How to maintain a bike battery properly
Numerous factors such as temperature, engine vibration and electrical loads can cause your bike battery to die
it is important they are appropriately charged through the vehicle charging system and by an appropriate external charger if needed.
Nothing is designed to last forever and everything has a reasonable amount of usage time. Most batteries have an expected lifespan of two years, but you can increase that considerably if you maintain it properly.
Average lifespan is likely to be around two to three years, if it’s well maintained, although some batteries manage quite a bit more
Batteries don’t store electricity as some people think
They contain plate materials and an electrolyte that together produce a chemical reaction that produces electrical energy. The reaction causes the bike battery to ‘discharge’ and chemical changes to the plate material and electrolyte. Lead sulphate forms on the plates.
“Charging the battery reverses these changes. “This is important because batteries that don’t have their fluid levels maintained or that aren’t maintained in a proper state of charge can lose electrical capacity/efficiency and eventually can fail though sulphation.
“The charging current can no longer effectively reverse the changes that normally occur to the plate material during discharge. The change to lead sulphate has become virtually permanent. Leaving batteries in a partially discharged state can drastically shorten its life.”
Check the electrolyte levels
Lead acid batteries require the electrolyte to be maintained at the correct level to ensure they function correctly and deliver maximum life.
Riders should do a monthly check and top up when required with de-mineralised water if needed.
“Don’t overfill as this can lead to damaging acid spills,”.“Top up to the levels marked on the case, if the battery is so equipped. Otherwise just above the top of the plates visible inside each cell should be about right.”
He advises riders check their owner’s manual or with the bike battery manufacturer if unsure.
Move your bike under cover
Extremely high temperatures can reduce the life of a battery considerably, so move your bike under cover.
In fact, it’s more damaging than leaving your bike outside in freezing temperatures.
John says most batteries can live to as low as minus 18 degrees.
However, at this temperature, a bike battery might deliver a constant current for no more than 30 seconds. The older it is, the less powerful it will be.
At very low temperatures engines can be harder to crank, making the battery ‘work’ harder. It also reduces the battery’s ability to supply the sustained high current required for cranking.