Review: Monimoto Motorcycle Tracker
A fitted motorcycle tracker isn’t always the best option for many motorcycle owners, so a standalone unit with its own power source is an excellent alternative. We test Monimoto’s Smart Motorcycle Tracker.
What we like
You can track the vehicle yourself
Really low costs
No drain on the bike’s battery
Simplicity of the system
Harder to disable when fitted well
Quality feel to the device
No wiring to install
Recognised by some insurers
You may get a discount on your insurance
What we are not so keen on
You can’t set the fob range
Instructions weren’t as clear as they could be
Smartphone app experience could be improved
Finding a suitably hidden location will be tricky on some bikes
Needs to be recognised by more insurers
See also: Fitted tracker reviews
With high-value bikes vulnerable to theft, fitting a tracking system has become a must-do option for many bikers. But fitted trackers can have some serious flaws, regularly being easily found and disabled by thieves by simply cutting the wiring, and they can drain your battery.
Which is why standalone – or wire-free – trackers are a more sensible choice for many owners. They can be harder to remove and are entirely independent of the bike’s battery. Plus they can be a whole lot cheaper – not least in the savings made when you do the installation yourself.
A second, standalone tracker could also be a backup option for owners who already have a fully fitted tracker, who want extra security in case thieves find unit’s wiring and disable it.
So, the ‘smart’ tracker system from Monimoto is an important consideration for anyone serious about their bike’s security.
What is the Monimoto tracker?
Monimoto is a wire-free GPS tracker specifically designed for use with motorcycles. It arms itself automatically and if the bike is moved when you (or rather the system’s Bluetooth key fob) are not nearby you get alerts and location updates direct to your iOS or Android app.
The primary device is a standalone weatherproof unit, small enough to be hidden out of sight on most bikes. Because it doesn’t need to be wired to the bike’s battery or ignition there is no drain on your motorcycle battery – a significant benefit if you don’t use your bike daily, are unable to keep the bike on a trickle-charger or just need to leave it somewhere for a few days. Other tracking systems can drain a battery in just two days when they continually post their location to a monitoring centre, so this is an important consideration for many owners.
Because the unit isn’t hardwired, when it is carefully hidden it is difficult for thieves to detect and remove from the bike – a problem for wired systems is they can often be found and disabled in under 30 seconds by determined thieves, unless they have been professionally installed with the wiring integrated deep into the loom. Sadly, some tracker and alarm installers don’t take the installation time required to hide the wiring, presumably to keep their prices down.
The way we have installed the unit on our test bike, a Triumph Tiger, it would take a thief at least 5-10 minutes to locate and disable the device. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but in that time you could have used the tracker’s app to catch them in the removal act.
What do you get in the Monimoto box?
Monimoto comes in a neat, tightly-packed tube which contains the main GPS unit (complete with two long-life batteries), a key fob, two robust reusable zip ties and, if you have ordered the option, a SIM card. There’s also a minimal instruction leaflet – you switch to the smartphone app to see how to set up the system.
The system costs around £149 plus a SIM subscription of €36 per year (£33 at current exchange rates), if you aren’t using your own SIM card. Compare this to systems that cost £400+ and require £15 monthly subscriptions.
How does the Monimoto tracker system work?
There are three parts to the Monimoto system: The GPS unit you attach to the bike, the Bluetooth key fob and the smartphone app.
The GPS unit, around 125mm x 35mm, is attached out of sight on the bike. If the bike is moved either the GPS or the motion sensor detects the movement and the unit searches for the Bluetooth key fob. If the key fob isn’t within a 10m range the GPS unit uses its onboard SIM card to call your phone.
This means the system arms itself automatically – a real benefit compared to other systems that frankly can be a pain in the backside when you are trying to clean or work on the bike. The downside to the system is, if you can’t leave the fob further than 10m from the bike, say camping or even on your own driveway, the system isn’t armed and your bike is therefore not protected.
The Bluetooth fob is a small unit, around the size of a 50p, so it will sit comfortably in even the tightest bike jacket – it’s wise not to keep the fob on your bike’s key ring, just in case the keys are stolen along with the bike. Extra fobs can be ordered to leave in other jackets, and if you have more than one Monimoto unit, you can program a fob to work with all of your Monimoto-protected bikes.
Unless you have the app set to do so, you can’t see the bike’s location in the app (unless the bike is being moved without the key fob present, triggering an alert) – this is to save the GPS unit’s battery. If you did have it set to detect the location the battery life would crash from 12 months to just two weeks. Given that you only need to know the bike’s location if it isn’t where you last left it, this really isn’t a major issue.
Setting up the tracking system
Once out of the very elegant packaging, setting up the unit is relatively easy. You’ll need a very, very small flat head screwdriver to open up the key fob and remove the tab and enable the fob’s battery. I eventually found one small enough inside a kit designed to get inside laptops.
