|GPS Motorcycle Tracker
|SaferTurn Vigo SmartTrack
A little over a year ago I bought a new Honda CB650R, the third motorcycle that I’ve ever owned. My last motorcycle had been a Harley Davidson and although it was a great bike, this time around I wanted something a little bit lighter, nimbler, and having a smaller engine (so that it wasn’t so darn hot in the summer!
It was also about this time that I started to think about doing a motorcycle road trip. Originally, my plan had been to go on a trip with my Dad (but then the pandemic happened…). Nevertheless, I started buying gear and equipment that I wanted to have for my road trip, whenever it should happen. One such piece of equipment that I wanted was a GPS tracker for my bike. The reason for getting one was twofold: (1) it would provide GPS tracking of my bike, in case it should get stolen; and (2) I would be able to share the location data with my wife and family so that they could follow along with my trip.
After researching this on the internet, I found various GPS cellular trackers, but many were battery-powered which didn’t meet my needs. I finally came across a startup out of Slovenia that was building a device called the SmartTrack. Per their website, this device would have three key features, for one price, and included 1 year of cellular data:
- Live GPS location, including alerts (to the phone) if the motorcycle moved without authorization;
- Ride tracking, so that I could review the route I took; and
- In the event of a fall or crash, then the device would automatically send a notification to my emergency contact.
Crucially, the device was also hooked in to the motorcycle battery, so I would not have to worry about the device battery going dead. I was convinced and placed a pre-order, for delivery in a couple of months.
Though I assumed I was buying a product that was already developed (and was just going through mass production), it soon became apparent that it was not yet done, as I started receiving email updates that the device was not quite ready and shipping was delayed. Finally, about 4 months after I placed my order, my Vigo SmartTrack device was shipped.
Installation was straightforward. Connect the device to the motorcycle battery using the provided wires, and then using the smartphone app, create an account with the voucher code (emailed by Vigo) and link the barcode of the device.
Unfortunately, I immediately started having issues. Although the device did seem to be tracking my rides, I was getting an alert every single day at about 4:20pm local time alerting me that my motorcycle was moving. Clearly the device was waking up, acquiring a GPS signal, and then mistakenly deducting that it had moved from it’s last location. I relayed this issue to the support team, and fortunately they quickly fixed it. Other issues, however, started to pop up.
First, whenever I went for a ride, I would get an alert that my motorcycle was moving without authorization. The way the algorithm is supposed to work is that the GPS location from the device is supposed to be compared to the GPS location of my phone. If they are not approximately the same, then the system sends the alert. Clearly this was not working correctly given that my phone was always in my pocket whenever I went for a ride.
Additionally, the alert sound used was the default alarm sound from my phone. I don’t know about you, but the default sound I use for an alarm on my phone is a fairly pleasant sound that’s easy to wake up to. There’s probably some birds chirping, and a harp or piano to gently ease me out of sleep mode. Not exactly the sound you want to hear if your motorcycle is being stolen, and especially not what you want your phone to be blasting as you’re all geared up and looking badass in your motorcycle gear while cruising the town. Each time I went for a ride, I’d have to pull over to the side of the road to dismiss the alert on my phone.
I also had other issues. For example, at some point they updated the alert text message template and it now provided me the contact number for the police in Bosnia (I live in the US). Still though I was receiving the alerts at inappropriate times, including occasionally while I was sitting at home and the motorcycle was in the garage. I relayed all of this feedback to the support team, but much of it was ignored. The final issue happened when I had not used my motorcycle for about 2 weeks. When I went to turn it on, I got nothing. The battery was dead. Apparently the SmartTrack had completely depleted an entire motorcycle battery by sending me entirely unhelpful alerts over a period of 2 weeks.
Early this year I got an email from Vigo that they were producing a version 2 of the device. It had been completely redesigned, everything is going to work perfectly now, and all I had to do was pay for shipping. This being a startup I figured I’d give them another chance.
I installed the new device but started having issues right away. The device at first didn’t provide any location update to the app for 2 days. Then suddenly it finally connected and I started getting hammered with alerts every couple of hours. I tried to get help from the support team, but they were taking several days to reply. At one point, the device just stopped providing updates. After trying to cut the power and reconnect it, as well as restart the app, I figured I would delete the profile in the app and add it back in. Much to my surprise when I tried to add it back, I was told that my voucher was invalid. After contacting support and again waiting several days, I received a somewhat curt reply that “Deleting your bike is never a way to troubleshoot” and they provided me new voucher code (never had I been warned, in the app or documentation, that deleting the profile in the app is irreversible).
Finally things seemed to have stabilized and it was just in time. I was leaving soon for my Colorado Motorcycle Trip.
On my trip, the problems persisted and even more problems cropped up. For example, the device would lose cellular signal and mysteriously would take hours or even days before reconnecting. I still continued to receive the false positive alerts each time I departed on a ride, and I still had to deal with the annoying default alarm sound. It’s clear that I could not trust this device to provide robust location tracking or to alert me (when appropriate) if my bike is being stolen. The third promised feature (alerting my emergency contact in the case of a crash), fortunately, I never got to test, but I have low confidence that it would work as described.
At this point in my experience, after trying to use the device for a year, I’m pretty frustrated. I again contacted support to calmly lay out (again) all of the issues that I continue to have and respectfully ask for a refund since I do not believe that the device delivered what was promised, even though I doubled down and bought the version 2. It’s telling to me, now that a month has elapsed since I sent the email, no one at Vigo has even bothered to reply.
This device promised 3 key features (live location with theft alert, ride tracking, crash notification), but I can’t confidently say that it does any of them reliably. Additionally, the support team is slow and sometimes doesn’t reply at all. I do not recommend the Vigo SmartTrack.