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OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch Review

Small and light enough to carry in your pocket, but doesn't hold up to the security the manufacturer claims.
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Price:  $65 List | $49.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to carry and use, flexible
Cons:  Combo lock not for everyone, low security
Manufacturer:   OTTO DesignWorks
By Rebecca Eckland ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 20, 2018
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 16
  • Security - 40% 2
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 9
  • Ease of Use - 20% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 5

Our Verdict

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.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, easy to carry and use, flexibleVery secure, mounts to bike, convenient size for locking upWearable design, solid security, easy to useSecures both wheels, low weight for a U-lock, inexpensive, easy to use, good security to price ratioVersatile, light (for a U-Lock), easy to use
Cons Combo lock not for everyone, low securityHeavy, bulky to transportFar from lightweight, uncomfortable with some backpacks, priceyCable is awkward to transport, rattlesLess 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
Security (40%)
10
0
2
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
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7
Ease Of Transport (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
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6
Ease Of Use (20%)
10
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9
10
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6
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
Versatility (15%)
10
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5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
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8
10
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8
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
Hammer Yes No No No 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
Angle Grinder Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of cuts required to free lock 1 cut 2 cuts 1 cut 1 cut 2 cuts

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


In addition to the ability to lock your bikes to racks and other secure objects  our testers appreciated the portability of this bike lock  which is lightweight and flexible.
In addition to the ability to lock your bikes to racks and other secure objects, our testers appreciated the portability of this bike lock, which is lightweight and flexible.

Security


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 Ottolock is easy to use. And  with the combination lock  easy to lock up and take off.
The Ottolock is easy to use. And, with the combination lock, easy to lock up and take off.

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.

If a thief can position this lock against a hard surface or the pavement  it doesn't take more than 25-30 hammer strikes to defeat the Ottolock.
If a thief can position this lock against a hard surface or the pavement, it doesn't take more than 25-30 hammer strikes to defeat the Ottolock.

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.

Hammer aftermath.
Hammer aftermath.

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.

As you can see  the Ottolock is large enough to circle two tires and the frame  but flexible enough to coil  and to fit inside your pocket.
As you can see, the Ottolock is large enough to circle two tires and the frame, but flexible enough to coil, and to fit inside your pocket.

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.

The Ottolock is large enough to accommodate both tires (if you remove the front tire and lock it with the back one) and the frame.
The Ottolock is large enough to accommodate both tires (if you remove the front tire and lock it with the back one) and the frame.

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 perks of a combination lock include the inability to lose or misplace a key. Just be sure to 1) remember the combination you set  and 2) carry some sort of light with you if it gets dark outside. Even better  don't lock up your bike down dark alleys.
The perks of a combination lock include the inability to lose or misplace a key. Just be sure to 1) remember the combination you set, and 2) carry some sort of light with you if it gets dark outside. Even better, don't lock up your bike down dark alleys.

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.

Versatility


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.)

Again  this lock's flexibility enabled it to lock up both wheels with room for most common objects (bike racks  fences  trees  etc.) to which you would lock your bike.
Again, this lock's flexibility enabled it to lock up both wheels with room for most common objects (bike racks, fences, trees, etc.) to which you would lock your bike.

Best Applications


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.

Locking up at a lakeside concert in a mountain town  the Ottolock doesn't actually strike us as more secure than the cable locks surrounding it.
Locking up at a lakeside concert in a mountain town, the Ottolock doesn't actually strike us as more secure than the cable locks surrounding it.

Value


$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.

Even with larger wheels--whether they're mountain or road-- can be accommodated with this lock.
Even with larger wheels--whether they're mountain or road-- can be accommodated with this lock.

Conclusion


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