Motorbike batteries are not exactly reliable. Everything may be fine during the riding season but as soon as winter comes, problems arise. This is the time where you keep the bike stored, and the battery starts to discharge. I’m guessing something similar happened to you, so you want to find out how to charge a motorcycle battery. If you don’t have a dead battery, following this guide will show you how to charge it.
A motorcycle battery can be charged with the right charger. Remove the battery and charge it. It can be charged by using cables to jumpstart. Push-starting is another way to get the battery to start.
This is all very situational, so we need to dive deeper. We’ll explain each method step by step.
Using A Battery Charger
The most preferred method to charge a bike battery is to use a battery charger. There are a couple of reasons why experienced bike owners have a charger in storage. First of all, having a charger on hand allows you to keep the battery charged during the winter. Jumpstarting sometimes isn’t effective. And, lastly, you can be away while the battery is charging.
So, even if you don’t choose this method right now, I highly recommend getting a charger for the future. Here’s how to use a battery charger.
- Find out the battery model. You can’t just use any type of charger. The charger must have the right battery terminals, voltage, etc. So, finding out what kind of battery you have is the first thing to do. Most lead-acid batteries can be connected to any universal charger, it’s the same with gel and absorbed glass models. A lithium-based battery requires a different type though. The smartest thing to do is find out what the battery manufacturer recommends.
- Get the right type of charger. Now that you know your battery type, there are a variety of chargers you can use. The most popular are trickle chargers. These convert AC power into DC and work with most 20-amp battery types. Another choice is a battery tender(float chargers), we have mentioned this before. A battery tender maintains a constant power flow into the battery. Or, opt for a smart charger that will monitor the voltage and decrease the flow of power when needed. If you have a lithium battery, check the manual.
- Remove the battery. Do not charge the battery while connected to the bike, I can’t stress this enough. Faults with the electrical grid can lead to damage to the battery. Many other problems can occur, so removing the battery is the way to go. Removing it can be complicated though. First, remove the cable to the negative terminal. Then, disconnect the cable to the positive terminal. In the end, remove the battery by removing the straps that hold it. Doing it this way is the safest.
- Charging the battery. This step should be easy enough. There are a couple of dos and don’ts that you should know. The place where you’ll be charging should be ventilated. When overcharged, batteries release hydrogen gas, hydrogen sulfide exactly which is flammable. Do this outside or in a well-ventilated area(open garage). Make sure the positive cable and the negative cable are connected to the right terminals. Allow the battery to charge. If you have a special charger for a lithium battery, read the instructions thoroughly.
- Put the battery back in. There’s a rule of thumb you should follow here too. Place the battery in its place and attach the straps. Then, connect the positive cable to the positive post first. The negative post should be second.
Buy The Chargers
That’s it, your battery should be all charged up. Remember though, you may have a dead battery. If so, you can’t be helped here, you need a new battery.
Jump-Starting A Bike
Now, this method can cause a debate among riders. Some people noticed that newer bike models shouldn’t be jump-started. The reason being, there are a lot of issues that can occur to the electrical grid while you’re starting a bike with a bad battery.
So, the problem is with starting the bike with a half-empty battery. Well, battery charging is possible without starting the bike. You can leave the cables to fill up the charge, then finish with a trickle charger.
Anyways, here’s how to jump-start a motorcycle battery using jumper cables.
Note: Jumper cables have two cables, the black clamp, and the red clamp. The black clamp is connected to the – terminal and the red one to the + terminal.
- Turn off the car you’ll be using as power. If you’re using another bike, you’ll need to turn it on. Car batteries are far stronger, so turning it off ensures your battery won’t burn out.
- Connect clamps. To avoid any trouble read this carefully. Start by connecting the red clamps to the dead motorcycle battery positive terminal. Then, connect the red clamp to the working battery + terminal. Lastly, do the same with the black cable on the – terminal.
- Try starting the bike. Your bike should be able to start now. If the battery is too empty, you may need to leave the cables connected for a period of time. A dead battery won’t start anyway.
