Shopping guide: how to choose and maintain the battery of your motorcycle?

Guide et conseils pour choisir et entretenir une batterie moto.

How to choose and maintain the battery of your motorcycle?

The battery is used to start your motorcycle! Basic, but essential. In fact, this definition is no longer really accurate. Indeed, it is now necessary to take into account the many technological developments that equip motorcycles. So much so that today, this small "power plant" must meet many energy needs: lighting (headlights, lights, indicators), the resources essential to the mechanical part, the engine (ABS, injection, etc. ) and energy-consuming accessories such as heated grips, GPS, alarm system, electronic speedometers or rev counters, etc.

Front and rear lighting for motorcycles.

The battery must compensate for possible failures of the alternator. Moreover, in addition to the consumption required when starting and using the motorcycle, it continually loses its initial energy stock on a daily basis. Lead, AGM, lithium or gel battery, discover in this article how to choose and maintain the battery of your motorcycle.


How does a battery work?
Which battery to choose for your motorcycle?
The battery brand recommended by the Blackpines workshop
Know the different types of motorcycle batteries
Our advice for installing and protecting your battery
How to best maintain a motorcycle battery?

How does a battery work?

A battery is an accumulator, it stores a reserve of electricity essential for starting a vehicle. In order to generate the necessary voltage , negative and positive plates are bathed in a mixture of water and sulfuric acid (electrolyte). For example, a typical lead-acid battery produces a voltage of 2 V per cell. Thus, 6 elements create a voltage of 12 V.

The moment it is called upon (starting the motorcycle), the battery discharges then is recharged by the alternator, on condition that it is driven for a minimum of time (we will discuss this further below), and subsequently maintained at using a charger. It thus undergoes numerous cycles throughout its use.

Gradually, the acid weakens, causing a decrease in tension. Charging the battery via an electric current supplied by a charger restores its energy.

The discharging and charging of a lead-acid battery is called "battery cycling capacity" .

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Which battery to choose for your motorcycle?

Before even considering the different motorcycle battery technologies, it is worth making sure, before purchasing, of certain characteristics inherent to your motorcycle or your customization project:

  1. check the voltage: although most two-wheelers are today equipped with 12 V batteries, older models may be 6 V;
  1. ampere-hour (Ah): check that it is equivalent to that of the original battery (energy reserve available: for example, a capacity of 6 Ah delivers six amps for 1 hour);
  1. cold cranking current (CCA - Cold Cranking Amps ): provides information on the number of amps supplied by a battery for 30 s at -17.8°C without the voltage dropping below 1.2 V per cell;
  1. position of the terminals: the + and - terminals can be placed on the right or on the left depending on the model. Comply with the original battery;
  1. size of the battery: pay attention to the dimensions of the box intended for its installation.

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The battery brand recommended by the Blackpines workshop

It is on the Florida side, north of Orlando, more precisely in Jacksonville, that the headquarters of the battery manufacturer that our workshop has selected for you is located: Motobatt .

A global manufacturer and marketer of premium powersports, Motobatt is the creator and leader of AGM and Lithium motorcycle battery technologies. Consult our online store to discover the technical specifications of their different batteries or do not hesitate to contact us if you would like additional information.

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Know the different types of motorcycle batteries

Many models are offered on the market, offering distinct performance at prices ranging from simple to double. To help you in your choice, here is an overview of the batteries commonly offered:

The lead battery

Lead acid battery illustration.

The old and classic version of the batteries, recognizable by its filling caps on the top. An inexpensive battery with a fairly long lifespan, however, respecting a monthly check of the levels and a periodic supplement using demineralised water .

It must be placed flat and cannot be oriented differently. It holds the charge for less time and accepts deep discharges less.

The sealed maintenance-free battery

Illustration of a sealed maintenance-free battery.

