Tour de Lab September 1st

Company responds to YouTuber who (once again) cuts through bicycle lock

Posted by on May 29th, 2019 at 1:09 pm

(Photo: Ottolock)

Back in December a YouTuber named LockPickingLawyer who specializes in defeating security products caused a stir when he posted a video that showed an Ottolock being easily cut with snips in just two seconds.

Ottolock is a Portland company that has found a strong niche with its relatively small and lightweight lock. The company has always acknowledged that it’s not meant as a primary theft deterrent and that it should only be used either in combination with a strong U-lock or for very short durations in low-crime areas.

Two months after that video (which got 1.2 million views) came out, Ottolock launched a new model with thicker construction. The Hexband was designed with “increased cut resistance” versus the original model, according to the company’s marketing materials. “Featuring added resistance to shearing tools such as snips and cable cutters,” they continued. “Getting through Ottolock Hexband requires serious effort or powered devices, making it a stronger quick-stop lock for bicyclists and other users with higher security requirements.”

Last Friday Lock Picking Lawyer released a video that tested the Hexband (watch it below). In the video — which has already received over one million views — it takes him a bit more strength and two hands, but he’s able to cut through it with relative ease.

Advertisement

Ottolock responded to the video yesterday. Here’s what they posted via Instagram:

Ottolock use guidelines.

We wish to thank the many supporters of OTTOLOCK. As you may be aware, there are critics who may not understand the product’s intended use. We’ve been consistent in message, transparent in our learning, and we stand by our product design intent and use guidelines.

We take our responsibility to customers and product quality very seriously. We make premium compact locks for quick stops and we do not claim they are invincible. We’ve always recommended redundant locking with a quality U-lock for higher crime areas or long duration lock-ups.

We have spent a tremendous amount of our resources developing and testing this product to ensure that we meet the design intent and optimize trade-offs. OTTOLOCK HEXBAND is highly resistant to many modes of cutting or shimming, but can be vulnerable to specific forms of attack. We also strive to stand behind our product with exceptional customer service as many customers will confirm.

We’ve created a great product to fill the unmet need of a lightweight, portable solution for bicycle quick stops and other outdoor uses (registering for events, going to the restroom, grabbing a coffee or snack, bundling two or three bikes together on a group ride, and more). There is not a better compact and portable lock for these applications.

We appreciate the many thousands of customers and retailers who share this belief in our product and brand.

Thank you,
OTTO DesignWorks

So far (at least on Instagram), many of Ottolock’s fans say they’ll continue to support product. Fans of LockPickingLawyer are not being so kind.

Bicycle product expert and designer James Buckroyd (a contributor to BikePortland) tried to cut through the new Hexband lock and posted his review on May 11th. The verdict? “With a manual tool you need at 30mins and a lot of energy to get this one off… There is no doubt that adding one of these to you bike either wrapped around your saddle bag or using the holder will benefit you.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

47 Comments
  • Avatar
    Matt McLaughlin May 29, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    So. I don’t think anyone has any beef with a lightweight lock designed for very quick stops. I think the issue is with marketing video where they clearly lead you to believe a pair of tin-snips can’t cut the strap; let alone cut it in a matter of seconds.

    Recommended Thumb up 43

  • Avatar
    grannygear May 29, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Smoke and mirrors. And dept store snips.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Avatar
    L May 29, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Obviously the ottolock isn’t a replacement for a u-lock! I’d hesitate to use it even for a grocery run at Fred Meyer, and I’d be stressed out the whole time if I did. But I do long rides where it’s nice to have some (lightweight, packable) peace of mind when running into a country store for water or if I’m meeting at a café. That’s what this is designed for and people don’t seem to get it

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Avatar
      9watts May 29, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      Wouldn’t it be a whole lot quicker, cheaper, easier to jam your shift lever causing the chain to stretch across several gears before walking into the store? I mean the deterrence would seem to be to comparable.

