GOOD AND BAD NEWS ABOUT MAINTAINING YOUR MOTORCYCLE BATTERY. Maintaining your motorcycle’s battery is not likely as inspiring as getting out and riding. But you can squeeze a lot more life out of that battery if you give it some minimal attention.
The good news is that as long as you are regularly riding your motorcycle, you are contributing to good battery maintenance. How easy is that!?
Every time you ride, you are recharging your battery and you don’t even have to think about it.
It’s sort of like taking responsibility for a pet dog. The dog it healthier and happier when it gets regular exercise. And if you happen to be enjoying the exercise, everyone wins.
The bad news is that every day you are NOT riding, that old lead-acid battery of yours is glumly and continuously discharging – once again without you doing a thing or paying it any mind.
In fact, that energetic battery is discharging every day you are not riding your bike. It may not seem fair but, in a way, it’s like an active dog that may get grumpy if he/she doesn’t get out to run around.
Now, it’s not terrible thing if you don’t ride your bike for several days. But, eventually, if you are not riding your bike for a long enough time your battery will go dead and will likely need to be replaced. (See Motorcycle Battery Tips For The Non-Mechanic).
INTRO TO MOTORCYCLE BATTERY CHARGERS
For the many riders in the world who live in cold winter climates, when the bike sits forlorn, waiting for spring to come around, a motorcycle battery charger is the solution to keeping one’s battery in good shape. (Kind of like an automatic dog walker).
The benefits of using a batter charger to keep your battery properly charged is that you are much more likely to get the full 3-5 years of service from it.
Otherwise, you will be replacing that battery more frequently.
Different types of motorcycle battery chargers have evolved over the years to make the task easier. But, regardless of which kind you use, the battery charging operation is best conducted in a well-ventilated area. Oh, and it’s also best to avoid ignition sources, such as sparks, cigarettes, etc., since charging a lead-acid battery generates explosive hydrogen gas. However unlikely it may be that such would occur, any explosive mishap is sure to reduce your tendency to want to take care of your next battery in the future.
So let’s look at the two main kinds of battery chargers, while bearing in mind that you want to ensure you are using a “motorcycle” charger for your motorcycle battery, and not a charger for automobile batteries. Of course there are chargers that can handle both types of batteries with a flip of a switch, but using too strong a current to charge your battery does not support the cause of extending your battery’s service life.
Trickle chargers have an intuitive name. I like names that tell you exactly what they do. They slowly charge your bike’s battery to replenish the charge that is lost every day while the bike is not in operation. (Imagine having someone walking your dog for you every day when you cannot do so).
In this case, though, you need to maintain a habit of connecting and disconnecting your trickle charger from your battery. Otherwise, it may overcharge your battery and/or boil the electrolyte chemicals out of the battery cells and/or damage the internal battery plates. It goes without saying that none of these activities will endear your battery to your good intentions of attempting to keep it charged. (Of course you’ll need to follow the trickle charger instructions for specific details on how long to keep it plugged in).
If we continue with this absurd analogy of comparing a trickle charger to daily walking your dog, in this case it would be like having someone walk your dog, but you still have to continually remind them to do so.
INTELLIGENT BATTERY CHARGERS
Intelligent battery chargers cost more, but really make charging your battery very EASY. In this case it would be like having someone take your dog out every day without ever telling them to do so. (Where did I get this comparison?)
An intelligent battery charger (battery tender or battery maintainer) employs electronic circuitry to monitor the battery’s voltage, temperature, and/or time under charge, to determine the optimum charge needed at that instant. Due to this built-in “intelligence,” it knows when to automatically turn itself on and off as necessary. This really IS simple!
The bottom line is that motorcycle batteries are somewhat like active dogs: they need to get out and run around to keep themselves healthy and happy. And specifically for a battery, that running around can be replaced by a motorcycle battery charger.