Trackers are devices that use one or a series of methods to locate your Bike. This can be in GPS (GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM) GSM (GLOBAL SYSTEM FOR MOBILE Communications) and RF (RADIO FREQUENCY) which would use one frequency or a range of frequencies between VHF/UHF.
GPS is not that secure, but it is cheap and commonplace. Years ago, GPS was all you needed - today, that is not so true. It has a place, and is still a good system, but not one you cannot rely on solely if you have a choice. It is however, very useful for general tracking. In real-time trackers GPS is used to locate the vehicle and you can do this as often as you wish. Of course, this signal being transmitted permanently does effect your bikes' battery and can often flatten it. It also gives its' location away to thieves using readily available devices to locate and jam GPS devices
The next system is GSM - Mobile Network essentially. Using the three nearest mobile phone masts and bouncing a signal off each the tracker will work out 'roughly' where it is and give you a search area. Traditional Trackers will have GSM back-up and will use a chosen provider with a SIM card much like your phone. It will utilise this to text you locations and so on. So acts much like a phone would. This is useful and would work anywhere it will get your providers' or partners' signal. There are some more advanced systems which use ANY GSM signal worldwide using E-SIM technology, which is not a SIM card as you know it, but a chip-set which allows it to communicate on any GSM frequency worldwide. An E-Sim is embedded (hence the 'E') into the phones motherboard so there is no card. The benefits are that is is not locked to any network provider and can seemlessly swap networks to the strongest without issue. It is still an advanced technology - though soon, all phones will be fitted with E-Sims as standard - for the Moment only Apple, Google & a small number of others have adopted it.
RF - or RADIO FREQUENCY Signal - is a where accuracy comes into Play. GPS will give you a 5 meter radius generally, GSM will be around 200yds or so - RF will pinpoint not only the direction of the tracked object, but the distance as well. It essentially is accurate enough to trace with pocket you put a tracking device in. This is useful to accurately pin-pointing the exact location of the tracked item, so in the the case of it being on private land, hidden in a container etc it can be found and a warrant to enter by The Police gained with ease.
What Type is Best; Real Time or Asset?
There is no 'best' - they all serve a purpose and it very much depends on what you want your tracker to do. The two types are worlds' apart.
If you want to know what your bike has been doing, see where it has been and the speed it has been doing, then you are looking for a REAL TIME TRACKER. These have the benefit of being flexible and comparatively cheap. However, there is a pay-off and you will learn that with most tech nowadays. A Real Time Tracker is permanently sending out a signal - and that means it can be traced with tools that can be found online. You don't need to look too far or hard to come across one. If your prospective thief is tooled up with these, then your tracker will be rendered useless, removed and off it goes.
This doesn't mean the Real Time GPS tracker is bad - it just means it is a TRACKER. That is what it does - it tracks where a vehicle is and has been. It's ideal for fleet management applications and so forth. What it ISN'T is a Theft Recovery Tracker though it can do this task perfectly well on the proviso that it is not discovered.
A Theft Recovery (Asset) Tracker is designed with a sole purpose of locating your vehicle AFTER it has been stolen and aid the company in returning it (your Asset) to you. It won't tell you what speed it is going or where is has been four days ago. It sits silently, undetected. Often only active in the event of a theft is uses various methods to alert of where it is. This is particularly useful as most thieves 'stash' or hide a stolen vehicle local to the theft site until the are sure it has no tracker fitted - and by the time they return, your vehicle is back with you with minimal damage.
What you decide to use is entirely your choice. The market is very confusing, hence we have have just put them into two categories. Real Time and Asset Recovery. Look into each device carefully at what systems it uses and see if it tracks real time or not and you will know what the unit is under the confusing veneer.
If you are to use a REAL TIME tracker, one that is always sending a signal and visible, then you have a range of units from as little as £50 up to £600 or more that will give you real time location of your vehicle. European cover will cost more. You can look at Amazon and the like for units such as the GT02 which is a generic sub £50 unit, and other branded units such as Scorpions' TrakKing, and Biketrac to name just a couple of popular brands which are both around the £250-£350 margin. These will all have a sim card, and be maintained with credit either by yourself or included in the susbsrciption. Some will be monitored by yourself, other higher end ones will be monitored by a call centre. You get what you pay for.
An Asset Recovery Tracker is a fit and forget system. You can purchase the unit and it will sit silently on your bike. You will receive a notification each day to let you know it is there, other than that, it will remain hidden from view. If you can't see it, nor can the thieves with their scanning devices! If it is stolen, you notify Police, and armed with your crime reference number you call the company who will send out an investigator to recover your bike - so it is not on a list of other jobs a police officer has to do - you get your own personal hunter with a sole task of getting your bike back. You tracker will be woken up and start its' sending its homing beacon location to the investigator.
So in short, you have two choices - neither will PREVENT theft, in fact it is advised the less they know about the presence of a tracker the better, but it is about getting the bike recovered quickly, and often before it has been abused or stripped for parts.