Recent years saw a massive improvement in motorcycle gps tracking technology, making the tech affordable and available for nearly everyone. But how does it work? What does it offer? Is it reliable? In this article we’ll cover three popular motorcycle GPS trackers and go over the characteristics of each, but first, let’s see what the GPS tracker really is.
For more than two decades now, people have used some sort of modern motorcycle GPS tracking device to keep information about whereabouts and coordinates. The GPS unit itself is rather simple. The Global Positioning System is basically a worldwide radio-navigation system, comprised of 24 satellites and the ground stations they communicate with. Initially, the system was designed for the U.S. military but it later evolved into the system we know today, which can be used by most civilians. In addition, it’s completely free, there is no charge or any kind of restrictions.
The system, like we said, uses a grid of satellites and ground stations to work out where the signal is coming from. The unit can be placed on a vehicle, a motorcycle, a mobile phone, and really, any other device or object you can attach the small tracker to. It determines and tracks the position in real-time, with incredible accuracy, hence why it’s used for navigation in most cars and bikes, as well as surveillance for high-value people and even kids by their parents.
The fact that the system tracks velocity and time makes it perfect for use in modern navigation. Most modern, sophisticated vehicles feature some kind of navigation built-in, but bikes do not. This is where aftermarket GPS trackers come in. They’re relatively affordable, durable, and in addition to aiding you in navigation, they can prove to be invaluable if your bike gets stolen (provided the unit is mounted to the bike).
Choosing the right GPS tracker for your motorcycle can be difficult, in fact, we’d go as far as saying there’s no perfect unit. You have to find the perfect one for your specific application, but as a general guideline, you want to look out for several key characteristics.
- Ruggedized Frame: Motorcycles exhibit a lot more vibration than, say, a car does. So generally, the tracker is exposed to more stress, making it susceptible to damage. If you’re doing strictly road driving, you might be fine with a normal unit, but if you plan on doing off-roading, you’ll definitely want one with a ruggedized frame.
- Weatherproof design: This one’s a no brainer really. Unless you’re planning on keeping the unit in a container of some sorts, carrying it in your bag or you can control the weather, you’re definitely going to get caught out in the rain at least once. It’s just the nature of the motorcycle, you’re exposed to the elements. Having a waterproof unit is, we think, a must.
GPS Tracker for Motorcycle Reviews
Without further to do, here’s our review on 3 of the best units currently
With features like live tracking, geofence, speed alerts, an arm feature and a large 3000mAh lithium battery, it’s durable and user-friendly. It’s what we’d consider the standard GPS tracker unit, and then some, as it genuinely offers quite a lot of features for the money. Naturally, it has its pros and cons, but overall, it’s one of the best units on the market, especially at the price point.
What we like:
- Instant Notifications
- User friendliness
- It comes as a plug and play device
- First year is free
For the price they’re selling it at, it really is the best GPS tracker. Like we said, value for money, the scale is off the charts. You get stuff you don’t find in most GPS trackers even twice as expensive. There are instant notifications for nearly everything, so you don’t even have to look at the device to know. It’s really user friendly, and up to 4 people can track the location of the device, not just the actual owner. The fact that it’s plug and play is another bonus, as it comes with an already installed SIM card. What’s more, the first year is free, and after that you only pay $15 per quarter or $50 annually, with no activation fees.
What we don’t like
- It can sometimes glitch or get “bugged”
- Users reported short battery life
- Customer service is rather poor
Certain users reported short battery life, in addition to miscalculations by the device. The final destination was almost always correct, however the route wasn’t. Some people stated that the unit would add a few miles to their journey, when in fact they hadn’t been there. It isn’t a big deal since it’s minor deviations, but still worthy of mentioning. Customer service has been rated as below average, and the SIM card works only with AT&T and T-Mobile.
Spy Tec STI_GL300 Mini Portable GPS Tracker
The Spy Tec unit occupies the lower end of the GPS Tracker market, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or of lower quality. Okay, so it doesn’t offer the same features the Vectu tracker did, but it’s quite a lot cheaper, some 50% in fact. It still does the basic things any GPS Tracker should, making it the perfect choice if you’re after a great, small unit.
What we like:
- Geo fencing
The unit is really compact, quite a bit smaller than most other units, making it perfect for applications where there’s not a lot of room. In addition, you can easily carry it with you, on your belt or inside a backpack. It uses Google Maps for tracking, making it really accurate, as Google Maps has some of the best and most accurate maps. Geo fencing gives you an instant text or email as soon as a person leaves an area.
What we don’t like:
- Customer support
- Expensive in the long run
The manual and instructions provided with the unit are barely of any use. It’s not difficult to figure out, but it would have been nice if people didn’t have to do it on their own. You can look up everything you need online, but it requires you to waste some time by doing that. Customer support is responsive, but it can only be reached by email or phone, if they decide to call you. And with a price of $25 per month, it’s very expensive in the long run compared to, say, the Vectu. If you remember, the Vectu was free for the first year, and $50 annually. This costs half as much for a single month. On the bright side, there aren’t as many issues with glitches and bugs with the Spy Tec as the Vectu, so it’s a lot more reliable.
Coban GPS Real Time Tracker TK103A
You might think that because of that, it’s not worth buying, but you couldn’t be much more further from the truth. It still offers geo fencing, Google Maps and anti-theft alarm, so it’s not like they skimped out on anything.
What we like:
- Unbeatable price
It’s the cheapest of the three, some 40% cheaper than the Spy Tec and 100% cheaper than the Vectu. It’s even more compact than the Spy Tec, so you’re basically free to use it wherever you deem necessary. It does what a GPS tracker should do impeccably, and it never misses a beat.
What we don’t like:
- Hard to install
The instructions offer no genuine insight into how you should install it, and with so many wires and connections, it can get overwhelming. This is not a plug and play kit, it’s not even similar to installing car stereo. Unless you really know what you’re doing or plan to have it installed by a professional, don’t even try it. If you go through the effort however, you’ll end up with one of the best GPS trackers at a great price.
Using the GPS tracker is easy, but it really depends on the model. In most cases, you first have to log on to their website and enable/activate your account. After you’ve done that, you can search the website freely and find the tracking option where you can see the information in real time. Some units offer phone tracking through an app, but not all.
So, there you have it. A list of the three, most affordable units on the market, from the cheapest one to the midrange one. All good in their own way, it just depends on what you need. The Vectu is the most advanced of the three, the Spy Tec offers the best of both worlds, and the Coban is the cheapest, but seems to work the best.