By Brett Ratner
As we discussed in previous articles, a quality lock and a little common sense can go a long way toward keeping your prized possession...well...in your possession.
But bike thieves are increasingly sophisticated (and skilled with an angle grinder). So, in the event a thief does manage to make off with your ride, it can't hurt to give yourself a chance to get it back.
Trackimo is a GPS-enabled, USB-rechargeable tracking device. It's operated using either an iPhone or Android-based smartphone app, and/or by logging into their website on your computer. Meant to be all-purpose, it's designed to help you keep track of anything from your luggage to your teenaged kid.
Trackimo can alert you if your kid is driving too fast, let you know if your loved one is in danger, or tell you the whereabouts of your lost luggage. The "Moving start" alert, however, could be of interest to cyclists.
As you may assume, Trackimo's basic function is letting you know where it is and where it's been.
On top of that, however, Trackimo has the ability to alert you if it has exceeded a preset speed limit, or ventured beyond a preset "Geo-fence." An "SOS" button also triggers an alert on a smartphone, which could be useful in the event that a child is in trouble and needs assistance.
These features may or may not be useful in context of cycling. But one Trackimo feature that IS potentially useful to cyclists is its ability to alert you when it moves.
Let's say, for example, you've got your bike locked up near your favorite watering hole. While you're downing a pint, a bike thief manages to cut your lock and removes the bike from the rack. If you have a Trackimo unit hidden on the bike somewhere, you'll get an alert on your phone that the bike is in motion, hopefully giving you time to try to stop the theft. If the thief manages to get away, Trackimo can send you updates on its location.
Because of its potential as a bicycle theft deterrent, the folks at Trackimo sent The Chainlink a unit to try.
As we mentioned earlier, Trackimo is meant to be multi-purpose. While light and compact, it's not designed or shaped specifically to be mounted on a bike.
After playing around with the impressively wide range of mounting options Trackimo comes with, however, I was able to find two workable solutions:
Out of the two, I think the seat bag might be the better option. Here's why:
Once I decided where to install it, setup was straightforward. I simply installed the battery, charged the unit, downloaded the app and followed the app's instructions.
As far as testing is concerned, I obviously wasn't willing to let my bike get stolen. So I did the next best thing and stuck the Trackimo in a fellow Chainlinker's saddle bag and pretended her bike was my stolen bike.
During the test, everything worked as advertised. I set the app to give me location updates every 60 seconds (the shortest preset interval available). If she stopped somewhere, I could see where she was. When she started pedaling, I received an alert (via email, on my phone AND my Apple Watch) that the Trackimo was in motion. Assuming a hypothetical bike thief remained unaware of the Trackimo's presence, I feel confident that (provided one keeps their Trackimo charged) it could help you and/or the police recover your bike.
The folks at Trackimo said they are pondering the creation of a unit specifically designed for bikes. After giving it some consideration, I'm thinking the best option would be fashioning it into a bar-end. In other words, making the unit tube-shaped so it could slide into the end of a handlebar. I'd personally suggest leaving any branding off the visible part, so that to the casual observer, the Trackimo looked like a garden-variety plastic end cap. The Trackimo unit itself could extend into the bar a few inches, offering the opportunity to feature a larger, longer-lasting battery. And, perhaps, a flip of the end cap could reveal a micro USB port for easy recharging without removing the unit from the bike.
All this said, the Trackimo unit works quite well as-is. A week after its initial charge and a couple of test uses, it's still showing a full battery.
And thanks to its versatility/multi-purpose nature, It occurred to me that I could hide it in my guitar case before heading to a gig last weekend. It was nice having some peace of mind that I could locate my guitar if it happened to "grow legs" in the bar. I could easily see using the Trackimo with my snowboard or laptop bag too.
All in all, Trackimo is no replacement for common sense and a sturdy U-Lock, but it can be a valuable weapon in your arsenal against increasingly bold and skilled bike thieves.
Trackimo GPS Tracker - 1 Year GSM Service
Visit http://trackimo.com for more information.
About the Author
Brett Ratner (firstname.lastname@example.org) began commuting by bike in 2005. Shortly thereafter, his interest in cycling expanded to century rides, bike camping and trail riding. The competition bug bit in 2012 and nowadays he races cyclocross, track, mountain bikes, criteriums and gravel for The Bonebell.