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BikeFinder GPS Bicycle Tracker

7
£174.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Good overall package for tracking and insuring your bike, but not without some big niggles
Fairly discreet
Easy to install (but not to pull out)
Alerts you to movement quickly
Insurance option covers bike and accessories
Policy is valid even in countries where tracking won't work
Needs 2G coverage for tracking to work
Battery status indicators are hopeless
Protrudes from bar end
Alerts can't override your phone on mute
No spare parts in the UK
Weight: 
98g
Contact: 

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The BikeFinder GPS Bicycle Tracker is an easily installed and fast-acting tracker that alerts you to bike movement. It's available with or without worldwide bike insurance that also covers your bikepacking and other accessories. It only works as a tracker in countries that still have 2G mobile networks, and the app needs improving, but otherwise it's a decent and well-priced way to combat bike theft or vandalism, home or away.

The market for mobile-enabled GPS bike trackers has grown in the last few years, as cyclists seek to track and share their locations for personal security as well as theft awareness and recovery.

A quick note on the price: this unit actually costs £170, but it's no good without a subscription to at least activate the tracking (the other option is to pay for tracking and insurance). So the cheapest way to get this working is to pay £4.99 on top and get one month's tracking. The cheapest yearly subscription is 3.99 per month for a total up-front cost of £217.88.

> Buy the GPS Bicycle Tracker from BikeFinder now

Last year I reviewed the PowUnity BikeTrax GPS e-bike Tracker – a system designed to run off your ebike's battery, with a backup battery for if/when it goes flat or is removed by a thief. It's a decent option for e-bike owners, with an app and the ability to share locations with others.

The BikeFinder device here is quite a different beast, with a much simpler installation that should work for any bike – it goes in the handlebar – and a subscription that ranges from £3 to £30 per month, depending on bike value and whether you want insurance (underwritten by bike-specialist Sundays Insurance) as well.

For UK customers, that insurance is valid worldwide – even in countries that lack the necessary networks for the tracker to work.

Networking

The tracker has an eSIM from Norwegian mobile operator Telenor. It operates globally, using 2G mobile data. Eventually all 2G networks will be turned off as modern standards move on, but – as of the latest OFCOM announcements – in the UK this switch-off is not planned until 2033. So you've still got a decade of functionality here.

Be aware though that many popular UK cycling destinations like France, Italy and Germany will be switching off 2G as early as 2025, while some countries (such as Australia) haven't had 2G networks for many years. The Streetwave website is a good source of information on 2G switch-off if you're concerned.

BikeFinder advises that its insurance policy for UK residents will cover you globally for theft or damage, 2G or not 2G (that is the question), but clearly this cannot last; within a few years most of the world will not support this tracker, so it hardly makes good business sense to insure it.

Installation

The installation process is pretty straightforward. You remove the bar plug, add two shims, insert the tracker and tighten using the supplied five-point security screwdriver. Note, this is not a Torx driver – so don't be losing it if you want to swap bikes or bars or, more likely, replace bar tape in future.

The two security screws expand four metal leaves inside of the bar, which dig in and prevent removal. Once you've installed the tracker there's no way it's coming out without the correct tool.

2023 BikeFinder GPS Bicycle Tracker - parts.jpg

The tracker slips into a standard flat bar as-is. If your bar has a significantly wider internal diameter than normal (i.e.larger than 23mm, which is what most drop bars are), there's a sleeve included to pad out the tracker to give a snug fit.

The tracker has a plastic cap that hides the USB-C charging port, and it's rated IP67, so water ingress isn't a problem – even if your bike briefly falls into a river or the sea, expect the tracker to remain working.

The end of this device pokes out about 20mm from the bar, which is only to be expected given it's a radio antenna for GPS, mobile data and Bluetooth. This does mean if your flat bar grips are covered at the end you'll need to cut or drill them out for clearance, or fit new grips.

It's not necessarily a problem to cover it, though. BikeFinder says: "Rubber and/or thin plastic on the handlebar's end covering the antenna head should be no problem." Metal-ended grips are a no-no. My own tests underneath a DMR Deathgrip lock-on worked fine, for both GPS and mobile network.

For a mountain bike, if you want to hide or protect the tracker under your rubber grip, it's obviously going to be 20mm further out than previously. You might want to cut your handlebar down by the width of the tracker, to keep your spacing correct once installed. You'll also have to remove the grip every time you need to charge the tracker...

