Charging Motorcycle Batteries
A fully-charged 12-volt motorcycle battery should measure about 12.6 - 13.5 volts between terminals depending upon its chemistry. 12-volt motorcycle batteries supply useful energy only through a limited voltaic range -- from over 14 volts (when fully charged and rested) down to 10.5 volts in use/under load (this battery is noticed when your lights dim, or your motorcycle is hard to start). No 12-volt battery will remain at over 14 volts for more than a few seconds unless it's being charged. The lowest limit is 10.5 volts (used in testing) which is far too unsatisfactory for practical use. If your car battery is a flooded lead acid (with caps), check the electrolyte levels on each cell before charging.
A very important aspect of automotive maintenance is to periodically check the amount of fluid in the batteries (electrolyte). If they are low, then carefully fill it to the minimum level using distilled water. Use ONLY distilled water. When recharging conventional, flooded lead-acid motorcycle batteries, loosen the vent caps and ventilate the charging area. Otherwise, a buildup of hydrogen and oxygen in these conventional batteries or in the charging area can create an explosion hazard. If the battery feels hot to the touch during charging, STOP immediately. Allow the battery to cool before charging again. Heat damages the plates, and a motorcycle battery that is too hot can explode.
Properly connect the battery charger to the motorcycle battery: positive (RED) charger lead to positive battery post and negative (BLACK) charger lead to negative battery post. Unplug the charger or turn it off before you disconnect the leads, as this will cut down on the chance of the clamps arcing on the terminals. ALWAYS use a Motorcycle Battery Charger or Trickle Charger when charging Motorcycle Batteries. A Motorcycle battery charger supplies a maximum of 7.5 Amps during the charging process. This creates a trickle charge that not only prevents overcharging, but helps to maintain a strong battery life for an extended period of time as well. Make sure your charger is the same voltage (6 Volt or 12 Volt) as the battery you are charging. Charge for a full 8-12 hours.
This is a very “common sense” tip. While distributors do everything they can to get the freshest batteries out to you, sometimes you will receive batteries that may come not topped off. So as a rule of thumb, always check the voltage upon receiving your battery. Keeping your batteries topped off before storage or even before use is a great habit to practice as the only thing a battery loves more than to be used is to be kept charged. This will prevent you from having a dead battery once you take it out of storage. Even if you use a battery tender to store your batteries, you must still top your batteries off every time. Then, place them on the tender so that the tender is not fighting a larger battery drain which would be caused by a parasitic draw and low voltage. In conclusion, always check and charge new batteries when receiving them to save yourself any potential problems in the future.
Corrosion, the silent battery killer. Keeping your terminals and batteries clean can do wonders for the longevity of your battery and keep it healthy for a long period of time. This bit of advice is applicable to any battery that is considered a flooded/acid filled battery; this also includes maintenance free batteries. A lead acid battery will naturally gas out from the chemical reaction that occurs when a load is placed on a battery. Variables such as heat, cold weather, and age can also cause a battery to excessively expel gas. This gas is attracted to your terminals and if they are not cleaned off, the gas can build up on your battery terminals. This nasty stuff is actually worse for your machine than it looks. If not properly dealt with, this buildup can eat away at your terminals/connectors. It can also cause issues with charging due to an increase of resistance in the connection between the charger/alternator and your battery. There are many simple, old fashion ways to clean this up such as the use of baking soda, water and an old tooth brush. However, nothing really breaks down corrosion better than a good battery spray. These sprays are designed specifically to deeply penetrate and break apart any buildup of corrosion. To be on the safe side and to keep your mind at ease, it’s highly recommended that you get some anti-corrosion spray as well. This spray will coat your terminal and connectors with a grease-like substance that will protect you and your machine through the years. These two simple things along with keeping an eye on your aging battery will almost guarantee that you will see the long life span you expect out of your battery.
Keeping those caps from the top of Low Maintenance batteries is not only smart but also highly recommended by all manufacturers. A very important part of your batteries longevity depends on its ability to recover water when possible. Similar to humans, your battery needs water to survive. Taking the caps off or loosening them for any reason will allow an excess amount of water to escape from the battery. It can also cause excess amounts of gas vapors to build up corrosion on the posts of your batteries. Spillage is actually a major issue when caps are loose during vehicle operation. You will need to make sure that after refilling your battery with distilled water that you firmly tighten those caps down. You should also be double checking them before taking any major trips. This little extra work will go a long way with helping to extend the life of your batteries. So remember to keep those caps tight, your batteries filled with water, and engage in proper battery charging practices. Your battery will love you for it in the end.