- Disconnect clamps. Removing the jumper cables should be done a certain way. Start with the black clamp of the running battery first, then on the empty one. Proceed with the red cable after that.
- Let the bike run. Don’t turn off the bike right after starting it. The battery needs to be fully charged.
Push-Starting A Bike
This method is when you don’t have jumper cables and a battery charger. The last resort if you will. If you’re going to be starting the bike like this, make sure everything is working except the battery.
- Gather friends or find a slope. You’ll be pushing the bike so it can get some running energy. If you have people that can help you, this can be done on a flat road. You can do this by yourself if you’re on a slope, just let gravity do its work.
- Mount the bike with your feet on the ground. The full mount will not help here, powerwalking is the way to go.
- Switch into 2nd Gear. Switching into 2nd gear will make the bike move easily.
- Hold clutch while pushing. You’ll need to reach a certain speed so the bike can start. Hold the clutch tight until you reach that speed.
- Release clutch to start. Once you’ve reached jogging speed, release the clutch. The bike should start with the release.
- Repeat if unsuccessful.
We’ve covered the 3 methods. Try whatever you’re comfortable with. I recommend using a charger. Either way, you need to find out why your battery discharged in the first place.
What Kills A Motorcycle Battery
Let me explain what I’ll be doing here. We’ll be covering reasons why you may have a dead battery. In addition, I’ll also cover cases where the battery is not exactly dead but it keeps discharging. These are the situations where just recharging won’t help you much. You must find the source of the problem.
- Bad battery terminals. One reason why your battery keeps dying, or it appears like that, is a bad terminal connection. The battery posts may be damaged or corroded. In cases like this, either the bike won’t start at all, or the whole electronics will be messed up.
- Too much or too powerful electrical equipment. If you added an electrical handle that is too much for the battery capacity, your battery will keep dying. This equipment will interfere with the charging process if you don’t remove the battery.
- Leak circuit. Another reason why you keep finding a flat battery is a leak circuit that just keeps drawing power. A piece of electrical equipment may be the source and you’re not noticing.
- A bad rectifier. The rectifier converts power that the battery can’t otherwise store. If it’s gone wrong, the battery isn’t receiving power basically.
- Old battery. And, the things no one wants to hear, a battery dying because of old age. The average battery life ranges from 2-4 years. Lithium-Ion batteries should last more because they can handle a bigger amount of discharge. A gel battery for example can handle only 50% discharge. Anyways, an old battery should be replaced, the cells are probably half-dead.
Things You Want To Know About Motorcycle Batteries
- A battery tender, also known as a float charger is a must-have piece of battery maintainers. This device will keep your battery topped off while you’re not riding. It works on most types of batteries, and it’s the best way to ensure the battery doesn’t die during the winter.
- Get a smart charger if you’re worried about the charge rate. Charging a flat battery too fast can cause irreparable damage. Smart chargers have a slow charge option that eliminates the risk of damage, ensuring a healthy battery. Also, automatic desulfation mode is a thing with smart chargers, so you don’t need to worry about the flammable gases.
- Every battery has an optimal charge level. Exceeding this charge level will damage the cells. There’s also a discharge limit before the battery goes bad.
- Having a regular charger(trickle) helps after the winter months end.
- If your batteries keep dying during the winter, Lithium-Ion batteries will help.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
How Long To Charge A Battery
It depends on the type of battery. It usually takes 6-24 hours. The last few percentages take the longest to charge. Get a smart charger to monitor the charging process.
Do Motorcycle Batteries Charge While Idling
Yes, the battery will charge while idling because power is being converted into AC. However, the battery chargers more while riding at high speeds.
How Long Can I Leave A Trickle Charger On My Motorcycle
A battery connected to a trickle charger generates heat. That heat is not dangerous for the first 16 hours. So, you should take out the trickle after 16 hours.
Is It Safe To Leave A Trickle Charger On Overnight
I don’t recommend leaving a trickle on overnight. The trickle is considered a manual charger, so it needs constant supervision.