If you're looking for advice on how to choose the best GPS tracker for your bike, you've come to the right place. We're here to give you an overview of the different technologies (with no subscription) that are out there.
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It's so frustrating to not find your bike where you left it, or worse, to just find the lock that you were sure was unbreakable. This is why a number of GPS tracker manufacturers have started selling GPS trackers for bikes. Interested? Read on for our tips and tricks for making the right choice at the right price.
Remember that marking and registering your bike is also an excellent idea. BikeRegister is the only Police approved cycle database and could help you be reunited with your bike if it is ever stolen.
When it comes to finding your bike, the best option is to use a GPS tracker that works with low-power networks. Here's how this technology works, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.
GPS trackers with no subscription are the best way to locate a bike, and they run on the Sigfox and Lora networks, which are also known as “low-power networks”. So what exactly are these networks?
Sigfox and Lora have driven the rise in the number of smart devices in the internet of things that now fill our everyday lives. The Sigfox and Lora networks, also known as “LPWANs” or “Low Power Wide Area Networks”, broke new ground with their simple promise: a much lower cost and lower battery consumption compared to conventional mobile networks.
These networks use public frequencies and don't require a licence. This reduced cost allows manufacturers of GPS trackers to sell GPS trackers with no subscription.
Low-power GPS trackers run on these new LPWAN networks. Manufacturers use these public frequencies to offer increasingly innovative GPS trackers at competitive prices.
The Invoxia “Bike Tracker” GPS tracker is the perfect example of this. It's priced very reasonably (around £150) with a subscription included for its first few years of use. It's small, discreet design makes it perfect for mounting on a bicycle. A different version using the same technology is available as a GPS tracker for cars.
There are lots of advantages to low-power GPS trackers. First off, you need to know what you're going to use it for, which in this instance is finding your bike. This will influence which type of GPS tracker you need to buy. Low-power GPS trackers are the perfect choice for a number of reasons:
- They allow you to locate your bike over an unlimited distance: thanks to the extensive network of mobile phone masts all over the UK, your tracker can transmit its location from wherever it may be.
- They are very competitively priced: you can expect to pay around £150 for an Invoxia bike GPS tracker. You can find them cheaper on websites like Amazon, but the subscription is usually only included for the first 6 months.
- You’ll have no subscription fee to pay thanks to the low-power network technology. This technology makes it the best choice for a bicycle GPS tracker.
- Long battery life lasting several months: no need to detach the device too often for recharging. Low-power networks keep their promise: much longer battery life than with conventional mobile networks.
- You get theft alerts: receive notifications on your mobile phone with the mobile app provided by the manufacturer.
This mini GPS tracker for bikes provides an extremely reliable geolocation system. This tracking device has been designed specifically for this type of two-wheeler. It is discreet, small, waterproof, and most importantly impossible or very difficult to spot. We rate this as the best GPS tracker specifically designed to track a bike. The free app will allow you to keep an eye on any suspicious movement of your bike and will show you its location on the map and alert you if it is stolen.
No subscription low-power GPS trackers have a lot of advantages, but nothing is ever perfect. The biggest drawback of this type of device is that real-time tracking is just not possible. “Public frequency” is pretty much synonymous with “network saturation”. Messages sent by these trackers are almost always delayed, with your bike's location being updated with a few minutes delay each time (1 to 2 minutes on average).
Plus you only get a limited number of locations per day (again because of the public frequencies), so it's impossible to get a location every minute, for example, even without the lag in message transmission.
On the other hand, you don't necessarily need real-time tracking to locate a bike. If your bike is stolen, you're not going to try tracking the thief in real time as they cycle round town. You do need to know where the robber has taken your bike though so you can go and get it back or report it to the police. Whoever has taken your bike will eventually stop and stash it somewhere safe. So a location on request is enough in the event of theft.
It has a lot of advantages that make it the best option. A low-power GPS tracker has everything you need to locate a bicycle. If your bike is stolen, this tracking device will make it easy to find. What's more, it's a subscription-free GPS tracker that delivers GPS positioning that is just as effective as other subscription-based technologies. What’s not to like?
A low-power GPS tracker is an autonomous product because it can transmit its position wherever it is using low-power networks. The fact that this product doesn't need a subscription, or at least the subscription is included for the first few years, is an important and very positive factor when buying this type of device. In addition to offering excellent location information, its affordable price is an added bonus for this option.
There are also GPS trackers with no subscription for cars and motorbikes. All these GPS trackers work on the same principle. They just come in different sizes to suit different types of vehicles.
There are obviously other options to locate your bike with no subscription. Read on to find out more.
Lots of people think a GPS tracker without SIM card is a GPS tracker with no subscription. That's not necessarily true. This is actually used to describe two different types of products:
- GPS trackers connected to low-power networks as explained above. In our opinion, this is the best option for locating a bike.
- Then there's GPS trackers connected to conventional mobile networks (2G, 3G, 4G), which aren't actually subscription free GPS trackers. These do need a SIM card to work, but the manufacturer doesn't supply one, hence the name “GPS tracker without SIM card”.
