Motorcycle theft has been reduced thanks to efforts by the police over the last few years, but it’s still a problem that you need to be aware of. Choosing the best motorcycle tracker can mean the difference between never seeing your bike again, and having it recovered in a matter of hours. We’ve tested the leading trackers, so you can check out our Speedotrack motorcycle tracking devices but if you want to know more about how they work and what to look for, as well as why they’re a very real alternative to a motorcycle alarm .

Despite the videos of brazen thieves threatening bystanders while cutting locks with angle-grinders, this high-profile theft is still very much in the minority. Most of the theft is of bikes and more thieves would still prefer a quieter life, with less risk of a more serious custodial sentence for threats to life.

Recovering a stolen motorcycle doesn’t just potentially limit the cost of future premiums, it could help the police catch the culprits, and ultimately the organized crime bosses. Stolen bikes are stripped in Indian workshops, couriered in one piece across borders, of even disassembled in the back of large trucks immediately after being snatched. A tracker has the potential to nail these crooks.

As we write this, a large proportion of stolen vehicles are still taken, then left for a day or so to see if they’re located by their rightful owners. If they are, the thieves have avoided being caught out by a tracking device, but you’ve got your bike back.

Tracker options

You can go through all our trackers (which are constantly updated) . Trackers are available as a subscription-based package, or self-monitored. While a cheap system can be purchased from our website and might help you find your bike if it’s been dumped, the police will be less likely to be able to help you if needs be.

A managed system typically has 24/7 monitoring in place, with a team ready to track your bike. Some companies will deploy staff to locate and assist in the recovery, but keep in mind that they have no rights to enter private property. However, the company should have ties with the police, who – resources permitting – can attend the scene, and potentially gain access (though this could depend on the circumstances, and whether a warrant is deemed necessary).

The majority of subscription-based trackers will notify HQ the moment your bike is moved without the keys in the ignition. From then, the company will contact you, check that it’s not in your possession (for instance, if you forgot to deactivate it on a ferry), then immediately begin tracking. Some companies boast recovery rates as high as 90%, most bikes being reclaimed within just two hours.

The technology

While often referred to as ‘GPS trackers’, there are various types of technology fitted to the products, each with their own advantages…

Cellular: The unit has an inbuilt SIM card, and sends and receives texts or data to and from a server using the Global Systems Mobile communications network (GSM) – the same as your mobile phone. This can also be used to triangulate an approximate position.

GPS: Using satellites, a tracker with Global Position System technology can pin-point its location to within three to four meters, though it’s more easily blocked than GSM. The cellular network is used to transmit the location to base.

Support team: Having an operative that can be deployed in the event of a theft means that it can be tracked, but also that they can monitor a stolen bike’s location until the police are able to attend. As resources become increasingly stretched, this is a major selling point.

Where to hide it

Unlike in cars and vans, there aren’t many places to hide a tracker. It’s important that the unit isn’t obvious, and many companies won’t allow us to show their product– it makes sense to not promote what the thieves should be looking for (though the most professional will of course be all too aware).

Trackers mustn’t be too smothered with metal, so beneath a fuel tank can restrict the performance of their GPS/cellular transmitters, though some systems use an ‘extended’ GPS antenna for increased accuracy in tricky environments.

Trackers wired into the bike generally need a live and neutral to the battery, along with a switched feed from the ignition, so the unit knows when the key is being used. Most will have a back-up battery, should the wiring be disconnected, and in this case, many trackers will go into alert mode by default.

Most subscription-based trackers must be fitted by an approved installer, to guarantee their effectiveness – the supplier will be able to advise you of one in your area. Insurance discounts sometimes apply, but bear in mind that a professionally-fitted device will have a certificate of installation, which must be supplied in the event of a claim.

Limitations

Potentially, thieves can ‘listen’ for a tracker talking to base – in the same way that they might knock a bike to find out if it has an alarm, they could use a device to detect the cellular communication of a tracker. This data stream can also be jammed with the right technology, though just as many thieves will not want to progress to violent crime, they’ll also know that carrying the tools is ‘going equipped’, making prosecution much easier.

Speedotrack Trackers can also be blocked by sealed metal containers, though many will still work in vans. Accurate and immediate tracking can at least trace the vehicle’s movements to the last visible position, which could be enough, be it the location of the entrance, or a starting point for RF detection.

There are claims that a taser could disable a tracker wired into bike, the crook ‘zapping’ the loom to fry it. Most manufacturers say this shouldn’t work, and besides fuse protection being present in the devices and bikes, many thieves will be less willing to do this, as the multiple ECUs will be destroyed, limiting the motorcycle’s resale value.

Finally, while you and the tracking company might know where the bike is, it’s possible that the police won’t have the resources to attend before it moves on – a support team can be a real help here.

It needs to be remembered that there are a lot of bikes out there, and the thieves have plenty of choice – despite what social media could lead you to believe, the majority of crooks do care about getting caught, so will most likely be cautious. A tracker most certainly has real potential in helping you retrieve a bike you’ve put a lot of work into, and may have had many very memorable rides


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