In focus – GPS tracking on e-bikes
GPS trackers can be used to track all kinds of moving objects. That is why the devices are used in cars just as much as in motorcycles, bicycles, or trucks. The industry sector and the logistics management use them to optimize routes.
IoT technology is also particularly popular with e-bike cyclists. There is a simple reason for this: an e-bike is generally a costly purchase, popular among thieves, and difficult to secure. Conventional security methods such as locks and alarm systems do help to make theft more challenging. But they often cannot prevent it.
This is where the key advantage of a GPS tracker comes into play: You can track your e-bike in real-time and follow it live via app if it is already stolen. So the chances are high that you will get it back after a theft.
How the theft protection works
The way a GPS tracker works to protect against theft is simple:
- You attach the tracker to your e-bike. Devices that are hidden inside the bike rather than visible on the bike have a decisive advantage.
- Modern trackers are connected to your smartphone via a dedicated app from the same manufacturer.
- From now on, you can track where your e-bike is on this app. In addition, good systems notify you as soon as your bicycle moves without permission.
- Depending on the manufacturer, the app comes with additional functions such as a bike pass, which you can use to prove that the bike is yours.
The location of your e-bike is determined via satellites. You can learn more about the technology and how it works in our article about the history and functionality of GPS tracking.
Important: The GPS tracker does not send live location data about your e-bike directly to your smartphone but first to a server. This has two advantages:
- Data is cached just in case.
- You can access it via the app and via another end device such as a laptop or tablet.
Good GPS trackers such as BikeTrax are mounted hidden in the e-bike and offer all the necessary features such as motion alarm, BikePass and many more.
2G, LTE-M, NB-IoT: a comparison of wireless tracking technologies
As already mentioned, neither WLAN nor Bluetooth or EnOcean are suitable for tracking moving objects.
Instead, radio standards are required that enable tracking over greater distances and through thick walls.
- 2G: 2G refers to the second-generation mobile communications standard. In the meantime, of course, there is a whole range of successors, which above all allow higher bandwidth. However, the decisive advantage of 2G is the extensive network coverage. After all, “holes” in the connection are fatal if you want to track a stolen e-bike. Bandwidth does not play a major role if you want to track your bike after a theft. With 2G, in contrast, you have network coverage worldwide, even in remote places outside the big city.
- LTE-M: As soon as the necessary network coverage is available, LTE-M will become the successor to 2G. The technology scores with low power consumption, long battery charging times, and good signal even through thick walls.
- Narrowband IoT: Narrowband IoT is a technology developed specifically for the Internet of Things. It is characterized by advantages such as great signal even in a complex of buildings. The technology is therefore very well suited, for example, to equip computers and industrial machines, e.g., non-movable objects located in industrial halls in cities. In large cities, the current network coverage for NB-IoT is mostly given. However, network coverage lags once you move out of the city and into the countryside. If you want to track moving objects like bicycles or cars after a theft, narrowband IoT is not suitable because data cannot be transmitted in real-time with it.
The particular case of Sigfox and Lora
Two other terms are often used when talking about wireless standards and IoT technology: Sigfox and Lora. Unlike the standards mentioned above, these do not use the licensed frequency spectrum. Their networks, therefore, have to be completely rebuilt and are based on their own frequency ranges. As a result, transmission costs are lower, and energy efficiency is higher. However, the network coverage is far from sufficient for tracking e-bikes or other moving objects over longer distances.