Date reviewed: October 2019 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £249 + installation + subscription | www.datatool.co.uk
Datatool’s TrakKing Adventure S5 motorcycle tracker uses similar technology to the company’s previous (and very successful) models, with the addition of a fob that identifies the rider.
Made in the UK by Scorpion Automotive, it’s an insurance-approved tracker that could see a discount to your policy (it might be listed under Scorpion or Datatool), though the main reason to buy a tracker is that it has the potential to get you your bike back – often within less than an hour and typically with little or no damage, which can reduce the impact to your insurance. And having a tracker fitted means the police will almost always respond immediately.
• Datatool (Scorpion Automotive) has its own in-house monitoring team on duty 24 hours as day, seven days a week.
• Subscription costs £9.95 per month (£119.40/year) or you can pay £109 annually. Coverage include all of Western Europe and some countries beyond.
• Two fobs are supplied, each of which disables the tracker when within range.
• If the bike is tampered with, an optional SMS text alert is sent to your phone (five free texts can be sent per month, or 100 can be bought for £15).
• When armed automatically, the device creates a geofence – if the machine is moved out of that area without the rider ID fob in close proximity, the call centre will be alerted.
• TrakKing uses an external antenna that gives the most accurate GPS positioning through access to the 30 US GPS, 24 GLONAS Russian and 18 Galileo European satellites.
• The devices is IPX56 rated for protection against fine dust and ingress protection from high-pressure water jets.
• An alert can be sent to your phone when the bike’s battery is low.
• The system can be monitored and maintained using an iOS / Android app, or online.
• ‘G Sense’ SMS notifications can be sent to your choice of contact in the event that the system detects a crash or fall (these can be disabled).
• Alerts can be sent to you based on location (for instance to pay a toll).
• Your journeys are tracked, but this can be disabled, as can the recording of your speed
• Integration with RealSafe gives the option of direct to 999 notification in a crash (£3 per month)
• The Thatcham S5 certification means the device must have 24/7 monitoring, at least one means of signal transmission, a battery back-up power supply, bi-directional data transmission, data logging, driver identification, GPS, inbuilt health-check, passive arming, remote set, 2 minute attack resistance, roaming SIM, motion detection.
Two rider ID fobs are supplied with the Datatool TrakKing S5
Fitting has to be carried out by a qualified dealer or installer – it’s a prerequisite of the certification for insurance approval; I always use Pete Mouncer, otherwise known as The Bike Alarm Man.
Datatool’s RRP for the Adventure S5 is £249.00, with installed prices listed as around £369.00, but check with your installer; Pete charges £325 if he installs it at his Leicestershire workshop, or £350 if he comes to you anywhere within the wider Midlands region.
It’s worth noting that new Honda motorcycles come with the option of a free, fitted TrakKing, or free fitting for other customers.
Whoever you use, make sure the device is properly hidden – there is absolutely no point installing any tracker under the bike’s seat; most motorcycles have it removed the moment they’re stolen to check for a tracker so a lazy installation is pretty much worthless and a waste of your money.
Most Thatcham-approved trackers require three connections – 12V positive, earth and an ignition-switched live. Datatool additionally uses an external antenna to improve GPS reception, which will also need hiding but it’s not a problem; if properly routed the wire is lost in the bike’s loom, and the antenna box is small enough to very easily tuck out of the way. The main unit isn’t much bigger than a pack of playing cards (like other leading trackers); finding somewhere for it can be a challenge on some bikes, which is why it’s worth ensuring your installer takes the time and has the experience to find the best spot.
A tracker that’s wired into your bike will typically disarm when the ignition is turned on, but with the inclusion of the fobs you also need to make sure they’re nearby. I keep my keys on a carabiner that allows me to separate just the ignition key when I’m riding; this means the fob isn’t attached to the bike when I’m out.
The biggest advantage for a motorcyclist in having the rider ID fob is that, as long as it’s in your pocket when you’re moving the bike around in the garage or cleaning it, you won’t keep getting movement alerts on your phone.
The sensitivity of the unit to vibration will depend where and how it’s mounted, but if you find it too sensitive (or not sensitive enough), Datatool can remotely adjust it for you. Remember though that the vibration alerts are only for the EWM (Early Warning Messages), and won’t put the system into full alert unless no GPS signal can be established, in which case the call-centre will contact you.
It’s easy to put the unit into transport or workshop mode using the app, but when the bike was serviced I forgot; I soon got a call asking if I was with the machine. I explained that I was, and the operator asked if it was being test-ridden; she could see the location, and where the bike was heading.
The tracked journeys – which can be viewed on the app or web portal – are of limited use as they can’t be downloaded or exported; they’re more a by-product of a tracker’s potential use as a fleet management device. Every week or so there a few spurious journeys logged that show the GPS location shifting slightly, depending where in the garage the bike is stored – deep in (well under the house) it’ll sometimes show the bike having moved to the neighbour’s drive.
Your journeys can be viewed on the web portal, or on the app – you can turn off the speed recording if you want, as well as tracking out of alert all together
All our tracker tests are conducted in the same way – we don’t tell the manufacturer when we intend to perform a mock theft, and while we won’t waste police time to raise a crime number (if necessary for monitored systems), we expect the device (if it’s self-monitored) or operations centre to demonstrate the full service.