      Recommended Thumb up 16

      • Avatar
        Middle of The Road Guy May 30, 2019 at 11:07 am

        But then the bike could be stolen without tools.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Avatar
          9watts May 30, 2019 at 11:35 am

          Attempting to grab and ride off with a bike that looks/is unlocked, but has the chain jammed like that is going to in most cases produce a spectacle which may or may not lead to a successful theft.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Avatar
        Jay Dedd May 30, 2019 at 1:36 pm

        Why assume attempted ride-off rather than picking up the bike and throwing it in the back of a truck or van?

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • Avatar
          9watts May 30, 2019 at 3:24 pm

          Sure.
          I’m not one to stop and dash into a store on a training ride. I habitually use my kryptonite u-lock always, and have for thirty-three years, so the thinking behind this device eludes me.

          Recommended Thumb up 4

          • Avatar
            GlowBoy June 1, 2019 at 12:52 pm

            If you have used Kryptonite locks for 33 years, then you spent quite a few of those years using an easily defeated lock, pickable with a simple Bic pen. As did I.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              9watts June 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm

              My first (1986-20xx) Kryptonite U-lock served me very well. Some miscreant tried to break it open with sharp tools, ca. 1993, but didn’t get too far. He, like most of us, was clearly unaware of the BIC-pen trick back then. Like I said, it is an arms race.

              Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    PS May 29, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Who cares? Some people spend a lot of money on things that don’t work very well. I tend to not buy $75 zip ties, but just bought a $70 chain that will inevitably wear out in 3 months.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Avatar
      tony May 29, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      The difference is this company claims in a video that it’s tin snip proof, bolt cutters proof and etc. Which it clearly isn’t, then claims the YouTuber went through extra measures to ensure the lock would fail using the cheapest methods. They deserve the heat that they got.

      Recommended Thumb up 29

      • Avatar
        Cam June 2, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        What makes you think he went through extra measures to make it fail?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Cam June 2, 2019 at 2:06 pm

        I probably missed something, the guidelines were to use with a U-lock. If you’re using a U-lock, what’s the purpose of the Otto lock?

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Avatar
      hotrodder May 29, 2019 at 8:29 pm

      We totally get it. A 75 dollar zip-tie to give you peace of mind when you need to make a quick boonie stop for snacks or coffee. Or, if you want to save 68 dollars, here you go. Less than 7 bucks. Not really secure at all, but better than nothing, (just like the Otterlock).

      https://www.doitbest.com/products/812641

      Recommended Thumb up 17

    • Avatar
      Middle of The Road Guy May 30, 2019 at 11:08 am

      I’ve got about $25k in bikes locked up in my basement and NONE of them have made me thin.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Jason May 29, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Meh. A small U-lock is just as easy to carry. Ain’t nobody got time for Ottolock.

    Recommended Thumb up 18

    • Avatar
      jered May 29, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      I mean you can extract a lot of justice with a U-Lock, not so much with an Ottolock…

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • Avatar
        Colin Leland May 29, 2019 at 6:48 pm

        I’ve actually used my Ottolock to fend someone off late at night. The metal weight at the end of the “zip tie” was extremely effective.

        Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Avatar
    hotrodder May 29, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    The advertised purpose of this lock can be equally served by using a 6.99 combination cable lock from your local hardware store. Use it in conjunction with a good lock if you’re after bike security. Really?
    I know I’m not the intended audience for this device.
    I don’t have 75 extra bucks to spend just to save a few ounces and/or impress my riding buddies with the latest and greatest gadget, but even if I did the marketing division at Otterlock is really contorting the message to try and stem the damage that the LPL has been doing, and quite frankly, it’s as insulting to my intelligence as a lot of what’s coming out of the white house these days.

    Recommended Thumb up 28

  • Avatar
    John Lascurettes May 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    This sugary lock is part of a full and (already) complete nutritious breakfast.

    Recommended Thumb up 12

  • Avatar
    Christopher of Portland May 29, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    I would be surprised if I own much of anything that would take as long to compromise as Bucky claims it would take to get through this lock. Is he given products for free in exchange for reviews?

    Recommended Thumb up 16

    • Avatar
      Eric H May 30, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Bucky is an “influencer” so he gets all sorts of free stuff to try to get people to believe how awesome it is. Glad I’ve never wasted my money or risked any of my bikes with this product.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Avatar
    mh May 29, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    My only thought: “I wish I had that much hand strength.”

