The best motorcycle trackers will locate a stolen bike often before the thieves can get it to their workshop
Choosing the best motorcycle tracker can mean the difference between getting your bike back in a matter of minutes, or never seeing it again, should you be unlucky enough to have it stolen.
While motorbike theft has been decreasing thanks to the efforts of the police over the last few years (you can meet the team that brought down a major gang here), and no doubt the rise in value of push-bikes that are far easier to lift from city streets, it’s important to be aware of the problem. Don’t panic about it, or let it ruin your enjoyment of motorcycling, but with a few simple steps you can significantly reduce the chances of your motorbike being pinched…
Steering lock: The steering lock on your motorcycle is almost useless – it’s very easy to kick off, then the bike can be pushed away.
Immobiliser: Most motorcycles over 125cc will have an electronic immobiliser fitted. This helps prevent the bike being started, but in reality a large proportion of stolen bikes are either pushed away with the help of a scooter, or loaded into a van. From there, the thieves can use readily-available bypasses, or simply strip the bike and sell it for parts, never worrying about having it running.
Datatag: Visible and invisible marking can help deter thieves who know they’ll have more problems shifting parts that are security marked, plus this system has helped bring down criminal gangs in the past. It’s fitted as standard to the majority of new bikes over 125cc.
Disc-lock: Most bikes have some space to tuck a disc-lock, which simply stops the front wheel from turning. It won’t prevent the bike being lifted into a van, and the most vulnerable part of this is the disc itself, which thieves will cut with an angle grinder to remove the lock.
But my research into theft statistics of Bennetts motorcycle insurance customers showed that even using the most basic disc-lock reduces the chances of your bike being stolen by a factor of three.
Consider a disc-lock with a built-in alarm as it not only adds another layer of defence, it also reminds you to take it off before riding away!
Chain and lock: There are plenty of options available, and you can read all of our motorcycle security product tests here, but locking your bike to something solid will help prevent it being lifted away. As a general rule of thumb, around a 12mm chain is the thickest you’ll be able to carry on the bike, and it does offer a good level of protection, but for home security, the thicker the better. My research showed that using heavy-duty security like 19mm and thicker chains made motorcycles less likely to be stolen than a car.
Lock it and stop worrying: The message is to buy the best security you can afford, use it, then stop worrying and get on with enjoying your bike. An investment of just a few hundred pounds can last a lifetime, and the fact is that if you do lock your bike up, it’s more than likely that those around you won’t have bothered, making yours the least likely target. The Metropolitan Police’s message of ‘Lock, Chain, Cover’ really is a relevant one – a disc lock, a chain lock and a cover pretty much makes your motorcycle invisible to thieves.
Locking your bike up will make it one of the least likely targets in a parking bay of apathy
A tracker won’t stop your bike being stolen, but if the worst does happen, it can mean you’ll get it back very quickly.
You don’t want to advertise that your motorcycle has a tracker as, while it could be that it puts off a casual thief, the more determined – who would be more likely to attack a properly locked bike – will tear out any tracker as soon as they find it. The first thing many will do is rip the seat off to look for a poorly-installed one, so it’s vital that it’s well hidden.
A large proportion of thefts – particularly in city centres – involve a push-away that sees your bike hidden somewhere outside while the thieves wait to see if a tracker is installed; the last thing they want is to lead police back to their home or workshop.
If the bike’s on public property, you could very likely recover it quickly yourself, though you should really get the police involved as you don’t know if the criminals are still nearby. Never put yourself at risk.
If the motorbike is on private land, the police will need a warrant to get access. If it’s visible (like in a thief’s garden), that’s easy, but otherwise they’ll need reliable information of the bike’s exact location to make it as simple as possible to gain access.
Police officers have told me that they will generally respond quickly to any reliable tracker event (resource permitting), but working with an established and trusted tracking company will mean there are already reliable lines of communication and good relationships between the force and the tracking provider.
It’s the brutal reality that the police can do a lot more with the information from an accurate, monitored tracker provided by a security specialist than they can with a basic device you got off eBay that says the bike might be somewhere in a small village.
The best motorcycle trackers come with a subscription fee that covers the cost of a secure operating centre (SOC) that can constantly monitor your bike. The first you might hear of a theft is a call from one of the team, who’ll check what’s happening. If the bike is being stolen, they’ll then take over and liase with the police and (if they have one) their own security team to track and locate your motorcycle.
It could be back within minutes, but recovery times of just a few hours are very common from the leading companies, which also boast recovery rates of over 90%.
Keep in mind that even unmonitored devices like Monimoto still have yearly costs to pay for the SIM card that’s built into the tracker, so look at the yearly costs when deciding what to buy.
Most Thatcham-approved trackers will require professional installation. In some cases, dealers will fit them while carrying out a PDI on a new bike, or the tracker company will do it, but whoever carries out the work, it’s vital that the device is properly hidden. This takes time, so don’t be shy of checking the work is done to a good standard.
If you want to arrange your own fitting, the tracker company will be able to recommend installers, but we can vouch for Pete Mouncer at www.bikealarmman.com, having had units installed by him for testing in the past.
