Before even thinking about installing a motorcycle GPS tracker, you have to pick one first. After years of trying out alarms, I’ve finally found one that I’m satisfied with. And it’s the Coban GPS303G GPS tracker alarm . Sure, it isn’t the perfect car alarm, but at the price one can hardly complain.
If you want to see a review of this GPS tracker alarm, plus a break-down of its features and specs, keep reading.
Note – I have no relationship with Coban whatsoever. I bought the alarm myself – several, actually – just like any other bloke. Here is my review and a few honest thoughts after a hand-full of installs.
Coban GPS303G Alarm Overview
As of now, September 2017, my favorite budget alarm is the Coban GPS303G. The correct model name is supposedly “GPS303G”, but don’t worry if you see “TK303G”. They are the same item.
Also, completely disregard the brand. Coban seems to allow anyone to rebrand their unit. As far as I’ve heard, they are all the same. The only thing you have to be careful with is the letter after the numbers. The “G” in the name refers to this particular model being waterproof and having a remote. Those are features you definitely want.
In functionality, it is almost identical to the Coban GPS103G. That model is already one of the most ubiquitous budget car GPS tracker alarms. Nonetheless, in practice this model has a few key upgrades over it:
- It’s much smaller and more compact.
- It has a gasket-sealed body, making it waterproof.
- The antennas are integrated inside, making them less damage-prone and saving the hassle of having to install them.
- It’s sleep-mode capable, for greatly reduced battery consumption.
All of those features are nice to have for a car GPS tracker, but for a motorcycle they’re crucial. In any case those qualities and others make the GPS303G one of the best GPS tracker units around. Especially considering that it doubles as an anti-theft alarm.
GPS303G Tracker Alarm Features
This model GPS tracker is definitely packed with functions. Its main features are:
- Controllable by either remote, text messages or apps.
- The unit receives both GPS and GPRS signals to find its position.
- It can disconnect the engine remotely in case of theft.
- Completely sealed waterproof housing.
- Integrated antennas for less components to install or damage.
- Microphone to listen around the bike.
- Internal slots for a Micro SD Card (position log) and SIM Card.
- Speed Alarm messaging.
- Fuel level input and reporting with an optional accessory.
- SOS button for emergencies.
- Low-Battery Alarm messaging – This feature pays for itself.
- Position Fencing and other position-dependant features.
- And many others.
It’s really an incredible device for the price. Most people don’t even need all of them. And again, let me repeat: The brand doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter if it’s TK303G or GPS303G. They’re all the same.
Why a cheap alarm like this is better than more expensive units
Personally, I don’t believe in installing 900$ alarms on 7000$ vehicles. It makes no sense to pay that much money up front for something which isn’t supposed to happen anyway. Comprehensive insurance is typically a much better deal.
Especially considering that having an expensive GPS tracker by no means guarantees you will get your vehicle back if it is stolen. I see much more utility in installing a feature-packed 30$ GPS tracker alarm yourself. That way you will take advantage of it regardless of whether or not the vehicle is stolen. If you’re considering installing one on your motorcycle, the money is much better spent on a quality chain lock.
An inexpensive GPS tracker alarm combo like this might not be as user-friendly as the more expensive units, but they work good-enough. It’s almost a no-brainer for the price.
But…what are all those features for?
Some features are useful, and some aren’t, admittedly. Here are the features that one is most likely to have questions about.
To this day I still can’t come up with a practical use for the SOS button. At least not on my motorcycle. I always end up cutting it off at the plug. It’s simply a button that, when pressed, will send an SOS text message to a pre-specified list of people. That’s all.
For a delivery truck, installed under the dash it’s probably more useful – think carjacking. Though you’re still relying on the person receiving the SOS to read the message and care enough to do something. Having other forms of protection is probably a lot more useful in that scenario.
Either way, personally, I don’t care for this feature.
Fuel Level Sensor
Others like the fuel level input certainly would be interesting if they could be implemented easily. The issue is that it requires an extra (expensive) fuel sensor. It may be possible to connect it to the OEM Fuel sensor by simply wiring it in parallel. Nonetheless, no one seems to have tried that before and I don’t want it enough to be the first.
The low-battery alarm is useful, though they could have implemented it better. Much better. Even so, it’s saved my battery a few times already.
