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Since the invention of motorcycles, there has been a form of battery in a motorcycle. As time goes one, batteries have become more efficient in the way they power a motorcycle, but that doesn’t mean they’re flawless.
It can be very frustrating to have your battery die. It’s even more frustrating when you’re out for a ride and notice you’re losing power and/or the battery is completely drained when you get home.
What causes a motorcycle battery to drain while it is being ridden? A motorcycle battery can drain while you ride. It could be due to a bad connection, corroded terminals, a bad regulator, bad rectifier/regulator or too many electrical add-ons. If your motorcycle is newer, the battery cable vibrates loose, it will shut off automatically.
Having dealt with every battery problem imaginable through the dozen or so motorcycles I’ve owned in the last few years, I’ve been able to get a good idea of exactly how motorcycle batteries work and why it would drain while riding. This article will provide additional explanations and helpful information for those who are experiencing this problem.
Why a battery drains while riding
It’s never a good sign when your motorcycle is struggling to stay running while you’re out for a ride. There could be multiple reasons for something like this, but the likely reason it’s happening is due to the battery.
Although the battery’s function is straightforward, it relies on other parts to function correctly. A bad connection could cause a motorcycle’s battery to drain during riding. The two small metal rods at the top of a cell are called the terminals.
When a motorcycle has a bad terminal connection, that means the battery cable either has a poor connection or isn’t connected at all. The battery should be charging through the stator while it’s running, but if there’s a bad connection, your battery won’t be getting much of a charge.
In the same vein, A battery may drain if it has corroded terminals. It’s possible for battery acid to develop on these terminals which means there’s a barrier between them and the cable that connects to the stator. A poor connection can cause the battery to lose its charge or even disappear while it is riding.
If they seem to be in good communication, The faulty stator could be the reason your motorcycle battery is draining while you ride. A motorcycle’s stator is essentially an alternator in a simpler form.
The stator’s role is to charge the motorcycle’s battery. A bad stator means that the motorcycle is relying on battery power alone, which can quickly drain it. Batteries were not made to power the bike while it’s running, only mainly to get it started. You can read my article here about the operation of a motorcycle stator.
The alternator system includes the regulator/rectifier, but it is typically found separate from the stator. Batteries aren’t able to store AC current so the regulator/rectifier converts power into a type of current the battery can store. The regulator/rectifier can fail, and the battery could be drained while you’re out on a ride.
When the regulator/rectifier isn’t doing it’s job, that could mean it’s not converting the power into voltage the motorcycle can store which leads to the battery not really getting any power at all.
Motorcycle batteries can also be drained by aftermarket modifications and other electrical add-ons. You might find phone chargers, LED lights, and other add-ons. It’s possible for the wiring to have been done wrong when these types of add-ons where installed on a motorcycle.
When these are used while riding, they use additional voltage from the battery especially when there’s poor grounding. These items drain so much of the battery’s juice that the battery may become unresponsive to the next start-up attempt.
Bad batteries could also cause a battery draining during riding. It is more likely that the battery has been used up or is dead. A typical battery for a motorcycle should last between 48 and 4 years. But it’s not uncommon for them to quit before that. Take a look at the expiration date of your battery; if it’s close, it may be time to get a new one.
These are the most common reasons why a motorcycle battery runs out while it is being ridden. Certain motorcycles with newer motors will turn off when the battery cable vibrates. This defense mechanism was designed to protect the cable from striking a ground or sparking. This causes the motorbike to suddenly stop.
The Battery’s Role
The battery’s main role on a motorcycle is to get it started. Unless you have additional electrical ad-ons, that’s basically all the battery does. The stator is responsible for starting the motorcycle and recharging it with the same voltage that the battery used to start it.
You may not notice your motorcycle battery is draining while you’re riding it until you go to start it up again for the next ride. But as we’ve previously discussed, other underlying problems will manifest itself through the battery noticeably draining while riding the motorcycle.
The battery’s role is simple, but if it doesn’t work right the entire motorcycle may not be able to run. Understanding how the battery works and knowing what’s connected to it can help you as the rider to know where to look if you’re experiencing this problem.
How to tell if the battery is the issue
When you’re motorcycle is acting up, there are a few conclusions most motorcycle riders have. And most of the time it’s the battery. There are a few symptoms you can look for to know if you’re truly dealing with the issue of the battery draining while you ride your motorcycle.
Your motorcycle’s first sign is a loss of power and a tendency to become more sluggish with time. You may even see your motorcycle die. You’ll also notice any lights become more dim in this scenario.
You will hear clicking sounds when trying to start your bike again after a battery has been drained. This clicking sound is the motorcycle trying to draw power, but it is failing.
One of the easiest ways to determine if your motorcycle battery is draining while you are riding is to jump start or charge it. It will then work great. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the actual battery, so be sure to go through the check list discussed earlier to see what the real culprit is.
How to Deal With a Dead Battery While Riding
One of the most aggravating things a motorcycle can do to us riders is leave us stranded because the battery won’t work. I’ve been there many times myself and had to get creative with how I got myself home.
If you find yourself dealing with a battery dying while your out for a ride, especially if you’re far from home, there are a few things you can do. Check all connections to the battery first and ensure everything is tight.
There are two options for getting a jump-start: from a motorcycle or a vehicle. You’ll need to proceed with caution if you get a jump start from a car since there’s a risk of ruining the motorcycle battery. Connect the red (positive) cable to your motorcycle’s positive terminal. Next, connect the black (negative) cable to your bike’s frame. Next, connect the positive cable from the car to the positive terminal and then the negative to the terminal.
Turn off the engine. The battery is strong enough to provide enough voltage to the motorcycle to allow you to start it without turning the engine on.
Finally, you might be able to push start your bike if you do not have enough battery power. Pushing a motorcycle starts with getting it moving fast enough to allow the engine to start its combustion cycle. To start the engine, put the motorcycle in second gear. You can read my article to learn how to push-start a motorcycle.