Several factors affect battery life, with most stemming from usage and maintenance. Usage, correct charging conditions, and exposure to weather are all aspects that influence continued battery operation.
How Long Do Motorcycle Batteries Last? The simplest answer is that it depends on you. In most situations, usage and care are what determines whether a battery will last for only a few months or for years to come.
You can keep the unit operating well for at least two years or more if you maintain it properly. Always try to keep a battery pack in a fully charged state. Batteries that are left in storage for extended intervals of time without any charging or operation on occasion can be subject to sulfation, diminishing battery capacity and long-term performance.
Do You Know About Basic Battery Types?
Lead acid-type wet cell (flooded) batteries, i.e. battery packs as they are usually called, constitute the majority of motorcycle batteries in use. Battery packs are collections of separate cells. The cells connect to each other within a shared package, with each cell contributing between 2.1-2.2 Volts DC according to design.
Total voltages are determined by linking each cell in groups of three into a 6V pack, or else in groups of six into a 12V pack. These low-voltage cells are combined in series to deliver their rated voltages.
You can test motorcycle electrical systems follow this video:
Let’s Spend A Little Time To Learn About Batteries
I’ve detailed a few guidelines on keeping motorcycle batteries in good working order for longer working life.
It is critical to understand the various motorcycle battery types in order to figure out the kind of maintenance that is necessary. The basic concepts and steps can be quite simple. In most cases, riders can do this by checking the battery cells’ fluid levels and making sure that they are always full. They should constantly ride their bike as well as charge the pack so that it never thoroughly runs down.
This is among the most important aspects and determines whether a battery pack will die in a few months. If you don’t ride during winters then you can expect the pack to lose charge slowly. Damage will ensue if this continues until depletion, after which full charges may no longer be attained.
The battery will tend to be consistently charged by the bike’s electrical system if it’s in constant use. If this isn’t possible in your case then you will have to consider using external chargers, an option I shall detail in the following section.
Batteries are normally used just for starting up bikes. Numerous riders tend to leave the ignition switch on to keep accessories running during short stops. With the headlights and other accessories including instruments or lighted consoles left on, the pack will continue to drain since the motor isn’t running. It is critical for you to power off your bike’s electricals whenever you stop, even if just for a short break.
Battery capacity is maintained over time by ensuring that the battery is rarely drained fully. If you’re an infrequent rider, one good thing you could do is to use battery tenders or savers. Similar to standard chargers, these are left plugged in and operating during periods when you have stopped riding.
These tenders work to regularly slow-charge the unit whenever they detect voltages dropping below certain thresholds, constantly restoring the pack to near fully charged condition. This way, the battery will always be kept in top condition and ready for use at all times, greatly extending its lifetime.
How To Check Battery Charge State
Single 12-volt battery packs deliver current from 10.5 Volts under load up to 14 Volts from a fully rested and charged state. The charging state is estimated with the motor, headlights, and all other accessories are powered off. You use a digital multimeter like Exatech’s MN35 to measure terminal voltages.
A 12-volt pack in good condition should be able to maintain a charging rate of 9.5-10.5 Volts under normal load for a minimum of 30 seconds. Cells that stay discharged or drained for extended periods undergo sulfation until their interior plates harden, decreasing their capacity to store full charges.
If you use a multimeter like the Exatech MN35, and it reads the charging state at 12.4 Volts or less then the condition is likely, more so if the pack appears to fully charge. The condition strips the plates’ surfaces of the chemical properties needed to produce the required power. Further charging will not restore its rated capacity, and bike owners will likely be better off buying a new battery pack.
Battery makers agree that normal motorcycle batteries typically last for around two years. The majority of bikers are happy enough to get a year or slightly more of usage out of a pack. Untimely battery failures can be traced to poor maintenance and lack of understanding of the proper operation. You’d be wise to follow the guidelines here to keep your battery working for long.
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