Exactly how long it takes to charge a motorcycle battery is a hard question to answer! Did you know every minute riding is also spent charging the battery?
The battery itself is also constantly losing charge – the lifetime of the battery all depends on how well you treat it, but interestingly, you’ll be charging the battery one way or another until the day it dies!
Often a result of neglect (cold winters/periods of disuse) the tragic sound of an engine not starting could strike any of us at any time! Keeping your battery at healthy levels of charge will rule out all sorts of potential failures, and as your riding career extends – will be something you naturally keep an eye on.
Tell Me More About These So-called Batteries…
Well if you insist… We’ll try to keep it brief but essentially what you have is older ‘Lead-Iron’ or ‘Flooded/Wet-Cell’ batteries as they are also known, alongside more modern ‘AGM’ (Absorbent Glass Mat) design batteries and ‘Gel-filled’ or Gel-Acid’ batteries. The older battery style tended to need a top up charge of a few hours upon delivery, alongside distilled water refills when the fluid levels drop. Newer designs are maintenance free.
Fortunately, we already covered some fundamental battery concepts in a previous post, which is definitely worth checking out! However, the short story is that unfortunately for us, all batteries available right now are doomed to fail eventually – how painful is the thought?
Maintenance of the motorcycle battery often comes down to:
Riding it regularly
Checking the voltage output with a volt meter every week or so (you want a reading of 12.5-13.5 volts on a 12 volt battery and a 6 volt should be between 6.5/7.5)
If possible using a tender
Also if you are going to store the bike for any period of time, we suggest taking the battery out of the bike and storing it somewhere cool and dry, attached to a trickle charger/tender.
____ What Is This Tender? ____
A tender is a really smart device which constantly charges your bike’s battery, cutting down the time spent charging the battery and the risk of accidentally running it flat.
The video above will show you how to plug in a tender between rides. Which is something we would certainly recommend – especially if you will leave the bike for more than a day or two.
But we know how it is and life sometimes gets the better of us all. It’s so easy to forget about the bike over the winter or even for chunks of time during the year when you’re busy; then when you come to ride and get nothing from your usually reliable steed – what do you do?
So How Long Do I Need To Charge Motorcycle Battery For?
When the day finally comes and you hear the dreaded sound of a bike not starting – you know it’s time to heroically try and bring your battery back to life. This can be done in theory with any charger, but we recommend using a smart motorcycle charger to reduce the risk of totally destroying your battery!
These chargers will intelligently recharge your battery – ensuring that the battery does not overcharge (this could happen if you attach any old charger) which would irreparably damage the battery. They also have trickle charge features, which much like a tender will slowly charge your battery – balancing the charge lost naturally – while you are not riding.
General rule of thumb with these chargers is to leave them overnight if you can, they are designed to not go over the limits of your battery and should bring you back to the right level to get back on the road!
Battery chargers like the one in the video below are easy to fit and use, and will do the job on their own (if left overnight for example):
If for whatever reason you are unable to use a smart charger, a general motorcycle charger will take anywhere between 4-24 hours to fully charge a battery. You will have to check the voltage at regular intervals to see when the process is complete – and if you don’t have a ‘float mode’ which will make sure the battery doesn’t overcharge we would advise charging at the slowest possible speed (usually 2amps).
Finally, the bad news, if your battery has been damaged by sulfation, has gone flat a few times already and/or isn’t taking any charge – you are looking at the beginning of the end (not to be too dramatic) of the pack’s life. At this point you’ll likely have had a good run, hopefully you can send the battery to the trash with a smile!
There are other reasons why the battery might be going flat – we suggest ruling out any of these before getting rid of the battery itself!
Why Can’t We Just Design Some Kind Of Super Cool Futuristic Bike With No Battery?
You’re going to be shocked, but we’re just not quite there yet. However, there is hope! As you will probably know too well, electric bikes are really coming on strong.
The Harley Davidson ‘Livewire’ has been testing for a couple of years now and has had generally positive reviews, you have to admit it looks awesome! While several other electric bikes are on the market and performing fairly well. Notably the Zero SR, which, released back in 2014 has batteries designed to last the life of the bike!
Oh how we can dream of such lengthy battery-lives…
These electric bikes have great performance, with oodles of torque on offer pretty much all the time, and ranges quoted up to 140 miles. When you can re-charge the pack in an hour or two – they might not be there yet but are certainly becoming a real option!
Why thank-you very much indeed, I enjoyed telling you about them. Just remember, your motorcycle battery can be your best friend or your worst nightmare, expect to change it every three years or so – and take care of it in the mean time!
Feel free to share this article to anyone who has the same question as you. If you have any question or experience which you want to share, let comment below. Thank you!