Cycling is fun, but there’s nothing enjoyable about getting your bike stolen. Whether it’s your weekend hobby, an expensive folly, or your primary form of transportation, you might want to invest in a tracking device just in case the unthinkable happens.
Most trackers now cost considerably less than a new bicycle, making them a worthwhile investment. Here are four bike trackers that’ll help you track down your missing ride.
Put Your Safety First
Just like smartphones, a bicycle that’s been fitted with a GPS tracker can be located down to the nearest meter. And, just like smartphones, bicycles are commonly targetted by thieves. Similarly, you shouldn’t try to retrieve a stolen bicycle by yourself.
By following your bike to its last-known GPS location, you could be putting yourself in danger. When your bike is stolen it’s best to notify the authorities, make them aware of the fact that the bike has been fitted with a tracking device, and provide them with the information they need to retrieve your bike for you.
Boomerang’s CycloTrac is a bike alarm and GPS tracker that mounts to your bike beneath the water bottle cage on the frame. Rather than trying to hide the device, Boomerang proudly displays “Anti-Theft, GPS, Motion Detection” on the unit itself. Boomerang’s FAQ notes: “according to our sources inside the San Diego and BART Police, a visible GPS device is a better deterrent than a hidden one.”
The unit is operated using the Boomerang app, available on both Android and iOS. Once you’ve paired your smartphone with the anti-theft device, you can arm it using the app whenever you park your bike. With the unit armed, any movement will cause the bike owner to receive a text message and an audible alert.
The CycloTrac also creates a geofence and will notify the bike owner if the bike travels outside of this zone. Thanks to the in-built GPS tracker and Verizon radio, it’s possible to track the bike in real-time using either the app or Boomerang’s online dashboard.
Boomerang recommends the unit be charged once a week. It can last around 10 hours in active tracking mode, and a few months in sleep mode. A full charge will take about six hours. The CycloTrac retails for $119 and comes with a year of free tracking, after which users will need to pay $3.99 per month.
The Sherlock Bike takes a different approach to bicycle security by hiding its GPS smarts in your handlebars. The unit has been designed with flexibility in mind, making it perfect for both straight and curved grips. You may still want to check the compatibility chart before you order, though.
Sherlock Bike is operated using an app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. Once you’ve parked up and armed the unit, any movement detected will send an alert to your smartphone. With Theft Mode activated, it’s easy to track and share the location of your bike with law enforcement.
The battery lasts a week and can be charged without removal thanks to a micro USB connector. You’ll get two years of internet connectivity via the embedded SIM card included in the $159 price tag. Once those two years are up you’ll need to pay a small recurring monthly charge to continue receiving the service.
Spybike goes a step further in trying to hide your GPS tracker. The company creates regular-looking bike components that won’t give away their security secrets. Each contains a GPS tracker, battery, and embedded SIM card for tracking the location of your bike via the Spybike website.
At present Spybike has three trackers available. The Spylamp2 is a fully functional tail light that contains a GPS tracker. Hold the power button for three seconds to activate the device whenever you park your bicycle. The Spybike Seatpost is a regular aluminum seat post tube that arms itself automatically as soon as you move out of Bluetooth range.
Then there’s the Spybike Top Cap which fits into the headset of your bicycle, near the handlebar connection point. It is armed with a single press of the included keyring whenever you park your bike. Each of these anti-theft devices is rechargeable, with a lithium-ion battery that can go for months on a single charge. Each is currently listed for $125 on the Spybike website, with a $4.50 monthly cost to keep the unit connected to the cellular network.
4. Tile Sport
The products listed above are full GPS trackers, each with their own cellular connection for locating and tracking a stolen bicycle. But they’re also expensive, with price tags that cost hundreds of dollars and ongoing monthly fees. You might be wondering if there’s a cheaper option.
The Tile Sport is a small, waterproof Bluetooth locator that you can attach to your keys, smartphone, or any item you don’t want to lose. To find things, Tile harnesses the power of the Tile userbase to crowdsource information. If another Tile user walks past a locator, the location of that particular object is updated.
With this information, users can attempt to locate their lost objects. Tile works best in busy urban areas, but there’s always an element of luck involved. While the Tile Sport is a more affordable option, keep in mind that it won’t track your bike quite like any of these other solutions will.
It’s an Investment in Security
With the exception of the Tile Sport, these bike trackers can all track your property in real time. They each can connect to the internet, find a GPS lock, and report the precise location back to you. They’re not infallible, and like other GPS devices, their success may be limited by their surroundings. At present, they’re the best products of their kind on the market.
You may be interested to know that GPS trackers are available for your car too. Cars are a significant financial investment, so it’s worth protecting yourself. There are many options out there, but you should take time to decide which GPS car tracker is best for you.
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