SPOT Trace Theft Alert Tracking Device
by Alice Dryden for webBikeWorld.com
Owner Comments (Below)▪ wBW
Motorcycle Radio Reviews▪ wBW
Also: SPOT 3 GPS Tracker
The SPOT Trace is a small GPS tracking device used to track a
motorcycle or scooter through a satellite network.
If your bike is moved or stolen, a text message or email is sent and
you can follow its progress using Google Maps.
The SPOT Trace will also send a message if the battery power is low
Owners can choose the message send rate, ranging from every 2.5
minutes to once per hour. Send intervals vary, depending upon the
service plan chosen by the owner.
The SPOT Trace system has a required monthly service plan charge,
starting at $99.99 per year. The product is currently available in the
U.S.A. and will be released soon in the UK.
The downside is that the SPOT Trace requires a line-of-sight
mounting, which means that it might be visible to a thief, who could
simply remove and discard the tracker.
Whether your pride and joy is a top of the range sportsbike or a
commuter moped, bike theft is a constant worry, especially for those of
us who live in cities.
In the UK alone, more than 20,000 motorcycles and scooters go missing
Most are sold on, broken for parts, or simply joyridden and
then destroyed (as with two Vespa ET4s I owned in the early 2000s).
Despite chains, alarms and garages, the fact remains that if someone
wants your bike badly enough they will probably manage to get it.
One of the latest weapons in the antitheft arsenal is the satellite
tracker, which provides the means to trace a bike’s movements. New from
SPOT, manufacturer of the popular series of tracking and messaging
devices, is the SPOT Trace theft alert and tracking system. I was loaned
a demo model for review purposes by SPOT Europe.
How It Works
The SPOT Trace uses movement detection and GPS tracking. Once activated,
the device will send a text message and/or email if your bike is moved,
alerting you to possible theft or attempted theft.
Status updates at
intervals from 2.5 minutes (with the “Extreme Tracking Upgrade” plan) to an hour allow you to follow
your bike’s progress on Google Maps, and see where it eventually comes
Apparently, some savvy thieves will abandon a stolen vehicle overnight,
in case a tracing system is being used and the owner comes looking for
it. You might not catch the robbers, but at least you will be
with your bike.
You can also choose to receive an alert if the Trace is switched off or
if the batteries are low, plus a daily alert to reassure you everything
SPOT products require a subscription service; you can consider it as
a type of yearly insurance fee. The current service charges are $99.99
per year in the U.S. for the basic service, with the options of 5, 10,
30 or 60 minute notification times.
Subscribers can also customize the dock mode, the movement alert
mode, status, low battery and power-off settings. The “Extreme Tracking
Upgrade” costs an additional $99.99 per year and allows the 2.5 minute
Specifications and Kit Contents
While the SPOT Gen3 GPS Personal
comes in bright orange, the SPOT Trace is a far stealthier matt black
It measures about 2 inches (5 cm) across and about 2.7 inches (6.8
cm) tall. The Trace is nearly an inch thick (2 cm) and weighs a mere 88
grams. SPOT lists the operating temperature range as a cold −22 F to
a hot 140
F (−30 C to 60 C) and the listed operating altitudes from −328 ft to 21,320 feet (−100 m to
It’s MIL-STD-810F humidity rated; SAE J1455 vibration rated and
waterproof to IPX7 (1 meter for up to 30
There’s a SPOT logo moulded into the top
surface and two LEDs to indicate power and GPS signal, one each
side of the rubber on/off button. The battery cover is held in
place by two screws.
The device is powered by four AAA batteries
but it can also run
off your bike’s battery, although the connection will not be
waterproof without purchase of a specialist cable. A standard
micro-USB cable is included, providing a non-waterproof
connection and also allowing firmware updates by connecting to a
The Trace clips into a plastic case, which can then be
permanently mounted to the bike — just snap the Trace out to
turn it on or off, then click it back in. Mine came supplied
with a selection of sticky, magnetic and hook-and-loop pads.
Also in the box is a twelve-month warranty and quick start
Once I was ready to go, I visited the “findmespot” website and logged
in to the test account tied to my device. From here, I could set up
various options, including frequency and content of alert messages, as
well as my email address and mobile number.