You'll definitely be wanting a grip with a single lock-on collar on the inside and no metal at the outer end.

On a drop bar bike, the antenna is pretty well protected from falling/crash damage just by the direction it points. On a flat bar bike it's another story, and you'll have to get used to only ever lying the bike down on the non-GPS side. For that reason, I'd say it's best on the right so you can still lay it down mech-side up. There's no doubt it's vulnerable to crashes, though.

Choose your sub

A key feature of BikeFinder is the subscription, either for just tracking, or tracking plus insurance. You purchase a subscription online and then link the app to your account by logging in using your same email address.

Tracking without insurance is £4.99 per month, £47.88 per year, or £71.76 for two years. So including the £170 device cost, you're looking at a minimum of £205.88 for the first year's tracking without insurance.

Insurance covers you for travel worldwide, though is only offered to customers permanently residing in six European nations: the UK, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Sweden. In the UK, insurance is offered by cycling specialist Sundays Insurance.

It covers damage from attempted theft at home or on holidays anywhere in the world. You do need to use a Sold Secure Gold-rated lock though, and Bikefinder recommends sending details of your lock to your insurer for 'proper validation'.

The policy further includes accessories such as panniers, GPS computers, saddlebags, mudguards and lights, though excludes mobiles or smartphones. Given a decent bikepacking set of luggage from the likes of Tailfin or Aeroe can set you back over £500 – and a GPS and lights can easily be another £1,000 or so – the overall package seems attractive.

Note: the non-cycling contents of your luggage, such as clothes or camping gear, aren't covered. Your bike is covered if securely locked to a bike rack, which is also securely locked to your vehicle.

Some insurance caveats: you aren't covered for crash damage – this is for damage during theft only. It's not valid if the bike is being used by an under 18 year-old. It's not insured if stolen from your garden. Your bikepacking gear isn't covered unless the bike is stolen or damaged at the same time – which could lead to an interesting moral dilemma if your kit gets nicked off your unharmed bike...

One further caveat: You must read and understand the T&Cs of your policy – this review is not exhaustive or updated over time. If you end up without cover for some reason, it's not our fault.

Prices

For bikes and accessories worth up to £3,500, the cost of tracking and insurance is £9.99 month, or £107.88 for a year's plan, or £95.88 per year for the 24-month plan.

For bikes up to £6,200 (read: most e-bikes) these prices double, and for bikes up to £13,000 it costs £29.99 per month, £347.88 per year or £335.88 per year on the two-year plan.

Charging

Once you've selected your tracking/insurance plan, you need to charge and connect to your tracker. There's a tiny LED next to the charging point, but bon chance understanding exactly what's going on regarding charging or server connection at any given stage.

When I charged this from empty, the LED would not come on for an hour, and even once paired and obviously working, the charging progress shown in the app would sit at 0%. Then at one hour, the charge status would jump to 70%, and the LED would turn red. Then after another 30 minutes, it would jump to 100%.

Apparently a green LED means 100% charged, but BikeFinder recommends that 'Despite the green LED light, we advise you to charge the tracker for a minimum of 2.5-3 hours every time it needs being recharged.' So basically, don't trust it.

Are we there yet?

The discharge status is also fraught with uncertainty. It's supposed to alert you at 40% battery, but I've never seen one of these alerts. You get a 'Very Low Battery' push alert at 20%, then it quickly drops to 0% – but keeps working for many hours.

It would appear BikeFinder has work to do on the software and indications. This matters a lot, because in order to have valid insurance the tracker must be at least 20% charged at the moment of theft.

Regarding battery life and the four different app modes, BikeFinder says:

* In Passive mode: The battery may last up to 8 weeks (not valid for insurance)

* In normal use in Standard & Security mode: The battery may last up to 2 weeks

* For searching a lost bike in Tracking ('Super' in the app slider) mode: The battery may last up to 16 hours

* Use Security mode to save battery if you do not receive any new signals within 20 minutes, during the active theft, in order to avoid draining the tracker's battery

It goes on to remind users: "You may use passive mode to save battery while biking. You need to make sure to put it back to standard or security mode when the ride is over, as passive mode will turn off the tracker's functions, in addition to not being valid for insurance if the bike were to be stolen while in this mode."