It will send you a series of text message alerts when the battery drains down. The problem is that it only sends the message when the GPS Tracker’s battery is low – or at least that’s what I’ve figured so far. This means that it will only text you just after your battery just died, and not before. It sucks that it is not configurable, but it’s better than nothing I suppose. At least it allows me to charge the vehicle right away before I actually try to use it.
Take note, Coban! This alarm would pay for itself in saved batteries if it could send me a text message to charge the battery before the voltage dropped before 10v. It wouldn’t have been that hard to implement. Oh well. Baby steps, I suppose.
On a more pleasant note, the speed Alarm is simply amusing. I love it! I set up the unit on my vehicle to text me whenever I go above 100mph. It’s always fun to step off the bike only to find my Ninja texted me while I was riding. There’s little practical use for it – unless your son takes your bike for a ride… – but I enjoy having it.
GPS Coordinate Fencing
Similarly, the vehicle’s position can also be tracked online. There you can set up GPS Coordinate fencing, as well as a number of other features. Basically it will send you an alert whenever the bike leaves a specified area.
However the setup is complicated and I couldn’t get it to work the last time I tried. Ease of use is one point where the GPS303G GPS Tracker Alarm falls short. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you want that ability. I kinda consider it a novelty. Regrettably, it’s the type of thing that you don’t need it, until you really need it – like a theft.
The microphone feature is either a gimmick, or a lifesaver. Depending on what happens to the vehicle in its lifetime.
Given that the Coban GPS303G has both a SIM card – with a corresponding cell phone number – and a mic input, you can actually call your car to hear what’s happening around it. Or just to ask how it’s doin‘ in your spare time. That may come in handy If your vehicle someday disappears without notice. Either to help find out if the vehicle is alone, how many people are with it, or other such information. Specially if you’re considering to go full-Rambo into that dark warehouse where it’s supposed to be.
But let’s be realistic. If your car isn’t ever stolen, you’ll probably never use this feature in practice. Nonetheless, I suppose there is no harm in having it though. And it counts as an interesting feature your car has, I guess.
By the way, talking about the SIM card. Having both the MicroSD and SIM card in the interior of the alarm also makes it totally waterproof. Most other units keep the cars in a slot on the outside. That’s a godsend for motorcycles, jeeps or any other vehicle that might get a splash or two.
Internal GPS and GPRS antennas
One good thing that separates this alarm from other models is that it has integrated antennas.
Many GPS trackers out there have a separate GPS and GPRS antenna to hide. That makes installation a chore, not to mention that it adds more connections to corrode and vulnerable components to damage. I’ve had several antennas fail in the past from the horrible combination of humidity, heat and vibration.
However, if you’re going to hide the unit deep inside the bodywork where there isn’t a strong symbol, the external antennas on the GPS103B are probably preferable.
And finally there’s battery life. The sad reality is that all GPS trackers – and automotive alarms in general – are battery hogs.
Specially if they check your position frequently. And it’s only worse if it’s on the cellphone network – in order to send and receive texts – like this one. You can expect this unit to have a somewhat better battery life than your smartphone running GPS. So, not a lot. You will need to keep an eye on battery life with any alarm installed.
Basically that means putting your vehicle on a battery tender if you aren’t going to use it for a week or two. That goes double for motorcycles, with their tiny batteries. Though that’s a general recommendation for any motorcyclist anyway.
For reference, the Coban GPS Tracker Alarm GPS303G only has a 500mAh internal battery. Your average cellphone has three times that. The good news is that it will keep working (and reporting) even if the vehicle’s battery is disconnected. The bad news is that the internal battery won’t last too long. Thankfully, it does have low-power modes to help remedy all of that. Not all (or even many) GPS trackers do.
While operating at full functionality, the GPS303G / TK303G consumes about 60-100mA. Thanks to this unit having sleep mode, that can drop down to around 10mA or even less. It depends on how you configure it. Around 10mA is what your typical cheap non-GPS auto alarm consumes. In other words, sleep mode makes a big difference in battery life.
As far as what the sleep mode does, essentially it can turn off the GPS under certain conditions. Like if it detects the bike isn’t moving or hasn’t been touched. That vastly improves battery life or units like the GPS103B, which doesn’t have sleep-mode. You even have the option of “Deep-Sleep” to further reduce current-draw, at the expense of turning off GPRS.
