In the world of bike locks, there exists constant tension between a lock's portability and its ability to actually keep your bike from being stolen. And, to some degree, this makes sense: while a 10' chain and some electric current might keep a sneaky thief's fingers off your bike, that sort of thing is hard to carry around in your jersey pocket or backpack. So, you have to choose: how much do you want to carry versus how much do you want to risk that the lightweight option just wasn't enough to save your bike?
The Ottolock Cinch attempts 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. It delivers an honest attempt at deterring thieves, especially for quick lunch stops. If you're in a small community with lower risk than metropolitan areas, this lock might be enough for you.
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.
As a plastic-covered steel band secured by a combination lock, the Ottolock offers more security than, say the HipLok Z-Lok, but less than your standard U-lock. However, for cyclists on the search for a lightweight lock, this is among the most secure in the bunch we tested, which is saying something. At a mere 5.3 ounces, the lock packs a pretty big protective punch for not a lot of weight or bulk. Our testers were more than happy to carry this lock with us on our training rides, joy rides and commutes, which made 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 Ottolock is easy to use. And, with the combination lock, easy to lock up and take off.
To be fair, 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 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.
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). With our 36" bolt cutters, it took our "thieves" about two minutes to actually cut through it. The Kevlar wrapping around the flat steel band proved to be an effective way to slow the inevitable defeat. An angle grinder gets through pretty quick.
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.
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.
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 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.)
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.
If you're looking for a lock that makes your bathroom breaks on a recreational ride less stressful, then look no further: the Ottolock definitely has you covered. 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 stands out as more secure than several cable locks surrounding it.
However, if weight is a major sticking point for you, this lock might be what you are looking for. Again, it all comes down to what situations you're leaving your bike. Small towns, daylight and for short breaks from the saddle: this lock rocks. For a big college campus or downtown New York or LA: meh, we recommend looking into something more substantial.
$65 is a lot to pay for something that only offers medium 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, but just some, and want a lock that doesn't weigh you down, this price is totally worth it. For cyclists who fit this description, there's a ton of value here.
Even with larger wheels--whether they're mountain or road-- can be accommodated with this lock.
Our testers really fell in love with this little orange lock for its portability, ease of use, and the amount of security it offered for its weight and size. We wouldn't recommend this for any high-security situations, and definitely not for anything overnight. But, for your typical pit-stop on a recreational or training ride, or for securing your bike in a small town, this bike lock is a great choice. Did we mention it actually fits in your pocket? The Ottolock is our Top Pick Award winner for a lightweight model.