Level one: Stolen and left in street: Simulating the steering lock being broken, then pushing the bike away, movement alerts were received quickly. After being loaded into a van and taken away, a call was received within just over four minutes of setting off to ask if I was with the bike. At this point I explained it was a test and asked for tracking to continue – in a real theft situation, the customer would call the police for a crime number, give that to Datatool then they’d take over, liasing directly with the police to guide officers to the location.
While in our test van (always with a steel bulkhead and no windows), TrakKing gave very accurate location information that would most likely allow the police to identify the van being used.
Once the bike was unloaded and left in the street – a common practice as the criminals leave vehicles for a few days to see if they’re recovered, rather than risk a hidden tracker leading police to their base – the location was pinpointed precisely.
Of course, not all motorcycles are stolen in vans, especially in the busy streets of London; many motorcycles are stolen while being pushed by another criminal on a scooter. In this case, it’s possible (though unlikely) that the bike might not leave the tracker’s geofence area if it’s hidden nearby. This could result in the theft not being alerted immediately, but it should be found the moment the owner realises it’s gone and calls Datatool. However long it takes though, as soon as the bike leaves the geofence area, the system will go into full alert mode.
The alternative would be to have a smaller geofence (which could result in false alarms), or to have the system go into full alert on vibration; this too could result in false alarms, though the rider ID fob could significantly limit these.
This is part of the tracking carried out in one of our simulated thefts – you can see that despite the bike being in a van with a steel bulkhead and no windows, TrakKing had a lock on nine satellites, with a horizontal degree of precision (HDoP) of 0.9; anything under 1.0 is considered excellent.
Level two: Stolen and hidden in a building: As before, movement alerts were quickly received and a call came through from the operations centre within minutes.
The GPS antenna located the bike in the test building, so it’s likely that the police would know exactly where to look.
However, TrakKing doesn’t have the RF capability of Biketrac (the main competitor); while the external antenna makes TrakKing very accurate, it can’t locate a bike vertically, for instance in a block of flats. Different materials in a building can also interfere with the signal strength, sometimes reducing accuracy to several metres, which could cause a problem in a row of garages; if the GPS doesn’t definitively locate a position, officers would potentially be unable to gain a warrant for access. While this is a real possibility, the recovery rates indicate it’s not proving a major issue, and anecdotally, serving police officers in various forces have told me that they typically know the house, garage or location that’s used by criminals once they’re in the area, and will find have grounds for access or find a way in.
Level three: Stolen and hidden in a shipping container: During our toughest test, my phone quickly alerted me to movement and I received a call from the operations centre by the time I was about half a mile from the ‘theft’ location. The bike was accurately tracked while being transported in the steel-bulkhead van, and pinpointed when it was unloaded. Only when shut inside our shipping container did the signal disappear.
The accuracy of the positioning before entering the container means police would be led to its door – the only chance that it could be completely lost would be if it was in a shipping yard full of containers, but not one of the trackers we’ve tested to date could defeat this. It’s also worth pointing out that the bike would be tracked all the way to the container, so unless it was close to the theft location, the police could intercept it on the way, given the accurate GPS tracking.
Any monitored tracker can be put into full alert by calling the company, so the fob isn’t essential here, but if you were unfortunate to have the bike taken from you with the keys, as long as the fob wasn’t on the bike, you’d quickly get a call from the team to confirm if it had been taken. I ‘tested’ this by giving my bike to a friend and forgetting the fob – I was riding his machine and within minutes Datatool was trying to call me. I didn’t hear the phone, so they next called my wife who confirmed my location.
The app works on Android and iOS, allowing you to easily manage the settings on your TrakKing
The call centre is available all day, every day and always happy to help if you have any problems. Some technical issues might need to wait until the next working day (like adjusting vibration sensitivity), but being entirely developed and made in the UK – in the same building as the call-centre – means any queries are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
I can also speak from experience in saying that the operators never give the impression they’re tired of reminding you that you forgot to put your bike into transport mode when you’ve got it in a van, or workshop mode when you disconnect the battery…
The perfect tracker would include Datatool’s super-accurate GPS and Biketrac’s RF, but given the current modus operandi of the UK’s motorcycle thieves – and those coming in from overseas to ship bikes out – fast and accurate location of a motorcycle in transport remains very important; a strong enough GPS signal can help locate a bike while it’s in the van.
The addition of the rider ID fob to Datatool’s already easy-to-use system adds to the transparent day-to-day use and the S5 joins some excellent options in the range of trackers we’ve reviewed. Whichever you choose, be sure that it’s properly installed and well-hidden away from the seat. If it is, the investment and subscriptions costs are money well spent for real peace-of-mind in knowing that, should the worst happen, the police will almost certainly respond immediately, and you’ll have an excellent chance of getting your bike back.
A tracker is part of a layered approach to security, and our data shows that locking a bike makes a massive difference to the likelihood of it being stolen. Having a tracker is part of that layering, and if you make an investment in security, it’s likely to be a one-off cost that’ll mean you don’t need to worry about it anymore, and you can get on with enjoying your bike.
For more information on tracking systems, click here.