We were skeptical before we use this lock, but now we aren't. We were impressed by the versatility, portability, and lightness of the OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch. After months of testing, we loved that this lock coiled to a size that fits into a jersey pocket, a saddle pack, or an extra pack. For cyclists out on a ride, the lock offers security in areas with very low bike theft. It can be defeated by small, powerless hand tools in seconds, as long as the thief has the right tool. As usual, high conveniece and high security have an inverse relationship in this lock.
OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, easy to carry and use, flexible
Cons: Combo lock not for everyone, low security
Manufacturer: OTTO DesignWorks
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OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch
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|Pros||Lightweight, easy to carry and use, flexible||Very secure, mounts to bike, convenient size for locking up||Wearable design, solid security, easy to use||Secures both wheels, low weight for a U-lock, inexpensive, easy to use, good security to price ratio||Versatile, light (for a U-Lock), easy to use|
|Cons||Combo lock not for everyone, low security||Heavy, bulky to transport||Far from lightweight, uncomfortable with some backpacks, pricey||Cable is awkward to transport, rattles||Less secure than other U-Lock models, bulky|
|Bottom Line||Small and light enough to carry in your pocket, but doesn't hold up to the security the manufacturer claims.||This is our favorite all-around lock for high security needs.||The innovative design of this wearable chain lock increases this heavy lock's portability, which is great news for regular bike commuters.||This lock provides a lot of security and versatility for a great price.||If you're looking for a U-Lock that will keep your front tire on (and you aren't in a dangerous area) this is probably the lock for you.|
|Rating Categories||Ottolock Cinch||New York Standard U-Lock||Hiplok Original: Superbright||KryptoLok Series 2 Standard...||Evolution Mini-7 U-Lock|
|Ease Of Transport (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Ottolock Cinch||New York Standard...||Hiplok Original:...||KryptoLok Series 2...||Evolution Mini-7...|
|Measured weight (lbs)||0.33 lbs||4.49 lbs||4.31 lbs||3.26 lbs||3.51 lbs|
|Lock dimensions||30" x 3/4" (1/8" thick)||4" x 8" (16 mm" thick)||1.5' long x 2"||4" x 9" (13mm thick) with 4' x 10mm cable||9.35"x 5.6"x 1.6" (U-Lock); 4' cable|
|Type of lock||Combo Cable||U-lock||Chain||U-lock||U-Lock + cable|
|# of keys included||N/A||3 (one with HID light)||3||2||3 keys (one with HID light)|
|Primary materials||Kevlar/ Stainless steel||16mm Hardened Steel||8mm hardened steel chain, 600D polyester sleeve||13mm hardened steel (U-lock), braided steel (cable)||13mm hardened "max-performance" steel with braided steel cable|
|Warranty/Manufacturer programs||1 year warranty; 50% off new lock if stolen||$4,000 Theft Protection, Limited Lifetime Warranty, Key Safe Program||1-year manufacturer warranty||$1,750 Theft Protection, Lifetime Warranty, Key Safe Program||$2,500 Theft Protection (does not cover cable), Limited Lifetime Warranty; Key Safe Program|
|Unique Features||Cinch style cable||Keyhole cover, LED light on one key; dust cover over keyhole||Reflective sheath, curve key||Sliding plastic keyhole cover, comes with 4-ft cable||LED light on one key; cable in addition to U-Lock; dust cover on keyhole|
|Wire Snips||No||No||No||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No||Cable: Yes, eventually; U-lock: No|
|Hacksaw||No||No||No||No||No; but with cable cutters 8 seconds (cable)|
|Bolt Cutters, 36"||Yes, eventually||No||No||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No||Cable: Yes, U-lock: No|
|Number of cuts required to free lock||1 cut||2 cuts||1 cut||1 cut||2 cuts|
Our Analysis and Test Results
As a plastic-covered steel band secured by a combination lock, the Ottolock offers more security than, say the HipLok Z-Lok, but not much more. In high-security-needs areas, we recommend only using this lock as a secondary one for a saddle or front wheel, not as your primary lock. We used this bike lock all summer lock in the mountain town of South Lake Tahoe without any issues, but anecdotal bike lock stories should be taken with a grain of salt. We only recommend this lock for low security needs, and not for expensive bicycles.
