So your bike has a dead battery what do you do now? We’ll outline your options for getting your motorcycle started.
Whether you left your key on or you’ve just got an old motorcycle battery that’s struggling to hold the charge, if there’s not enough juice to turn your starter you’re not going anywhere. Here are a few tips on how to chcrge your motorcycle baterry at home.
You could try bump starting your bike but modern motorcycles with fuel pumps and electronic ignition systems need a fair amount of power, you’re probably going to need some supplemental electricity.
If you’re not in a hurry and your battery is just tired enough that it won’t crank the starter, your first option is to hook it up to a battery charger and come back later.
Can I Charge My Motorcycle Battery With a Car Charger?
The simple answer is yes in most cases, but there is one thing you need to look out for. Some older motorcycles used the 6V system so your charger needs to have the facility to charge at 6V or you may damage your battery.
Even if you do change it over to 6V a car charger will output at a much faster rate than a bike charger so the battery won’t take as long to charge, maybe a couple of hours.
The best way to charge your motorcycle battery is to buy a charger specifically designed for motorcycles, you can pick them up from Amazon for under $60.
At your earliest convenience, you should really plug it into a charger to make sure that it’s thoroughly topped up, ideally use a smart charger that is not only going to charge but recondition your battery.
If you need to get going right now you’re going to need a jumpstart.
Can I Jump My Motorcycle Battery With My Car?
Yes, you absolutely can do that, as long as you’re jumping a pair of 12-volt vehicles that both have negative ground. The process of jumping a motorcycle and a car is exactly the same as it is for jumping two cars or two motorcycles, the batteries don’t care.
The different sizes between the batteries don’t matter, your motorcycles are just going to use whatever it needs from the car and then that’s it, it just works. A lot of people don’t seem to believe that but I’m telling you that’s the way to jump.
There are two caveats though that is pretty important.
The first is you’re using a set of car jumper cables, not these little motorcycle cables. You should be really careful when you go to jump on the motorcycle side of things.
A set of automotive clamps are much bigger, they’re usually 4 – 6 inches long and you can open them up with your entire hand.
They work fine on a car simply because you have all that room in the engine bay. However, the clamps for a motorcycle can be really unwieldy simply because your battery terminals are often very close to the frame which is usually used as a ground.
It can be very easy to introduce a dead short if you’re using automotive-style jumper cables on a motorcycle, just be really careful that you don’t have that problem.
The second thing I would recommend is to get your motorcycle home and check out the health of the battery.
Test your battery, I say this because smaller batteries like the ones found in power sports equipment and motorcycles don’t really take kindly to being fully discharged.
If for whatever reason you’ve discharged your battery, whether it’s in a bad state or perhaps you just left a headlight or your key on, make sure you check out the health of that battery.
How to Jump Your Motorcycle Battery With Your Car?
Step 1. Connect the red clamps to the positive terminals on both vehicles.
Step 2 Connect the black clamp to the negative terminal on the good battery.
Step 3 Connect the black clamp to an unpainted chassis part on your bike away from the battery.
The idea behind connecting the cables in this order is that since the last clamp you connect is going to spark a little bit, clamp the black cable away from the battery as it could potentially be emitting hydrogen gas due to its unhealthy state. As the folks and the Hindenburg found out hydrogen is flammable.
You’re not likely to have an issue with a modern sealed battery but it’s really easy to mitigate the risk by clamping somewhere safe.
If you’re jump-starting off a car there is really no need to have it running since the car’s battery has so much more capacity than your bike’s battery.
For that very reason, some people are concerned that jump-starting off a car it’s going to cook your bikes battery or fry some other electrical component.
That is not something you need to worry about, especially in the short amount of time it takes to jumpstart your bike. Jumper cables are tried-and-true but there is a third option.
Motorcycle Jumper Box
Jumper boxes portable power packs available from Amazon are small enough and light enough to stash in your backpack. They work great for keeping your cell phone charged or as a work light while you’re plugging a tire on the side of the road at night, but where these things really shine as a portable jump starter.
It uses a lithium battery that’s strong enough to crank a VA truck and while it’s pretty expensive at around 90 bucks it’s undeniably convenient, especially for motorcyclists.
Also, it’s got spark-proof technology so you don’t have to worry about how you hook it up, and if you do happen to touch the clamps then don’t worry as there won’t be any fireworks.
You’ve got your bike up and running again which is obviously great, but don’t assume everything is ok with your battery.
