To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Boomerang Bike. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Boomerang Bike products.
The first time I heard about Boomerang Bike and their CycloTrack GPS system was in 2017. I got ahold of one and reviewed it for the website here. The device wasn’t perfect, but it showed a lot of potential and changed my perspective on bike theft… Prevention is the primary goal, recovery if necessary. The device sends a visual message with branding and four LED lights, as well as audible siren alerts if disturbed. It’s large and fairly obvious vs. being hidden in the stem or seat post like some other products, this creates awareness and improves GPS reception. For this updated review, I’m covering the same V1 hardware as before, but a series of software updates and significantly lowered price point have made it a much improved offering.
The CycloTrac V1 unit is a 10″ long plastic stick containing a lithium polymer battery, electronic circuitry, antenna, and global positioning system that bolts to any standard bottle cage mount, rear rack (with an adapter), or directly to the frame (with a different $12 adapter). Instead of costing $199 with 2 years of data bundled, the unit is now $29.00 with a month to month $3.90 data plan you can cancel at any time. In addition to security, the CycloTrac offers feedback on CO2 offset, dollars saved, and ride history through their web interface and iOS/Android compatible smartphone application. It’s all very cool and much more refined now. The CycloTrac no longer comes in white, and the V1 will eventually expire in June 2020 because it uses 2G to communicate with Verizon’s network (which they are retiring). I was told that V1 owners will be able to upgrade to V2 devices in later in 2019 for just $25 more… and that’s great. This effectively makes buying a V1 now your cheapest way to get a V2 later on. I like it when companies are proactive and thoughtful about product lifecycle.
The V2 is physically smaller at 5.5″ and weighs less at 3oz vs. 5oz. It would be a great choice for those with limited frame space or curvy frames. The V1 CycloTrac barely fit on my Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike because of the curved downtube, shown in the video review above. Also, the thickness of the unit meant that my bottle cage could no longer be used… This is an edge case, most of the other bicycles and ebikes that I tested in the video did just fine. The included security star bolts and bit reduce the potential for tampering, and the unit feels durable with rubberized edges, top, and bottom. One of the biggest functionality changes in recent years has to do with the circular button on top of the unit. This used to reset the device, but now it simply triggers the alarm. I’ve been told that there is no way that a would-be thief can push the re-set button without trigger the alarm. Eventually, this button may even be updated via software (over the air to all units) to send a text alert to any emergency contacts listed on your account. Imagine crashing your bike and needing to call for help. Well, you’d probably just uses your cell phone right? What if you’re out of range, perhaps mountain biking, the GPS signal from the device could be the next best option and require a lot less effort to activate. It not only alerts your contact of the situation, but could be used to identify your location for rescue. Pretty cool! This feature isn’t completely rolled out, but it’s something they are finalizing and preparing to release in Q1 2019.
All things considered, this is a pretty impressive product. It’s being sold as a cycling security device, but you could toss it into a backpack, put it under your car seat, or connect it to other theft-worthy items for similar alerts and tracking. The battery isn’t removable, and the unit isn’t super convenient to remove, so you’ll need to park your bike within six feet of a USB charging port. Most batteries, including lithium-polymer, can be sensitive to extreme heat and cold… but even if it did get damaged and wear out prematurely, replacement isn’t that expensive. As always, I welcome your feedback and invite you to check out my earlier review (which is more critical and in-depth) to see how much the product has improved. The CycloTrac is great for individuals but fleets are also using them now, including Stanford University. For them, it’s more about measuring the impact of ebikes and electric carts on campus vs. the older gasoline powered vehicles. They are tracking CO2 savings and getting input on where vehicles are being used most frequently through the heat map feature of the website. Very cool!
- The product has gotten a lot cheaper since my first review in 2017 when it was priced at $199, now you can get the V1 hardware for $29 plus $3.90 a month
- The rubberized button on top of the unit activates the alarm, in the original version I tested years ago, it acted more as a reset… so it’s great that they addressed this
- The CycloTrac GPS unit is much smaller and lighter than a u-lock, most chain locks, and even cheap coil locks, it makes a great compliment to a traditional physical lock without adding too much weight wise
- They designed the unit to be visible and act as a deterrent, by mounting it in plain view, you also benefit from improved GPS reception than most competing hidden in-post and under-saddle tracking devices
- Two extra-long security head star bolts and a bit are included to let you mount the CycloTrac to bottle cage bosses but the company also sells a rear rack mount and locking clamp mount for just $12 a piece, these are great options for commuters and mountain bikers
- In addition to the motion activated siren and GPS tracking software, the web and mobile apps calculate CO2 offset, money savings, and ride stats, there’s even a heatmap view on the website so you can see your most popular rides
- It’s nice that the unit can last over two months in standby mode and one month when armed, expect something closer to eight hours when in continuous tracking mode (when you’re tracking a long ride and the bike is in constant motion, about 100 miles)
- You can see how full the charge level is on the unit remotely by using the mobile app, I’m told that this updates every 10 minutes or so to reduce power draw and data use, there’s a little green and red LED near the Micro-USB charging port on the device itself which can also communicate charge level as you plug it in but may be difficult to see
- Compared to many Bluetooth tracking devices, such as Tile, the CycloTrac works reliably in a broad range of scenarios… it doesn’t have to be positioned within range of a mobile device, just have access to the award winning Verizon mobile phone network
- I love how the unit emails and texts you when it is disturbed in armed mode, it’s convenient and intuitive, giving you multiple ways to be notified and keep your property safe
- The web application is very cool, login at https://system.boomerangbike.com and you can see your past trips, Carbon offset, and even setup geo fencing (for fleets and rentals) there are many options and the customer support has been very responsive to me
- You could use this device for more than just bicycles, toss it into your car under the seat or send it with your kid in their backpack to make sure they don’t leave the geofence area you setup, it’s more affordable than the competing options I’ve seen out there for non-bike use
- There are four LED lights that help you interpret what the device is doing, I like that gear is always flashing (like a car alarm would) to let you know that it’s active… and I really like that the bulls eye target symbol lights up when you’re tracking it with the app, this would certainly stress me out as a would-be thief
- Even though it’s a bit long, the CycloTrac device isn’t much wider than a standard downtube or seat tube, so it won’t get in the way of pedaling
- The system is designed to update over the air (OTA), so new software can role out to fix any issues that crop up, I’ve already seen it get better since my first review in 2017
- Boomerang Bike no longer offers the white color scheme, I was told that it simply was not popular enough to justify and that having a single model has helped to lower the price of the unit
- Because it mounts to your bike using security hardware, the unit is not easy to take off for independent charging or storage away from extreme temperatures, this could degrade the battery faster over time
- Version 1 of the device (being reviewed here) will only remain active through June of 2020 when Verizon shuts down their 2G network, at that time you’ll need to upgrade to the V2 unit for $25 by contacting CycloTrac
- The alarm goes off very easily which means you could end up with a bunch of false alerts, the siren stops after a few chimes and then waits for a minute before repeating (probably to save battery)
- The V1 device was too long to mount flush on my curved mountain bike downtube, it was also too thick to mount a bottle cage on top… so it might not work perfectly for every application
- Considering you can’t really turn the CycloTrac unit off, it’s important to plug it in whenever you’re not using it and consider turning off auto track in the app (Settings menu drop down > Auto Start to Off)
- Note that it charges in 4 to 6 hours, this was longer than I expected and would probably be an overnight charge sort of situation, fast charging would be nice in case you forget and need to fill it up quickly in the morning before work or something
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