GPS tagging your bike

Strong bike safety starts with a good bike lock (we recommend the Kryptonite New York 3000). However, even the strongest of locks can be beaten by determined thieves. So what can you do to recover your bike if it is stolen?

A device a thief will never find

The answer may lie in GPS devices. The SpyBike Covert Bicycle GPS Tracker is one such system. It is cleverly hidden inside your bicycle steerer tube making it completely invisible to bike thieves. If your bike is stolen, you can send it a text message and it will report back the GPS position.

The device costs around £100 and you’ll also need a sim card. It only fits bicycles with aheadset (threadless headset) which is what most modern bikes have. However, as the tracker has a diameter of 23.5mm by a length of 110mm you’ll need to check if it will fit inside.

The SpyBike Covert GPS Tracker can be activated in two ways. The first is to use the supplied key fob to swipe it over the device. If your bike is moved then you’ll receive a text message. The other option which should help conserve battery life, is for the tracker to check for a text message every few hours. In this scenario, if you return to your bike to find it’s not there, you can send a message to the device and the next time it checks for messages it will send you the GPS position within a few metres.

When a GPS lock isn’t possible, the SpyBike can try to find its position using nearby mobile devices. However, this is not as accurate.

The SpyBike can only be installed and removed with the anti-theft key. That means if a thief wanted to remove your handlebars they wouldn’t be able to use a standard Allen key.

The manufacturer estimates you can get at least 3 months use before needing to change the battery.

Bike tagging

Less expensive non-GPS options include electronic devices such as the ImmobiTag. Again, this is hidden on the bike but relies on a police officer actually finding the bike and then actually knowing how to scan for the special tag.

The easiest option, and the one I thoroughly recommend for all cyclists, is to get your bike tagged.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

11 Responses to GPS tagging your bike

  1. Big Softy 28/05/2012 at 12:27 am #

    Thanks Andreas, I didn’t find that one in my search.
    Interesting bit of kit.
    I was leaning to the Immobitag, but wasn’t sure how often the Police bother to scan as I’ve never seen one in use on the streets.
    Do any of your readers have any experience of this product please?

    • Andreas 28/05/2012 at 11:00 am #

      I’m afraid I can’t personally comment – perhaps others use such systems. From anecdotal evidence I’d guess most officers unless specifically trained would not look for this system.

  2. Bikes.org.uk 28/05/2012 at 10:12 am #

    What a great idea. I suppose it’s the age-old debate re-insurance, it’s expensive if you don’t need it but invaluable when you do.

    The thing that will make this succeed, or not, will be the owner remembering to change the battery every 3 months, which I suspect a lot will forgot to do.

    • Andreas 28/05/2012 at 11:02 am #

      True – though I think the device has a built in system that warns you when the battery is low.

  3. Mike 28/05/2012 at 11:50 am #

    The problem I can see with this, is again, the Police are often not able to help. If you found your bike, and knew it was at an address, can they help you? It’s similar to people who use trackers to locate their stolen smartphones.

    • Andreas 28/05/2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Very true Mike – couple of recent stories we’ve had on the blog illustrate that. These devices do somewhat encourage you to take the law in to your own hands.

    • Gizmo 07/06/2012 at 2:51 pm #

      Last week I unfortunately lost my iPhone. No worries – I have the Find My iPhone app, so fired it up on my iPad and it located the phone several times to a specific house in a place I’ve never been.

      Choosing not to take the law into my own hands I reported this to the police (classing it as a theft – because although it wasn’t picked from my pocket as far as I know, it had still been removed from wherever I actually left it).

      Sadly, a confirmed GPS location – and address! – for a piece of propery wasn’t enough for them to bother following it up and they’ve sent me a message saying that no further action will be taken.

  4. Marc Jones 28/05/2012 at 3:19 pm #

    The trick would be allowing you to use it to track rides (Strava style) and it to stay live if the bike is stolen.

  5. philcycle 02/06/2012 at 10:12 am #

    Sounds like a great idea, but as one is able to buy sets of “anti tamper” drivers I wonder how long it will be before the thieves are able to remove the device.
    I think the ‘DataTag’ type system is to be prefered – until this device is sufficiently small to fit anywhere on the bike.

  6. Goonz 06/06/2012 at 9:51 am #

    I did have a look into the GPS tracker and think its a good idea if you have a expensive bike or even if the bike you have is dear to you regardless of price. Its all about weighing up the cost of purchasing this item against the cost of the time, effort and heartache you would go through if your bike was not fitted with it.

  7. Lucas 15/03/2013 at 3:30 am #

    Hi Sir
    We are the manufacturer of GPS Tracker in China. we want to do business with your company, so can we talk deeply ?

    Best Regards

    Lucas

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