You then follow the so-simple-you-would-have-to-be-a moron pictograms (there’s not actually a written description, the illustrations are so obvious) on the instruction leaflet.
What is less easy to negotiate is actually opening the Monimoto GPS unit to get at the SIM and to remove the battery tab. Removing the tab effectively switches the unit on.
To get inside I eventually, after much swearing and staring at the unit for longer than I care to admit, worked out the two arrows pointing at a tab weren’t helping and it would be better to check if other reviewers had the same problem.
YouTube supplied the answer, with the lads at RiderCam TV admitting it took them over an hour to work it out: you need to gently squeeze the unit, pulling in the opposite direction to the arrows, and applying inward pressure on the side of the device the arrows are located on…
After following the simple steps in the app, the fob key and unit took a number of attempts to pair, after 10 attempts and much opening up of the key fob and trying to find out what might be causing it suddenly worked – not giving you much confidence when you are trying to protect a bike worth ££ £’s. As we discovered later in testing, this particular key fob unit had an attitude problem.
Eventually, the device was configured and I received a text telling me to save the number as this would be how I would be alerted if the system thinks the vehicle is being stolen.
Going back into the app, I now simply connected the app to the unit and that’s me set up. Or rather, that’s what I realised only after reading the user manual which you can access from the app. It would have been a better user experience if this was all explained a little earlier in a more complete onboarding process instead of a help section that comes after it. Still, the system is now Ready, and the next step is to fit it to the bike.
Fitting the GPS tracker unit
In the interests of installing the GPS tracker in the same location a conscientious mechanic would, we purposefully made the installation, on a Triumph Tiger 800, knuckle-scrapingly difficult. The theory being it would also be more difficult for a thief to remove the device too.
In all it took just under an hour, using a very basic set of tools – a Hex/Allen key to remove a couple of panels, a 10mm socket for some internals and some long-nose pliers to help manoeuvre the supplied tie-wraps in the confined space of the fitting location. It took a good 10 minutes or so to find the best position out of sight of unwelcome eyes.
That time is an important benefit of the Monimoto system. All trackers can be disabled by a signal blocker, but it’s more likely that thieves will simply render a unit useless by ripping its wiring out – something that can be done in under a minute. With the Monimoto unit, even if they do spot it, they need to get inside the unit itself, and if you have done your fitting well, this is going to take them more time than they want to spend on it. Plus, it’s never easy to work in tight mechanical spaces when you are wearing gloves as you try not to leave fingerprints lying around.
The device manufacturer recommends the device GPS antenna is pointing upwards, but we had to instal the unit sideways. We’ll see if that leads to any false readings over time and report back.
We then learnt a harsh lesson – difficult installation also means a difficult battery change. A couple of hours after installation, the brand new device sent us a low battery alert. After checking with the guys at Monimoto it turns out the unit they sent us required a firmware update, only detectable when the weather dips below 8º (yes, to add insult to injuries, the knuckle-gnashing had been taking place on a stupidly cold day). This means we now needed to remove the device from the bike, attach the unit to a computer, install the firmware and then refit the device back on the bike with new cable ties. We chose to wait for a warmer day to come round before reinstalling (the device was still operating as it should and protecting the bike, just sending the app a false battery readout).
A standard USB cable didn’t work for some reason so we had to hunt around for an old USB data cable that came with a Garmin satnav. All-in-all, a pain in the arse.
TIP: When fitting the unit, fasten it only loosely at first, with only one of the supplied zip-ties, then perform a test. This way, if there is a need to move the unit due poor signal location, it will make it much easier to loosen off the unit.
Testing the Monimoto system is working
Now it is time to ask the MoniMoto folks to take another look at their onboarding process… It is vital the GPS antenna is facing upwards or at least to the side (never downwards). This is not explained in the simple pictograms (or rather it is, but you only understand this once you have read elsewhere what the pictogram is referring to). It isn’t explained in the ‘How to step up Monimoto for first use’ section of the online manual, either. In fact, you only discover this important piece of information in the ‘How to test the device by triggering Alarm’ section, which is a little late if you have already installed the device…
It looks from the ‘Last Communication’ messages inside that app that the unit sends out a signal every 2-5 minutes or so, although the manual states you should be notified within one minute if your bike is moved. Thankfully you can test this and check the whole system is set up correctly by performing a simple test involving switching off your phone’s Bluetooth and going for a ride (or shaking the bike for a good 8-10 seconds). On the occasions we tested a properly working fob unit (which we’ll come to later) the phone call came within one minute of moving the bike, on average.
The sensitivity of the device is excellent. Still sat in the office, switched on but not fitted, the GPS unit was moved less than 20cm and one minute later we got the ‘Monimoto is moving’ phone call. That’s impressive.
How well does Monimoto work?
