Welcome to our complete rider’s guide of charging a motorcycle battery, where we will give you the comprehensive information about “How to Charge a Motorcycle Battery?” and how you can handle them properly without any outside help. There is a reason why we made this rider’s guide specifically for Battery Charging. It is because many motorcyclists aren’t aware of the types of batteries that are used in motorcycles and how they can manually charge a battery in the event of an emergency. Although there are alternatives for charging a motorcycle battery, even while a motorcycle in running. But, sometimes we are in a position when the motorcycle doesn’t start. The result, we have to go back to basics, which is why we are going to provide you the comprehensive information about charging a motorcycle battery with conventional chargers, modern chargers, a car charger, and even without a charger.
If you don’t know anything about a motorcycle battery or charging a motorcycle battery, then this guide will be a big help to you. And after going through the provided information, you will be ready to handle this. So, why don’t we skip this introduction come straight to the point? After all, we have a lot to discuss.
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How to Charge a Motorcycle Battery? A Step-by-Step Guide
Before we go any further, I would like to inform you that there are different types of motorcycle batteries that have different functions and designs. So, I would highly recommend that you read the battery manual first before planning to attempt to charge any kind of battery.
What Kind of Battery Do You Have?
So, yeah! Do you know what kind of battery you have?
If you do, then it is nice that you are passionate about motorcycles, not just riding. But, if you don’t, then let me tell you that there are different kinds of batteries that are being used in different motorcycles. Batteries such as Lead Acid, Valve Regulated Lead Acid that is further divided into two categories, Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) and Gel batteries, and Lithium-based batteries.
Learn more: Different Kinds of Motorcycle Batteries – A Complete Rider’s Guide
In general, all you need to know is that there are two types of motorcycle batteries – 1. Old Lead Acid Batteries that are also called flooded cell batteries or wet cell batteries and 2. Valve Regulated Lead Acid Batteries that are also called Sealed Batteries and they are divided into two subcategories: AGM and Gel batteries.
I am sure you have a pretty clear idea. On the internet, you have seen different ways of charging a motorcycle battery but none of them gave any attention to “how to charge a Lithium-Ion motorcycle battery or a lead-acid battery?”
This is why we will give you unique tips about how to charge different kinds of batteries. The next step is for charging the lithium-ion motorcycle battery.
We will also discuss the charging procedures of the “Classic” lead-acid battery and the “Modern” AGM battery.
Lithium-based motorcycle batteries like Lithium-Ion, Lithium Phosphate (LiPo), and Lithium Iron (LiFe) are batteries that we use in our day-to-day lives. Lithium-Ion batteries are very common in new generation motorcycles, cars, boats, and especially cars. Plus, in non-automotive forms, it is being used in cameras, laptops, tablets, and cell phones, etc. Lithium-based batteries are also highly efficient in solar power applications.
I believe that “the advancement of a lithium-based battery is the reason why these batteries need special chargers depending on the manufacturer.”
So, let’s see, “How we can charge a Lithium-Ion Battery with a charger?”
Choose the Right Charger
If you’re going to charge the Lithium battery of your motorcycle, then you are definitely going to need one of these chargers:
- Trickle Charger
- Float Charger
- Smart Charger
- The Trickle Charger is the most basic charger for a motorcycle battery that just simply, converts AC to DC and pumps it into the battery until it is turned off.
- Trickle Chargers are fully-manual chargers. This is why you must monitor the charging process until it is finished.
- Float Chargers are modern motorcycle battery chargers that have an automatic desulfation mode. Float chargers have circuitry that monitors the battery’s charge.
- Smart Chargers are also very popular these days. A Smart Charger has the so-called “Desulfation Mode” that is also in a Float Charger but isn’t in the Trickle Charger.
- The Smart Chargers desulfation mode is used to knock the sulfur off the lead plates inside the battery by varying the voltage and the electrical pulses.
Sometimes, when a battery is completely dead, a float charger or smart charger may not charge the battery. In this instance, you are going to need an old-fashioned trickle charger to charge and have enough voltage for the trickle charger to see the battery voltage.
Remove Your Lithium Battery from Motorcycle
Well, this is not mandatory. And we won’t force you to do it no matter what. But, we would like to tell you why this is important and recommend to do this as a precaution because, in the case of lithium-ion batteries, it is quite normal for a battery to get warm while charging.
That’s because of the exothermic reaction, which releases heat!
“If it becomes very hot to even touch the battery while charging, then there is something wrong with it and would suggest contacting the provider or a professional.”
Plus, if you remove the battery from the motorcycle, it becomes completely off from the electrical grid and if the battery of your motorbike has any minor problems like a melted wiring harness or a blown fuse, then it would be risky if it is still on the motorcycle. In doing so, make sure to wear proper safety gear, gloves, and eye protection, etc.
Charge the Battery
You must know this “Whenever you put a battery on charge, it gives off hydrogen gas, which, in fact, is extremely flammable.”
Most importantly, if you are charging your motorcycle battery with a trickle charger, then keep monitoring it until it has completely finished the charge. As we said above, trickle chargers don’t have an automatic sulfation mode.
So, the overheating of a lithium-based battery will produce hydrogen sulfide, which can be really harmful to you. This is why every motorcyclist that is going to charge a motorcycle battery must take his/her motorbike outside or in a well-ventilated area instead of some garage or small covered space.
Oh, yeah! One more thing.
When you remove the battery from your motorcycle, it would be wise to check for any physical damage, leakage, or visual deformities. Otherwise, you may damage the charging system.
Did You Know?
Different chargers have different charging amperes. If you try to charge your motorcycle battery at a higher amperage than what is required, then you are putting your battery under a lot of stress, which further leads to its future longevity.
Install the Battery
“Are you finished with charging the battery?”
If yes, then you are good to go and can simply re-install the battery in your motorcycle and secure the hold-downs. After that, attach the positive and negative cables, one-by-one.
How to Charge Lead-Acid or Wet Cell Motorcycle Battery?
A Lead-Acid flooded cell battery or wet cell battery is the most common type of motorcycle battery, which is highly used in motorcycles, cars, boats, ATV’s, tractors, lawnmowers, trucks, and commercial vehicles, etc.
So, basically, lead-acid wet cell batteries are everywhere. Lead-acid batteries are mostly available in a 12-volt system, which has six cells each developing between 2.12 and 2.2 direct current volts. The catalyst used in the wet cell batteries is a mixture of distilled water and sulphuric acid. Charging a lead-acid battery is not so different. Nevertheless, you can check out the important charging tips, which are given below.
- The very first thing you have to do is access the battery by unlocking the seat of the motorcycle.
- Once you have finished with that, you can unscrew the cables from the battery’s negative post followed by the positive post.
- Clean the battery with a clean piece of cloth and see if there is any physical damage to the battery or not. Because if there is any leakage, then it can interrupt the charging system.
- After that, you can connect your flooded cell motorcycle battery with a suitable charger and let the charging process begin. It would be highly recommended if you don’t use any charger with over 12-volts. And if you are planning to use a trickle charger then stay with the battery to monitor the charging process. Unlike float chargers, trickle chargers do not have the automatic sulfation mode.
- Once the charging is done, you can remove the positive-negative clips from their respective posts and reinstall the battery in the motorcycle.
“Never store with low voltage and use a battery maintainer when storing the vehicle longer than 2 weeks. This battery maintainer keeps the battery fully charged at all times.”
How to Charge a Gel Motorcycle Battery?
A gel battery is very rare to see in motorcycles. Maybe because of its common use in high-performance cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles.
The reason they are used in motorcycles is that they are very reliable and considered the ultimate power source when you want the vehicle to start every time.
This is why it first appeared in high compression motorcycles and then became more common, like lithium-based and lead-acid batteries.
What motorcyclists see as gel cell batteries are actually AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries that are almost the same as actual gel cell batteries.
So, here we will guide you on charging the AGM motorcycle battery, which, in fact, is quite easy and won’t take much of your time.
- The very first thing you need to do is unlock the motorcycle’s seat and side frame to access the battery.
- Now you can unscrew the cables from the battery’s negative and positive post, one-by-one, and lift the battery out of the motorcycle.
- Connect the battery to the specifically designed automatic battery charger for an AGM battery and connect the black clip to the negative terminal and the red one to the positive.
