Why GPS Tracking for Your Bicycle is Useless

People have often said the best way to keep your bicycle safe is to fit it with a reliable GPS tracker. We completely disagree, and here’s why.

What good is it knowing your bicycle is on the move?

Picture this: you cycle to work, lock your bicycle up and head into the office (or wherever else you may be going). All of a sudden you get a text message saying your bike is on the move. Having the audacity to drop your day job and run after your bicycle is one thing, but once you get there what are you actually going to do? The bicycle would have long gone and there’s little chance you’ll catch the thief on foot.

So you get this great idea: ring the police and suggest going on a manhunt together. You explain that you’ll sit in the passenger seat shouting directions whilst officer Dibble will take the wheel, and together you’ll hunt down this bicycle burglar.

The reality is you will more than likely end up filing some form of a report and continue to go about your day. Police cannot enter a person’s property on the basis of a GPS signal – partly because GPS is only accurate to a certain range, and moreover in many places resources are stretched already and crimes have to be prioritised. The other option could be to take matters into your own hands, but who know where that may end up…

Reliable GPS trackers are NOT cheap, require subscription and rely on a LOT of signals

Your first step to get a reliable GPS tracker is to fork out the cash. We’re talking around the $100 mark for a single unit that will connect to an app or send you SMS updates, in addition to subscription services for on-going use of the mobile network. This is the first problem with GPS tracking: it requires GPS satellite signals as well as other network signals. The heavy reliance on these signals makes the tracker vulnerable for thieves in the know to block the GPS signals, rendering it useless if detected.

GPS tracking is never completely reliable

The price-tag associated with a good tracker is one thing, but will it actually work? Tall buildings like those in inner city areas break down the strength of GPS signals making it harder to get accurate positioning data. More importantly, GPS trackers have a tendency to “drift” meaning the tracker can only know where it is within a certain range (they could be wrong by up to 20 meters). The accuracy of the tracker gets better if the tracker is moving – but what good is this if your bicycle has already been stolen and hidden in someone else’s garage?

 GPS tracking does not help PREVENT your bicycle being stolen

Our fundamental problem with GPS trackers is that they are designed to help RECOVERY; meaning they offer no value in protecting your bicycle from theft in the first place. And although they may offer some form of tracking, they can be easily blocked by thieves and the data will rarely be acted upon by the police. With all of this considered we question whether getting a GPS tracker is actually worth it.

Our View

We do acknowledge that GPS trackers can in some instances recover your bicycle and are therefore useful to some cyclists. However, the need for subscription based services and the limited protection they offer make it an expensive security solution that offers minimal security value.

At Bouh we’re developing Stingray – a new type of bicycle security solution that is seamlessly easy to use. Stingray offers real protection to prevent your bicycle from ever being stolen, and won’t break the bank. Join our email list to stay tuned as we reveal more details.

The Bouh View

At Bouh we believe the most cost effective solution to this problem is to get an alarm system for your bicycle. Alarm systems add huge security benefits as they are immediate – the moment the bike starts to move they trigger, hence work as a real deterrent. There is the obvious concern people have with them: an alarm siren is usually ignored by most people. This is absolutely true; but think about it – who are you trying to deter and how effective is it at that?

The Real Target

The real target for the alarm system is the thief – the one sat on the bicycle doing the theft. Most thieves are opportunists, and if they have the option between an alarmed bicycle AND a lock or a bicycle with ONLY a lock, most thieves will certainly take the easier option. So simply by showing a presence the alarm system has already done its job. On top of that, imagine the shock a thief would feel if they weren’t expecting it: as they try to move your bicycle a whopping siren goes off! The whole point of the siren is to get the thief to think: “this isn’t worth it, let’s drop this and go elsewhere…”

The reality of this might sound bleak, but it’s the truth: you have to take action to protect your property as nobody is going to protect it for you.

Other Benefits

Alarm systems also have numerous other benefits. They are simple, and if designed well cannot be hacked (no relying on apps, 3G networks, GPS signal etc.). And most importantly they stop the thief on the spot, acting as a deterrent to prevent the theft from happening in the first place. Overall seems like a pretty good deal.

At Bouh we’ve developed a practical alarm system, which requires no extra effort or change in your lifestyle. Click below to read our next article to see why Stingray really is the next best bike accessory.

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