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Otto Lock Broken--But How?

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Otto Lock Broken--But How?

Old 10-15-18, 01:27 AM
  #1  
ADAP7IVE
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Otto Lock Broken--But How?

I commute to work exclusively on my bike. On rainy days, I place my bike under the eaves of one of my work's outbuildings. Today after locking my bike to an exposed pipe from the building, I came back to find it moved, with the Ottolock open and lying across the saddle, but apparently undamaged (seems to work fine now). No note, no contact from any of the 200 or so employees who could have moved it.

There are two possibilities I can see: one, I forgot to mix up the combination after I locked it up today, and anyone could have just unzipped the lock; two, someone was able to crack my lock and move the bike without leaving any apparent damage to the lock. I will change the combination now and be more careful in the future, but does anyone know of a way to crack an Otto Lock without leaving apparent damage?

Last edited by ADAP7IVE; 10-15-18 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 10-15-18, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ADAP7IVE View Post
I commute to work exclusively on my bike. On rainy days, I place my bike under the eaves of one of my work's outbuildings. Today after locking my bike to an exposed pipe from the building, I came back to find it moved, with the Ottolock open and lying across the saddle, but apparently undamaged (seems to work fine now). No note, no contact from any of the 200 or so employees at the school who could have moved it.

There are two possibilities I can see: one, I forgot to mix up the combination after I locked it up today, and anyone could have just unzipped the lock; two, someone was able to crack my lock and move the bike without leaving any apparent damage to the lock. I will change the combination now and be more careful in the future, but does anyone know of a way to crack an Otto Lock without leaving apparent damage?

Unless you become convinced that you did something to make the lock not be locked, I would be getting a different type of lock altogether.
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Old 10-15-18, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
Unless you become convinced that you did something to make the lock not be locked, I would be getting a different type of lock altogether.
That's my plan. Just a little deflating, since it wasn't a cheap lock and it's just a few months old.
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Old 10-15-18, 03:36 AM
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Really only 2 possibilities, well 3: (1) You didn't actually close the lock, just inserted it through the frame; (2) You forgot to mix up the digits; or (3) someone had the time to just cycle through some or all possible combinations and figured it out.

Those are the three standard risks with any combination lock, the Ottolock (which I own) is an innovative strap but it is just a combination lock.

If you think you might continue to do (1) or (2), probably best to switch to a key lock, or buy bike insurance. If (3) bothers you in the long run, either do the same or get a 4 digit cable lock - but (1) and (2) apply to that as well!

I'm pretty happy with the Ottolock overall, but I only use combination locks for short term protection - like running into a convenience store at a snack stop or at a lunch stop, which is about 99% of the time when I need any lock at all. I have a heavier key lock that I use if I will be away from the bike for long periods of time - worth carrying the extra weight for that.
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Old 10-15-18, 04:04 AM
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On an early morning run to the market, I did not double check my u-lock after removing the key. Upon returning to the bike my first thought was someone picked the lock and then walked away. Everything was intact. On review, I blame myself for being in an absent minded hurry and now double check after removing the key. I always try to park the bike within view of a security camera.
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Old 10-15-18, 04:54 AM
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Check the lock picking lawyer's YouTube channel. Most locks can be picked, hacked and cracked pretty easily.

The Otto lock looks handy for a pub or coffee shop stop lock, but I wouldn't rely on it for anything else. The problem is it doesn't even look like a deterrent. It could be the world's best lock but if it doesn't look like one half the battle is lost. U-locks give the appearance of being a serious deterrent, which is good enough for opportunistic thieves.

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Old 10-15-18, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Check the lock picking lawyer's YouTube channel. Most locks can be picked, hacked and cracked pretty easily.

+1
Canklecat...you beat me to it. He has a very good you tube channel.

Adaptive: lock picking is a very popular hobby. I've been a practicing picker for years. Not as a thief but as a challenging hobby. I've never used my hobby as a criminal activity though.
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Old 10-15-18, 04:17 PM
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That looks like a fancy 3 digit tie wrap.

I'd certainly be careful about using it for more than a quick stop in a grocery store, or a backup lock.

I'll send you a PM on how I think it would have been opened.
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Old 10-16-18, 12:19 AM
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It doesn't take long to open a 3-digit lock. I did a colleague's in under two mins. Someone's done it just for the challenge.

I use a 4-digit Abus for my tool chest at work, and the dicks there take it in turns to beat eachothers times on it..
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Old 10-16-18, 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by mattbur View Post
+1
Canklecat...you beat me to it. He has a very good you tube channel.

