All bikers wind up with dead batteries. If it happens while out riding, you likely left the lights on and drained the battery. The other common way a battery dies is a natural death. That happens when the battery cannot hold enough charge to turn over your bike. You might get one or two more starts with a quick charge, but replacement is the only permanent solution. You can test the electrical system to determine the cause of battery failure.
You can cure the situation with either an emergency charge or a longer trickle charge. You can do an emergency charge on a motorcycle battery that has a low charge. You need a battery of the same voltage. Most modern motorcycles use 12-volt batteries. You can do a cold jump with a car battery with the car’s engine off.
The engine has to be off to prevent the car’s charging system from damaging the motorcycle’s ECM. Just attach the jumper cables accordingly from the car battery to the motorcycle. Once attached, give the motorcycle starter a try. You also could try to bump-start the motorcycle if the battery is just slightly too low to start it. The motorcycle alternator will charge it after a push start.
Determine Battery Construction Type
Before you try to charge or replace a motorcycle battery, you need to know its type. Motorcycles use either a 6-volt or a 12-volt electrical system and battery. Most 6-volt batteries are on older street bikes and dirt bikes. Most motorcycles sold in recent years use a 12-volt battery. You need to determine battery construction type and then use the correct charger.
If you do not know the basics of a motorcycle battery, they are virtually the same as car batteries. You have several internal cells containing acid and a lead core that causes a chemical reaction that creates electricity. The acid might be a liquid or a gel-type substance. A positive metal post and a negative metal post connect to the bike’s electrical system. Then it delivers the juice needed to start and keep electrical parts working.
Select Corresponding Charger
Two types of battery chargers will charge a motorcycle battery. Regardless of which you have, you must select the corresponding charger type to proceed. A float charger takes at least a few hours and slowly raises the charge level over several hours and then maintains it. They usually are inexpensive and work best when you remove the battery.
You just plug it into a standard electrical outlet and then connect the positive and then negative cables to the corresponding battery posts. Many have switches that let you select either 6-volt or 12-volt charges.
The other type of battery charger is a jump starter. A jump starter is an electrical pack that you charge at home and will hold a charge until needed. You should be able to adjust between a 6-volt and a 12-volt charge. Some might only charge 12-volt batteries because those are the most commonly used.
Test Electrical System to Determine Cause of Battery Failure
Before you try charging your battery, you need to know why it lost its charge. If the key is in the ignition and in the “on” position, you left the lights on and drained it. Another common cause is a loose fastener attaching a cable to the battery. A quick tightening should fix it. If not, you need to trace the circuit and test the electrical system to determine the cause of battery failure.
If your battery has been in your bike for two years or less and used regularly, it should take and hold a suitable charge. You can remove it and test it to see if it takes a full charge. If not, you need to replace it. If the battery is at least three years old, odds are it no longer will take or hold a full charge and is dead.
Battery stores, automotive stores that sell batteries, and motorcycle dealerships will test your battery free of charge. That will tell you how much of a charge it will take and whether or not you need to replace it.
Different Types of New Batteries
Many quality batteries are available at a variety of prices. Most makers offer 12-volt and some 6-volt batteries with either wet, gel, or absorbed glass mat (AGM) systems. You need to determine the battery construction type to proceed. The AGM systems often are more affordable than the gel counterparts. They require you to add acid solution and wait at least an hour for the charge to build. Then you install it and go for a ride.
The gel batteries do not require charging. They already are charged from the gel insert. They also last a year or two longer than wet batteries. If you have an older motorcycle with a 6-volt battery, it just might be an old-fashioned wet battery, although most were upgraded to AGM.
No matter what type of battery you need, you can find good replacements online. Our specialists at 2Wheel are available to help with your battery needs.