Only US and European mobile
services seemed to be available at this time, so I couldn’t test the SMS
function, but I successfully signed up for alerts by email.
Attaching the SPOT Trace
Attaching the Trace to my scooter presented a problem. An anti-theft
device should be concealed from prying eyes, but the SPOT Trace device is on the
chunky side and it also needs a line-of-sight to the sky for the GPS to work.
Perhaps its presence will act as a deterrent in itself…or perhaps a
thief will simply remove and discard it. At least that would trigger a
If I had purchased my own Trace and wanted to keep it on board
permanently, I would invest in some kind of secure mount. For my trial,
of course, I didn’t want anything that involved modifying my bike, or
that I couldn’t remove easily, leaving no sign it had ever been there. I
plumped for a spot just below the backrest on my top box, affixing the
device with the supplied hook-and-loop fastener.
To turn the Trace on, press and hold the power button. On
release, the power light flashes rapidly and the GPS indicator blinks
red every few seconds until a signal is found, whereupon the light turns
green and it’s ready to track. Movement alerts are activated after the
bike has been stationary for either thirty minutes or twelve hours,
selectable through the website, so an alert won’t be triggered by
placing the Trace on the bike after turning it on.
Once equipped, I set out, only to find on arrival that the Trace had
fallen off. No problem, I thought, it will tell me where it is! However,
it turned out the Trace had only managed to send one signal on its
outing, having fallen off less than five minutes from home, and by the
time I checked the spot there was nothing there, suggesting my SPOT had
either been deactivated and removed or, more likely, run over and
scattered across a large area of roadside.
Luckily, SPOT’s representative found it hilarious that I’d managed to
lose a device designed for tracking and location, and was kind enough to
send me another. This time, I fastened it to a glossy, horizontal
surface just below the handlebars, again using the hook-and-loop pads, and it
lived to tell the tale.
As a test, I allowed my partner to “steal” my bike for half-an-hour (on
the understanding that he wasn’t actually allowed to ride it like he
stole it!), while I had a cup of tea with my mum.
He brought it back in
one piece, albeit with the worrying comment that it was “perfectly
adequate until you get above 90” and I donned my deerstalker to tell him
where he’d been:
The Game is Afoot…
When I checked my email, I had an alert message from SPOT giving the
position where movement was detected. I logged into the SPOT website and
found a list of times and coordinates at five-minute intervals.
selected the option to view these on a map, markers clearly showed where
my bike had been and when, allowing me to build up a picture of the
route it had taken. If I subsequently receive a speeding ticket, I will
have solid evidence that I shouldn’t be the one paying the fine!
Finding a suitable place to mount the SPOT Trace might be a pain and
the device might be visible to thieves, which might also be both good
and bad. But
once in position it is a simple, robust companion that could save you
the expense and heartbreak of a stolen motorcycle.
Also: SPOT 3 GPS Tracker
and Radio Reviews |
GPS and GPS Tracker Reviews
Review: SPOT Trace
List Price (2014):
Made In: Unknown
Pricing and Availability (2014): SPOT Trace is currently available in
the U.S., with European availability coming soon. Service
Pricing is: Basic Service: $99.99 per year.
Extreme Tracking: Additional $99.99 per year. Device Replacement
option: $17.99 per year.
Review Date: May 2014
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►Your Comments and
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Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.Not all comments will be published (details). Comments may be edited for
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From “G.B.” (May 2014): “If the device needs a LOS to report
its location wouldn’t a small piece of duct tape be considered an Anti-SPOT
mechanism? Love this site.”
From “D.G.” (May 2014): “Thanks for the review. For an initial
$200 and $99 every year after, I’d hope the device could be mounted out of
sight, with an antenna probe or something for LOS.
Putting a tracking device in a visible location is one of the dumbest
ideas I’ve seen in a while. Who’s it supposed to deter, a motorcycle
thief that can defeat the ignition, disc locks and an alarm, but not a
surface-mounted tracking device?”
Editor’s Note: The list price is $99.99, not $200.00.