How to maintain a Motorcycle Battery

← Go back

Battery Care & Maintenance

The right care is essential to maximise the life of your Motorcycle battery

After enjoying your ride out or you’ve returned from a trip, it’s very likely that you’ll want to wash and clean your machine to keep it in the best possible condition. Similarly, to keep your battery in the best possible condition, you’ll want to maintain your battery to ensure the next time you want to head for a ride, your motorcycle will start!

People tend to think when they’re not using their motorcycles that the battery/batteries will remain charged and be ready for when they use them again. The truth is batteries will discharge even when you’re not using them. That’s why you should take precautions to ensure they are kept topped up with charge, using the correct battery charger, so your next outing or trip doesn’t start with the disappointment of a flat battery.

When it comes to motorcycle battery maintenance, you will first want to establish what type of battery you have? For instance, do you have a wet flooded battery? Or perhaps you have an AGM sealed battery, maybe even a Lithium option. While the basics are similar, we will help establish a basis for you to maintain these battery options.

Regularly checking the level of charge in your battery is good practice to ensure you achieve the best possible battery life.

Wet Flooded Battery

Your standard wet flooded battery is one that would require filling with electrolyte (acid) when it was new, once the electrolyte was added you would then need to charge the battery to fully activate it, ready to be put into service. During your maintenance of the battery you would want to keep the battery clean and make sure the terminals are free of any corrosion, as this can lead to many problems. If you need to clean your battery and the terminals, as well as the battery tray, then a mixture of water and baking soda is ideal. You will need to make sure you regularly check the charge level in your battery and charge as required, if you’re using your motorcycle regularly then it is likely you won’t need to charge it as much. It is important that you also regularly check the electrolyte level in your battery, and add distilled water when it’s needed.

If you use your motorcycle all year round then sticking to the above will help get the most out of your motorcycle battery, however if you are planning on storing your motorcycle over the winter then please see storing a motorcycle battery.

AGM Battery

When it come to maintaining your Motorcycle battery that has AGM technology, you’ll be pleased to know there isn’t as much maintenance to do as with a wet flooded battery. This is because AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries are fully sealed and so once they have been activated from new, they are closed and as such they don’t require any electrolyte or water. All of that said, you will still need to regularly check the charge level in your battery and charge as required. Also keeping your battery and terminals clean and free of corrosion will prevent many problems from occurring. When cleaning your battery, terminals or the battery tray then using water and baking soda is a great solution.

Lithium Battery

As with the AGM battery, there is relatively little maintenance to do on Lithium batteries unlike the wet flooded lead-acid battery. You must make sure you regularly check the charge level of the battery and charge as required. When storing a Lithium-ion battery, disconnect the battery from the motorcycle and immediately charge the battery on a Lithium battery charger, the battery can then be happily stored for up to a year. When you wish to use the battery after storage, put the battery on charge to make sure you have full power prior to use. Also keeping your battery and terminals clean and free of corrosion will prevent many problems from occurring. When cleaning your battery, terminals or the battery tray then using water and baking soda is a great solution.

Storing a Motorcycle Battery Over The Winter

Once you have finished using the your motorcycle for the season and it’s time to put it away for the winter, there are some things you want to do to make sure your motorcycle is in the best possible condition for storage, this includes your battery. Firstly you’ll have wanted to thoroughly wash and dry your motorcycle removing any debris from the roads. Next you will have to prepare for the winterisation and you may have your local dealer taking care of this for you, but if you’re doing it yourself then part of that process is preparing the battery and below we have some great tips to ensure you don’t have to purchase another battery for next season. When removing your battery from your motorcycle we would highly recommend carefully reading the owners manual, this will let you know the tools that you’ll need and the correct process they recommend as this may vary from model to model.

Frequently Asked Questions

There can be a few reasons why your battery may fail, but one of the most common is due to a lack of use. If you're not using your motorcycle enough and it sits, perhaps in your garage for a period of time, the battery needs to be charged.

If the battery is not charged when the motorcycle is stored this can cause a chemical process called sulphation. When a battery is charged this chemical process cannot take place. However, when the battery’s voltage falls below 12.4 volts this process begins. The process causes sulphur crystals to form on the lead plates inside the battery, which in turn increases the battery’s electrical resistance. The longer this process is allowed to continue the worse the effect. Eventually the battery will become so electrically resistant, that you will be unable to charge the battery, let alone draw power from it.

If this process is caught early you may be able to salvage the battery using a battery charger with a pulse charge function. This will partially break down the sulphur crystals but the battery will never reach its full capacity again.

It is important to remember that if your battery fails due to sulphation this will not be covered under warranty. This kind of failure is classed as damage caused by the user through neglect.

Battery cables, the terminals on the end and the terminal connections to the battery, can all be susceptible to corrosion from the environment your motorcycle operates in. It is important to keep these free of dirt and corrosion but also to check the condition of the battery cable and terminals. If you find traces of corrosion on the cable and or terminals seek the advice of your local dealership, they can advise you if the cables or terminals need to be replaced.

Loose, dirty or corroded terminals can interrupt the power flow from the battery, causing it to be ineffective, leading to symptoms similar to a dead battery. Make sure the terminals are secure and connected correctly. Use a solution of water and baking soda to remove corrosion build-up.

By disconnecting the battery this will prevent excess discharge even when the engine is off, electronic equipment can continue to drain the battery, affecting the battery lifespan and it's ability to power the motorcycle.

It is important to note that even with the battery disconnected, you will need to check the battery charge level and charge accordingly. A disconnected battery will discharge overtime naturally, however not at the same rate as if it were connected to your motorcycle.

The exception to this is Lithium batteries, as they can be charged and disconnected from the machine and happily sit for twelve months before being used again, down to their chemical technology. If you were looking to use your Lithium battery for the first time in a few months we would always advise you charge your battery fully prior to use.

The simple answer is yes. If you start and stop your motorcycle engine frequently whilst typically out riding, or do many short journeys then it would be good practice to make sure the battery is fully charged ready for the next time you wish to use it.

If you ride frequently and generally longer journeys then you will not need to charge your battery as frequently.

When preparing to store your motorcycle, always fully charge your battery prior to storage.

When you take your motorcycle out of storage for the first time (along with the usual checks you would undertake) you want to check and charge the battery fully, to make sure it is prime condition before heading out.

Manufacturers we stock