Adaptive: lock picking is a very popular hobby. I've been a practicing picker for years. Not as a thief but as a challenging hobby. I've never used my hobby as a criminal activity though.
I wouldn't tell people that.

Anyway, the true takeaway from that show is that no lock is secure even the expensive ones. Fortunately, your typical bike thieves are brutes and lack the skill and finesse of using fine instruments to pick your lock. It sounds like someone is have a little fun with you OP.
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Old 10-16-18, 10:05 AM
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The Ottolock company itself explicitly states that this lock is not meant for long-term parking, it's meant to be a lightweight security for a coffee stop etc.

In addition to using mine as an actual lock, I'll also use it when transporting the bike on my trunk rack to keep the front wheel from flopping around. I found out the hard way that if you don't mix up the combination, the lock will come loose on its own. Luckily it just dangled around on the wheel but didn't fall off, so I didn't lose it, otherwise that would've been a $70 mistake.
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Old 10-17-18, 04:06 AM
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There were some problems with ottolocks when they first came out. Rivendell was going to stock them and then one of the employees opened a sample by just pulling it apart really hard. Riv carries them now because they worked out that bug. Maybe you got one of the early ones?


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Old 10-17-18, 10:42 AM
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If that lock was expensive I would send it back. It is heavily glorified zip tie with a dinky little combo on there. It wouldn't be hard to open. If a low security lock is a must for you then I would look at the Engineered in Germany ABUS Locks, they are cheap and low security but at least have some proper designing granted the production isn't as good as their Made in Germany stuff but is certainly better than a zip tie with a piece of old briefcase stuck on it.
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Old 10-17-18, 12:32 PM
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Basic combo locks aren't the most secure. I wouldn't use if for more than a quick errand. If it doesn't use false gates you can put tension on the lock, then start with wheel with most resistance, scroll, feel for click, repeat process for last two wheels and it's open.

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Old 10-18-18, 02:30 AM
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm convinced someone was messing with my bike to send a message (the message being "don't put your bike here"). I've switched back to a heavy Abus lock that takes a key when I park at work.

The next issue will be to get my employer to arrange better bike parking. It rains a lot, but the parking is just an outdoor concrete "corral." Most people here ride heavy cruiser-style bikes for transport and don't care for them, so it's enough. I ride a comparatively nicer bike because of the distance, so I don't want to just leave it out to get soaked. Company security recommended I place it under the eaves of an outbuilding, and I found a place that is out of everyone's way--a dead-end space between a building and our outer wall. But that apparently wasn't okay.
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Old 10-18-18, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
What is that? Made out of plastic? How easy is it to cut the strap with a hand saw or something?
It is supposed to be Kevlar, so tough to cut. A flat plate also is tough for bolt cutters and similar attacks.

But, undoubtedly there would be vulnerabilities. Either non-destructive as the OP figured out, or destructive.
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Old 10-18-18, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ADAP7IVE View Post
Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm convinced someone was messing with my bike to send a message (the message being "don't put your bike here"). I've switched back to a heavy Abus lock that takes a key when I park at work.

The next issue will be to get my employer to arrange better bike parking. It rains a lot, but the parking is just an outdoor concrete "corral." Most people here ride heavy cruiser-style bikes for transport and don't care for them, so it's enough. I ride a comparatively nicer bike because of the distance, so I don't want to just leave it out to get soaked. Company security recommended I place it under the eaves of an outbuilding, and I found a place that is out of everyone's way--a dead-end space between a building and our outer wall. But that apparently wasn't okay.
Talk to the building managers again. I think you said there wasn't a note with the bike. So, it is hard to tell if moving the bike was a prank, or a message.

Adding a cover to the existing bike coral might not be that expensive. And, it is more pleasant for all riders to have dry seats and a dry place to don and doff the clothing. Also consider if the wind is frequently directional.
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Old 10-18-18, 04:46 PM
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wow won't get one thanks.
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Old 10-19-18, 10:03 PM
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For the record, the operation of Ottolock is similar to a ziptie. The latter can be released by pushing a thin screwdriver blade from the outer side of the locking piece. In principle one might try a similar action with Ottolock. I tried it with mine, using different items as blades, but failed to push any blade in. However there might be someone with more skill and/or better utensils who might succeed, even for sports. A sign would likely be damaged ribs around the end of the strap from the original position of the locking piece on.
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