Whether a motorcycle is your primary mode of transportation or you simply use the vehicle for fun, it is important that you protect your motorcycle when you are not able to be near it. Adding an alarm or GPS tracker can help you keep your motorcycle safe and in your hands at all times, but which is better?
Neither a motorcycle alarm nor a motorcycle tracker is better than one another as they both serve different purposes. Alarms help deter crime at the moment, while trackers are useful for recovering a bike after it’s been stolen. The best solution is to use a combination of the two.
Whether you are new to motorcycle driving or have been driving these vehicles for years, you should definitely consider some sort of protection for your bike. We’ll break down both alarms and trackers, their different types, and when it’s best to use them each (or together).
When to Use an Alarm vs. a Tracker
If you live in an area where crime is relatively low and motorcycles are not stolen as often, a basic alarm will be fine. However, those who live in higher crime areas will benefit much more highly from a quality tracker.
Alarms are best for scaring away thieves, as the loud sound will often deter them from continuing the theft. However, if they can quickly remove the alarm or turn it off, they can still take the bike with no consequence.
Trackers are great at finding the bike once it is stolen. While they aren’t invincible, and their cell signal can be interfered with, they still present the best chance for getting your bike back if it is stolen. However, they do not deter a thief from taking the bike in the first place.
Try an Alarm and Tracker Combo for Your Motorcycle
One of the absolute best options, while the most expensive, is to do a combination of these two options. You will be able to find GPS trackers that also have alarms built in. This means that they will deter thieves from taking the bike through the alarm system and then track the bike if they end up taking it anyway.
This combination of devices can be done by simply buying a tracker and an alarm and using both. However, it can also be done by opting for one of the tracker-alarm combos.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when using this combo, though:
- Unlike using an alarm system alone, you want to have this style of tracker and alarm professionally installed, if possible. This will help you ensure that you are getting the best out of both devices and everything is installed safely in ways that are hard to disable.
- Often, the value of getting a combination piece is higher than buying the two devices separately. If you can find a combination device that fits your needs, it is often sold at a lower rate than purchasing the two individually. Also, it uses less battery to power only one device compared to using two at once.
One thing to keep in mind when installing a combo is that it does put all your eggs in one basket. When the alarm sounds, most thieves will quickly rip off the alarm system. In a combo system, they unknowingly would be removing the tracker, too. This is why many who use tracker and alarm combos will have decoy alarm attached to confuse thieves.
Overall, if you want the ultimate level of security for your motorcycle, you can opt for an alarm and tracker combination. These devices will provide you the best of both worlds and keep your motorcycle as safe as possible. If you cannot find a combination device you love, you can always purchase the two pieces separately and install them onto your bike—a decision that may be more thief proof, anyway.
Understanding Motorcycle Alarms
Motorcycle theft is not a rare occurrence and riders everyday have their vehicles stolen. Unfortunately, thieves are everywhere and even the safest areas can have less than trustworthy individuals. If you are parking your motorcycle in the open without some form of protection, you are being extremely risky.
While having your motorcycle locked away in a safe garage when not in use is the best option, this is not always possible depending on your area and budget. However, you should equip the motorcycle with some form of additional security. There are several security system options that do not cost a ton of money and can be added to your bike quite easily.
Types of Motorcycle Alarms
There are several types of motorcycle alarms that you can choose from for your protection. These range in price and overall security level. However, some notable alarm types are:
Brake Disk Lock and Alarm
This is often the simplest option when it comes to motorcycle protection and requires very little work on your part. These brake disk locks are sold at a low price and increase safety a fair amount. While they are not the best option for those who live in a high crime area, they work well for a safer location.
Most of these brake disk locks come in at under $100 and are some of the simplest forms of protection for those who are not the most tech savvy. This is not necessarily the best alarm, but it does function well for what it is. If you currently have no protection on your bike, this is a major upgrade and can be used with an integrated system later on.
Advantages of brake disc alarms:
- These disk locks are designed to keep the wheel from spinning freely. They will stop someone from pushing your motorcycle away when you are not using it in addition to anyone attempting to ride away on the bike.
- This also means that you will never forget to remove the lock before riding—if you do, you won’t go further than a couple inches. If you have a disc lock with an alarm, it will sound when you try to ride with it on. This is much easier to remember than those who choose a disc lock alone.
- Many who even have more advanced alarm systems in place opt to keep a disc lock nearby. It’s a good cheap alternative to keep around.
- They are harder for a thief to remove than standard locks. They cannot be cut with bolt cutters without some difficulty, making them far superior to a chain lock.
There are several options for quality disc brake alarm systems out there. One of the best reviewed is Xena, but there are several options to choose from. Just be sure that the alarm you are buying fits your disc brake holes.
Body Alarm System
This is another easy alarm system that you can utilize for your motorcycle. These devices are easy to use and can be found at a wide variety of shops. They are not the most protective option but are fairly easy to install and very inexpensive. Typically, these will be small devices that are connected to the motorcycle’s own system and have a motion sensor.
Attempting to move the bike without disabling the alarm will trigger it. Often called motion alarms or body alarms, they can be cheap and effective ways of deterring simple criminals.
Most simple motorcycle alarms consist of only two small wires that can be wired directly to the battery terminals if needed. This means that you can install the device without messing with the motorcycle’s wiring. Some of them will include a third wire to let the alarm know when the bike is on, but that’s still not much harder to install.
