no key, compact, and durable. Automatically the weight and size factor means convenience compared with a regular U-lock. Throwing in a bag, put in your back pocket, not a problem. The lock weighs around 160grams compared to a Kryptonite Mini U Lock which weights 980grams (5x the weight) and if you have ever put a u-lock in your pocket you know how heavy they can be.
Since the OttoLock is basically a highly engineered strap, it rolls up to around 2.5″ in diameter and about 0.5″ thick. Compare this with a mini U lock which is approximately 6″ x 4″ by 0.75″. This means the OttoLock can end up in smaller pockets and combined with it’s low weight means you can easily put it in your hoody or lightweight jacket pocket, not really possible with a U-Lock.
The Ottolock is small and can easily be stowed in your rear jeans pocket. This is the 30″ version shown.
U-Locks can attach to your bike, and sort of slide on your belt or in a backpack, but you cannot really get them in a jacket pocket. If you mount them to your bike, you really don’t have a ton of options, they sit in a bulky holder somewhere on the frame. The OttoLock is easier to carry and mounting to the bike is cake because you can even strap it to your bike! strap it around your saddlebag or use it’s provided rubber attachment . Tons of flexibility. With no key it means never having to lose it, I’m all about this feature as it’s also one less thing to remember.
Flexible and Accommodating
After being used to a rigid u-lock one thing you quickly notice is how flexible Otto is. When wrapping around a wheel, your frame, and an odd shaped pole or post the design really highlights itself. The times when you struggle with the angles, tubes in the way and jostling it are no longer there. Quicker, cleaner locking.
30″ version shown locking around a small tree for options when bike racks are not available.
Strength and Security – Intended to protect your bike for short periods of time, the Ottolock strap is constructed from layers of steel and kevlar wrapped in a plastic case. The layers are not welded or locked together which means when they are under attack from a cutter, they slide. This is an important point because the sliding causes major difficulty with cutting devices that use shearing or scissor type actions. Thus the lock is very safe from snips and bolt cutters. Compare this technology to regular chain or kevlar rope locks and the OttoLock is a hands down win.
Ottolock’s body and combination code area, are made from an aluminum housing. As seen in their security video, if the lock is attached with a hammer, the aluminium simply deforms, compresses and makes it even more difficult to open the lock, because the strap passes through the head.
Opening up the strap, you can see there is lots of Kevlar (the yellow stuff) – Kevlar is extremely hard to cut and penetrate, it’s used in many military applications and the material dulls knife edges in one fell swoop and cannot be cut with scissor type actions. Amongst the kevlar are multiple layers of steel, to thwart other cutting tools.
The above image shows the many layers of thin steel which allow the strap to flex, yet still be strong and cut resistant.
On the scales, the Ottolock is small and light, 152G (30″ version) compared to a 1000gram traditional U lock, this makes a big difference in portability.
MOUNTING (on bike)
The lock comes complete with an elastomer cinch strap built into the lock which ties everything nicely when rolled up. (seen on the left in the scale picture above) It is well designed and easy to use, with dual nubs for security and really to make it work exceptionally well.
Also, you may purchase an additional bike mount attachment – made from high-grade elastomer again it’s simple ladder strap design, stretchy with well-designed nubs. Ottolock has a couple of clever design features that other big brand manufacturers overlook. #1 Nubs. The elastomer mounts have multiple nubs (for the ladder loops), at first you ask why, then you realize that it offers many tie down points and if you use both the nubs… added security that it is held in place. #2 Simplicity. The mounting system is as simple as it can be, a stretchy elastomer construction which is very durable. Other brands u lock brands ….. have elaborate hard plastic moulded pieces that are hard to install and adjust. These are for the mechanical support needed for their high weight locks. The Ottolock doesn’t need this so the mount interface is simple and hassle free, no tools needed to install.
The Real Test – Locking up your prized expensive bike at 5pm on a weekday outside the large supermarket while you grab a loaf of bread. To me this was it, I hardly ever lock up my expensive bike anyway, I avoid all situations. But I was $6000 confident enough for 15mins with OttoLock. In the past, this would never have happened, but now this is opening opportunities for things I would not have done and keeping my bike a lot safer at coffee shop stops. Win.Win
This lock is light and small, which opens up all sorts of activities on the run where you would not have normally had a lock with you and would not have done such a thing. Have you ever tried putting a U Lock in a cycling jersey pocket? no don’t be silly. But OttoLock – it’s easy.
BOTTOM LINE, The Ottolock functions like a cable lock, but at a much higher level, it’s more secure than a cable lock due to it’s mechanical construction, yet lighter, smaller and as easy if not easier to use. If you’re a cyclist, buy one, heck two. Don’t worry and open up your world a little more, in a really good way.
Since I love bikes and never wish to see them stolen, A down to earth reality check, this lock will not defeat the determined bike thief, I’m not sure any lock will when confronted with the right tools whether it be chain, cable, u lock, it doesn’t matter. If a pro bike thief wants it, they will have all the tools to get it. Ottolock is very resistant to bolt cutters (see their videos , links above) and this is a very common bike thief tool. But always use common situation appropriate sense when locking your bike.
$55, $60 and $75 for the 18, 30 and 60″
$8 for the mount
3 colours, Orange, Black and Lime
3 sizes of lock. 18″, 30″ and 60″ (I tested the 30″ version)
Update – Feb 2019
Check out the latest Ottolock Design – The Hexband here