The best bike tracker for theft recovery


I know the Cycloop works because when I leave my house without my bike’s keys, my phone will start ringing. That’s because I keep the Cycloop’s security fob on the keychain with the key to my D1000 U lock, and if the bike is moving and the fob isn’t in range, the Cycloop assumes the bike is being stolen and it calls your phone.

Yes it calls you. It’s a robocall, not some operator at a live security monitoring center, but it gets your attention, and that is the point. This could give you the opportunity to stop a theft before the bike gets very far, and you would be able to use the Cycloop app to see where the bike is if it gets away. (It also makes sure you don’t leave your keys behind and arrive somewhere unable to lock up your bike).

How does this work?

The Cycloop, like any good security solution, is a combination of technologies that together reduce the likelihood of theft, and increase the likelihood of recovery:

  1. The main Cycloop unit that attaches to the bike
  2. The Cycloop smartphone app
  3. The Cycloop key fob
The three components of the Cycloop system: Fob, tracker, and app.
The Tracker

The core of the Cycloop is a frame-mounted plastic enclosure containing the GPS, cellular radios, motion sensor, battery, USB C charger, and two distinctive flashing red lights. This is not an AirTag. It has it's own cellular data connection, and it's own GPS. It is not dependent on being near someone's iPhone in order for you to know where it is. Using an AirTag for bike security is can help, but that's not what AirTags are for. The Cycloop is made to protect your bike.

In theory, the Cycloop is disguised as a rear bike light, but its shape and light pattern are so distinctive that thieves will eventually learn to recognize it for what it really is. That could work as a deterrent, or allow a thief to be prepared and disable the Cycloop before moving the bike. They could do this by bringing the right type of security torx bit to unscrew the bolts that hold the Cycloop to the the frame, or perhaps by drilling through it with a power tool (we haven’t tried this at Tempo).

Where you mount the Cycloop is an important decision. The unit’s two halves are designed to wrap around and be secured to a tubular frame member or seat post. Mounting it to a seat post makes a lot of sense because it makes it work even better as a tail light, but if your seat post is easily removed, so is the Cycloop.

You don’t have to remove the Cycloop to charge it. It has a weatherproof USB C port on the unit that you can plug a powered USB C cable into. The Cycloop’s battery lasts anywhere from several months to about a week, depending on how often you want it to transmit its location and status to you. On any setting it will call you if it detects enough movement and the fob isn’t present, so frequent transmission is mainly to let you know it’s online and get updates on the bike’s location more frequently. We can get into more of that in the discussion of the app.

The App

The Cycloop is descended from a motorcycle security product called Monimoto. Before ebikes, motorcycles were the most valuable things that we left on the street and that could be lifted into a truck by a couple of motivated thieves. So motorcycle security has some things to teach the ebike world. One of the few disappointments of the Cycloop is that the app is still branded Monimoto and looks like a motorcycle app. We hope that will change, but it doesn’t affect the function.

The app gives you a lot of control over the Cycloop. You can change the communication frequency, as mentioned above, mainly to save battery. You can check battery life and cell signal strength. You can turn alerts off for a period of time if you don’t want it to call you when it moves. You can also turn on “Active Tracking” if you know the bike is stolen. This tells the Cycloop to send information about its location as frequently as possible to help you find it. This drains the battery faster but should give you time to locate the bike if you are looking for it.

The Fob

The last piece of the system is the fob. About the size of a postage stamp and about as thick as a chocolate bar, it goes on your keychain with your bike lock keys and other essentials and when it is close to the bike, the bike won’t call you when it moves, so you want to have it with you whenever you ride, or you want to use the app to temporarily deactivate the calls. This is one of the main differences between the Cycloop and other trackers like the Invoxia, which don't have a fob, so they send you notifications whenever the bike moves, even if you are the one moving the bike. They make this less of a hassle by limiting their motion detection so that it doesn't activate until the tracker has been stationary for 5 minutes. So if someone grabs your bike within 5 minutes of you parking it, the Invoxia might not tell you. The Cycloop will.

Should you get one?

I have been using the Cycloop on my electric cargo bike in San Francisco for about 9 months as part of a security system that includes a D1000 U lock and security bolts on most of the valuable, removable parts of the bike, among other measures. This combo means I never worry about where I lock it, anywhere in San Francisco, during the day. I know that if someone somehow gets through the D1000 and moves the bike, I will get a call. I love that and would be reluctant to commute on another bike in high-theft San Francisco if it didn’t have a Cycloop.

