Motorcycle Batteries – Everything You Wanted to Know, and More

Motorcycle batteries are simple to take care of with a little help, and this simple helpful guide will answer many of your battery questions (FAQs).

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Table of Contents

Why does my motorcycle battery keep dying?

First, you will need to work out when the battery is draining, working out what is causing the power drainage.

This fault could be due to one of the following reasons:

  1. Lack of riding time to charge the battery. Your battery needs a charge going in to keep working. A battery that is not getting more charge than it is using/requires will not keep working.
  2. Lights or gadgets left plugged in that will slowly drain the battery. We have all been guilty of leaving something plugged in that we should not have.
  3. The battery is not charging correctly during a ride. If the battery is not gaining a suitable charge when it should be, we need to determine why. 

Here are a few possibilities why it could be:

  1. Faulty Battery – No matter how good the charge level being sent to the battery is, it will not hold the charge if the battery is defective.
  2. Faulty Charging System – A defective charging system will not get the desired charge to the battery.
  3. Parasitic Draw – This is when an abnormal continuous discharge of power occurs after shutting off the engine. This parasitic draw is typically caused by a short circuit or an electrical device that remains in the “on” position.
  4. Damaged Wiring – Faulty wiring can be a simple fault but often more difficult to find. Luckily with current meters, technology will give you a helping hand to locate the breakage causing you problems.

How long should a motorcycle battery last?

Most of your standard battery manufacturers would advise that, on average, your motorcycle battery should last you in the region of 48 months. My research for this article indicates that in most cases, the battery lasts about 36 months. This early premature failure mainly appears to be chalked up due to a motorcycle owner’s lack of battery maintenance. To me, this is quite shocking when a simple bit of effort will save you money.

How often should a motorcycle battery be replaced?

Well, according to manufacturers, this should be around the 48-month mark. However, as already mentioned above, the battery life is typically in the 36-month range. As long as your battery is working well and carrying out the proper maintenance needed to keep it in prim and proper working condition, then anything beyond 36 months is a bonus.

Does riding a motorcycle charge battery?

Yes, motorcycles charge the battery anytime while the engine is running. This charging is whether you are riding the bike or allowing it to sit there idling. This motorbike battery charging is the same as when a car charges the battery, and the regulator carries out the charge.

How do I bring my motorcycle battery back to life?

First, use a charger on low, allowing the battery to charge until the charger indicator says complete. At this point, turn the charger off, remove the cables, and replace the cell caps. The battery can now be refitted back in the motorcycle, but make sure the connectors are securely seated. The battery should currently generally operate until another recharging session is required.

The above again in brief for quick reference:

  1. Remove battery.
  2. Fit charger and turn on.
  3. Wait until fully charged.
  4. Turn off and remove charger cables.
  5. Refit the battery into the motorcycle.
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How To Maintain Your Battery and battery Charge

Battery maintenance has been covered above in how to charge them. Luckily, most batteries won’t require a lot of attention, so taking the following steps will improve your battery life.

  1. Cleanliness: Batteries need to be clean and dirt-free whenever possible. If the battery is not kept clean regularly, it can lead to a short across the terminals. This short itself leads to a battery drain in a matter of hours. Please keep it clean by wiping the battery case down occasionally with a damp rag. More effort will be required if often ridden in dusty and muddy conditions.
  2. Terminals – Keep the terminals clean, dry, and check they are tightly fitted. A light coating of electric grease, or a similar product, will help protect them from the daily elements.
  3. Wet cell battery – If your motorbike uses a wet cell battery, you will regularly need to check the electrolyte levels and at least monthly. Top it up using bottled distilled water whenever the level drops to the add more line marker.
  4. Frequency of usage – If the bike is not used regularly, frequently, or daily, I would advise that you keep the battery plugged into a tender. Batteries will last longer and will work best when they have been marked as close to fully charged as possible. Once depleted, the battery will require more effort to maintain future charge levels, and I have found that battery life is diminished.

Why do motorcycle batteries die so fast?

All too often, motorcycle batteries fail simply due to owner neglect. Dehydration, improper charging procedures, and even a slow discharge during storage all shorten a battery’s life. Disconnecting the battery and storing it is not a good idea because batteries will self-discharge if there is no load on the charge. For a few minutes of your time now and then, you can easily maintain your battery life. Take a minute to consider and remember how you felt when you last found you had a flat battery. Would you instead rather preserve the charge and enjoy a spur of the moment ride in the sun, or will you moan about the missed chance because you were lazy?