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    Keegan May 29, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    I feel like the dude who contributes to this site and this site have a bit of conflict of interest with a company in their home town…

    This lock falsly advertised itself as being cut resistant and it’s clearly not. End of story.

    Recommended Thumb up 35

  • Avatar
    Matt S. May 29, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    I just use my helmet clip around the front tire for quick runs into the convenience store. Example being that little market on Sauvie Island. If I do a group ride and we leave from a cafe, I just leave the lock and pick it up on the ride home…

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    twowheeledmonkey May 29, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    I can’t tell if you are throwing Bucky under the bus. Does he have weak grip strength? Investigate that in a follow-up. I want to know the newton-meters required to break this apparently Tough Hexband. Could be majorly embarrassing for Mr Bucky, or maybe the LPL is one badass hand wringer.

    Jonathan, can you try it plz?

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    Al May 29, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    The problem with this lock isn’t so much how breakable it is but rather that it costs so much. For the price you can actually get real security OR for a small fraction of the price you can get the same functionality. The product may have other non-bicycle applications but again, you can just buy something way cheaper for the same functionality. I honestly don’t understand how this company stays in business.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • Avatar
      Pat Lowell May 30, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Exactly this! A $10 ski lock would be just as light and portable and provide equally poor security.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    Kaysler May 30, 2019 at 4:19 am

    The backlash from these videos has everything to do with the misleading marketing. For reference look at the comments section of the company’s videos showing the cut resistance – many consumers are utterly flabbergasted at the strength of the lock when facing bolt cutters; yet, the company’s message in response to the lock being defeated is to claim it was not designed for high crime areas. They deserve the heat they are feeling here because they lied to their customers.

    Recommended Thumb up 23

    • Avatar
      meh May 31, 2019 at 6:04 am

      And watch the video carefully. When they are using the bolt cutter, they are not inserting the lock all the way to the rear of the blades, but are just using the tips. Tin snips and bolt cutters require using the back of the blades to get the most power out of the tool.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Pixoariz May 30, 2019 at 5:26 am

    As I’ve commented on the ‘buckyrides’ forum, his effort to debunk the Lock Picking Lawyer’s video lacks scientific rigor, since he’s not using the Wiss snips evident in LPL’s video. Seems to think the ‘advanced,’ $11 Wiss snips used is rare and too wondrous for mere mortals.

    Recommended Thumb up 17

  • Avatar
    grannygear May 30, 2019 at 8:53 am

    This topic really is showing the bias of Bikeportland, echo chamber of social media and insincerity of crowdfunded product designers.
    Be your own person and come to your own conclusions… Don’t Believe The Hype!

    Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Avatar
      Johnny Bye Carter May 31, 2019 at 3:27 pm

      Just leave your bike there unlocked and it should be there when you return.

      Don’t believe all the hype about needing a lock.

      Be your own person by trying it yourself and coming to your own conclusion.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    TakeTheLane May 30, 2019 at 9:05 am

    I once drove for a 90 year old man who was legally blind. He told me a piece of wisdom that I like to share: You can only keep the honest man honest.
    So, I generally only lock my bike (and easily removable parts) with a cheap cable lock for short stops and only ride a bike I can afford to lose if I plan on making a stop on my ride.
    It seems obvious to me that that’s what the OttoLock is made to do and the added expense of their lock is attributed to the costs of marketing and ease of obtaining and using their product.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Stephen Keller May 30, 2019 at 9:22 am

    If Otto Design Works had developed something truly theft resistant, they would have sent it to Sold Secure (or a similar facility) for independent testing. Given they haven’t done that, I doubt the veracity of their marketing claims.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • Avatar
    a May 30, 2019 at 10:39 am

