Can A Motorcycle Battery Be Mounted On It’s Side?

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One of the great things about motorcycles is that they’re simple to work on and can easily be customized. With a basic skill set, you can create the motorcycle of your dreams that you’ll be able to show off any time you ride down the road.

There are a few components, however, that you should pay attention to if you’re doing any customizing or rearranging on your motorcycle. If you know anything about motorcycle batteries, you know they have a certain chemistry that shouldn’t be trifled with. You may wonder if there are ways to position your battery in a more pleasing way.

So, can a motorcycle battery be mounted on it’s side? AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat), gel cell, and lithium ion motorcycle batteries can be mounted on their side because they are sealed and won’t leak. Ventilated motorcycle lead acid batteries cannot be mounted sideways because they aren’t sealed and can leak acid.

Before rearranging components on your motorcycle and laying a motorcycle battery on it’s side, make sure you know what kind of battery you have. If this isn’t done properly, it can cause serious damage.

Batteries that are safe to mount on their sides

Over a dozen motorcycles have been restored and owned by me. I try to keep the middle as clean as possible during restoration so that it is easy to see from the sides. This gives the frame a modern, sleek look that is very popular today.

One thing I did quite frequently with my motorcycle restorations was lay the battery on it’s side. If done correctly, you can ultimately make your motorcycle look like it doesn’t have a battery at all.

If you’re caught in the situation where it would be most convenient for you and your motorcycle to lay the battery on it’s side, there are a few choices you can choose from that won’t cause any damage or trouble for you down the road.

AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) is your first choice. Though this is a lead acid battery, it is sealed and doesn’t need distilled water to be added to it like other wet lead acid batteries. It is sealed so that the acid within is fully concentrated around the plates.

Because they are often the most affordable, AGM motorcycle batteries are the most widely used. They’re also pretty resistant to heat, so you can rest a little easier if it’s a hot day outside.

The second type of motorcycle battery you can use and mount on it’s side is the gel cell battery. A lot of people prefer this battery because it’s much smaller and can easily fit under a motorcycle seat. However, they can be more costly.

A gel cell battery can also be considered a sealed lead acid battery. They are also known as gel cell batteries because they do not use wet lead acid but instead contain an electrolyte sulfuric acid that is mixed with silica, which eventually makes them gelified and immovable. In other words, imagine the cells to be filled with Jell-O; no matter which position you place it in, the acid mix will retain it’s shape and keep the cells immersed in it’s mixture.

The third option you have if you want a battery that can be mounted on it’s side is a lithium ion battery. These are the most expensive, but also the most reliable and long-lasting motorcycle batteries. Motorcyclists usually don’t use these because they feel the price is not worth it compared to gel cell or AGM batteries.

The convenient component to motorcycle lithium ion batteries is that they don’t hold any internal liquids or acids that can spill. They are easy to position on your motorcycle because there aren’t any liquids in them or gasses to emit.

What Happens If You Lay The Wrong Battery On It’s Side

Many people don’t know the difference between different types of motorcycle batteries. This could lead to damaged parts on their motorcycles and a dead battery.

You do not want to lay a wet lead acid motorcycle battery on it’s side. Flooded lead acid batteries (FLA) are also known as wet lead acids. They contain a mix of sulfuric acid, water and plates that have been immersed in them. These types require regular distilled water refills.

These batteries can be mounted on their sides so that the acid within will work with gravity to continue to flood the bottom. The plates at the top of the battery have been exposed and are not immersed in acid mixture. This can lead to damage to the plates and eventually battery malfunction.

When a lead acid motorcycle battery is laid on it’s side, the acid mixture inside will also leak from the battery. The corrosive nature of battery acid can cause damage to any metal that is touched.

If inhaled, the gas that is produced by battery acid is flammable. Even though motorcycles aren’t vehicles that keep you inside, the gas can still pose a danger if you’re near one.

How To Maintain A Motorcycle Battery Mounted On It’s Side

After you’ve deemed your motorcycle battery is safe to mount on it’s side, it’s a good idea to still check on your battery every once in a while and do regular maintenance on it.

While we have discussed the best options of the type of motorcycle batteries that are appropriate to mount on it’s side, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re still completely immune to gravity.

Check your battery every few month to make sure it is still in good shape and there are no broken pieces. While it’s safe to lay them on their sides, they were manufactured with the intent to mount them upright. You just want to make sure corners or parts sticking out didn’t get knocked off by some other part of your motorcycle.

It’s also a good idea to reposition your battery about once a year. Again, even though they’re safe to keep mounted on it’s side, particles may still settle a certain way that can possibly affect the battery’s functionality. You can counter this by moving it.

Places To Mount A Motorcycle Battery On It’s Side

If you’re rearranging a few things on your motorcycle and would like to mount your battery somewhere less obvious, I have a few suggested places you can put it that will mostly be out of the way.

You can place your motorcycle battery on top of the swingarm. (As shown above). It is common to have a “V” You can see the shape of the frame on either side. It meets the swingarm which hides the battery.

You can mount your motorcycle battery in the second location, below the swingarm. This may be a little tricky because you’ll need an unbreakable way to mount it there since there’s no part of the motorcycle supporting it underneath. The exhaust will nearly cover this location, which is why it’s a great spot.

You could also mount the battery to the underside of the seat. A lot of motorcycles come stock this way, but if you rearrange a little and mount the battery on it’s side there, you’ll have a better chance at concealing it which gives your motorcycle a cleaner look.

Although this may seem impossible for some, it is possible if your motorcycle has the right anatomy. You may be able mount your motorcycle battery under the gas tank. Again, you’ll need to make sure you have the right reinforcements to keep it from moving around. Because of their small size, gel cell batteries are ideal for this purpose.

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