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If you’re a motorcycle owner, you probably know that a motorcycle simply cannot function if the battery isn’t at a full charge. Batteries are a vital part of how a motorcycle starts, so we need to pay special attention to them so they don’t cause us grief down the road.
Winter and cold temperatures can make it difficult to care for a motorcycle battery. Winter maintenance is essential because of the extreme temperatures and infrequent use.
How do you keep your motorcycle’s battery charged in winter? A battery tender can be connected to a motorcycle’s battery during winter. You can also use a trickle charger occasionally while watching it.
It can be hard to live in an area with harsh winters while riding a motorcycle. I have lived most of my life in places with cold winters and have been able to figure out the best ways to maintain and prolong a battery’s life through such conditions.
How to Keep Your Motorcycle’s Battery Charged in Winter
It’s easy to get stressed about the life of your motorcycle during the cold months of the year. You’re not alone in these stresses, but rest assured that if you take a few simple steps, the life of your motorcycle won’t suffer much at all.
Motorcycle batteries can be a fit finicky, especially when they’re left out in the cold. The cold weather can have a significant impact on your motorcycle’s battery.
You can start winter charging your motorcycle battery by hooking it up to a battery tender. We will be covering the difference between a battery tender and a trickle charger later.
A battery tender allows you to hook up your bike battery throughout winter. It has a sensor on it that will notify the system that the battery is starting to lose it’s charge and will automatically start charging it. The system will stop charging the battery when it detects that it is full charged. This prevents overcharging. You can basically let the system do all the work and not worry about it.
Some people are concerned that the battery tender may freeze and not be able to charge the battery. In most cases, you don’t need to worry because battery tenders are plugged in which prevents them from freezing.
A trickle charger is the second choice. Although both a trickle charger or a battery charger can charge your motorcycle battery, a trickle charger charges the battery continuously and is not like a battery tender that turns on and off.
If you use a trickle charger, you’ll need to supervise the charge to ensure it does not overcharge the battery. It’s possible to overcharge a bike battery. The signs of this are if it starts swelling or becomes hot.
The trickle charger can be used occasionally to prolong the life of your motorcycle’s battery. Hook the trickle charger up to the battery every few weeks or every other month and check in on the battery while it’s charging so it doesn’t get overcharged.
You can also keep your bike’s battery charged by simply disengaging it from the battery, and then bringing it in to be stored at controlled temperatures until spring.
This option is recommended. It should be kept away from heat sources.
Your motorcycle battery will discharge slightly if it is kept inside in winter. However, this is not as bad as if it were left outside. It is possible to continue charging it during winter, but make sure to do it outside. Or you can wait until spring to recharge it.
Additional Maintenance for Motorcycle Batteries During Winter
There are many things you can do to prolong the life of your bike’s battery, in addition to keeping it charged. These are the things that people often forget about.
You should check your battery cables every now and again to make sure they aren’t cracked or brittle. Exposed wires can shorten the battery and make it more difficult to charge. If you plan to keep your motorcycle battery connected during winter, make sure the connectors are always tight so dirt or dust doesn’t get in between and lessen the connection.
Any time you are handling the motorcycle battery, always use insulated tools (tools that have rubber casings around the handles) so you don’t end up shorting the terminals.
Make sure to not let your motorcycle battery lose more than 20% of it’s charge (or the charge doesn’t get below 80%). If it gets below this, it may lose it’s capacity to charge fully.
It’s also a good idea to always inspect the terminals and make sure there is no acid build up on them. It’s fairly common for this to happen, but this prevents a full connect from the cables and could potentially cause problems.
What Happens to A Motorcycle Battery in Winter?
Motorcycle batteries can also be affected by harsh weather conditions, just like humans. It is possible for a motorcycle battery freeze.
Cold temperatures can inhibit a motorcycle battery’s ability to start a motorcycle. When a motorcycle has been exposed to cold temperatures for a certain amount of time, the oil inside the engine can lose some of it’s viscosity which makes the movement of the pistons a lot more difficult.
This means that the motorbike will require more power to start. A cold battery that is already inefficient and almost dead makes it impossible to get more power.
It is impossible to pinpoint the temperature at which a motorcycle battery will freeze. It all depends on how fully charged or discharging the battery. Fully charged batteries will require much colder temperatures to freeze, while a battery that has been discharged can freeze at below freezing temperatures.
It’s important to know that a fully discharged battery doesn’t mean it has zero voltage. A battery that is completely dead means it has less than 12 V, while a fully charged battery should be at 12.6 V. So if you use a multimeter and notice your battery is below 12 volts, you know you’ll promptly need to charge it.
They are also susceptible to parasitic drain, which is caused by freezing temperatures that can affect the motorcycle’s functionality.
Because of the stator, your battery receives a regular, routine charge each time you ride your motorcycle. The stator charges the battery during the motorbike’s operation.
The winter usually mean you’ll be using your motorcycle a lot less than you have been during the warm months. Because the motorcycle battery isn’t getting the normal charge during rides, parasitic drain, or poorly grounded wires that slowly discharge the battery, starts to take place. You can see how a battery on a motorcycle is charged while riding by clicking here.
Is a cold winter able to destroy a motorcycle battery?
There may be some of you who didn’t know that a motorcycle battery required maintenance throughout the winter and may have done nothing throughout the cold months.
If you’re at this point, or simply just curious, you may be wondering if a single cold winter could destroy or ruin a motorcycle battery if no maintenance or charging was performed on it. It all depends on the battery’s age, how much it was discharged, how cold the temperature was and how old the battery was.
Sometimes you just need a replacement battery. If your battery was a few years old and didn’t have much of a charge to begin with during the winter, chances are the battery has been ruined and you will need a new one. Multimeters are a great way to test the battery’s lifespan. If you’re curious about whether or not a motorcycle battery can freeze, see my article here.
How long can a motorcycle be left on its battery before it dies? The average motorcycle battery will die after 2 – 4 months without running. Newer batteries can last longer with an average of 3 – 5 months until dying whereas older batteries will have an average of 1 – 3 months until the battery dies while the motorcycle is sitting. For more information, click here
Is it possible to jump-start a motorcycle using a car? Jump starting a motorcycle with a car is possible. It is possible to damage the motorcycle battery by doing it wrong. While the jumper cables are being connected, disconnect both cars. Once the jumper cables are connected, turn off the motorbike and take it apart.