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OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch Review

For the price, we expected more from the Ottolock that can be defeated in seconds
OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch
Credit: OTTO Design Works
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Price:  $60 List | $55.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to carry and use, flexible
Cons:  Can be defeated in seconds by tin snips
Manufacturer:   OTTO DesignWorks
By Rebecca Eckland ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 26, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 18
  • Security - 40% 2.0
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 9.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 9.0
  • Versatility - 15% 5.0

Our Verdict

We were skeptical before we used this lock, and with good reason. We liked the portability and lightness of the OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch, but we weren't quite sure how such a light lock would stand up to cutting tools used by bike thieves. After months of testing bike locks, we loved that this lock could coil up to a size that fits into a jersey pocket, a saddle pack, or a backpack. However, we didn't love how it stood up to an attack by tin snips, small plier-like cutters that can easily fit into a jacket pocket. One cut in less than 2 seconds, and we were through the lock. This defeat means that it might not even deter some "snatch and grab" thieves, and unless you're like superman (who's super quick) in the bathroom, this lock might not even protect your bike when nature calls. Nevertheless, if you're a bike commuter in a small town and ride primarily during the day, the Ottolock security might be sufficient for your needs. We encourage you to consider the cost of your biking gear and the place where you plan to park it to determine what's best for your needs.

Editor's Note: We updated this gear review on January 25, 2022, to include beneficial sections to guide you to the right product for your needs and budget.

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Pros Lightweight, easy to carry and use, flexibleSecure, includes 5 keys, price is niceInexpensive, more secure than many in its price range, high qualityLightweight, easy-to-carry, easy-to-useLightweight, flexible, easy to use
Cons Can be defeated in seconds by tin snipsClunky mounting hardware, heavyLocking mechanism stuck a few times, lackluster frame mountMinimal security, can be compromised with the right tools quicklyToo small, minimal security
Bottom Line For the price, we expected more from the Ottolock that can be defeated in secondsThis lock provides great security and versatility at an affordable price, and while not our absolute favorite, it's pretty closeThis inexpensive U-lock offers versatility and security that is likely to fit the needs and budgets of many cyclists and commutersIf you're in the market for a highly portable and lightweight lock but without much security, this one has your name on itGreat for preventing the "snatch and grab" while you make a pit stop but does little to prevent a real bike thief from swiping your ride
Rating Categories OTTO DesignWorks Ot... OnGuard Brute STD Kryptonite Kryptolo... ABUS Chain Lock 120... Hiplok Z Lok
Security (40%)
2.0
9.0
6.0
3.0
1
Ease of Transport (25%)
9.0
3.0
5.0
9.0
10.0
Ease of Use (20%)
9.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (15%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
2.0
Specs OTTO DesignWorks Ot... OnGuard Brute STD Kryptonite Kryptolo... ABUS Chain Lock 120... Hiplok Z Lok
Measured weight (lbs) 0.3 lbs 3.6 lbs 3.2 lbs 0.5 lbs 0.1 lbs
Type of lock Combo Cable U-Lock U-Lock + cable Chain Reusable zip tie
Primary materials/thickness Kevlar and stainless steel core 16.8mm hardened steel 12.7mm hardened steel; braided steel cable 4mm hardened steel Steel core security tie
Locking dimension 30" circumference 7.5" x 10.5" U-lock: 4" x 9"; Cable: 4' 43" circumference 16.5" circumference
# of keys included N/A 5 keys 2 keys N/A 1 key
Tin snips Yes No No Yes, requires two cuts to defeat Yes
Hammer Yes No No No Yes
Hacksaw No No No No Yes, quick
Bolt cutters, 36" Yes No No Yes, but not very easily. Requires two cuts Yes
Angle grinder Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of cuts to free lock 1 cut 2 cuts 2 cuts 2 cuts 1 cut

Our Analysis and Test Results

There's a continuous tension between portability and security in the world of bike locks, and, to some degree, we get it. In a sense, you have to choose how much weight you want to carry versus how much security you're willing to risk? The Ottolock Cinch attempted to find the right balance between bulky security and ease of transport with its multiple layers of steel and Kevlar® bands that coil up to a 3-inch circle that can fit into a saddle bag or backpack. In terms of portability and weight, it's stellar. It can fit into a jersey pocket, which is great. Unfortunately, security is this lock's Achilles heel.

