One of the most overlooked aspects of motorcycles is battery maintenance. For many, there is a time during the year you put your motorcycle away for storage for a few months or let it sit inactive for a longer period of time. This can be a huge problem, as batteries don’t respond well to inactivity.
Motorcycle batteries tend to last between 3 and 5 years before needing to be replaced as long as the batteries are properly maintained. As with any battery that sits for longer periods of time without being used such as sitting through the winter months, the battery naturally loses charge over time & will build up sulphation on the battery plates. The sulphation will cause your battery’s run-time, performance, and life to noticeably decrease. In the more advanced stages, the battery can be difficult or even impossible to charge or start your motorcycle. Sulphation is the number one reason for premature battery failure.
However, you can prevent this from happening and ensure that your battery holds up after inactivity.
Use an automatic battery charger/maintainer: These units plug into standard 120VAC outlets and provide your battery with a charge current. This will keep the battery fully charged and maintained so that sulphation never builds up. It also helps towards breaking up loose sulphation that already may be present. Automatic chargers like the BatteryMINDer by VDC or Battery Tender by Deltran are perfect for these applications since they can be left connected to your battery all the time. Both of these brands can maintain your batteries in ways that prevent damage by keeping sulfation from building up on the battery plates and by keeping the battery fully charged. It is always recommended if you’re using a maintainer on any wet battery to make sure you monitor the water level of the battery. It is also advantageous to remove battery cables from the battery as this eliminates any possible draws from the battery while charging.
Keep your motorcycle battery in top shape: There are many types of batteries, and the two most common types for motorcycles are conventional (wet) and dry AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries. If you have a conventional wet battery, you’ll need to keep an eye on your fluid levels and add distilled water as needed. A wet battery’s biggest drawback is the battery acid which can evaporate if it sits for longer periods of time, especially if connected to a battery maintainer for that time. If you have a wet battery where you can check the fluid levels then you should always do so and keep the fluid levels topped off.
The positive and negative connections on any battery (wet or AGM) should always be kept cleaned to ensure maximum transfer of electrical charge. There are special products that are made just for this type of maintenance, although using water and baking soda is effective for most people. You should also clean your terminals with cleaning chemicals and protect them with a corrosion preventative.
Do not let your motorcycle battery freeze: Whenever you decide to store your bike’s battery, be sure it’s in a place that does not consistently fall below freezing. This is an extremely quick way to find yourself with a cracked battery. If you keep a battery maintainer connected to your battery, this also helps work towards keeping the battery from freezing.
By properly maintaining any battery you can greatly enhance battery life which can result in having a working battery for years to come.