As a motorcycle owner, you are bound to suffer from a dead battery at least once for one reason or the other.
With that in mind, it’s important to learn how to charge a motorcycle battery.
The article below outlines the factors to consider when getting a battery charger and the various ways you can charge your motorcycle.
How Often Should You Charge a Motorcycle Battery?
Your bike’s functioning depends heavily on your battery because it powers everything from the electrical ignition to the lights.
If you let your motorcycle completely discharge you’ll remain with a battery that won’t start.
If you regularly ride your bike you can avoid such situations because the motorcycle will automatically recharge the battery.
Because the alternator creates an alternating current that powers the electrical system and charges the battery.
However, if you leave your motorcycle unattended for prolonged periods, the battery will begin to discharge.
If given enough time while idle, the battery may completely discharge, leaving you with a dead battery.
So it’s important to charge your battery if you plan on leaving it idle for a long time.
Ideally you should charge your motorcycle battery at least once every month.
In case you have an older battery whereby its performance naturally deteriorates over time, you might have to charge your motorcycle battery a bit more regularly.
How To Charge a Motorcycle Battery
At some point as a rider you’ll suffer from a dead or flat battery and need to recharge your battery.
Using a Battery Charger
- Determine your battery type by referring to the user’s manual or checking the battery for any printed information.
- If you have a gel or lead acid battery it’s best to use a smart, trickle, or float charger. Although trickle chargers are easier to use you have to manually turn off the charger unless you risk overcharging your battery. With float and smart chargers, this isn’t the case as they can automatically turn off once you charge the battery fully.
- Depending on the manufacturer lithium batteries need a special charger. Refer to the manual to determine the charger you should get for your lithium battery.
- Eject the battery from the motorcycle. Avoid charging your battery connected to the bike as you risk damaging other components. Removing the battery might be a bit tricky; therefore refer to the manual. However, the most important thing to remember when disconnecting the terminals is to first remove the negative followed by the positive.
- Next, connect the battery charger. Ensure you securely connect the battery to the charger to avoid any complications. If you don’t have a smart charger to constantly monitor your battery, make sure you turn it off immediately when you fully charge the battery. Overcharging the battery affects its health and reduces its lifespan.
- If you don’t have a smart charger you’ll need to perform a voltage test using a multimeter to determine if your battery has been fully charged. The battery should measure about 12.73V to indicate it’s fully charged or between 12.06 to 12.62 to notify you it needs to charge for a bit longer.
- Once the battery is full, disconnect the charger from the battery and connect the battery back to your motorcycle.
Jump Starting the Battery
- Get yourself a pair of jumper cables.
- If you’re jump starting your motorcycle using another bike, turn it on. This process is very similar to jump starting a car battery with another battery, although with bikes you have to first turn on the working motorcycle.
- Connect the positive clamp (red) to the positive terminal of the dead bike. Followed by connecting the negative clamp (black) to the frame of the dead motorcycle.
- Next, connect the opposing positive clamp (red) to the corresponding positive terminal of the working battery. Followed by connecting the negative clamp (black) to the corresponding negative terminal.
- Start your bike. If it doesn’t immediately start, give the engine some time to warm up.
- Lastly, disconnect the jumper cables. Ensure to first remove the black cable from the working bike and then the dead bike. Do the same for the positive.
Caption: Jumper Cables
Push Starting the Motorcycle
- Ensure the battery is the reason your motorcycle won’t start.
- Find the best position to push start your bike if you have assistance a flat surface will do. However, if you’re on your own, it’s best to go downhill.
- Set the motorcycle in the 2nd or 3rd gear for a smoother start. The first gear isn’t ideal for push starting because it will cause the bike to jerk around.
- Press the clutch and roll the bike.
- Once the bike reaches a jogging pace you can release the clutch. Don’t release too soon and it’s better to release it when the bike is moving at a quick speed. If the bike fails to start you can try pushing the bike a bit faster.
- Immediately the bike starts, change the gear to neutral and keep pumping the throttle to ensure the engine doesn’t die.
Charging the Motorcycle With a Jump Starter
- Find the battery.
- Ensure you have fully charged or plugged in your jump starter.
- Connect the jumper cables to the respective terminals in order from positive to negative.
- Once connect everything properly, turn on the jump starter.
- After roughly 2 minutes start the bike, if the engine fails to start, give the battery some more time to charge.
- Shut down the jump starter.
- Remove the jumper cables in reverse order from negative to positive.