How do you know if your motorcycle battery is bad?

If your kickstand is up, and the motorbike won’t start, then the starter switch may be faulty. Other factors to consider when checking the battery is at fault are:

  • Check if your headlight comes on.
  • Check your horn sounds normal. 

A dead battery is unlikely if the above is working fine. If it were the battery, you would discover weak or nonfunctioning both lights and bike horns.

How often should you charge a motorcycle battery?

For a healthy battery, a full maintenance guide should include a charge once every 30 days at a minimum. This regular charging is because lead-acid batteries have high self-discharge rates. Your battery could be losing 0.5-1% of their charge every day they sit still unused.

How long does a motorcycle battery last without starting?

A newer battery should last months without being started or receiving a trickle feed from a charger. I wouldn’t recommend it being left unused and the charge draining away. Maintaining the electrical charge level is more manageable than starting from scratch, and as I mentioned earlier, the battery life is generally shortened if it ends up depleted.

How often should you start your motorcycle?

As a motorcycle owner, I suggest you start and run your motorcycle for at least 15-30 minutes every week. This is especially so during the winter colder months. Taking your bike out for a run will keep the engine components correctly lubricated. This also helps eliminate condensation buildup and helps the carburetor not to clog up. These are great reasons, and obviously, you get to recharge the battery.

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Can a motorcycle battery just simply die?

Providing you look after it and follow what I have discussed earlier in this article; the battery will continue to function correctly for more than three years. However, if the motorcycle battery is not used and you leave it to sit there in your garage, it will lose its capacity. This will provide you with zero battery charge available to power your motorcycle when you want it. Every time the battery dies, it causes some permanent damage, making your battery lose some of its ability to charge and reducing the battery’s overall life.

How do I check for a battery drain on my motorcycle?

Here is my simplified step by step guide in checking for the battery drain:

  • The first step in checking is to remove the negative battery cable. 
  • Place your volt-ohm meter in the current mode (amps). 
  • With the motorcycle key firmly in the off position, place the meter’s leads between the negative line and the battery’s negative terminal. 
  • The current draw should be zero, but a small drain on the order of a few milliamps is acceptable.

Can you leave a trickle charger on all the time?

Some trickle chargers advise they can be left on a battery almost indefinitely. This could perhaps be a good idea for a vehicle that is not used regularly, especially for the wintertime. However, I would recommend short spells of regularly charging rather than the long term. Before doing so, I would recommend that you refer to the handbook for the motorcycle and battery itself. You may wish to confirm the safety factors.

Does a motorcycle battery charge while idling?

Technically speaking, yes, a motorcycle battery does charge while it is idling. Although it does, it does not provide as much amperage as when the motorcycle is at higher speeds, so if I were you, I would use this as an excellent excuse to go for a ride. 

What voltage should I charge my motorcycle battery?

Typically, the battery should read 12.6 volts (12.8 volts with Sulphate Stop) or higher when charged. Other batteries may have slightly higher voltage readings after a full charge, and you can confirm by referring to the user manual. Do Not attempt to overcharge, as this will only cause long term damage.

How long can I leave a trickle charger on my motorcycle battery?

Refer to the manual handbook for guidance, but I would limit it to four hours first and then check the charge level. Once you reach maximum charge, you gain nothing from the trickle, so remove it. Organize yourself and top up the electrical charge level regularly rather than just sticking it on a trickle charge. Long term, the battery may start to dry out and deteriorate using the trickle method. 

Can I charge my motorcycle battery without disconnecting it?

Yes, you can charge the battery without disconnecting it from the motorcycle. If you decide to disconnect the battery, you should always remove the negative (black) first. This step in disconnecting prevents any potential sparks to earth as you undo the positive. It also stops you from getting a possible electrical shock.

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Is it wrong to let a motorcycle idle?

Letting your motorcycle idle isn’t precisely bad or wrong, but you’re better off just letting your motorcycle sit. Allowing the bike to idle will use up more fuel and cause unnecessary pollution. Riding the bike a fair distance is better for it and more naturally charges the battery for you. Plus it is more fun! Let those pistons do some work for you and put a smile back on your face.

What does BS mean on a motorcycle battery?

