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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Review: Ottolock

I'm afraid that I'm the kind of person who doesn't really believe in locks. For instance, even on my expensive bikes, I usually use a cheap Wordlock ($4.25) instead of a fancier lock, reasoning that I'm not parking my bike anywhere where thieves can get at it.

Then I saw the Ottolock ($55), which is about the same weight as the Wordlock, but is essentially a zip-tie that's has the nice property that it can be cinched up pretty tight and be more rigid than the traditional coiled cable lock. When not in use, it can also be used to secure something to your bike like a zip-tie.

My first impression of the lock was less than good: the first version I got from Amazon locked up, prompting a customer support call from me to the manufacturer. Surprisingly enough, someone picked up the phone at 5:30pm on a Friday, and sent out a replacement that very day! She even through in a mount for the lock, which I must confess I've never used. So I can't say enough good things about the customer service.

I think I know why the lock breaks: there's a button on the side of the lock. You need to depress it when zipping the zip-tie part of the bike through. If you don't do so, the lock might assume that you're tampering with it and then it will refuse to open. So you do have to follow the instructions on the lock pretty well.

In terms of security, I'm not sure it's any more secure than the cable lock. I haven't tried attacking it with a pair of bolt cutters, but I'm pretty sure the lock won't withstand one. Having said that, as I've said I'm pretty sure I've seen a ton of bikes stolen with their Kryptonite locks still hanging on to the front wheel, indicating that a lock that you'll carry and use properly is much better than a lock that you won't be able to use correctly.

My biggest issue about the lock is that someone tampering with it and failing to steel the bike could very well lock up the lock to the point where you'll be the one looking to find bolt-cutters to cut your bike loose. Then again, at that point you'll be glad that the lock wasn't too secure anyway!

I'm not sure I can fully recommend the lock. It's pricey (10X the price of a Wordlock) and not super secure. However, as a reusable zip-tie that somewhat doubles as a lock, it's somewhat useful. That might be damning with faint praise, but that's just about what the device deserves.

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