Motorcycle Lithium Battery vs Lead Acid
These are just batteries, right? They are both batteries, they’re both going to fit right in the bike and they just start the bike up, there’s no difference.
There’s actually a big difference and it’s important you choose the one that’s right for you and your bike.
Conventional batteries work really well, they do really really well for street riders that use their bike in a wide range of temperatures.
I mean let’s be realistic, in Michigan some of the nice days it can be 50 degrees all during the day. Well, it’s not 50 degrees at night in the garage it’s going to be 30 degrees, it might even be the high 20s.
Acid batteries manage those temperatures really really well when it’s fully charged. That’s one of the areas with a lithium battery that when they sit and they get that cold, they don’t perform as well.
The performance degrades and you may find yourself in a no-start condition which is not what you want.
The big draw with lithium battery compared to a conventional is weight loss.
Most of these batteries will fit into a 2016 Suzuki GSXR 1000. The acid battery can weigh 6.2 pounds where the lithium weighs 2. 4 or 5 pounds and you can get them for under 200 bucks. You are losing about 4 pounds of weight which is a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to weight loss.
That is the biggest reason, in my opinion, to go with a lithium battery available at Amazon over a conventional.
First I want you to keep in mind is the temperature swings we talked about. If you live in a part of the country where that’s not even a concern that makes it a lot easier.
I also want to make sure you understand that it’s really important you have a device that has a maintenance system just like a battery tender for a standard lead-acid conventional battery.
This is a health monitor with a maintenance charger. This keeps it ready to be used at all times and honestly when your bikes parked this should just be plugged in. That is best practice whether you have a conventional battery or you have a lithium battery.
When you buy a new lithium battery it doesn’t come fully charged, it has to be charged to 100% before you use the battery. That is actually true about almost any battery you buy today.
Let’s say for example you decide to go conventional with a street bike or a race bike and you buy a new battery and you have to put the acid in. This has to sit for two hours and then it has to be charged to a hundred percent.
If you start off any one of these batteries and just throw it in the bike that is going to be the baseline for the level of charge.
That’s the best charge it will ever achieve as batteries have a kind of memory. It’s important before you ever use it, regardless of what style you choose that you charge it to a hundred percent first before use.
So there you have it before you go with lithium over a conventional battery make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and you understand what it’s going to take to get the performance that you need out of it.
Lithium Battery Advantages
- Lithium batteries are lighter
- Less poisonous
- Smaller casings
- More crank amp’s
- Low self-discharge
Lithium Battery Drawbacks
- Can cost 30% more to buy
- Don’t like low temperatures
- If let to go dead can damage the battery
- Charges are more expensive
How To Charge A Lithium Motorcycle Battery
The thing you have to realize with lithium batteries is, first of all, you got to understand their construction. A lithium battery is a whole bunch of small cells inside one big case.
Each one of those cells has its own volt value to be able to produce that 12 to 14 volts. The problem that comes with lithium batteries is once you start charging the batteries all of the cells in the battery have to be at the same charge level.
If you have one cell that’s charged more than the rest and you use just a regular charger, it’s going to charge all the cells at the same time thinking all the cells are at the same charge level.
Once it starts charging it will continue charging until the lowest charged cell is fully charged, even though all the others may be full charged already. This is where it gets dangerous.
An overcharge lithium cell could explode and even catch fire, this why you need a battery charger that has been specifically made for lithium batteries.
A lithium battery charger has what is called a balance lead. This balance makes sure the lowest charged cell is charged first up to the next cell. Once it has reached the next cell it takes those two cells up to the charge level of the next cell and repeats itself until all the cells are charged fully.
The only battery that I’ve found that actually puts those balance leads on their batteries with their charger is the Shorai lithium batteries which are available from Amazon.
When you plug it in it will first balance all the cells to make sure they’re charged at the same level all across the board. It will then charge them all up together and maintain them.
The charger will also let you put it in a storage mode so you don’t have to have your battery fully charged all the time.
For example, if you’re not using your bike for the winter you can plug it in and set it to storage mode. It will condition those cells to be in a storage mode until you fire it back up again in the summer.
So if you guys are looking for the best or the safest the Shorai lithium charger is definitely the way to.
The other lithium charges I’ve seen just use a battery tender, there’s no balance leads so you don’t know what cell is corrupt.
Thank you for reading our article. If you want more tips on how to ride safely check out our how-to article bank here.