There's no reminder from the app that you've obviously stopped riding but haven't enabled the right mode. Again, another major omission in the app – you may forget to do this when parking your bike after a long day's riding, and if it gets stolen you're not covered. I think there should be an option for it to auto-enable after maybe five minutes of no movement.

Alerts

In Security mode, if your bike is moved the app will alert you within about 30 seconds. However, unlike the PowUnity GPS Tracker – which has 'Critical Alerts' enabled – the Bikefinder app can't override your phone's silent/mute or Do Not Disturb settings. Bikefinder really needs to add Critical Alerts to the app, so you can work or sleep with other mundane noises off, but be alerted if your beloved is being tampered with.

After completing a ride, the GPS track shows it has only recorded points about every 20 minutes – so no, you aren't exporting this as a tidy .gpx file to Komoot et al. Just as well there's no ride export function then.

You can easily share your tracker with a family member or friend – they just need to install the app and scan a QR code your own app generates on demand. This then turns what is a post-theft tracker into a mid-ride tracking tool – albeit with large jumps in your location and a reliance on 2G coverage. It's not a replacement for, say, a Garmin InReach if you're out in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks for sharing

The app sends pretty quick alerts over Bluetooth if the bike is moved, so long as it's in range – so it's a good cafe or workplace alarm of sorts. Via mobile data it can take longer, and obviously it's of no use if your phone is out of coverage.

I left the bike alone for a few days, indoors, set to Security mode with the app closed on my phone and Bluetooth and WiFi disabled. Taking the bike out of the building and riding it around for about a minute, my phone received the push alert that movement had been detected. Again, this was with the app closed. I opened the app and saw the notification was giving a location within around a mile of my house using mobile network positioning, not GPS.

Note: mobile network positioning will vary wildly from a few hundred metres in a dense urban environment to many miles out in the countryside.

Steal yourself

Pretending it had been nicked, I used the theft scenario of setting the tracking mode to 'Super'. The GPS location came live to the app within about a minute, meaning I could leg it after my disappearing bike, or report the theft to BikeFinder or the police. There's a 'Report Theft' option in the app, which lets you enter a phone number for the BikeFinder team to contact you on.

The Super tracking mode doesn't have notifications – it just assumes that, having switched it on, you're rather keen to keep looking in the app for your bike.

In the app you should already have recorded all your bike's info, including photos and the bike's receipt to prove value. Bikefinder then uses this info in your case.

Battery life

The all-important battery life lives up to expectations – it's roughly two weeks in the Standard/Security modes. Given the flakiness of both the app and the LED at reporting battery status, it's a total turkeyshoot as to exactly what your battery level is at any time. So were I relying on it to protect my ride and the validity of the insurance, I'd likely be charging it at least once a week.

Aftersales

You get a two-year warranty, but a downside for UK owners is that currently BikeFinder doesn't provide spare parts to the UK market. So if you lose the security driver or need a new USB endcap, you're at the mercy of its Norwegian HQ's willingness to support you. That's not great for a £170+ product.

In a nutshell then, the BikeFinder is not something for those wanting ultimate faff-free tracking, unlike the previously mentioned Powunity BikeTrax – that charges off your e-bike, has a battery that can last up to a month by itself, and reports everything, all the time. But then the BikeTrax requires semi-pro levels of competency to install, and is e-bike-only.

Rivals

In our bike-tracking roundup are a number of options for hiding Apple AirTags around your bike, but obviously that's not a GPS and there's no insurance option. Plus a thief with an iPhone will be alerted to its 'Airtag found moving with you' presence after about half a day, and unless you modify the tag it will start beeping too. So AirTags are different beasts, if still an option in the anti-theft arsenal.

Many other options exist for 'network effect' short-range trackers, using Bluetooth or other low-power technologies and mostly without ongoing costs. We looked at the Alterlock alarm and GPS tracker a few years back, but it's somewhat hampered by poor coverage. Full-fat GPS-and-mobile-data devices like the BikeFinder or BikeTrax are rarer, and a lot costlier to buy and run.

Three years back Stu reviewed the Tail It Bike GPS tracking device which has an identical form factor to the BikeFinder. It's also from Norway, and likewise claims a maximum eight weeks battery life. Tail It uses WiFi triangulation to aid GPS and mobile. The Tail It doesn't have Bluetooth though, so all comms with the app are via the mobile network.