Advantages of body alarms:
- These alarm systems can be very, very inexpensive. If you install these systems on your own, you can pay very little, even less than $20. Even these low-price options are pretty reliable.
- If you want more security, you can easily upgrade later as most of the wiring diagrams are standard since you are only powering the device itself.
- Their small size makes them easily concealed, typically on the inside of the bike’s body somewhere.
Whether you want an inexpensive alarm system you place yourself or you have it professionally added, there are several motorcycle alarm systems available.
Will an Alarm Drain the Battery on My Motorcycle?
We’ve discussed all the upsides and benefits of installing an alarm, but every rider knows how picky bike batteries can be. Will a motorcycle alarm drain the battery faster?
In short, the alarm system will affect the battery slightly but not typically enough for you to notice in daily use. Older systems did have a larger impact on battery life, but most modern systems do not. The only caveat is to disable the alarm before putting the bike in long-term storage, such as over winter, or it will drain the battery over the course of several months.
Something to keep in mind is if you do not ride your motorcycle often, you should turn it on periodically to ensure the battery has not died. If you haven’t checked on the bike for a week or so, go make sure the alarm is still powered and functioning. Otherwise, motorcycle alarms are a great way to protect your vehicle with little negative impact.
Understanding Motorcycle Trackers and Their Use
Motorcycle trackers are a more advanced form of security than the before mentioned alarm options. While many are still designed to protect your motorcycle from a thief by sounding an alarm, they have added features that an alarm system will not. In fact, these GPS trackers have only gotten more and more advanced over the years.
Before we jump into why you should purchase one of these trackers or stick to the basic motorcycle alarms, it is best to understand the details of a tracker:
- There are two main options, those that run off of GPS signals through cellular based networks and those that run off of satellite signals. Often, the cellular-based trackers are less expensive but may be limited to the company’s network range. This can lead to problems if your bike is stolen.
- Trackers allow you to not only track your bike but also send and receive messages. This means if your bike is stolen, you can find its position. However, if you have a cellular option, this will end when the bike is taken out of network.
- Satellite GPS trackers will be similar to the GPS that you may use in a car when traveling. These will use satellites that are found in space to monitor the location of the bike. This can lead to higher costs as they require you to pay satellite fees.
- In recent years, these trackers have gotten more advanced than ever! You can now monitor where your bike has been, detect movement, access alarms, and they have built-in accelerometers.
Overall, these trackers can be highly beneficial and offer a range of services.
Benefits of Motorcycle Trackers Over Alarms
A GPS tracker is often the highest level of security that you can get for your motorcycle. Those who live in a higher crime level area will almost always benefit from this. Not only can you track down your motorcycle, but you can also monitor it from practically anywhere.
One thing to keep in mind is that these trackers can be a bit more difficult to install than our basic alarms previously mentioned. If you want to get the most out of your tracker, you may want to seek professional help when performing the installation to ensure everything is set correctly. It’s a common job for most bike shops, so they will be used to it.
While peace of mind is high on the list of benefits for these trackers, some other benefits are:
- Top of the Line Security – While a tracker will not stop your bike from being stolen, it will help you recover the bike later. Unfortunately, motorcycles are much easier to steal than cars, but a tracker will allow you to find the bike. Once you know where the motorcycle is, you can contact the police for help with recovery.
- They Are Cost Effective – These trackers will not be as expensive as the basic security systems we had previously discussed, but they are still very cost effective. They can often save you money on your insurance premiums and provide you with much lowered risks.
- They Can Track Your Mileage – As mentioned, these devices can go far beyond basic GPS tracking and tell you information about your motorcycle. You can access real time location tracking, mileage information, fuel usage, and much more. This helps you maintain your bike and keep it alive for much longer.
Overall, there are several benefits to using a GPS tracker for your motorcycle, even those beyond the enhanced security that they offer.
Choosing Your GPS Tracker
Luckily, there are several GPS tracking options out there today and these continue to get better and more popular each year. While it’s great to have so many choices, it can also make it more difficult to choose the tracker that fits your needs. Some things to keep in mind when choosing your tracker are:
- Overall Costs – You will want to look at the cost of the tracker itself along with any monthly fees you must pay to continue getting tracking services. There are a few free options out there, which means once you buy the device, you do not pay any more money. However, most of these trackers require you to pay a small monthly fee for the GPS or cell service.
- The Battery Life – Another important thing to keep in mind is the battery life of the tracker. These can range from a few days to even months on a single charge. If you are driving your motorcycle often and will use the tracker often, a good battery life is key.
- The Durability – You want to consider what the tracker is made out of and if it will be durable enough to last for years to come. Ensure that the tracker will hold up against the elements, especially if you do not have a garage or other covering for the bike. Reading online reviews is a great way to learn more about the durability of a tracker.
- Satellite or Cellular – As mentioned, there are two main types of tracker and these both have their own pros and cons. You must decide if a cellular or a satellite tracker will work better for your needs and find the proper device. If you live in an area with limited cellular providers, a satellite option may be better.
The best way to ensure that you are getting a motorcycle tracker that fits your needs is to read online reviews and compare those that are in your price range. You will also want to find a professional that can install this style of tracker.
Protect Your Bike with an Alarm or Tracker
Each year thousands of motorcycles are stolen from their owners and little can be done to find these vehicles without proper devices in place. While alarms are great for a baseline of protection, those living in a high crime area will need more than a basic alarm to alert them when their bike is at risk.
Instead, opt for a GPS tracker or even an alarm and tracker combination to ensure your bike is as safe as possible from thieves.