Sherlock Bike Tracker Review: Invisible GPS protection for your bike
Introduction to James
Hi, I’m James, I am just a typical age grouper. I was never really into sport until I moved to Devon in my 20’s. I joined the local Rowing club with my brothers and fell in love the sport. This was a stepping stone and over the next few years I took up Surfing, Kayaking, Mountain biking and Hiking.
After years of rowing I wanted a new challenge and I was inspired after watching my friends compete at my local sprint triathlon in Bideford in 2012. I took part in my first triathlon the following year and after making it through the swim I was hooked and loved every minute of the race. My greatest triathlon achievement to date was completing the savage Croyde triathlon in 2018. My goal for 2020 had been to step up to a 70.3 distance triathlon but that will have to wait until next year. I juggle training in as best I can between work and a busy family life. This usually means training late at night or early in the morning.
I have a background in science and as such I’m a total geek and love technology. Luckily triathlon and cycling have a wealth of gadgets to keep me occupied from power meters to GPS trackers. Over the years I have been seen a few anti-theft bike trackers start up. It has been a topic that has interested me but up until now I haven’t seen one that I liked.
Introduction to Sherlock
Petzen Ltd (a logistics management consultancy based in Manchester) teamed up with Viasat. One of Europe’s largest telematics companies to offer Sherlock Bike Trackers in the UK.
Sherlock was started in 2015 after its founder Pierluigi Freni, was leaving the theatre in Turin with a friend, who discovered that his bike had been stolen. The pair wished they had a Find My phone app for the bike. From this a business idea was born.
From the initial concept of a tiny GPS tracker that could be hidden in bike handlebars. A simplified flexible smartphone fitting a diameter smaller than a penny the Sherlock was born. Named after the famous British detective created by author Arthur Conan Doyle. Now thousands of Sherlocks are in use across the US and Europe.
First Impressions of Sherlock
Opening the box, the device was very nicely presented and packed very well. It came with a charging cable and a matching handlebar end cap. I was very impressed by the extra end cap as it was something I hadn’t even thought of. Of course, if both end caps are different it is going to make it more obvious to a thief that there is something hidden in the handlebars. The box is very sleek and modern in design, they have gone for minimal approach to graphics whilst maintaining all the critical information on that back of the box. There is very little in the way of instructions inside the box just enough to get you started. I personally would have like to see bit more information on how the app works.
Installation and setting up
The Sherlock is designed to be hidden in your bike’s handlebars. It fits in one side of the handlebar with a matching bar end for the other side.
Be aware that it doesn’t fit all styles of handlebars. My road bike for instance has a flatter section on the drops which prevents the Sherlock from fitting. The compatibility of your handlebars can be checked on the website.
You will need to carry out a full charge before you connect to it for the first time. The end of the Sherlock has a cap which covers the micro-USB port.
Video Fitting the Sherlock bike tracker
Watch the video on how simply the GPS Sherlock bike tracker can be fitted and installed at home. Even the most basic bike mechanic can install with ease.
Mobile Application Interface
To use the Sherlock, you need to download the app onto your smart phone it is available for both Apple and Android devices. There are not really any instructions on how to use the app, but it is very intuitive.
Once downloaded your first job is to set up a profile for your bike. This must include a picture of your bike and preferably include your frame number. This information will form your bike passport and will help the Police identify your bike if/when they recover it.
Once set up you can then connect to the sherlock via Bluetooth and check the device and update the settings such as updating the GPS frequency. The GPS frequency has an impact on how long the battery will last in theft mode.
Battery Life Performance Results
GPS update rate
Time a full battery will last in theft mode
1 hour (default setting)
My personal preference is to leave the GPS update rate at 1 hour (its default setting) when my bike is locked up in a secure place such as my garage. Then change it to 2 minutes when I have left it in a public place.
The home screen consists of a map showing your phones location and a toggle switch which allows switching between standby and active modes. There are 3 modes. Standby, active and theft. In both standby and active modes, the battery life is 7 days. When the device is in active mode it will automatically switch into theft mode when movement is detected by the motion sensor. The device will then transmit its location at the frequency set. The location of the Sherlock will be shown on the map. The app turns orange when it is in theft mode.
How the Sherlock Bike Tracker Works
The Sherlock has a motion sensor, which once the sherlock has been activated picks up any movement of the bike. When the sensor picks up any movement it engages the theft mode. Once the unit goes into theft mode a notification is sent to your smart phone and the GPS tracking starts. It uses a GSM (global system for mobile communications) / GPRS (general packet radio service) module and integrated SIM to contact your smart phone. The tracker uses a combination GPS / GLONASS Module to provide a precise location of your bike anywhere in the US and Europe.
The design of the Sherlock is of a flexible straw with the antennas and electronics close to the bar end and the batteries at the other end of the straw. The micro-USB port in the bar end allow charging without removing the device. The port is then hidden under a clip-on bar cap.
The Sherlock must be turned on every time you park. This is done through the Bluetooth connection with your smart phone. Be aware that this should be done after you have locked your bike up and removed light, computer etc. as the vibrations could set of the motion sensor. Any changes to the settings are done though the app when you are nearby. Like wise you must turn off the Sherlock before you unlock your bike and ride off. A location code is then generated that the Police can use on the website to track down your bike.
I’d assume that a notification will not get sent if you are in an area which doesn’t have any mobile reception.
Summary of Sherlock Bike Tracker Review
I was very excited to be reviewing this device. I have been interested in these type of security bike trackers for a while. None of the ones I had previously seen had come up with the idea of hiding the unit in the handle bar and most of them worked using a long range Bluetooth transmitter.
With approximately 250,000 bikes recorded stolen in the UK each year, it pays to have a bit of extra protection even if your bike is insured. This is where the Sherlock comes into its own.
After reviewing the Sherlock for a few months, I am left with mixed feelings. I love the idea and when the Sherlock works it works really well. However, it has a few faults such as false alarms, inaccurate GPS locations, alarms not being triggered, and the battery level being incorrect.
An example of how the GPS location can impact use was quite early on it gave me a false alarm. It located my bikes location over a mile away. This was very disconcerting at the time. I had to rush outside to check that my bike hadn’t been stolen. This could then lead to alarms being ignored if persistent.
It huge amount of potential and in my opinion it just needs some fine tuning. One solution could be having a delay in the activation by the motion sensor such as it needs to be moving for a few seconds. This may stop it being accidently triggered.
In conclusion would I continue to use it? Yes I would despite the minor faults outlined above. The piece of mind is absolutely worth it.