The Tail It website currently lists the devices at a pretty amazing £9 shipped to the UK plus a £69 annual subscription – that's a steal if true, and makes you wonder why it's literally giving away what were expensive devices. One of the review comments describes a less-than positive experience, however.

The Monimoto Cycloop Tracker is a pretty close match in the 2G/GPS tracking stakes, but it's huge, obvious, and doesn't include insurance. And not all Android phones are supported.

Overall

I quite like the BikeFinder GPS tracker. It wakes up, finds itself, and updates quickly. Get past the battery charge uncertainty and it's a good product. BikeFinder can hopefully update the app, add Critical Alert functionality, and start providing parts support soon – if it does, it'll go from being good to great. At least while 2G coverage lasts.

Verdict

Good overall package for tracking and insuring your bike, but not without some big niggles

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: BikeFinder GPS Bicycle Tracker

Size tested: One size

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's for people wanting to track their bike in the event of theft, or possibly have it insured.

BikeFinder says:

"Bike thieves, beware. The response to our bike trackers has been overwhelming. In some markets, we offer BikeFinder subscriptions with included industry-leading bike insurance.

"By demand, our subscription with included insurance is rapidly expanding into new markets. Insurance is currently available in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and the United Kingdom.

"Our BikeFinder trackers are the ultimate tool in bike security – but we are excited to offer additional peace of mind to a wider range of customers."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From BikeFinder:

HIDDEN AND LOCKED

The expansion mechanism secures the hidden tracker inside the handlebar, making it impossible to remove without the included special tools.

DESIGNED FOR ALL BIKES

Quick and easy to mount with a flexible design, compatible with most handlebars (15mm-27mm). Weighing only 52 g, you will not notice a change in your handlebars.

COVERAGE ACROSS EUROPE

With a built-in eSIM and GPS antenna, you are ensured contact with your bike throughout Europe.

UP TO 8 WEEKS BATTERY LIFE

BikeFinder is charged via a USB-C cable (included). You will be notified when the battery goes below 40%.

GPS, GSM, & BLUETOOTH TECH

Unique triangulation technology shows your bike's exact position. Get push notifications if your bike is moved.

WATERPROOF

Safely use your BikeFinder in wet & rainy conditions. It was designed by Scandinavians after all. (IP-67 certification)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

It's all very well made.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

The tracker starts up quickly once moved, and between GPS, mobile and Bluetooth, the location reporting is accurate.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

With the quality on show, durability feels good.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

It weighs less than your phone.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

The combined value of tracking plus worldwide insurance for a £3,500 bike and accessories is £108 a year. Very reasonable.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It was easy to live with. Keep it charged, set tracking level before/after ride. That's it.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The speed to get locked on, and the app in managing the bike.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The charging indication was annoyingly erratic (though if you charge it fully every week, you'll be fine). And there's no override of muted settings for Critical Alerts.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

£40-50 for tracking-only is typical, and the fact you're getting £3,500 of global insurance for an extra £60 is very sharp.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, with caveats

Use this box to explain your overall score

I found the BikeFinder very good at its job of tracking your bike. And for the money, the insurance package is excellent. The app and charging indication could be improved, and they detract from the overall score, but the fundamentals are sound.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 183cm  Weight: 77kg

I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe  My best bike is: Nah bro that's it

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L

Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.

Add new comment

3 comments

Avatar
henryb | 8 months ago
0 likes

It's not clear how much it costs:

Quote:

"The cheapest yearly subscription is 3.99 per month"

Quote:

"a subscription that ranges from £3 to £30 per month"

Quote:

"tracking without insurance is £4.99 per month"

Quote:

"For bikes and accessories worth up to £3,500, the cost of tracking and insurance is £9.99 month"

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to henryb | 8 months ago
1 like

It's a bit clearer if you click the link through to Bikefinder's own website.

The cheapest subscription option is tracking only, and if you sign up to a two-year subscription it works out as £2.99 per month.

The most expensive option is tracking + insurance for a bike worth up to £13k, which is £29.99 per month if you are on a rolling monthly subscription.

There are various options in between depending on whether you want insurance (and the value of your bike if so), and whether you sign up for a one month, one year, or two year subscription. 

Avatar
Steve Williams replied to OnYerBike | 8 months ago
0 likes

Well put, OnYerBike. It can cost all those prices - it changes according to the package you select, the duration you choose and the value of your bike.

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