Performance Comparison


OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - in addition to the ability to lock your bikes to racks and other...
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.
Credit: Rebecca Eckland

Security


As a plastic-covered steel band secured by a combination lock, the Ottolock offers about the same security as the HipLok Z-Lok, which is much less than your standard U-lock. For cyclists searching for a lightweight lock that weighs in at a mere 5.3 ounces, this one makes it easy to carry around whether you have a backpack or in your jersey pocket. Our testers were more than happy to carry this lock with us on our training rides, joy rides, and commutes, making it more likely that we were using a bike lock at all — because even the most secure lock won't do a bit of good if you leave it at home because it's too bulky/heavy to go along for the ride.



The company 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, we agree that this is not a high-security lock at all. Given the results of our testing, we're not even sure we feel comfortable recommending it for medium-risk areas, either. Granted, we used the lock in a small mountain town and had no issues. But, it would be best if you always remembered to take anecdotal bike lock stories with a grain of salt.

OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - if a thief can position this lock against a hard surface or the...
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.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

We couldn't beat this lock with wire snips or a hacksaw, but a hammer destroyed it. 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). With our 36" bolt cutters, it took our "thieves" about two minutes to cut through it. The Kevlar wrapping around the flat steel band proved to be an effective way to slow the inevitable defeat. However, a pair of tin snips (which cost less than ten bucks) cut the band in just over a second, which is why we aren't rating this lock very high in terms of security. Needless to say, an angle grinder also got through this lock very quickly.

OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - hammer aftermath.
Hammer aftermath.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 contender fits into your back pocket (talk about an easy way to make that bike saddle uncomfortable!); still, the Ottolock was much easier to transport than U-locks and the TiGr mini included in this review.

OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - as you can see, the ottolock is large enough to circle two tires and...
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.
Credit: Rebecca Eckland

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


This lock seems pretty straightforward on the surface: 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.

OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - the ottolock is large enough to accommodate both tires (if you...
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.
Credit: Rebecca Eckland

We appreciated the soft band, 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 when we forgot the combination, but that has more to do with the inside of our skulls, rather than anything wrong with the lock).

OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - the perks of a combination lock include the inability to lose or...
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.
Credit: Rebecca Eckland

The only downside to a combination lock was in low-light situations, so make sure you carry a light with you so you can see the numbers on the lock.

OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - the ottolock is easy to use. and, with the combination lock, easy to...
The Ottolock is easy to use. And, with the combination lock, easy to lock up and take off.
Credit: Rebecca Eckland

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. Even though it grants a wide range of locking options, we caution you to know where you're locking your bike. As mentioned in the Security metric, a savvy thief can destroy this lock within seconds.

OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch bike lock - again, this lock's flexibility enabled it to lock up both wheels...
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.
Credit: Rebecca Eckland

Should You Buy the OTTO DesignWorks Ottolock Cinch?


Honestly, we were disappointed by this lock that claims to offer medium security but was drafted within seconds when faced with tin snips. We wouldn't recommend it for any high-security stations and not for anything overnight. The bottom line is if you have any reservations about where you're leaving your bike, don't leave it in the care of the Ottolock.

Even with larger wheels--whether they're mountain or road-- can be...
Even with larger wheels--whether they're mountain or road-- can be accommodated with this lock.
Locking up at a lakeside concert in a mountain town, the Ottolock...
Locking up at a lakeside concert in a mountain town, the Ottolock doesn't strike us as more secure than the cable locks surrounding it.

What Other Bike Locks Should You Consider?


The price is a lot to pay for something that can be defeated within seconds, even when you factor in how portable it is. We think you should consider the OnGuard Brute STD, which offers the most security per dollar spent on a bike lock. Hey, your biking gear might be thankful for the increased security.

Rebecca Eckland
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