If you have a self-fit tracker, put aside a full day to strip the bike as far as you can, then hide the device to the best of your ability. Any wiring should be hidden in the loom, so don’t just pick up directly off the battery – find a supply somewhere less obvious.
Be aware that some trackers need to be oriented a certain way to get the best link to the satellites, and large areas of metal can inhibit the accuracy too. Directly under the fuel tank isn’t ideal, but there’s not a great deal of space on a bike, so taking your time and constantly checking the performance is vital.
Unlike many websites and influencers, I’ll only recommend products I’ve tested. As I review more trackers I’ll keep this page updated, so do check back regularly if you’re not sure what to buy.
Biketrac has the advantage of RF location, which means that if your motorcycle is stolen and it’s not pinpointed by the GPS, an operator can attend and use RF to absolutely pinpoint it. This can help the police get a warrant to enter a premises, but it’s also valuable if a bike is hidden in a block of flats, as GPS can only identify the location on a horizontal plane. BikeTrac has also partnered with Securitas to offer a response service that can secure a stolen bike.
In my testing, BikeTrac’s lack of an external GPS antenna made it less accurate than some of Datatool’s TrakKing products in some circumstances, but only when the RF isn’t use; the fact that it can be implemented if needed – and the availability of a theft response team – edge it into the top spot.
2: Datatool Stealth
Datatool’s Trakking products have evolved over the past few years, and its new Stealth is an extremely small device that’s also fitted to some new motorcycles by dealers as part of the sale, leaving the owner to only pay for the subscription.
Made in the UK by Scorpion Automotive, these trackers have the advantage of an external antenna, which can make locating the bike quickly and accurately much easier as the main unit can be tucked deeper into the bike, in positions that would shield the built-in GPS of others; a single cable runs to a small external antenna that can be more easily hidden.
The new Stealth doesn’t have the same incredible accuracy of the older TrakKing Adventure, which was able to pinpoint the bike even in the back of a Mercedes Sprinter; so now it’s been edged into second place. It’s still a good product with its own advantages, and of course if your bike has it installed already, it’s well worth paying for the subscription.
3: Monimoto 7
Monimoto is a self-fit, unmonitored tracker that uses cellular data and GPS to locate the bike. If it gets moved, you’ll receive a call, then you can track it via the app.
Monimoto is less accurate than BikeTrac or Datatool’s products, and when undercover it can show the bike in a radius as large as 0.8 miles, which is an area of about two square miles; in built-up locations there’s little chance of finding it here.
However, the early warning of movement and the fact that a large proportion of thefts are push-aways with the bike left outside means the Monimoto is a useful and relatively affordable option.
I use the Monimoto when I have a loan bike that I need to be able to keep an eye on when away from home; understand its limitations and it’s worth a look.
4: SmarTrack MotoTrak
I tested the SmarTrack MotoTrack Maxi back in 2018, before the Thatcham ratings changed, so I can’t be sure that the current version is the same. At the time of the review though, it was a pretty good system that lacked the accuracy of BikeTrack and Datatool, but the company does work with a specialist vehicle repatriation contractor, which can sometimes assist police in difficult situations
5: CanTrack Assett
While CanTrack offers a range of tracking solutions, it was the self-contained ‘Assett’ that I tested back in 2017. This is a completely sealed unit, so while the battery can last up to six years, in typical motorcycle use it’ll last between one and a half to three years before needing replacing at another £249.
The Assett doesn’t pull any power from your bike, which can be an advantage, but its main selling point is that it can be positioned well away from wiring looms, making it harder to find. This is great on large commercial vehicles, but on a bike it’s far less valuable.
The system only checks in at designated times, rather than constantly monitoring your bike, which does mean it’s far less likely to be found if the thief is using a cellular detector, but it could be many hours before you’re notified of a theft. In a scenario that has the bike left to see if there’s a tracker fitted, this would be okay, but then the lack of detectability is irrelevant. On the other hand, a more equipped criminal could have found the tracker and disposed of it long before it checks in and the owner realises it’s not where it should be.
Ultimately, CanTrack Asset has very real advantages in the agricultural and industrial markets, but I wouldn’t recommend it for motorcycles.
Read all of our existing in-depth and honest tracker reviews here.
Locking your bike should be the first line of defence. Find the best motorcycle lock here
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of trackers and there are many more available. I’ll keep this page updated as I test more of them, but these are some of the others worth being aware of…
• BikeTrac Lite
This stripped-down version of BikeTrac is still Thatcham-approved, but it loses the Securitas theft response team of the full BikeTrac unit, as well as cover across Europe and real-time mapping for the user. You can see the full comparison here but this is one of the more interesting new tracker products as it’s well priced when you consider it still includes 24/7 monitoring and RF tracking technology to compliment the GPS. If your bike is stolen and not pinpointed with GPS, an RF detector will still be deployed. The unit costs £199 plus fitting, and the subscription is a very attractive £60/year.
Monitored system? Yes
• Meta Trak
While it’s been discussed many times, I’ve still not had a chance to test Meta Trak, which is a Thatcham-approved tracking device.
