Ottolock bike lock

Ottolock bike lock 
Review by Coy Starnes

Ottolock bike lock

Ottolock on my Trek FX3 (60 inch version)

It is ashamed that bike locks (or any other locks) are necessary. I took the time to look up some stats and it is estimated that in the US 1.5 million bikes are stolen each year. I thought that sounded like a very high number but little lo Great Britain averages nearly 400,000 stolen bikes per year. While looking around I also found that most of the bikes stolen were either not secured in some fashion or were secured with easily defeated locks. I also learned that while expensive bikes were often targeted, the vast majority of stolen bikes were your average commuter type bike. I guess this is reasonable since there are so many more of them available as targets. So obliviously a good bike lock is not just a luxury item for the well heeled roadie.

Which bring me to the subject of this review. The Ottolock is first and foremost designed to be lightweight and portable. In other words, a lock you won’t mind carrying with you. And let’s face it, if you don’t have a lock with you, it’s going to be hard to secure your bike. It is also designed for short-stay security. On the website it mentions that it is not intended for overnight security in high-crime metropolitan areas. To me this means locking my bike while making a quick stop in the post office or paying a few bills in town. The longest I would need to lock my bike would be while grabbing a bite to eat, or making a stop in town with my bike on my truck rack.

The Ottolock comes in three colors and three lengths. Those would be black, green or orange and 18, 30 and 60 inch lengths. I will be testing an orange 60 inch Ottolock. I chose this length because I often haul my bike to some bike trails and often carry more than one bike. The 60 inch version will easily reach around 4 bikes on my bike carrier. However, a true roadie might go for a shorter version to save weight. The 60 inch version weighs 235 g while the 18 inch version weighs 120 grams. The 30 inch version comes in at 155 g. So, while the 60 inch version is over 3 times longer than the 18 incher it is just under double the weight but still rolls up to a very compact package. The website shows the lock stored in a small seat bag or hung from the bike using the rubber strap that holds the Ottolock coiled. I can put it in my hydration pack pocket or just hang it on the bike as the pictures below show.


Ottolock carried under my bike saddle

The Ottolock looks a lot like an industrial size zip-tie. It is 18 mm (3/4 in) wide. It is constructed with 10 layers of stainless steel and Kevlar bands and wrapped on the outside with Santoprene. A few weeks ago I would have no known what Santoprene was but I recently acquired a knife with a Santoprene handle. It is made to be very durable yet soft enough for a comfortable grip, in other words the prefect outer layer for a bike lock; tough, yet won’t damage the bike finish.

One advantage of the 60 inch Ottolock is that I can lock my bike to a fairly substantial, object, like say a tree, something I’m more likely to encounter on a ride than a bike rack. As a matter of fact, there are no bike racks in the small town I ride too regularly at places like restaurants, the bank, the post office, the drug store or gas stations. However, I can usually find a tree fairly close to any of these stops.

I had a cable-lock a few years ago but left the key on the bumper of my truck and lost it. Last year I went to a bike ride in the Smoky Mountains and I needed to stop for food in Cleveland Tn. I made sure I parked where I could watch my truck from inside the burger joint (Wendey’s) I stopped at. I was also nervous at the campground where I was staying. My Elliptigo was in only secured in the bed of my truck with a rope and I sleep soundly in my hammock so it would have been easy to steal it. My Elliptigo was not cheap and I was kicking myself for not replacing the bike lock I lost the key to.

One other advantage of having a longer lock is the ability to route the lock around the seat rails and around the bike frame before going around whatever I’m locking my bike too. I say this because many bike saddles cost a few hundred bucks and are a target for theft even if the bike is securely locked. I can also use it to wrap around several bikes in my garage.

I took the opportunity to ride my bike the day after receiving the Ottolock. My ride was all back roads and I did not pass any places I could stop, not even a gas station. But I wanted to see how it would ride if I just wrapped it around my seat-post under my saddle (see second photo). I went down the mountain and hit 31 MPH but on the smoothest section of road. I did hit some pretty good bumps at around 20 MPH and the Ottolock barely moved. My legs also never touched it. Since I carry my phone and wallet in the small pocket on my hydration bladder I believe I’ll carry the Ottolock on the seat-post under my saddle most of the time. One last thing, while designed for bikes, the Ottolock should be great for securing other items.  I run into the same problem of watching my kayak when I’m hauling it somewhere and need to make a stop and can’t see my truck so I’ll use it for my kayak as well.

Update: July 10, 2017
  ottolock coy
                     Using the Ottolock at the grocery store
I have not had many opportunities to use the Ottolock, partly due to a busy schedule that has limited my riding opportunities, but also because when I did squeeze in an hour ride here and there I didn’t need to lock my bike.  I also live in a small town and there are not any dedicated places to lock a bike.  I improvised on three occasions.
I used the Ottolock twice at the post office when I went inside to buy stamps or mail some things.  There is a flag pole in the grassy area near the front door.  I wasn’t sure if it was allowed but I didn’t ask and nobody said anything.  I was on my bike on both occasions at the post office so I carried the lock in a hydration pack.  I wasn’t inside more than a few minutes but I did not have to keep an eye out for my bike.
I used it once while riding my recumbent on a grocery store run to grab a few small items.  I can’t wear the hydration pack on this bike so I carried the lock in a pannier.  I decided to lock the bike to big metal box used for gas grill tanks that sits on the sidewalk in front of the store. I was glad I had the long 60 inch version and I had no problem routing the Ottolock through the holes in the box and around my bike.  I was in the store about 15 minutes and when I came out my bike was still where I left it.  Success!!!
I’ll be honest, bike theft is not a big problem where I ride, but it could be.  For one, I don’t know if the average person on the street has a clue how expensive some of my rides are.  For example, the recumbent I ride cost $2495 new.  I bought mine used for $1200.  I bought my Trek FX3 new for around $600.  My wife still fusses about how much I paid for my ElliptiGo.  I have other bikes that were bought used or built up, but the bottom line is, I have quite a bit invested in them and I don’t want them stolen.
Final Update: February 12 2018
I kept waiting for something exciting to happen before submitting my last update but alas, living in a small town in rural Alabama did not afforded any such opportunity.  Also, once the weather turned cold I did not ride a whole lot so there were fewer opportunities for theives to strike.  I do frequent a few local bike groups and there were several stolen bikes reported in bigger towns and cities.  Each time I read the news I would wonder if they had it locked and if so, what kind of lock we’re they using.
So, in looking back, I have really liked the peace of mind using the Ottolock gave me.  And because I am using the longest lock offered, it not only protected my roadbike, ElliptiGo and recumbent, I was able to secure a tire or a tire and saddle along with the frame of each.   And the long model is still lighter than many of the anti theft options I’ve seen.  I’m hoping to get a recumbent trike as my next ride and they are not cheap. I’ll certainly use this lock to secure it in my truck and then when riding and haveing to leave my bike (or trike) unattended for any reason.
My thanks to Ottolock and 4alloutdoors for this testing opportunity!

About the Author

I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include backpacking and dayhiking, canoeing and kayaking, biking and just getting out enjoying nature.