Trackers that check with phone networks all of the time have a significant drain on your battery. With these types of devices if you have to leave your bike for more than a few days you are going to run into issues with a flat battery and potentially endless alerts from the tracker system – not ideal if you can’t get to the bike.
Monimoto gets around this issue with a pretty straightforward solution – fewer checks to your phone. Less obviously means it is potentially less secure.
We found out, by accident, that the system works very well – when the system is working. Here’s our beef: Having been cursed with the firmware update we then discovered the key fob unit we had been supplied with was faulty, leading at first to ‘Monimoto is moving’ alerts in the middle of a ride then doing the same as soon as the bike was taken out of its garage. This did give us the opportunity to see the unit doing what it was set up to do, however – track your bike.
In the app you can set the system to go to sleep for set periods after a false alarm but we decided to let it run and see how often the system would send us a GPS location, and how accurate the location would be.
Here’s the record of one test (after the phone call, all alerts are via app notification):
17.13: ‘Alarm! Monimoto is moving. Location to be delivered in a few minutes’
17.17: ‘Alarm! No GPS. Approximate location’ [the location provided was some 20-30m away from the actual location]
17.22: ‘Alarm! GPS coordinates available’ [accuracy was now closer to 15m]
17.28: ‘Alarm! GPS coordinates available’ [accuracy now 5-7m]
17.35: ‘Alarm! GPS coordinates available’ [accuracy 5m]
17.38: ‘Alarm! Monimoto stopped moving. GPS coordinates available’ [accuracy 1m, but this is after we had stopped the bike to put the system into sleep mode, giving the GPS system a decent chance to find the exact location].
To compare this to other systems firstly you have to acknowledge that you can track and monitor the vehicle’s location pretty much in real time – other systems do not give you direct access to the location data, which is accessed only by a control room who will then guide police to the vehicle’s location. If an officer can be found and they are prepared to act…
Secondly, in this instance, had the bike been involved in a real theft it could potentially have been recovered inside 40 minutes. Given that many bikes are stored locally to the theft location to see if they are being tracked, this means you are quite likely to recover the motorcycle quickly yourself. If you follow our advice on what to do if your motorcycle is stolen [https://www.bikerandbike.co.uk/what-to-do-if-your-motorbike-is-stolen/], you may be able to recover your bike before you have to get your insurer involved. To avoid any doubt, once you have informed an insurer a vehicle has been stolen they then consider you an ongoing risk and your premium is likely to go up at renewal (and strictly speaking you should inform future insurers of the ‘theft’ too). Strangely, they don’t take into account how quickly you can recover your bike when calculating premiums…
Both the firmware update and the keyfob issue shouldn’t put you off – Monimoto is still a startup and there can be teething problems but when we contacted them with the issues, they were extremely helpful and replaced the devices, which now work perfectly well.
Using Monimoto tracker
Once installed and working properly, Monimoto couldn’t be simpler to use. As long as the key fob is within range of the device you shouldn’t need to interact with the system at all.
If we are to have any real criticism it would be of the app’s user experience. Here, Monimoto has tapped up the wrong reviewer as I used to run a mobile app development company, so I’m well aware of when an app can have shortcomings.
In Monimoto’s case, the help system isn’t easy to use and set up instructions could be handled more simply with an installation video. Even simple actions like putting the system into sleep mode have been overcomplicated by using unclear and awkward-to-use buttons. That said, you really don’t encounter the poor app experience unless something goes wrong. In daily use, with no alerts from an unauthorised movement, it’s not an issue.
We would like to see a way to disable the system easily, without having to trigger an alert before you send the system into sleep mode.
At £149 (+ SIM card running costs) the Monimoto represents excellent value for money. It’s easy to use and – crucially for me on this particular bike that is only used fortnightly in winter with no power supply to run a trickle charger – the primary device is entirely separate from the bike’s battery.
Installation is as easy or hard as you want to make it. IE if you spent up to an hour watching every video and reading every word of the app’s help section – instead of just following the too simplistic paper instructions – then the installation would be very straightforward. I clearly don’t have the patience for that.
The device itself feels like a quality item and the installation kit is well thought out. What is not so well considered are the installation instructions. Both the paper and in-app installation guides have holes.
We’ve been testing for three months now and so far the movement detection and location accuracy has been very good. Only time will tell if the unit is reliable and also frugal enough not to eat the replaceable batteries. We’ll be updating you at the six and 12-month points.
In a nutshell, the Monimoto Smart Motorcycle Tracker technology is pretty robust, only to be let down by a poor app experience. But then you’ll use the app so rarely this shouldn’t put you off.
The Monimoto tracker is great value, well-made, fairly user-friendly and a simple way to add protection to your motorbike. Most importantly the Monimoto tracker works very well when you need it to.
Highly recommended, especially if you are on a tight budget or don’t have access to charging facilities to maintain your battery if you aren’t using the motorcycle regularly.