Ottolock portable bike lock

This light and compact lock is good for short-stay locking situations, with just one minor shortfall.


150 grams





It’s about as light and compact as a lock can get without wading into the realm of post-bike-theft sidewalk decorations. And a three-digit combination is easy to set and remember. Using the Ottolock takes almost no effort at all — just slide the flat end into the head. Since it’s nearly impossible to cut through without a lot of time and some serious tools, it should be the perfect commuter’s lock.

And it almost is.

After toting the Ottolock all over Denver during several research rides (read: bar crawls), it’s safe to say that Otto makes good on most of its claims. Otto says it’s ideal for “short-stay security and protecting against theft opportunists,” which suited our tests perfectly.

The Ottolock separates itself from cable locks in its construction: the 18-millimeter wide band consists of multiple layers of Kevlar and high-temper steel. Go ahead and take some cable cutters to it; you’ll get a nice arm workout trying to cut through, probably unsuccessfully.

But it also became clear that even after repeated locking and unlocking, the strap had a tendency to stick in the head. I hoped the strap would eventually loosen up over time and it would slide easily in and out of the head, but it still takes a good yank to get the strap out of the head once it’s locked in place. This was problematic when locking a bike to a particularly crowded bike rack. It wasn’t always easy to get the leverage necessary to pull the strap free.

Nonetheless, the Ottolock has proven to be a simple and effective commuter lock solution. It rolls up small enough to stow in a jacket pocket and lends enough peace of mind for short-stay locking situations. While it’s no substitute for a U-lock, it’s a significant upgrade over a typical cable lock.

It’s designed and manufactured in the United States and comes in three lengths — 18 inches, 30 inches, and 60 inches — to accommodate any bike and locking situation, as well as three colors.