What Type of Battery Charger Do You Need
It’s important to ensure you have the right charger before you begin to charge your battery.
With that in mind below are a few factors to consider when deciding on the right charger for your battery.
The higher the amp rating of the charger the faster it will charge your battery.
For instance, a 2Ah charger that sends two amps of power per hour will take four hours and thirty minutes to charge a nine-amp battery.
Although getting a charger with a higher amp rating means you get quicker charge time, it will damage your battery over time, reducing its lifespan.
Normally motorcycles use either a 6V or 12V battery and the charger’s voltage should match the battery’s voltage.
For instance, if you have a 12V battery you should use a 12V charger.
You can check your battery’s voltage by checking the user’s manual or inspecting the top of the battery for any printed indication.
Type of Battery
From lead acid to lithium batteries, there are various types of batteries. Therefore, it’s important to get a battery charger that’s compatible with your motorcycle battery.
Often referred to as fully manual chargers, trickle chargers are the most basic type of battery charger.
Without the proper application, trickle chargers can be wasteful because they provide a constant flow of power to your battery.
Therefore, they can damage a battery by supplying it with unnecessary power.
Ensure you keep an eye on your battery when using a trickle charger and unplug the charger immediately when you fully charge the battery.
Unlike trickle chargers, float chargers have an inbuilt sensor that detects the charging state.
Therefore, you don’t have to worry about damaging your battery by overcharging it because the charger automatically turns off once the battery fully charges.
Smart Chargers are the most advanced and modern type of battery chargers.
The design comes with a monitoring meter that supervises the charge rate and adjusts itself to maintain optimal rates.
Also, they come with a desulfation mode that uses a series of electrical pulses to get rid of any buildup of sulfur on the plates of a lead battery.
Similar to float chargers, smart chargers are able to commence charging once you connect your battery and it detects an electric charge.
However, if previously your battery was completely discharged the charger won’t recognize the battery because it won’t detect an electrical charge.
Therefore, you’ll first have to use a trickle to charge your battery just enough for it to send an electrical charge then hook it up to your smart charger.
FAQ About How To Charge a Motorcycle Battery
In case you encounter any issues below are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to charge a motorcycle battery.
Can You Jump Start a Motorcycle With a Car?
Manufacturers will advise you against trying to jump a motorcycle battery using a car.
A car’s charging system is more powerful than that of a motorcycle and it provides too much current for a motorcycle battery to absorb.
However, you can jump start your bike’s battery using a car by connecting the battery to the car’s battery without turning on the car.
Allow the battery a few minutes to recharge and confirm the bike’s voltage before reconnecting it back.
Can I Charge The Battery By Leaving The Bike Idle?
It is highly ineffective because your battery can’t charge up to full capacity.
When idle alternators push the bare minimum of 1 amp of power to the battery which is not enough to make a difference.
Motorcycles are capable of charging the battery while riding. In fact, a 30-minute ride on your bike should be enough to fully charge your battery.
What are The Symptoms of a Dead Motorcycle Battery?
A dead battery can’t power your bike therefore when you turn on the ignition nothing happens.
Also, another common issue riders face is having a flat battery which isn’t technically dead, meaning that when you turn on the bike the battery might power the lights but you’ll get just a dim.
Sometimes power from a flat battery is enough to start your engine however, your motorcycle will likely fail almost immediately.
When this happens you’ll either have to charge the battery or jump-start it.
How Long Does It Take To Charge a Motorcycle Battery?
Your motorcycle’s charge time depends on the amount of power depleted before, the charger you have, and whether the battery is sulfated or not.
Sulfated batteries simply refer to the chemical version of clogging and therefore your battery could take days to fully charge as your charger goes through a number of charging cycles.
In some cases, the battery might be too sulfated to reverse it and therefore can’t charge.
It would typically take 4 to 12 hours to fully charge a flat battery.
How Long Can I Leave a Bike Without The Battery Going Flat?
A decent standard motorcycle battery should be able to last a month without going flat.
However, this is entirely dependent on two factors; how old the battery is and whether your bike has a tracker or alarm.
If your battery is over five years old then it won’t retain its charge as well as a newer battery would.
Also, if your bike has an alarm or tracker that is drawing power from the battery it could cause your battery to lose power a bit quicker.
There you have it, all you need to know about battery chargers from the various types of battery chargers to the various methods you can use to recharge your battery.
If you have any queries feel free to contact Cloom Tech.