Read on to find out more about GPS trackers connected to conventional networks, also known as “GPS trackers without SIM card”.
This type of tracker is sold by the manufacturer without a SIM card, but actually needs a SIM card to work. These trackers are connected to “conventional” networks, the very same ones you use for your smartphone. We use these conventional mobile networks every day to send and receive messages (2G), to surf the Internet (3G), or to access high-speed multimedia (4G) on our mobile phones.
Masts providing access to these services are located all over the country and can be used and operated on payment of a licence. Operators therefore have to pay a licence fee in order to provide subscription packages.
It's important to remember that as the manufacturer does not provide a SIM card, you will have to get one from your chosen operator, and consequently pay the monthly operating costs yourself. These “SIM-free” GPS trackers are not subscription-free GPS trackers.
These paid networks allow real-time tracking with no distance limits. Real-time tracking is possible as there is no limit to the number of messages sent (with it being a private network). There’s no lag in message transmission either, as there is for low-power networks for example.
A GPS tracker without a SIM card is not the best option for finding a bike. It’s actually a GPS tracker with a hidden subscription. You will be paying a monthly subscription fee to be able to access real-time, unlimited range tracking.
Yet, the most important criteria when tracking your bike if it is stolen is to have access to its location over an unlimited distance. You really don't need real-time tracking, because if your bike has been stolen, what really matters is finding out where it has been taken, not following it in real-time.
Yes of course you can use a “SIM-free” GPS tracker to find your bike effectively and reliably. But a GPS tracker that works with low-power networks and doesn't involve you paying a subscription fee will also do the job perfectly well and is absolutely fine for this purpose.
This may seem like a convenient option to keep your bike safe alongside a good lock. A Bluetooth tracker is like a mini GPS, small and inexpensive. You might be thinking about getting an Airtag or a Tile mate to help find your bike if it gets stolen?
Find out more about this type of tracker and its advantages and disadvantages for this type of use.
Bluetooth technology allows us to locate everyday objects extremely accurately. Thanks to this technology, you can now find your wireless headphones that you lost between the sofa cushions or retrieve your keys from down the back of the TV cabinet.
These small Bluetooth trackers use this technology to send a signal to your mobile phone within a maximum range of 50 metres (in an open environment). Perfect for finding misplaced everyday items. Any further than 50 metres away though and it won't work.
In response to this problem, manufacturers of this type of tracker developed the concept of “Crowd GPS”. The idea is quite simple: use all the people around you who have the same Bluetooth GPS receiver to extend the signal beyond 50 metres. So effective GPS positioning is dependent on the people near your tracker. If no one has the same GPS receiver and their Bluetooth switched on near your tracker, its GPS position can't be updated. Surely that’s too many variables when it comes to tracking your treasured bike?
Bluetooth trackers are often called “key finders” and are great for finding everyday items. This is the underlying promise of the manufacturers of this type of key finder. It's not a device designed to tackle theft, but rather a gadget designed to make your everyday life easier: to find your keys quicker at home, for example.
A lot of people are now trying to put these little smart devices to new uses, like tracking a dog or a cat, or finding a stolen car or bike. Their small size and convenience make this a tempting idea. We don't recommend using one to find a bicycle though.
There are too many variables that need to come together for this device to do the job effectively. The issue of the size of the community is far too problematic to rely on this type of device to find your stolen bike. In a rural area with too many obstructions or if there are not enough people around with the same Bluetooth GPS receiver as you, the tracker will not work.
Real-time tracking is just not possible. But the main problem with finding a stolen bike is the limited range of Bluetooth tracker tags. Waiting for someone with both their Bluetooth and GPS switched on to pass by your tracker is not an acceptable way to find your bike quickly.
If you want to track your cat or dog, your buying criteria for a GPS tracker are going to be very different from those for a bike tracker. Lost dogs and cats are always on the move. It is vital that you are able to track them over an unlimited distance AND in real time.
It's important to remember the essential features of a GPS tracker collar for dogs or a GPS tracker collar for cats to be able to find your furry friend again: an unlimited range and real-time tracking.
Only GPS tracker collars for dogs and cats with a subscription (and a SIM card) have these features and will allow you to find your pet quickly. It's important to decide exactly what you want to do with your GPS tracker to make sure you choose the right one for you.
We do not recommend GPS trackers with no subscription for dogs and cats.
To find a bike, the most important requirement for the tracker is for it to be able to locate the bike over an unlimited distance. Finding a stolen bike is perfectly possible using a GPS tracker with no subscription that works with low-power network technology. We believe this is the best option. It is important to be clear about what you want to do with your tracker before you decide which to buy.
Locating loved ones (elderly people, children, or pets) is a matter of personal safety and warrants a different level of investment than for locating vehicles or tracking a bicycle. On the other hand, to track an everyday item, your tracker doesn't need as many features as you would to find your bike. Bluetooth trackers are absolutely fine.