Datatool | A great British Success Story

We were lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look at the design and manufacture of the biggest selling motorcycle trackers in the UK

Datatool factory visit

DATATOOL is a company that most bikers automatically recognise as one of the big players in the motorcycle security arena. Thanks to their partnership with Honda UK, Visordown was invited along to their factory, to see how they develop, design and manufacture their products.

Why Honda?

Simply put, Honda is making the biggest strides in the UK market with regards to ensuring the owners of their bikes don’t lose their bikes. Every owner of a new Honda gets the chance to include a free Datatool TrakKing Adventure tracker included with the sale of their bike. The unit will be fitted to the bike at no extra cost and, most importantly, it’ll be Thatcham approved fitting.

What’s the catch?

The only catch for the customer is they will have to pay the £10 monthly subscription cost to Datatool, pocketing them up to a £350 discount. If you're a Honda owner already, you can still take advantage of the offer, albeit at a discounted rate and not free.

How do Datatool’s trackers work?

A tracker is a device that a dealer or installer will hide somewhere inside a bike. They are wired into the bike’s electrical system and will have a small internal battery, to keep the unit functioning for up to 60 days while the bike is parked. When the bike is not being used and the ignition is off, Datatool’s system records the unit’s location every 20-seconds, and despite being tens of thousands of kilometres above the earth, the satellites can detect even the smallest movements. The unit also includes internal sensors which will register the tell-tale knocks of a potential theft, or the bike being lifted off the stand.

The tracker will send an alert to Datatool, notifying them of the movement. The team at Datatool HQ will then who notify the owner. In some instances, it could be the owner moving the bike with the ignition off to clean it or trailering it to a trackday, if that is confirmed the alert is deescalated.

If a theft or attempted theft is confirmed by the owner of the bike, Datatool will contact the police on their behalf, notifying the officers of the bike’s location.

Who are Datatool?

They are the motorcycle arm of vehicle security firm Scorpion Automotive. Scorpion acquired Datatool in 2009, taking it from being one of a number of motorcycle alarm makers to the biggest tracking manufacturers in the UK, with an estimated 4x the turnover of their nearest competitor.

My bikes got an immobiliser, why choose a tracker as well?

The fact is that thieves are becoming ever more advanced, the chances of your bike getting hotwired and ridden away are very slim. In the modern era of bike crime, most are either pushed, walked or carried away, and either placed into a waiting van or left in the undergrowth to see if anyone comes looking for it. Many high-value machines are also stolen to order, later being sent off to chop-shops for dismantling or shipped to Europe.

There are more than fifty bikes stolen in the UK every day, yet less than a third of those are recovered. Thieves are also becoming more brazen and less fearful of being caught, a blaring alarm now poses little deterrent to a criminal.

And that doesn’t mean a tracker should be the only piece of security a motorcyclist should utilise; research shows that even one mechanical device such as a disclock, greatly reduces the chances of a thief attempting to steal your bike.

Why Datatool?

With all Datatool’s trackers being manufactured at their Chorley factory, the company has complete control over the components they use and the techniques they adopt to make their units. Their products are also certified to ISO standard, and built with such precision they can boast a failure rate of fewer than 10 parts per million – not bad for a company that employs 80 staff and can produce more than 800 units a day!

A theft in progress!

While in Datatool’s monitoring room, I was lucky enough to witness a theft in progress in the south east of England. A customer’s BMW R1200 had triggered an alert and when we arrived in the room the customer had just confirmed that a theft had taken place.

As alarms were flashing up on the various screens on the wall, the call handler zoomed in on a small industrial estate in north-east London. With the police now notified it was Datatool’s job to direct the boots on the ground to the unit they suspected the bike to be in.

With the police now searching for the bike inside and outside of the unit the tour continued to the R&D dept, to meet the people how to design and develop the company’s newest products. After about 35-minutes of chatting to the team in R&D, Datatool’s call centre manager poked his head around the door to say the BMW had been recovered – with zero damage made to the vehicle.

Sadly we weren’t told if an arrest had taken place (the team will generally only find that out if they have to appear in court) but the recovery does mean that customer has to pay zero insurance excess, they won’t lose any no claims discount and could, if they wanted, negate to tell their insurer the event had taken place. An act that, while not strictly to the insurers' guidelines, may help prevent an increase in next year’s premium – as it is insurers ask for any theft or attempted theft to be notified when buying a new policy.

For more information on Honda and Datatool’s partnership, click here.

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