The company itself doesn't market this lock as the end-all to bike security; the website for this particular model clearly states "Ottolock is not a replacement for a U-Lock. For maximum security, use a redundant locking method with both a U-Lock and a secondary lock." We appreciate their honesty, and based on our testing, agree with them: use this lock when you're not leaving the bike for longer than an hour, or when you're in low-security situations. And, if you're unsure, when it comes to your bike, it's always better to use more security rather than less.
We couldn't beat this lock with wire snips or a hacksaw. It was destroyed by a hammer, but if you keep the locking mechanism away from the ground when securing your bike, such a feat would be nearly impossible (another reminder to follow best locking practices, as laid out in our Buying Advice article). But our main complaint is that this lock was defeated by our testers in less than two seconds with tin snips. Tin snips are a common tool for bike thieves, as it can be easily concealed in a pocket or even up a sleeve, and costs less than fast-food lunch for two. With our 36" bolt cutters, it took a few more second than expected, as the Kevlar wrapping proved a little tricky to cut through. An angle grinder gets through quickly, as expected.
Ease of Transport
At only 5.3 oz, the flexible Ottolock easily coils into a jersey pocket, backpack, around your seat-post or into a larger saddlebag, making it an easy companion on most recreational and commute-rides. We were skeptical about the claim that this would fit into your back pocket (talk about an easy way to make that bike saddle uncomfortable!) the Ottolock was nonetheless much easier to transport than U-locks and the TiGr mini, included in this review.
We also got around town with this lock cinched to our bike frame, making it quickly convenient to access and not weighing down anything noticeable.
Ease of Use
On the surface, this lock seems pretty straightforward: it's a steel-coated band covered in Kevlar with a combination lock on it. The end slides through the lock and, when you depress a small, silver button, the band slides in or out. As designed, the lock is easy to use and unless you forget the combination, you're probably golden. Setting and resetting the combination is super easy when following the included instructions.
We appreciated the soft cable, which won't scratch the paint off our frames, and can be made to go around both tires, the frame and a bike rack (as long as you remove the front wheel and put it next to the back one). The combination was easy enough to use and sometimes quicker than a key (except for the cases when we forgot the combination, but that has more to do with the inside of our skulls, rather than anything wrong with the lock).
The only downside to a combination lock was in low-light situations, so make sure you carry some sort of light with you so you can see the numbers on the lock.
Our reviewers loved the cable-like design of this lock that enables more creative locking solutions than the more rigid U-locks. By removing the front wheel of your bike and locking it next to the rear, the lock enabled our reviewers to secure both road and mountain bikes, which we thought was pretty awesome. It definitely provides a wider range of locking options, enabling riders in urban, suburban and trail environments to use what they could to lock their bike. The Ottolock accommodated fences, streetlamps, mountain boards, trees, and, of course, bike racks (both on the ground and the back of your car.)
If you just need any lock, and prefer it to be lightweight, the Cinch will do just fine. If you're planning on leaving your bike unattended for periods of time in urban areas, you should look into more secure options-- even the manufacturer thinks so.
$65 is a lot to pay for something that only offers low security. But, when you factor in the low weight and convenience of this product, it begins to make more sense. If you don't need a lot of security and want a lock that doesn't weigh you down, this price is perhaps worth it. For cyclists who fit this description, there's value here.
Our testers like this model for its portability and ease of use. We wouldn't recommend this for any high-security situations, and definitely not for anything overnight. But, for a pit-stop on a recreational or training ride, or for securing your bike in a small, low-crime town, this bike lock is a fine choice. Did we mention it actually fits in your pocket?
— Rebecca Eckland