The BS means Battery Sealed. A sealed battery is one that’s filled with acid and is manufacture sealed after filling. It can be used in any orientation, and this offers easier maintenance for the bike owner. Regular charging regimes are recommended to maintain battery life long term.

Will a motorcycle stay running if you disconnect the battery?

The battery runs the motor, so if you disconnect the battery with the bike in idle mode, the engine will slowly die. The battery charging system doesn’t “come online” until around 2200rpm. Maximum output is typically reached at around 2500rpm for the battery.

How do you tell if your battery is being drained?

Here is a quick step by step guide to tell if your battery is being drained:

  • Remove the negative cable from the battery. 
  • Place the test light between the post and the ground wire. 
  • If the light illuminates, you have a draw. 
  • Use the fuse pull method to find the draw location.
  • You have found the draw location pulling on the battery when the light goes out.

Can a bad stator drain a battery?

If the stator is not providing enough power, then your battery will begin to drain. Readings over 1.5 Ohms are an indication that the stator is faulty. You will need to check to make sure nothing is going to ground. You can do this by connecting the red lead to the connector and the black lead to the battery’s negative terminal.

Why is my motorcycle battery not holding a charge?

If a battery is not staying charged, then the problem is most likely there is a problem charging, a drain on the battery, or only a bad battery. My advice would be first to test the charging voltage. The next step is to check for an excessive draw on the battery, as discussed earlier in this article. Careful monitoring will hopefully solve the issue.

What keeps a motorcycle battery charged?

The battery charging system consists of three main components: 

  • The battery
  • The alternator
  • The regulator/rectifier. 

Your motorcycle battery stores electrical energy for later use and acts as a buffer for the bike’s electrical system. The alternator itself creates alternating currents to both help run the motorcycle and charge the battery.

How long will it take to charge a 12v motorcycle battery?

A 12-volt motorcycle battery will require at least 6 hours and perhaps up to 24 hours, depending on the current charge level. 

With a brand new lead-acid, 12-volt battery using a constant charge will take 5 – 8 hours to reach 70% and another 7 – 10 hours to get to full capacity. The battery is then ready to re-install on the motorbike when you are ready.

Should you charge a new motorcycle battery?

Yes, new batteries should be charged with a motorcycle battery charger before usage. Ensure that the correct type of charger is utilized because the wrong type can permanently damage a motorcycle battery.

What happens if the bike is not started for three months?

If the battery were new, it would probably be fine, having been sitting there for three months. However, you may need to partly charge it up, and you might need to jumpstart the bike. I would always prefer not to be in this position and take the bike out for simple rides as and when possible.

Can you overcharge a bike battery?

It would be best if you never overcharged a battery. Overcharging can lead to all sorts of unwanted problems: The electrolyte inside may boil and start drying out. The battery may even overheat and buckle the plates. In extreme cases, the battery could potentially blow up, especially if hydrogen gas is released and there’s a spark nearby. This risk is why I would never ever choose to leave my battery on a charger out of sight for long periods. Call me boring, but close monitoring is the safest way in my book.

What are the signs of a bad alternator?

Typical symptoms of a failing alternator include the following noticeable factors:

  • The indicator light 
  • Headlights are dimmed or can be seen flickering.
  • Other electrical failures are visible.
  • The bike has difficulty starting.
  • The battery dies or shows no life.

Can a bad battery make your motorcycle run bad?

Yes, your lousy battery can make motorcycles not run as well as they should because the shorted cells will drop the voltage low enough to affect the fuel pump and the ignition coils, thus leading to loss of power.

Does the revving engine charge the battery faster?

Yes, revving the engine can and will charge the battery faster than idling because your alternator increases the amperage for you, but this is not an effective way. A good ride out in the sunshine or the use of a charger are far better ways to sort a low battery. The ride is also a lot more fun.

Does it matter what battery I put in my motorcycle?

No, it will not matter, providing the replacement battery supplies the same power source as the original. By changing to another brand, you can save money. Do a little research and find an equivalent that will do the job correctly and enjoy the money saved on a coffee and sandwich during your next trip out on the road.

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Article conclusion

I trust this article has covered enough areas related to your motorcycle batteries. I know some of the areas covered have been brief, but with such a lot of frequently asked questions, I wanted to cover the answers had to be minimized.

Many thanks for reading the article, and I hope you enjoy others on my website.

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