- Turn the battery charger on and let it complete the charging process.
- After the indication of complete charging, you can turn off the charger and remove the clips from the battery posts.
- Finally, you have a fully charged battery that you can reinstall on the motorcycle in the reverse procedure.
Charging a Motorcycle Battery with a Car Charger – Is It Possible?
You must be wondering are we stupid or what?
After informing and guiding you about motorcycle charging and a lot of motorcycle battery chargers, why would we say such a stupid thing?
But, it is not about stupidity because when you are in absolute need of charging the battery of your motorcycle and your only option left is the standard car-type trickle charger; what do you do?
Deep down, you know that it is not right to charge a motorcycle battery with a car-type trickle charger. It can put your battery and yourself in danger.
I couldn’t agree more. But, at Motorcyclist Lifestyle, we prepare our motorcycle riders to improvise. This is why even though it is wrong; we want to guide you with our best knowledge. Please remember, never charge a battery at more than the one-tenth its rating in amp-hours. This means a 20-amp battery should only be charged with a charger of 2-amps or less over a time period of only 10-hours.
If you don’t follow this guideline, then there is a chance of overheating, electrolyte boiling, or the battery may even explode. Therefore, it is not a good idea to charge a small motorcycle battery with a larger automotive-type battery charger that has been specifically designed to charge heavy vehicles and cars. But, sometimes, this is the only type of charger that is available. So, when you find yourself in such a situation, then apply this trick –
When you need to charge the motorcycle battery but you only have a car charger, then before you take that risk, you can insert a tail light bulb or test lamp (you can even use an amp meter) inline between the positive side of the charger and your battery. A brake light bulb or test lamp draws about 2.25 amps. So, if the charger is 6-amp and the battery is 20-amp, then you need to put 2 bulbs in a parallel combination. This way, if there is a slight chance of battery damage or overheating, at least it will damage the bulb instead of the battery.
But, if there is no damage to the bulb, then you can charge your motorcycle battery even with a standard car-type trickle charger.
“Remember, you should never use the car charger to charge a motorcycle battery. Car chargers supply too much current, which ends up being much more than enough for a motorcycle battery charging process.”
How to Charge a Dead Motorcycle Battery?
When a motorcycle is stored for a long period of time, then it is common to have the problem of a drained battery. But, most motorcyclists don’t pay much attention to this until it is too late. The result, they end up buying a new motorcycle battery. But, I want to tell you that if you pay a little attention to the small details, then you can actually save a lot of money by being able to save your existing motorcycle battery. Another reason for a dead battery is sulfation, especially in lead-acid batteries. It is caused by sulfur from the battery acid adhering to the lead plates inside the battery and blocking the flow of current.
So, how we are going to fix it?
Is there a way?
Well, yes, indeed.
Why don’t we go directly to it?
Common Tips on Fixing & Charging a Dead Motorcycle Battery
- First, we make sure to wear gloves, goggles, and other safety gear so as not to come in contact with the extremely toxic sulphuric acid inside the battery. Then remove the battery from the motorcycle and keep it at room temperature before working on it.
- After that, we can remove the cell caps and get rid of the battery fluid completely.
- Once we finished with that, we can prepare a solution of magnesium sulfate (or better known as Epsom Salt) and distilled water in the required amount and fill each cell of the battery with it. After filling the cells, shake the battery to adjust the solution level and ensure the solution is well distributed throughout all cells.
- Next, we will charge the battery with a slow charge option that will not provide an unnecessary, powerful current that may damage the battery or produce flammable gases. Connect the clips on their respective posts and leave the cell cap off during charging.
- Once the battery is fully charged you can remove the clips and reinstall the battery in the motorcycle with replaced cell caps.
In this way, you can charge a dead motorcycle battery. Just make sure to use a float charger; otherwise, if you are using a trickle charger, you will need to monitor the charging process.
We explained everything about motorcycle battery charging within our knowledge. I hope it will help you in charging any kind of motorcycle battery with a suitable charger of any type. Now, you have learned a lot of motorcycle batteries and charging. So, if you have any questions or if we forgot to mention something in this rider’s guide, then feel free to let us know in the comment section below.