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.
1: BikeTrac and Datatool Stealth
I’ve wrestled a lot with which of these two trackers should be in the number one slot, and having used variations of both for five years, I’ve plenty of experience of them. The latest versions make choosing difficult, so it’ll come down to you, but rest assured that both offer extremely good tracking performance.
Biketrac has the advantage of RF location, which means that if your motorcycle is stolen and it’s the GPS isn’t proving accurate enough, 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.
However, in my testing, the lack of an external GPS antenna made the BikeTrac less accurate when the motorcycle was being transported in a van. Datatool’s devices typically had the edge here, which could potentially result in thieves being caught in the act, but the Datatool Stealth lost some of this advantage. Having said all that, recent testing has seen improvements from the Stealth thanks to software updates.
BikeTrac is a category S7 tracker, while Datatool’s Stealth is a category S5. S7 and S5 devices both have to be professionally installed, both have 24/7 monitoring (hence the subscription to pay for staffing), and both will raise alerts due to movement when the bike’s not running.
However, an S5 tracker also has ‘automatic driver recognition’, which uses a fob to disable the tracker when it’s nearby. This means that if a thief steals the keys and takes your bike, the tracking company will still immediately notify you. On the other hand, it does rely on you keeping the fob separate to the keys. While most of us probably detach the ignition key when using it (if the bike doesn’t have keyless ignition), being honest, how many people keep any tracker or alarm fob separate to the rest of the bunch?
That tag does add a significant layer of usability day-to-day, which shouldn’t be ignored. If you move your bike when it has an S7 tracker installed you’ll start getting alerts if you haven’t turned the ignition on. With an S5 tracker, as long as you have the keys in your pocket it’ll recognise that you’re the one pushing it about and not start calling.
This might seem a minor thing, but it can make quite a difference for me as I push my bikes from the garage to behind the house when cleaning them for instance.
Newer versions of the Datatool Stealth also have a ‘phone tag’ mode, which allows iOS and some Android devices (Samsung is said to be fine, but some other brands struggle due to aggressive power controls) to act as the tag. This means an owner could potentially leave the tags stored somewhere, knowing that their phone will disable the tracker when necessary, and a theft with the keys will be far more likely to be alerted immediately.
BikeTrac and Datatool both work with the police to recover your bike, though BikeTrac also employs Securitas as a theft response team. Datatool says that its relationship with the police means it doesn’t need to employ contractors, and it could be argued that evidence-gathering might be compromised if a third-party handles stolen property, but this remains anecdotal. Ultimately, both companies have very good records when it comes to recovery.
Biketrac offers unlimited text alerts when movement is detected, whereas Datatool only gives you 25 free per month, then you have to pay to top them up. On the other hand, having the fob means you very rarely get them anyway, so it’s not an issue.
At the time of writing, Datatool’s Stealth is smaller and easier to hide than BikeTrac, but you need to make sure that your installer tucks any tracker well out of the way; don’t accept one that’s visible under the seat!
If you’re looking at buying a tracker I suggest you check our reviews as they’re updated regularly. Consider what’s important to you, and know that I recommend either as a valuable tool in the recovery of your bike if you’re unlucky enough to have it stolen.
Included in price
Lowest total price over 3 years
24/7 monitoring team?
2: Biketrac Lite
BikeTrac Lite is a much smaller device than the standard BikeTrac, making it as easy to hide as the Datatool Stealth. It still has a secure operating centre that will step in if your bike’s stolen, but they won’t call you if a theft is suspected. Instead, any motion is alerted via a text message, push notification from the app and an email, then if your bike has been stolen, you call the team yourself and they take over.
Lite also doesn’t have access to the Securitas team, European cover, real-time mapping, geo-fence alerts, crash detection and other features (covered in our review), but it is significantly cheaper at £199 plus installation, with a £60/year subscription.
In my testing, the accuracy of BikeTrac Lite was very good in a steel panel van – surprisingly it was better than the standard BikeTrac – and it still features the RF detection, should it be needed. It misses out on the top spot however due to the reduction in features and, most importantly, due to the less persistent alert method in the event of a theft. I’ve had Datatool try to call me in the past when one of their trackers was on my bike, and when I didn’t answer they moved on to my emergency contacts to ring my wife. BikeTrac Lite relies on you hearing one of the alert tones, which are only sent once, so my worry is that you could miss them if you’re asleep or busy. Otherwise though, this is an excellent product at a great price.
Sizzapp is entirely subscription-free; once you’ve bought it, you can monitor your bike’s position at no extra cost.
Of course, the price to pay for this is that there’s no support team to liaise with the police should your bike be stolen, though police officers have told me that they’ll still make active tracker thefts a priority. Sizzapp also isn’t Thatcham-approved, so it won’t be recognised by UK insurers.
Sizzapp isn’t perfect, but in our testing it proved to be impressively accurate, with fast real-time tracking.
Please ignore the influencer ‘reviews’ of Sizzapp and do NOT mount the device under your bike’s seat – it’s the first thing thieves rip off when stealing a motorcycle, even if they intend to leave it tucked away somewhere for a few days before using or stripping it.
Sizzapp has several other features, but as a motorcycle theft tracker it’s surprisingly effective and has no ongoing costs. The backup battery could be a lot better, and it’s not a small device, but if you don’t want to invest in the professional-quality monitored devices it’s worth a look and could make the difference if the worst were to happen.
We have tested the other subscription-free tracker – Pegase – but found it lacking compared to the Sizzapp, though a new version is due imminently that we’ll be hoping to review.
UPDATE SEP 2023: Unfortunately the latest update to Sizzap has significantly reduced its appeal, making it difficult to recommend as a security device. The option to have it phone you has now been added, which is a very welcome feature, however with no proximity fob (or the ability for the device to recognise your phone as being nearby), unless you've started the engine running, as soon as you move the bike you'll get a call. This is a useful security option, and if you don't answer it you shouldn't have that call deducted from your quota of 50/month (though mine are still deducting despite not answering), but having to pull your phone out of your pocket or wherever it's stowed – especially with gloves on – is frustrating. For many people, starting the bike before it's moved simply isn't an option.
The new update also doesn't allow you to silence notifications for a period of time then automatically restart them – it's now off until you turn them back on via the app. This risks the user forgetting to re-enable them and we hope that Sizzapp will turn this feature back on.
Finally, users are now limited to just 50 text alerts per month. If you ride every day it's easy to get through these, so while the push alerts are unlimited and will still notify you of movement, the text messages could run out. It's easy to imagine that the costs were mounting up for Sizzapp, but it will be disappointing to people who purchased it on the understanding that these alerts were unlimited.
With a better implementation of the phone call alert – for instance by using your phone to detect the owner is present, or having the option to call you only after a user-selectable time between the first motion push notification and the bike not being started – Sizzapp could get this back to the very useful device that it was. We look forward to the next update.
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: 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.
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…
• 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
• Invoxia GPS Tracker
Invoxia’s GPS Tracker and Mini GPS Tracker are said to include three years of subscription and up to six months and three months of battery life respectively. We were contacted by BikeSocial reader Phil Owen to test this device, but when we contacted Invoxia to ask for a sample unit, we were told that “unfortunately I'm afraid we will face a technical issue here: the network used by our GPS trackers is not sufficiently deployed in the UK to allow an optimal use of our products for the moment... We could definitely talk about this opportunity again, as soon as this issue is resolved”. If we do get the chance to review one, we’ll update this page as quickly as possible.
Monitored system? No
• Generic Amazon and eBay 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.
We have tested the Aldi tracker, otherwise known and Auto XS or Streetwize here, and while accurate, we’d struggle to recommend it.
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.