How to Charge a Motorcycle Battery and When to Do It?
Motorcycles, like many gasoline-powered vehicles today, require a powerful battery to keep the headlights, starter, and other electrical elements running. Although they have alternators to charge up the batteries while the motorcycle is running, there is still the occasional need for manual battery charging and other battery maintenance. If you don’t know how to charge a motorcycle battery, then you’ve landed on the right page.
I want to introduce you to the basics of recharging your motorcycle battery, so you will be more prepared to do this simple maintenance task when it’s needed and to know when it needs to be done.
Do All Motorcycle Batteries Need Charging?
The batteries you most often hear about with regards to recharging are the lead-acid batteries. Lithium phosphate batteries may also need charging occasionally, though not in the same was as lead-acid batteries. Also, lead-acid is the more common type of battery found on most motorcycles today.
Not every motorcycle will need the battery to be manually charged. If you operate the bike every day for a reasonable amount of time or if you take long trips fairly frequently than you will most likely not need to recharge the battery yourself unless something goes wrong with it. You may need to do some other maintenance to keep it in top shapes, such as topping up the battery fluid.
How to Tell When Your Battery Should Be Charged?
Motorcycle batteries will often charge themselves when you go for long rides frequently enough. You can tell that a battery needs to be charged if the lights on your bike are dimming and the motor is hard to start.
If your battery has been sitting unused for a long time, it is highly likely that you’ll need to re-charge the battery. Motorcycle batteries lose charge slowly as they sit unused. If you ride regularly this is not the case, although you may still need to re-charge the battery manually if you only take short rides. Bikes that are put into storage will usually need to have their batteries charged before they can be used again.
How to Charge a Motorcycle Battery?
These are the steps you need to take to charge your motorcycle battery:
1. Safety Gear
Batteries can be dangerous if handled improperly. There is the battery acid inside the cells as well as the potential for sparks; both of these can be very damaging to you. Prepare yourself with the proper safety gear, including gloves, eye protection, and long sleeves.
You should be working with the battery on a flat, open surface without any fire hazards around you. When a battery is charging, it is far more susceptible to fires than any other time, so you need to be careful that no sparks, flames, cigarettes, or similar things are nearby the battery.
2. Remove the Battery from the Bike
Once you are safely prepared to handle the battery, you have to remove it from the motorcycle. Wait until it’s cooled down before removing it, as it might burn you otherwise. It’s a good idea to clean off the battery once you remove it, as there can be a lot of dirt and dust built up around it that shouldn’t be allowed to enter into the battery itself.
3. Top Up the Fluids
If your battery is new, you may need to fill it to the marked lines with the proper type of acid. Otherwise, you should be topping it up occasionally with distilled water (no plain tap water!) to keep it at the right levels inside the cells. This will help the battery to hold the level of charge it’s supposed to instead of going dead too soon.
4. Attach the Charger
If you’ve topped it up, it’s time to attach the charging hooks to the battery. There should be a positive and a negative port on the battery, with corresponding positive and negative hooks from the charging machine itself. Make sure you get these right, or else it won’t charge at all!
You can now turn on the charger and begin charging the battery.
5. Cool and Replace the Battery
If the battery has reached a full charge, you can remove the charging machine and allow it to cool. Do not try to replace the battery while it’s heated. If it’s cooled down, you can now replace it on your motorcycle and operate it as usual.
Here’s a helpful video about charging a motorcycle battery:
Keeping the Charge for Longer
If you’re storing your bike, you can purchase a suspended charging device that will keep it at full charge without overcharging the battery. Batteries held at full charge have a longer lifespan than those held at lower levels of charge.
Doing this and keeping the interior cell acid levels topped up should extend the useful life of your battery for longer than negligent, occasional maintenance.
Hopefully, I have explained how to charge a motorcycle battery well enough that you can go and do it for yourself now. These instructions apply to almost every bike, although certain models may have their own kinks that you have to deal with. Happy riding!
What do you think of this guide? Do I leave anything out or do you have anything to say? I’d love to hear about it below in the comments!