Battery Maintenance and Replacement

So you're sick of your battery running flat and pushing your bike to get it started is becoming a bad joke. It's time for a new battery, but wait a minute is it really the battery at fault here, or something else going on?

No way everything works just fine once the bike is going so it must be the battery.

Ok then, determined to show everyone you know a few things mechanical, off you go and blow $100.00 or up to $300.00 if it's a top quality one. Everything is going fine and life's just about as good as it can get.........for about week anyway, and then the same problem starts creeping in again. You start the bike and go for a ride stopping somewhere for a coffee along the way and now the battery won't crank the engine over again; you're stuffed. Sound familiar?

This is such a common problem I'm going to hopefully clear up a few misconceptions.

Rule number one. Don't just assume your battery is at fault, in more than 50% of cases it's the victim not the perpetrator and it's very likely something else is going on.

Rule number two. Refer to rule number one!

Rule number three. In this technological age everyone is adding equipment to the their bikes - navigation systems, mobile phones, intercoms and in some countries yes, even TV. If you're doing this yourself and screwing the power wires straight onto the battery terminals then make sure the terminals are done up tight. Seriously people it drives me insane to see loose battery terminals, it causes all sorts of running issues on modern motorcycles. Check by trying to move the terminals with your fingers; if they move then you haven't done them up tight enough.

Be very very careful if you have to use a longer bolt, make sure they are stainless steel. If they are too long the bolts will tighten up on the battery post base leaving your terminals loose. Quite possibly the bike runs fine but every time you go over a bump the terminals bounce up and down on the battery post causing an arc and a frustrating miss fire. Arcing battery terminals is also bad for electronics, so be careful.

On the subject of adding gadgets, it is very "bad practice" to load them straight onto the battery posts. The correct way is to make a new wiring loom preferably with a fused relay off the ignition switch or a spare fuse if your bike has one. That way you don't overload anything, encourage corrosion (bad), or put pressure on any other part of the electrical system.

Your charging system is the key to supply all the bikes components with sufficient electricity. You might notice there are lots of relays, wires of different lengths and diameters, probably more than one earthing point, sensors that work on 5 volts or less etc. The point is the manufacture has used very precise calculations to work out all the requirements for the system to operate correctly. Every time you add components the charging system has to work harder to supply enough power. If you wired them straight to the battery the terminals will most likely be loose and there will be corrosion and even arcing. The charging system is not designed to handle it and will at some point fail as a direct result.

So the next time you decide to do it yourself and replace the battery just think about what you are doing. What has been done in the past that might cause the problem. Don't waste hundreds of dollars on a battery; take it to a professional who can test it, or take the bike to a competent auto-electrical shop to test the complete system, It doesn't take long and will save you a lot of time and frustration.


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