These units are so complex that it is impossible to go through all of the specs and features in a brief review. And that’s something that still amazes me, considering how low they sell for.
Hopefully that’s enough – I suspect too much – of an overview to leave most people without any major questions left about this unit.
And what about the cons?
Certainly an electronic device this complex and this cheap has to be a nightmare. Right?
Well…like most things in life, it depends. The Coban GPS Tracker Alarm GPS303G certainly isn’t the most user-friendly unit around. Using it can get a bit technical. And most of the commands are via SMS messages, using codes. It’s not great, but I got used to it soon enough. Basically, it isn’t for you if you’re not a technical person. But if you’d know how to install it, you shouldn’t have trouble using it.
Reliability-wise, it’s likely to be either DOA, or it should work. Besides that I haven’t found much issues with reliability. And considering that it has a quick-connect plug and costs about 40 bucks, if it ever gives you trouble, just replace it without a second thought.
Then there’s wiring. Whether the fact that this alarm doesn’t blink the turn signal lights is okay or not is up to you. It surprised me, but truth be told, it doesn’t change much. And it’s two less wires to connect. I can live with it. It won’t remote-start the engine either, something I’m completely fine with.
The only other complaint that comes to mind is how the engine-cutoff works. Rather than using an internal latching relay, it just grounds the output. I’d prefer if it disconnected the engine whenever the alarm was armed. My old 2-way alarm used to do it and it was nice to have. Plus, it would certainly improve theft-resistance. Hopefully they consider doing so on a future model.
GPS303G & TK303G Wiring Diagram
Here’s the wiring diagram for the alarm, in case you’re curious. Not all wires are required for installation.
Coban GPS303G Manufacturer Spec List
- Multiple tracking methods
- Track by SMS with latitude and longitude.
- Real-time tracking via SMS with a link to the vehicle’s position on Google Maps.
- Compatibility with live tracking in an app.
- Built-in GSM and GPS antennas.
- The unit supports both GPS and LBS (Location Based Service).
- Compatible with SMS/GPRS/Internet network data transmission.
- The GPS tracker can be configured and set-up remotely via SMS messages.
- Multiple other security, tracking, monitoring, emergency alarms and management functions
- Main GPS303G Specifications
- Compatible with voltages between 9-40V.
- Compact and IP66-waterproof housing.
- GPS blind-spot alert available.
- Multi power-saving modes
- Time/shock-sensor triggered sleep
- Time-specific awakening settings
- GPRS low-traffic mode
- Anti-theft GSM alarms
- Movement alarm
- Geo-fence alarm
- Over-speed alarm
- External battery disconnection alarm
- Low-battery alarm
- Fuel alarm (optional accessory)
- Alarms under the “armed” state: ACC/movement alarms
- Remote engine kill switch compatible.
- Supports a micro SD for geo-logging purposes.
- Built-in memory for 16,000 positions.
- Built-in 500mA polymer backup battery.
- Absolute street address via SMS available.
Coban GPS Tracker Alarm GPS303G Manual
If you would like to see the original instructions and user guide for more details, take a look here for the pdf:
Also, here’s a link to Coban’s official page on the GPS303G. As you can see, Coban is the manufacturer and their business model really seems to be about getting their unit rebranded.
Note – Get a replacement remote before you need it
One really important note, if you ever do get one.
These alarms only come with one remote. If you lose the remote, you’ll have no recourse but to buy a whole new unit with a new remote. I highly suggest buying an extra remote or two and keeping the original remote as a spare. And by that I mean before you need it.
They only cost a few dollars and can easily be configured. I actually made a DIY on that topic. Just to make sure it’s properly documented somewhere on the inter-webs. Click here to see how to program a Coban GPS Tracker Replacement Remote.
So is the Coban GPS Tracker/Alarm GPS303G a good alarm? I think so. It certainly isn’t the best alarm out there, but considering its price I doubt you’ll find anything better for the money – And if you do, I wanna hear about it below! Seriously.
Anyway, thanks for reading this review on the GPS303G/TK303G! If you found this interesting, consider subscribing. Or check out what other projects I’ve been up to — here are a few that might make you curious: