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Thread: Satellite emergency device

  1. #16
    '14 R1200 GS Adv bigjohnsd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Black Hills, SD
    I started with Bubbler GPS, an Android phone app that can link with Spotwalla to provide near real-time tracking.
    This worked ok for me on my Cruiser Bike riding in populated areas with cell coverage.

    When I started riding cross country and in more remote areas without cell coverage, I shifted to a Gen 3 SPOT Tracker.
    My wife appreciated being able to follow along and I appreciated having the "Come Save Me" button. But, as I learned more I discovered as has been mentioned in several previous comments above that the SPOT functionality was sometimes lacking.

    When my SPOT subscription expired in 2019 I procured a Garmin InReach Mini so that I could communicate if required rather than just press the "Come Save Me" button. So far I haven't needed either the "Come Save Me" or the "Two-way Text Communication" functions of the InReach Mini. I have the annual subscription plan which costs a bit more than the Turn it on, Turn it off by the month plan but it isn't significantly more.
    One thing that irritates me about the InReach Mini over the SPOT Gen3 is that the tracking fidelity is only every 10 minutes on the InReach versus every five minutes on the SPOT.
    I usually run the Bubbler GPS App which adds track fidelity when in cell service range.

    There is a Garmin APP with the InReach Mini that can also provide location tracking information but I haven't used it yet.

    Good luck with your choice.

    Here is an example of my last 24 hours of riding as seen on Spotwalla with the InReach Mini track:

    The only dumb question is the unasked question!

    Team Pterodactyl - When we ride, we ride!

  2. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Roanoke, VA
    Thanks for all the information. I have been researching the various options and will read some of the links provided. At the moment, I am leaning toward the Zoleo unit due to its lower price. I do not think the cell based apps will work for me as there are areas that don't have cell, even on the east coast.

  3. #18
    The Zoleo doesn't do tracking. If that works for you or you're only looking for SOS then a PLB might be a better choice.

  4. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Roanoke, VA
    Quote Originally Posted by dravnx View Post
    The Zoleo doesn't do tracking. If that works for you or you're only looking for SOS then a PLB might be a better choice.
    It seems that you are correct. Not sure how I missed that. That's what is great about this list.

  5. #20
    Nick Kennedy
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Telluride Colorado
    One more comment here and I'll sign off.

    I'm in the Gliding world and these trackers have been a godsend when pilots don't return at the end of the day.
    I've been on 3 long term searches, you pull out the map and quickly realize it is a big world out there.

    Initially There was SPOT.
    It had a few serious faults. You had to use specific AA Battery's. The Satellite system was weak and suffered drop outs.
    One way communication and you couldn't tell if the message was sent. The units were not very sturdy. Weird Shape.
    Couldn't tell have much Batt power you had left, even though they did have a fairly [ relative ] long life.
    But it did send out a tracking trail, which worked about 90-95% of the time. I had one of these units.
    Spot Gen 3 solved most of these problems and can 2 way text , SO important.

    Then Garmin came out with the InReach SE system. 100% satellite reliability, very long battery life. Rechargeable. Robust nice size unit with a screen you can read and easily pair to your phone to text anyone anywhere. 100% tracking reliability. Easy to store contacts in the unit if you don't want to pair you phone or if IT goes dead.
    Simple to use. Affordable to buy and my monthly plan is $15/month!!
    Now they have a InReach mini which for me is to small for my old eyes.

    If you want to go the InReach route, get a InReach SE off Ebay, Garmin has US based tech support here in the USA and they pick up the phone and will talk to you! Imagine that.

    Like I said before, I like to have mine on sending tracking points to my wife and a couple of friends when I ride.
    If I miss a corner or hit a deer and am incapacitated, I don't have to do a thing, it marks the EXACT spot where I am.
    I could be hidden off the road in a ravine.
    With a PLB you have to be able to push the button and that requires you to be able to do that. Might not be able to do that if your AFU, And a PLB triggers a full Search and Rescue response which you don't need if your out of gas in the boonies or have a mechanical problem. If the Sherriff shows up with 8 guys and you have a flat they might be really pissed.
    And with a InReach once again, if I have a mechanical problem I can text 2 way which is so important to get service.
    OK- thats my take on the Satellite locators.
    I just spent the last 2 weeks soaring over Nevada and E Utah and everyone I was with had a InReach with them.
    We were flying in a area from Nephi to Grand Canyon to Tonopah to Bishop to Battle Mt. to Wells, a huge area, based out of Ely NV.
    Ride safe

  6. #21
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Nibley, UT USA
    Years ago there was a multi-day search in the competitive long-distance rally community for a rider who ran off the road, crashed down a ravine, and expired in the accident. IIRC no tracking device was being used by the rider, and a track would certainly have helped the search. But if the rider hadn’t expired in the accident and was lying injured down that ravine, then it’s a sure bet he or she would have wanted LEOs, S&R, ASR, or the Air Cav to show up onsite. At that point, with a real emergency underway, one really doesn’t care about costs or inconveniences or who they inconvenience or piss off—it’s all about getting assistance within the “golden hour” if possible. And triggering an EPIRB/PLB for anything less than a life-threatening emergency is probably a sign of someone whose judgement is such that they shouldn’t be risking those sorts of situations in the first place. As stated earlier, tracking and emergency response are two separate things-they compliment each other, but neither one alone represents a full solution.

    GPS isn’t fully reliable either, at least for us civilians. There is a zone between the Peel and Mackenzie rivers on the Dempster where gps can go wonky, dropping into night mode or being able to identify it’s location. Three of us on the ferry across the Mack were comparing notes on that, and a few km north of the crossing the gps units (1 Garmin, two BMW Navs) came back to life and proper function. I have no idea if that was a temporary occurrence or not, tho I note it happened traveling both ways. My point is that depending upon any single technology or device automatically incurs a higher level of risk that one needs to be aware of.

    As for Spot, if one is using the Spotwalla site for tracking, battery condition is available to anyone watching the track just by clicking on a tracking point. Spot messaging is limited, but as an example can be configured to send OK messages (“Just checking in. If stopped I am getting food, fuel, or rest! Follow me at https://XXXXX”), requests for mechanical or other help (“ If you get this I have had a breakdown or problem. Please call/text ASAP XXX-XXX-XXX DeVern WGS84-decimal“) or safe messages (“ Just checking in, am safe at destination. Follow me at
    https://XXXXXXX”). And, of course, the SOS button which does require physical activation just like any other such device being mentioned in this thread.

    So again, if you want tracking get any of the common tracking technologies and use it faithfully. But if you want real emergency coverage and response, get a dedicated EPIRB/PLB device. Your loved ones will thank you.

    There’s an older and longer thread on this at

    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

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