Although a motorcycle battery and other types of vehicle batteries are built for longevity, over time batteries will slow down and eventually wear out. This occurs when the sulfate that flows over the plates begins to build up a residue on the plates, slowly diminishing the conductivity. In this article you'll find useful information for choosing, installing, and maintaining your next motorcycle battery.
Choosing the correct size:
In order to choose the right size motorcycle battery, you'll need to know the cold cranking amps (CCA) of your bike. Technically speaking, CCA is the number of amps a lead-acid battery at 0ºF can deliver for 30 seconds and maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell. Once you determine the required CCA, you'll need to measure the length, width, and height of the cavity to ensure a correct fit.
Removal and installation basics:
When the time comes to replace your motorcycle battery, never remove the battery while the engine is running. If for reason it does not have a charge, always remove the negative cable before the positive. When installing the new battery, reverse the order and connect the positive cable first before connecting the negative. Take extra caution to identify the positive and negative terminals before attaching the cables. Accidentally reversing the polarity can cause the battery to explode or inflict a great deal of damage to your bike's electrical system.
If the battery won't start or seems dull, you may only need to recharge it. Always check the voltage of your motorcycle battery before recharging and never charge your battery at an amperage more than 1/6 the rated capacity of your battery. For example, it you have a 7 amp-hour battery, you should not charge it at an amperage of more than 1 amps. If you have an 18 amp-hour battery, you can charge it at a maximum of 3 amps. Therefore, most battery tenders offer charging amperage of from 1/2 amp up to 2 amps. NOTE: NEVER USE AN AUTOMOBILE BATTERY CHARGER ON YOUR POWERSPORT SEALED BATTERY. Although recharging seems like a simple process, as a general rule of thumb always wear protective eye wear and refrain from smoking as you are working with explosive gasses.
You'll also want to ensure that there is no electrolyte covering the plates before adding water or recharging. Once you add the water, make sure that the vent caps are reinstalled before charging. Never recharge a motorcycle battery or any type of vehicle battery with the vent caps open. When you've finished charging, turn off the charger before removing the charger cables from the motorcycle battery.
Activating your new battery:
If you recently purchased a conventional battery, you may need to activate your motorcycle battery. Activating a non-sealed battery is the process of adding acid and charging the battery to the point of optimum functionality. To do this, remove the sealing tube and filling plugs, fill the battery with electrolyte, let the battery stand for about 30 minutes, then charge the battery for 3 to 5 hours at approximately 1/6 of the rated capacity. Sealed motorcycle batteries require much less maintenance and never require additional electrolyte.
If you find yourself needing to recharge your battery on a consistent basis, it's probably time to replace it to avoid getting stuck when you're ready to ride. To ensure that your new battery has a long life, it's imperative to find the right size for your bike and not to overcharge. Using a battery that is too large for your bike or overcharging the battery are the two most common causes reducing a battery's lifespan. Spending a little time choosing the right battery now means enjoying years of enjoyable, stress-free motorcycle rides in the future..
Source: Christine Harrell is a writer for Ebatteries who specialize in motorcycle batteries and more.