1. What is the easiest type of battery to maintain?
Gel batteries come already filled and sealed so you will not have to mess around adding the electrolyte (acid) and topping the battery up. A gel battery (also known as a factory activated maintenance free battery) will be easy to handle and you can put it straight on the charger as soon as it arrives. Once charged you can install it on your bike and if the battery runs flat you can just replace it with a new one. Don’t forget that when a new battery arrives it will be dry charged to around 80%. If you do not charge it fully before you put it on your bike then the battery will only ever be chargeable to 80% for the rest of its life and this can cause a lot of problems.
2. Will an immobiliser drain a motorbike battery?
Bike batteries do not like to be neglected or unused and can self-discharge over just a few months. This can be even quicker if you have an immobiliser or alarm connected and this can mean that when you next come to use your bike it can have a flat battery. If the motorbike battery gets too flat you will be unable to charge it again and then you will have to buy a new one. If you do have an immobiliser or do not use your bike for long periods of time then you will need to put the battery on a trickle charge to keep it topped up and ready to use.
3. How do I charge conventional batteries?
For safety reasons conventional batteries are transported and stored in separate parts. This means you will have to introduce the electrolyte (dilute sulphuric acid) to the battery cells before you can charge it up. You do need to be very careful when using dilute sulphuric acid as it is still strong enough to cause burns. Make sure you use gloves and protective eyewear when filling the cells and put some newspaper down to protect worktop surfaces. All you need to do is uncap the cells and fill them up to the max line. Leave the motorbike battery for a few minutes to let the acid settle and then check to see if it needs topping up. You can then replace the caps and plug the battery into the charger. If you need to top the cells at a later date you must use deionised or distilled water.
4. Can I charge up my battery whilst it is still on the bike?
You cannot charge a battery up on the bike properly so you will need to take it off and charge it separately. If you charge on the bike it will only ever reach 80% of the full charge and this could actually damage a new battery that has never been charged before.
5. Can I use a car charger for my motorbike battery?
You must never use a car charger to charge up motorcycle batteries as the current is too powerful and it could damage the internal workings of the batteries and render them useless. Remember motorbike batteries are much smaller than car batteries and do not require the same high rate charging units. You can buy some universal chargers that have both car and bike settings but make sure you select the bike setting before you start the charge.
6. Why do conventional batteries need topping up?
Conventional batteries are filled with a dilute sulphuric acid which means the sulphuric acid is mixed with water. Over time the water can evaporate and this can make the acid mixture too strong. This can lead to corrosion in the internal parts of the battery and ultimately it will lose its charge and could even short out. You need to check the battery levels every 6 months and top up with deionised or distilled water if necessary. Never top up with additional acid as you will just make the battery more acidic and accelerate the corrosion process.
7. How do I choose the right battery for my bike?
You need to refer to your owner’s manual to find out which battery will be appropriate for your bike. There are many different bike batteries available and you will need to find the one best suited to your make and model of bike. Older vintage bikes may not have been originally produced with a battery. However if you want to ride them on modern roads you will need to have lights and indicators and this will require at least a 12v battery. You can find out more about buying the right battery by reading through owner’s manuals, owner’s club forums and manufacturer’s guidance.
8. Why does the battery make a fizzing sound whilst it is charging?
When the electrolyte (dilute sulphuric acid) in your bike batteries starts to react with the lead plates this will create lead sulphate. A by-product of this is the release of some oxygen particles and this causes small bubbles to form inside the battery. This can create a fizzing or popping noise which may sound a little strange but is perfectly normal. This noise should only be heard close to the battery whilst it is charging and also for a short time after the bike has been ridden as this chemical process can still be occurring. You should not hear any noises from a motorbike battery that is not being charged or has not been recently used.
9. How do I know when my battery is fully charged?
You can check motorcycle batteries with a volt meter to see if they are fully charged. A charged 12 volt battery should be between 12.5 and 13.5 volts. A 6 volt battery should be between 6.5 and 7.2 volts when fully charged. If you do not have a volt charger then you could just put the battery onto an intelligent charger and this will tell you if the battery is already full. If not you can just leave it on the charger until it has charged. You can also tell if your battery is getting low when it becomes difficult to start your bike and the lights seem very dim.
10. Why does a new battery go flat so quickly when I put it on my bike?
There could be a few reasons why a new motorbike battery gets discharged quickly. Check your alarm system if you have one as if this is faulty it can drain the battery very quickly. A faulty reg/rec (regulator/rectifier) can also flatten a battery quickly. You can test this quickly by switching on your headlights and then revving the engine a few times. If the light gets dimmer then the reg/rec needs looking at.