    A $70 lock no better than a $5 walmart lock. Seems lots of people have had their bikes stolen because they believed ottolock’s lies. That’s sad.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Avatar
    Keith S May 30, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    I bought the original version of this lock to use during very quick stops (or situations where the bike would be in my sight) on solo rides. It was fine until the plastic/rubber outer layer began to wear off. Eventually the sharp-edged metal core was exposed rendering the lock unusable. I contacted Ottolock to see if they would replace my lock. Even though I knew by then that this lock was as easy and quick to cut as a cheap cable lock, or a string, I was still willing to use one if the company had given me a replacement. I was told by a customer service rep that she’d “look into it” and…… that was the end of that. This product is a grossly overpriced ziptie that comes with an even flimsier customer support. I’m using a small combination cable lock now that does the same job as the Ottolock, but for less than $15. If you need something to keep honest people honest during quick stops, any lock will do, there’s no reason to give $70 to the clowns at Ottolock.

    Recommended Thumb up 19

  • Avatar
    Glenn II May 30, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve had the same U-lock for 20 years. Never go anywhere without it. It’s like 2 pounds. Why all the hate for 2 lbs? I’ve eaten sandwiches heavier than that. A pint of beer together with the glass weighs about that much. Two pounds of muscle-building, character-building excellence.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Avatar
      Toby Keith May 30, 2019 at 9:26 pm

      Same here. Never had an issue with U-locks. These Otto-locks seem like hipster gimmicks.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

      • Avatar
        Stephen Keller May 31, 2019 at 7:03 am

        Same here, too. If I want to lighten up the whole 250 pound package, the lock and the bike are the last places to focus. Trimming a few pounds off of me is cheaper and much more effective.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    dan May 31, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Doesn’t seem like a “new” innovation to have a simple “popping into the store” lock. I have one of these on my commuter and it’s never let me down. https://www.rei.com/product/123982/abus-pro-tectic-4960-frame-lock
    Plus, combined with my U-lock for longer lockups, I have double security. These locks are standard on commuter bikes in Holland, of course, along with fenders and lights. It has always baffled me how american bikes are marketed. Would you buy a car with no locks, lights or fenders?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    howrad May 31, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    It feels like much of what’s playing out here is classic Streisand Effect, and that’s probably not a good thing for Ottolock (nor their SEO): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

    It also reminds me of the way some companies have retaliated or made disparaging statements against security researchers who provided valid criticism.

    Did anyone else notice that the Ottolock photo at the top of the article features the same Wiss snips that the security researcher used to defeat his test lock?

    It’s too bad that Ottolock hadn’t simply owned this by saying “Yeah, we realize $10 aircraft snips can go through an Ottolock, so just use this only on non-sketchy rides when you think you don’t even need a lock.”

    When their official response to a legitimate security concern is “there are critics who may not understand the product’s intended use”, that feels like they’re saying we’re too dumb to think critically.

    1. “This product is so secure we can’t defeat it in our own tests!”
    2. “Weird, someone defeated it with $10 aviation snips just like the ones pictured in the BikePortland article, they must be doing something out-of-the-ordinary.”
    3. “You believed that someone? Clearly you don’t understand the product use case.”

    Dogmatic defensiveness just isn’t a good product strategy when faced with scientific tests that prove otherwise.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Avatar
      9watts May 31, 2019 at 5:38 pm

      You make a bunch of excellent points, but what if the intended or imagined or actual audience of this lock consists of people who think of the Ottolock as a lifestyle accessory, akin to a watch or a handbag? Perhaps for these people (who if I’m not mistaken crowd-funded the whole thing in the first place) the Ottolock communicates to others something that is orthogonal to its utility or lack thereof as a deterrent or a, you know, lock?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    John Smith June 1, 2019 at 2:42 am

    Unfortunately the way OTTO Design Works handles bad media will be the downfall of he company. Because the LPL was able to snip through the first otto lock in seconds they basically called him a liar. They produce a video showing the new Hexband resisting a Tin Snip attack which is also misleading as the LPL cut through it in 10 seconds, then they get a lot of negative comments on that video so they disable comments and they have blocked people from posting on their IG and twitter accounts.

    OTTO Design Works are purposely misleading people.

    Recommended Thumb up 15

  • Avatar
    tom polarbear June 3, 2019 at 9:51 am

    the only sure way to stop a thief from stealing your bike is to keep your money in your pocket and don’t buy a bike in the first place!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar