BikeTrac Lite review | Thatcham-approved motorcycle tracker theft test

BikeTrac Lite review motorcycle tracker_THUMB

 

Date reviewed: August 2022 | Tested by: John Milbank | RRP: £199 + subscription | biketrac.co.uk/lite

 

The new £199 BikeTrac Lite motorcycle tracker on review here uses the same high-end GPS and RF technology as the £299 top-spec BikeTrac, but trims out some features in order to offer the lowest fully-monitored subscription price on the market. It’s intended for smaller capacity and lower-value machines, yet while maintaining access to a 24-hour Secure Operating Centre that will track your bike in a theft and liaise with the police, BikeTrac has  got the subscription price down to just £5.99/month or £60/year.

I’ve had BikeTrac Lite fitted to a bike to find out what it’s like to live with day-to-day, and how effective it is in several theft scenarios…

 

Pros & Cons
  • Very good price for the level of support
  • Excellent accuracy
  • Very small
  • Some reservations about the alerts
  • As with most trackers, a maintenance charger is required if the bike’s not used for a few weeks
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The app will give coordinates of the bike in an alert state or in standby

 

BikeTrac Lite features

Given the price, BikeTrac Lite still offers an impressive feature set. While many will compare it to some of the more budget options available, like Monimoto, it’s important to remember that this is a Thatcham-approved device (so should be recognised by insurance companies), and that there’s a Secure Operating Centre on call that will work with the police in the event of a theft.

The leading tracker companies like BikeTrac do have excellent relationships with police forces across the country (verified by speaking to police officers, not just the tracker companies), and officers are genuinely keen to respond to active tracker alerts as there’s a very good chance of making an arrest if the crime is in progress.

  • Extremely compact
  • Text, email and push notification sent to your phone on suspected theft event
  • 24/7 Secure Operating Centre available to users
  • GPS tracking
  • RF tracking
  • Battery alert if battery running low
  • Mobile app for iOS and Android

As with all high-end trackers, after buying the device – in this case for a very reasonable £199 – a subscription must be paid to cover the cost of the team at the Secure Operating Centre, and towards the cost if someone needs to go out with the RF tracking equipment (more on that in the theft tests).

The BikeTrac Lite subscription of £5.99/month or £60/year is significantly less than the £9.99/month or £99/year (or £179/two years, £229/three years) of the full BikeTrac.

Discounts and perks are also available from partners including Datatag, Ultimate Addons, Mick Extance Off-Road School, SOS Recovery, Garmin, R&G, Scottoiler, Visorcat, Ultimate Ear, Ultimate Passion and more.

 

BikeTrac Lite vs BikeTrac

The difference between the BikeTrac Lite on review here, and the full BikeTrac – which we’ve reviewed here – is not in its accuracy, but in the additional options available. As well as the features listed above, the full BikeTrac also includes:

  • Personal phone call from Secure Operating Centre if theft detected
  • Securitas theft response team
  • European cover
  • Realtime mapping
  • Geo-fence alert option if bike moved out of a designated area
  • ‘Bike down’ crash detection
  • Recorded journeys
  • GPX download of trips
  • ‘Bike over’ alerts
  • Service mode to disable calls during maintenance
  • Holiday mode
  • Service scheduling

Remember, these are the options NOT available on the BikeTrac Lite that we’re reviewing, and their omission is how the cost is kept down.

 

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The installer app makes it simple for a fitter to run through performance tests

 

Fitting

As with all Thatcham-approved trackers, BikeTrac Lite has to be professionally fitted. BikeTrac will be able to provide details of recommended installers (and we’d certainly suggest Pete Mouncer, the Bike Alarm Man as a first call), but BikeTrac also offers a 0% finance scheme, which is £27 over 12 months plus a £46 deposit, which includes fitting and the subscription, so absolutely everything is covered.

BikeTrac Lite is very small – it’s a similar volume to the Datatool Stealth, but a different shape – so extremely easy to tuck well out of the way on almost any bike. Where it’s fitted will affect the performance of the inbuilt GPS antenna, but the small form means it’s not hard to find somewhere suitable that can’t be seen. Three wires need to be connected – permanent live, earth and an ignition-switched live.

No tracker should ever be fitted beneath the seat, as it’s the first place criminals check.

The installation process is very well put together, taking the fitter through several steps to ensure a strong GPS signal can be achieved, then making it simple for the customer to start their subscription.

 

Day-to-day use

In some ways BikeTrac Lite is less obtrusive in day-to-day use than the full BikeTrac, as if you move the bike around without the ignition on, you only get the text, email and push notification of movement; with the full version you’ll get a phone call. If an alert is raised, you just need to go into the app and reset it, or turn the ignition on.

One thing to be aware of with most trackers that are hard-wired to the bike’s battery is that they will draw some power. When its internal battery is charged, I found that BikeTrac Lite pulls just 0.11mA, which is next to nothing. Move the bike around with the ignition off and any tracker can ‘wake up’, in this case drawing between 50 and 80mA. The impact this will have on your bike depends very much on how often you shuffle your motorcycle around, and the capacity – and state of – the battery. Tales of trackers flattening batteries in a matter of days are simply incorrect, but it’s worth having the machine hooked up to a maintenance charger if you’re not using it for an extended period.

BikeTrac Lite will send you an email and push notification alert if the battery level drops, but I think the 12.3V that it defaults to might be a bit low, as I didn’t get a warning when my VFR dropped to the point that it wouldn’t start while I was using other bikes over a period of several weeks, though it does have a fairly tired old battery. You can easily adjust the threshold in tenths of a Volt, so I’ve now put it to 12.8V.

 

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BikeTrac Lite theft test

All our tracker tests are conducted in the same way; we don’t tell the manufacturer when we intend to perform a mock theft, and while we won’t waste police time to raise a crime number (if necessary for monitored systems), we expect the device (if it’s self-monitored) or operations centre to demonstrate the full service.

 

Level one: Stolen and left in street: A common theft scenario is for a bike to be taken then pushed away, often not that far from where the owner had left it. Thieves will often pull the seat off to check for a tracker, but if they don’t find it easily, they’ll leave the bike for a few days (usually locked with their own chain) to ensure no tracker is fitted. While GPS and GSM jammers do exist, they’re not commonly used in motorcycle theft.

Once the bike gets moved around, a text message, push notification and an email are all sent to your phone. This is the main difference to the full version of BikeTrac, as with that device you’d get a call from a person to ask if you were with the bike.

Logging on to the app will show an alert state, and by clicking on ‘location details’ you’ll be presented with the last received coordinates. There’s no live mapping, but on the Android device I have, pressing and holding the coordinates copies them to the clipboard, and gives the option of a web search, which shows the location on a map.

Accuracy in the street is very good, pinpointing the bike exactly.

Pressing the in-app button to report a theft sees a member of the Secure Operating Centre call you back immediately (within less than a minute in my testing), or you can call them yourself. From here I acknowledged that it was a test, but in a real theft – as with all trackers – you’d call the police for a crime number, then pass this onto the team at BikeTrac who would then take over and liaise with officers.

If the bike was close by, you could of course recover it yourself without reporting it to BikeTrac, assuming it’s safe to do so.

 

Level two: Stolen and hidden in a building: With the bike stolen and hidden in a building, results will vary but I found the GPS signal was still good, showing the motorcycle around 30m from its actual location.

This might be enough to find it, and for the police there will often be other indications of where they need to look, but BikeTrac Lite has an RF beacon built in. While it’s not required that frequently in real thefts, BikeTrac will send someone out when necessary with RF tracking equipment, then activate it remotely when they’re close by. This will allow the operator to pinpoint exactly where the bike is, even in a block of flats.

 

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The coordinates shown in the app can be viewed on Google – in this case the bike was in a van with a steel bulkhead

 

Level three: Stolen in a van: In this test the bike is loaded into a van and driven away. In our testing the alert was received within two minutes of loading beginning, then tracking was extremely accurate, even with the steel bulkhead that the test vehicle’s equipped with.

Thieves transporting a bike in a van are putting themselves at greater risk, as a tracker offering this kind of accuracy can – and does – allow police officers to stop the vehicle and make arrests.

 

Bike jacking

BikeTrac Lite is a category S7 tracker, which means it doesn’t have the rider-identification fob of S5 trackers. While this means a theft with keys won’t be automatically alerted, a call to BikeTrac will still mean they’ll start tracking the bike if you are unfortunate enough to suffer this crime.

 

Support

BikeTrac and the Secure Operating Centre are based in the UK, so if you’ve got any queries it’s easy to make contact. You’ll also often find Bill Taylor, one of the bosses, at many bike shows. He’s a friendly, approachable guy who will be happy to answer any questions.

 

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BikeTrac Lite review: Verdict

BikeTrac Lite’s pricing model makes it very attractive. While it’s a little more expensive than the likes of Monimoto, it proved much more accurate in our testing, and of course it has the very real benefit of being recognised by insurers due to its Thatcham-approval and having the full support of a 24/7 team to track the bike and work with the police if it is stolen.

The lack of European cover won’t worry most owners of smaller capacity bikes, and there’s no reason not to fit it to something bigger if you’re not taking it overseas. Not having the Securitas team available to carry out a recovery is something that is worth considering when choosing, but it’s the lack of a phone call alert that I believe is the biggest difference to note.

At the time of testing, the SMS that’s sent when movement is detected is from a hidden number, being just titled ‘Alert’. While apparently possible on Apple devices, Android will not let you change the alert tone for these, so you’re stuck with the same notification sound as that for all other SMS alerts and push notifications.

There is a solution though in that if you add the email address to your contacts, you can set a unique, long and loud tone for this (assuming you have notification alerts turned on for emails, and they’re set to download automatically).

While most people will likely still see the alert straight away, it would be great to have the Android OS version allowing unique notifications for the SMS or app alerts.

Overall I’m extremely impressed with the accuracy and the superb value of this very easily hidden and highly-specified device. Having a Secure Operating Centre and RF technology with this price of subscription makes BikeTrac Lite an extremely tempting proposition.

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