So why doesn’t everyone have one of these already, and why might you NOT want one?

  1. The Cycloop’s MSRP is $149 (though it is often available for $99) including two months of cellular service, after which you have to pay $49/year, or your Cycloop becomes just a bike light. That’s more than many people are willing to spend.
  2. The Cycloop is well-made and not bad looking, but it may not fit the aesthetic of your bike. Bikes are both transportation and style, of course, so you have to be ok with how it looks.
  3. Finally, the app is the same as for the motorcycle product from the same company, and this just feels weird and dated, but it 100% works, so again, this is more about form than function.

As you know, I decided that for me, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Like the D1000 U lock use, that cost me $300, I have no problem investing hundreds of dollars to secure a bike that cost less than $2000 and is also insured (as mine is). I’m not just trying to avoid the cost of replacing the bike, but also the stress of wondering if it will get stolen, trying to find it if it does, filing police and insurance claims, re-accessorizing and personalizing the new bike, and being stranded if I find the bike missing. This is much more about my time and mental space than it is about replacement cost of the bike.

When I’m not worried about my bike, I ride it more, and that makes it more valuable, and makes my life better.

When our family bought an electric cargo bike earlier this year, one of my biggest fears was that this lovely and expensive new machine was going to get stolen. So I got the best lock money could buy, and I started to investigate: did I need ebike insurance?

First, I called my homeowners insurance provider to see if they would cover the bike if it were stolen. To my surprise, because it’s an electric bike, not only did my policy not cover it, they wouldn’t even add it for an additional fee or sell me a separate policy for it, the way they did for our family car.

Instead they referred me to an insurance company that specializes in bikes and ebikes. I bought a policy from them and sleep a little better for it.

I’ve heard similar stories from other ebike owners. And I’ve heard worse.

What can happen without ebike insurance

The saddest stories are the ones where someone assumed their homeowners or renters or car insurance covered their ebike, and after it was stolen or seriously damaged, it turned out it wasn’t covered.

And then there are the stories about people whose ebikes were covered by their homeowners policy, but their premium went way up when they made a claim for a stolen ebike.

Why it’s hard to insure an ebike

When it comes to insurance, ebikes land in a gray area outside standard homeowners insurance and auto insurance. Here’s why:

  • Ebikes are new in terms of the insurance industry. Most of the several million ebikes in the U.S. were purchased in the last two years. Insurers aren’t familiar with them, and insurers don’t like to be surprised by unfamiliar products.
  • Ebikes are more expensive than regular bikes. Policies that cover bikes, like most homeowners or renters policies, might have also covered ebikes until the insurer had to pay much larger claims than they expected to replace a damaged or stolen ebike. See above about insurers and surprise. So some policy terms got changed.
  • Finally, ebikes get stolen a lot, and not only from people’s homes. They are ridden and locked up outside all over the place, which makes them more vulnerable than other valuable household items.

Steps to take to properly insure your ebike

The odds that your ebike is covered by your existing insurance is lower than you may think. Here’s what to do to find out if you need ebike insurance:

  1. Call your insurance company and find out what they cover. Things to bring up: coverage of accidental damage, theft, and travel (like what would happen if you flew somewhere with your bike and the airline did a number on it). Does the insurance company consider your ebike a “luxury item”? If you’re happy with the coverage, great! You’re good to go.
  2. Consider bike-specific coverage. If you aren’t covered, or feel like the coverage you do have isn’t enough, here are some things to think about.

Bike insurance covers all kinds of bike specific things, not just theft. Think damage to the bike from a collision, medical payments if you are injured in a collision, insurance for the bike if you are traveling with it or racing it, or a bike rental while your bike is being repaired. Some policies even cover things like accessories (like bike lights and panniers) and riding clothes.

Bike claims won’t affect your other insurance premium. Should you need to make a claim on your ebike, your home insurance premium won’t change or get canceled.

We can help

Want to learn more about ebike insurance? Join Tempo and get easy access to insurance quotes, and other ways to protect your ebike right inside the app.

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Michael Keating
Founder & CEO
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