We’ve all experienced it before, you wake up in the morning, eager to go for a ride, put the keys in the ignition and push the starter. However, nothing happens. It’s either the engine just keeps turning over, or nothing happens at all. Well, chances are you have yourself a dead battery. Not fret, though, this is a common issue for all motorcycles, especially those that are a little bit advanced in age.
It’s really no big deal, replacing your battery is a rather straightforward procedure. Of course, the first thing you need to do is the source in your battery, and make sure that it is compatible with your specific motorcycle make and model. Do note, not all batteries are going to fit in your motorcycle's compartment. So make sure to do your research about the battery specifications of your motorcycle.
Locate the battery
Once your replacement battery has arrived, and you're certain that it’s going to fit in your motorcycle, the first step would be to locate where your battery is stored. Now this varies greatly from model to model, as various body types mean that the battery is stored in different places. Some high and sportbikes for instance, have their batteries stored underneath the fuel tank. This means you will have to unbolt the fairings, and raise the fuel tank to access the battery.
Meanwhile, naked bikes, scooters, and adventure bikes tend to have their batteries stored underneath the seat. This means that minimal bodywork needs to be removed, if at all. In most cases, the battery is accessible by removing either the passenger or rider seat. Once the battery is in sight, remove any supports or braces holding the battery in place. Make sure to set aside the screws and fasteners so as not to lose them in the future.
Disconnect the terminals - negative first!
The next step is pretty straightforward, as well. However, make sure you do this the right way, otherwise you run the risk of shorting a fuse or causing some sparks to fly. When undoing your battery terminals, it’s always a good idea to start by unscrewing the negative terminal first. Once you remove the negative terminal, position it far away from the battery, so it doesn’t have any chance of touching it. Once the negative terminal is out of the way, you can proceed to undoing the positive terminal. Once both terminals are disconnected, you can simply lift the battery out of its compartment and slide the new one in place.
It is important to disconnect the negative terminal first, as doing so prevents The likelihood of sparks should your tool, such as your screwdriver or spanner, make contact with the metal parts of your motorcycle’s frame or bodywork. This is especially important given the fact that most motorcycles have their batteries positioned rather close to the fuel tank.
Hook up the new battery - positive first!
Hooking up the new battery is basically the reverse procedure of disconnecting it. First, make sure that the battery is sitting properly and securely in its compartment, and that it is not pinching any wires. Start by hooking up the positive terminal first. Make sure the screw or bolt holding the terminal in place is tight and in its proper position. Check to see that the cables are not kinked, bent, or pinched in anyway whatsoever, as this can cause some damage in the future. Slide the red rubber cover over the positive terminal to prevent it from getting wet and dirty.
Repeat this process with a negative terminal, and make sure to tighten the screw or bolt holding the terminal in place. Reinstall any fasteners or brackets that are holding the battery in place, and torque all the bolts down to your manufacturer’s specifications. Once you’re sure that the battery has been installed, switch on the ignition, check the lights, and if everything seems to be in order, fire the bike up. Your motorcycle should start with one or two clicks, let it run for a few minutes, or better yet, go out for a quick ride to run the battery through its paces.
Get the most out of your new battery
Getting the most out of your battery it’s pretty simple. Of course, not everyone can ride their motorcycle every single day. So here are a few tips that you can follow in order to maximize your motorcycle's battery life. For starters, you can avoid leaving the ignition on when you come to a stop at a gas station or rest stop. Instead, switch the ignition off with the key, rather than just the kill switch. This is a bad habit that can cause your battery to deplete a lot faster than necessary. Also, avoid starting your motorcycle and switching it off right away especially when it’s cold. As the cranking forces of the starter, require a high load of amperage from the battery.
If your motorcycle only sees the light of day very seldomly, you may want to consider investing in a battery tender, or a trickle charger. This device allows you to plug your motorcycle's battery into a charger without having to disconnect it from the bike. Additionally, it charges it very gradually, and stops charging once the battery is full. Some high end battery tenders even come with a maintenance mode, which reserves the battery even better.