At first glance, a motorcycle battery should tuck safely away and be left alone for the next few years until its limited warranty life runs out.
And, lots of riders do just that, sometimes without so much as a hard start many years later. But, like all parts, a battery requires some maintenance to function at full potential and even extend its length of use. Your frequency of riding also determines they type of maintenance required to keep the battery charged and starting your bike.
Thankfully, of all the parts requiring some type of maintenance a motorcycle battery needs very little of your time - just don't forget. Check out the following tips for motorcycle battery maintenance:
If you ride seasonally or take extended breaks from your motorcycle, get a trickle charger or battery tender device to prevent the battery from losing its charge. When the motor runs, the stator (same as an alternator in a car) charges the battery. When the motorcycle remains off, nothing keeps the battery charged. Allowing the battery power to deplete, which happens when you don't ride regularly, prevents you from starting your motorcycle the next time you want to ride, but also impacts the overall life of the battery.
Connecting a Trickle Charger
A battery tender uses a trickle charge that keeps the battery at full strength. Some chargers shut off then switch on again when the charge starts to drop, others switch to "float" mode or a maintenance voltage when the battery reaches a full charge. Most trickle chargers plug into a regular wall electrical outlet and connect to the battery using cables much like those used when jumping a car battery.
Quick and Easy - this trickle charger connects to an added extension attached to the battery
Some battery tender models provide an attachable quick connect extension that fastens to the battery terminals and sticks out underneath the seat allowing for easy linking to the charger. This eliminates the need to remove the seat and takes all of five seconds to start charging the battery.
Mechanic's Tip: Don't use a standard trickle charger on a lithium battery and vice versa. Use the correct type of charger for the type of battery on your motorcycle.
Basic Battery Care
In terms of general maintenance, to ensure the battery fires your motorcycle up every time a visual check once a month should curb any issues from arising.
First, if you don't have a sealed battery, check the electrolyte cells and fill with distilled water, if necessary. Always fill to the appropriate line or measurement located inside the fill ducts and don't overfill.
This motorcycle battery looks ready to ride
Next, check the connections and terminals for loose fittings, rust or corrosion. Regular cleaning using a stiff brush prevents corrosive build-up and keeps the connections clear. Also, check the battery for acid leaks. Replace the battery if leaking.
Using a terminal spray that protects and keeps the connections clean and clear helps prevent corrosion, a primary consideration of charging and starting trouble that can also cause electrical issues on motorcycles with advanced electronics.