Monitored system? Yes
• Tracker Vantage
Another product I’ve never quite been able to get held of to test, the Tracker Vantage is a GPS-based Thatcham-approved device designed for motorcycles. It does lack the VHF tracking technology that the company is famous for, though the Tracker Retrieve incorporates that into a disposable battery-powered sealed unit.
Monitored system? Yes
• TruTrak FMT100
Available from Amazon for £34.99, the TruTrak claims to be easy to install with just two wires, and allows the user to track their own vehicle. Once fitted, keeping the SIM topped up costs £59.99/year, which is the same price as BikeTrac Lite’s fully-monitored insurance-approved system.
Monitored system? No
• Movolytics MovoBike
At £186 from Amazon, plus £90/year after the first year, this is an expensive unmonitored option that looks very similar to the TruTrak, though was apparently designed with Steve Parrish.
Monitored system? No
• Apple AirTags
While in no way a monitored system, Apple AirTags are interesting as they’re located by Apple devices nearby, and there’s a good chance at least one of the thieves will have a newish iPhone. You’ll struggle to set one up if you have an Android device, but the main flaw is that nearby ones can be located easily, so checking for it on a bike is quick and easy, even with an Android phone thanks to Apple’s Tracer Detect app.
Monitored system? No
Tile uses Bluetooth on your smartphone to find the device within a 60m range. It can also use other Tile owner’s phones to help find it, but realistically the tech has been overtaken by Apple’s AirTags.
Monitored system? No
• Generic tracking devices
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of generic tracking devices that fill the pages of Amazon and eBay, but check carefully what it will cost to keep the SIM running in it, and consider whether you’d be better off investing in something that was developed specifically for motorcycles, and that gives you proper back-up and monitored support.
Monitored system? No
If you know of a tracker you’d like to see properly tested, please contact me at this email address.
A good motorcycle tracker will provide fast, accurate location data
Trackers won’t automatically give you a discount on your motorcycle insurance, whatever the adverts might say; it will depend on the underwriter and your own circumstances. It might happen, and there are cases where certain bikes in some high-crime areas will have to have one fitted, but they’ll need to be Thatcham-approved.
There are now two categories when it comes to Thatcham-approved trackers – S5 and S7. And no, S7 isn’t better than S5.
Both S5 and S7 trackers must incorporate the following: A 24/7 secure operating centre (SOC) to monitor the device, GPS tracking or/and RF/VHF, GSM/GPRS cellular connection and location, a roaming-enabled SIM, battery back-up and a two-minute resistance to attack.
That doesn’t mean that S5 is better than S7 either – the benefit of an ID tag is that it can reduce false alerts by seeing that it’s someone with the keys that’s moving the bike about; the tech’s mainly used for fleet and personnel tracking in industrial situations. If you have an S5 tracker, don’t keep the fob on the ignition key, in case the thief steals it in a robbery.
While Thatcham approval ensures all these features are present, it doesn’t compare how easy to use or how accurate they are, which is why it’s worth checking our tests at www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/reviews/products/security/trackers
Yes, thieves can beat trackers, but recovery rates are extremely high, and in motorcycle theft at least, the counter-technology is rarely used. The profits in bike crime aren’t as high as in car theft, so thieves more often leave the bike to see if it’s got a tracker, or just assume it doesn’t.
Potential issues are cellular detectors, which will alert the thief to the signal given off by a tracker when the bike’s moved, and jammers, which can block the phone and GPS signal.
Again, these aren’t common problems, so the benefits of a tracker far outweigh the likelihood of it being defeated.
Much more of a problem is poor installation; no tracker should ever be fitted under the seat as it’s often torn off to see it there’s one under there.
Reputable (and sensible) tracker manufacturers will not publicise what their device looks like, but if you had one installed and you can easily find it, complain first to the installer (even if it’s a dealer that did it for ‘free’). If you don’t get any support, get in touch with the manufacturer of the tracker.
Thieves will often rip the seat off a bike they’ve stolen in order to see if it’s got a poorly-installed tracker
The majority of top-end trackers are connected to your bike’s wiring (with their own backup battery of course); this means they will draw some power, but it’s generally very little. If the motorcycle gets knocked or moved, the device will ‘wake up’ and use more, so if that happens a lot it can become an issue.
If you have a tracker, it’s worth keeping the bike connected to a maintenance charger (you can read our battery charger reviews here), but it’s only really necessary if you’re not using the bike for more than a couple of weeks.
The best trackers for motorbikes boast recovery rates of above 90%, but some riders claim they wouldn’t want their bike back if it were stolen.
While the old days of joy-riders made that more understandable (who wants their machine back if it’s been thrashed to death around the local park?) the fact is that thieves are much more interested in the value of a bike now, be that in shipping it overseas to sell, or – more commonly – to strip for parts.
A tracker can get your bike back before it’s lost or stripped, and if there are any repairs needed, the cost will be a lot lower to the insurer than the total-loss of an unrecovered theft, so should have less impact on future premiums.