Datatool Evo alarm review | Honest motorcycle security test

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We’ve all heard it said that the determined thief will steal anything. Given enough time, tools and skill that’s true, but for every obstacle you put in their way, the chances of your bike being targeted reduce significantly. A ‘layered’ approach to motorcycle security is often recommended, and for good reason; the more hassle your bike is to steal, the more likely the thieves are to move on to the other bike nearby that the owner didn’t bother to lock up.

I’ve been using this Datatool Evo alarm on my R1250GS for three months, but have also had the Evo+ (basically the same, but with an immobiliser circuit) fitted to my Honda MSX125 (Grom) for three years to find out if it’s worth installing as part of your bike security…


Pros & Cons
  • Easy to fit yourself
  • Very loud alarm creates good deterrent
  • No need to interfere with the bike’s wiring loom
  • No battery back-up


Is a motorcycle alarm worth having?

Bike alarms have plenty of detractors, claiming nobody takes any notice of them. And to some extent they’re right; several years ago I was involved in a test that saw us ‘steal’ a motorcycle with a screaming alarm from several city-centre locations. We didn’t want to damage the bike, so we’d left the steering lock off and just pushed it up a ramp into a van and drove away. Nobody stopped us.

A motorcycle alarm might put off a chancer that starts fiddling with your bike, or even someone who thinks it’s okay to have a sit on it, but add the time it takes to cut a lock and a screaming alarm becomes a valuable part of that layered security. It might even alert you to someone tampering with it.


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How reliable are motorcycle alarms?

Again, you’ll hear plenty of people moaning about having to ‘rip the alarm off their Gixxer’, but I spoke to Pete Mouncer, an independent professional alarm, immobiliser and tracker fitter who told me that, while there were issues with some products in the past, technology has moved on and the electronic security you buy now is nothing like the kit of the 1980s and ’90s (nor the ones that ended up in a recall between 2013 and 2016).

You can read Pete’s opinion of motorcycle alarms here, but the typical reason he sees issues now is through poor installations; dry joints, bad earths and dodgy connections are the main culprits…


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There’s no need to go this far in stripping your bike down to fit the Datatool Evo alarm, but I’d just bought this GS so was fitting other accessories at the same time, like the Hex ezCAN


Datatool Evo alarm installation

The Datatool Evo Alarm has five wires coming out of it; a permanent live and earth with ring connectors already fitted, a blue wire that’s used for a secondary trigger, and a black and a white wire that terminate in a plug for the warning LED that flashes red when the alarm’s armed.

I chose not to use the LED when installing on my R1250GS, but I do have it fitted into the tail of my Grom.

The secondary trigger wire can be ignored if you don’t want it, but connect it to earth or run it through a microswitch and it can be used to protect the seat, for instance, or even as part of a cable you could pass through your lid if you’ve locked it on the bike. Connect it to ground and if it’s cut or disconnected the alarm will sound.

All you really need to do is find somewhere to tuck the unit, connect the two rings to the battery and it’s ready to go. A large zip-tie is included, along with rubber pads to protect it from excessive vibration, but I used my own 3M VHB tape to secure it under the tail section after stripping the bike down (GoPro mount sticky pads would also work).

It’s a shame Datatool doesn’t supply adhesive tape, though it might be that the company is concerned that the unit might be poorly fitted and fall off.

The LED features a small plug connector, so you don’t have to solder anything to install the Datatool Evo, though you will need to drill an 8mm hole for the LED bezel.

Two remote fobs are supplied, which use 3V CR2016 cells that I’ve found last several years, depending on use. The fobs are well designed, with an integral gasket providing excellent weather protection.


It’s quality design and manufacturing like this that you’ll be unlikely to find on cheap alarms from online marketplaces


Datatool Evo alarm features

The most obvious feature of the Datatool Evo alarm is that it’ll go off if it senses movement. You can adjust the sensitivity of this between low, medium and high, but I’ve left it at the default medium. There are several other features that are worth knowing about though…

  • High voltage detection. If the bike is started while the alarm’s armed, it will detect the sudden increase in voltage from the charging circuit and sound the alarm. This is more useful on older bikes that don’t have immobilisers, as they could be started by forcing the ignition barrel or hotwiring them. On modern bikes, the thief might steal the keys, but it’s likely you’ll have the fob with them. Still, keep the fob separate and this is still a useful feature. Interestingly, the GS has to be fired up to trigger the alarm, but my Grom only needs the ignition turning on.
  • Transport mode. Pressing the small button on the remote within three seconds of the large button when arming turns off motion detection, but will still sound the alarm if it detects the bike’s been started by the voltage surge.
  • Arm in battery charge mode. Some chargers might trigger the high voltage detection, so the bike can be armed with this feature disabled if necessary. This is a temporary selection, but I’d like to see Datatool provide the ability to disable this permanently if desired.
  • Low battery warning. The LED usually flashes every five seconds when the Datatool Evo is armed, but if the bike’s battery drops below 11.5V, it flashes every 10 seconds. If it gets down to 10.5V, the LED flashes every 20 seconds.
  • Silent arming. Pressing the small button on the remote then the large one within three seconds will arm or disarm the alarm silently just that time; handy if you get home late at night. The unit usually beeps twice when armed and once when disarmed, with the default volume being ‘quiet’ (but still loud enough at 2am to annoy some people). There’s also the option to set the beeps to be louder, or to permanently turn them off altogether and rely on the LED for the alarm status.
  • Auto re-arm. When activated, the alarm will always automatically arm when the bike’s turned off, though in some cases this might not work (like if you have a charger fitted). Check this with your own bike before relying on it, as my GS wouldn’t allow it to work (no doubt due to all the CANbus shenanigans), but on the Grom it was fine. The alarm automatically arms 30 seconds after the ignition is turned off, or after the alarm is disarmed.
  • Panic button. Holding down the arming button for three seconds will sound the alarm.
  • Power removed. If the alarm’s armed and the bike’s battery is disconnected, when it’s reconnected the alarm will sound. It’s difficult to see the value of this in most potential theft scenarios.

The one feature I do feel is missing is a battery back-up inside the alarm; if the power’s cut, the alarm stops. This is of course a relatively basic alarm, and given the purpose of it being an immediate deterrent, it makes some sense to leave it out. However, some bikes can have fairly easy access to the battery, so it is my one disappointment with the Datatool Evo.


The instructions are simple and easy to follow


Day to day use of the Datatool Evo alarm

I don’t use the auto-arm feature on either bike as I don’t arm them when they’re locked in the garage, so for me it’s a simple case of pressing the large button on the remote once to arm it.

When I get back, I just need to remember to disarm the Evo. This is where I realise I should have fitted the LED (and probably still will), as too often I’ll start the bike with my gloves on and keys in my pocket, only to have the Evo detect ignition start and begin wailing.

When it does sound, the Datatool Evo’s alarm is extremely loud; in an enclosed area like the garage it can be quite uncomfortable when the siren’s screaming.

When you disarm the alarm it gives one chirp unless it’s been activated, in which case it’ll ‘tell’ you what triggered it through a series of chirps and flashes of the LED:

  • 1 flash/chirp: Bike was started / ignition was turned on (depending on bike)
  • 2 flashes/chirps: Accessory circuit was triggered
  • 3 flashes/chirps: Motion was detected
  • 4 flashes/chirps: Panic function was activated
  • 5 flashes/chirps: Bike battery was removed and reconnected

The alarm can’t be accidentally (or deliberately) armed when the bike’s running.


Datatool Evo alarm theft test

If you’ve read our tracker reviews, you’ll know that we run a series of escalating theft scenarios to test the performance of these devices. Hard security like locks and chains are also thoroughly tested to destruction using a variety of real-world attacks.

Testing an alarm is a lot easier, and in many ways it’s how intrusive it can be during normal use – and how likely it is to suffer false alarms – that can make or break it.

The high voltage trigger and battery removed (then replaced) alerts all work as expected, and the Datatool Evo comes with its motion sensing at ‘medium’ as default. This tends to trigger the ear-piercing siren when the bike is picked up off its stand, or knocked more vigorously, but repeated movement of the front wheel with the bike still on the stand  to simulate an attack of a disc lock triggered the siren even with these fairly small knocks through the frame.

Setting the sensitivity to ‘high’ makes an alert far more likely, the bike becoming more sensitive to vibration and knocks. How it reacts will of course depend on how and where you’ve mounted the unit, but you’ll need to check that this mode doesn’t cause false alarms.

Any device has to strike a balance between sensitivity and unwarranted triggering; even if a highly advanced unit could ‘listen’ for the vibrations caused by an angle-grinder, it’d still likely be susceptible to activation from passing traffic etc. Overall, I think Datatool has done a good job with the Evo.


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Datatool Evo alarm current draw

Whether armed or disarmed, the Datatool Evo alarm pulled between 3mA and 4mA in my testing with the LED running, which is very little indeed. If you’re leaving your bike for several months without being used you should consider a maintenance charger, but there’s little chance of this having any significant impact on your bike’s battery.

When the alarm is sounding, I found that the unit pulls 550mA, but it’d have to be going off for several hours to cause any starting issues.


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Datatool Evo alarm review: Verdict

The idea of the Datatool Evo is to provide a simple, easy-to-fit, reliable alarm that adds to your bike’s security. It has a two-year warranty, but given that I’ve had the Evo+ fitted to the Grom for four years with no problems at all, I’m confident in saying that these units – which are made here in the UK by Datatool (Scorpion Automotive) in their own Chorley factory – should give you no problems.

I’d like to see a battery back-up built in, but still, I really rate this system. It’s not Thatcham-approved, but it’s also significantly cheaper, and still makes a real difference to your motorcycle’s safety. If you have a smaller-capacity or older bike that doesn’t have an immobiliser as standard, the Datatool Evo+ at just £35 more is well worth considering, though you will need to do a little more work to install it.

Sure, there are much cheaper options available from Amazon and the like, but the Datatool Evo is solidly made, very loud, has excellent quality remotes and has proven to be reliable, so I’d say it’s well worth the investment.