Similar to the classic lead-acid battery, the maintenance-free battery differs in that it does not require refilling . However, it must be positioned vertically . The most widespread model, inexpensive, it does not require any maintenance and does not entail any risk of acid leakage since it is sealed.

Its lifespan is less than a conventional motorcycle battery. In fact, with use, the water level drops to a comparable extent without being able to do anything about it.

The AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery

AGM battery MB16U

Maintenance-free sealed batteries, AGMs offer stable charging while generating high power . They also work with an electrolyte based on acid and water. With the difference that the water is absorbed by fiberglass blotters (better resistance to cold).

Resilient , it can be positioned in any direction and is well suited to off-road motorcycles such as Scramblers . Another advantage is that its self-discharge rate is low, between 1 and 3% per month . More expensive than traditional models, it however offers a shorter lifespan than a gel battery and has difficulty handling discharges above 80%.

The gel battery

Motobatt GEL-battery.

Similar to a lead/acid battery, the gel battery incorporates the addition of silica to the electrolyte to generate a gel-like substance. Waterproof , it requires no maintenance, can be positioned in any direction and is also resistant to shocks and vibrations (less, however, than for AGM).

More expensive than other types of batteries, the gel battery benefits from these advantages:

  • significant resilience to strong discharges (no damage following deep discharges);
  • low self-discharge rate (1 to 3% per month);
  • higher number of charge cycles than AGM batteries;
  • better withstands temperature differences (hot or cold).

Namely : gel batteries do not tolerate high charging or discharging speeds. In fact, they must be used with a charger with a special charging function such as the Noco Genius 5 .

The lithium battery (lithium / iron / phosphate)

Motobatt lithium battery.

Totally different technology from previous ones, the lithium motorcycle battery contains neither lead nor acid but dry lithium cells. This gives it an interesting ecological advantage, a higher CCA and better resistance to deep discharge.

The motorcycle lithium battery in a few figures:

  • 2 to 4 times more expensive;
  • 3 times lighter;
  • lifespan 5 times greater than a maintenance-free model;
  • 80% recharge in minutes;
  • loses only 10% charge per year.

Please note : lithium batteries handle the discharge generated by various equipment such as GPS, USB chargers, etc. less well. The use of conventional batteries is therefore recommended for users of accessories of this type, especially if you use them when stationary.

Another element to take into account: the cold. Lithium batteries react sluggishly to temperatures below -5 degrees.

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Our advice for installing and protecting your battery

To replace a used or defective battery, you have purchased your new battery. Would you like to know the right actions to adopt to preserve it and keep it as long as possible? Here are our tips to help you maintain your motorcycle's battery as best as possible.

How to install a new battery?

After turning off the ignition, first disconnect the “-” terminal, then the + terminal of the old battery.

Once the retaining brackets have been removed and the drain pipe detached (conventional batteries), proceed to clean the receptacle.

Position your new battery and replace the retaining brackets to secure it. All you have to do is connect the red terminal to the + terminal and the black terminal to the “-” terminal.

Namely: the current is provided by the passage of electrons through the two “-” and + electrodes. Immersed in an electrolyte bath, they provide the motorcycle with the electrical current needed to start it. In return, while driving, the electrons follow an inverse path, from + to “-” , thus allowing the battery to be recharged via the alternator.

How to protect your motorcycle battery in winter?

If modern batteries see their lifespan lengthen, they are nonetheless fragile. It is therefore imperative to take a few precautions to preserve them, especially during the winter period.

The number one enemy remains negative temperatures. Protect your motorcycle if possible from the cold and humidity. In case of prolonged disuse, if you do not have a charger, you can always dismantle your battery and store it in a temperate place.

Maintaining your motorcycle in winter.

Please note: if disconnecting a battery does not pose any particular problems on old motorcycles with carburetors , it will not be the same on recent motorcycles. Indeed, deprived of energy, the ECU (electronic control unit, or Engine Control Unit) loses its recorded data. Connecting the battery may cause malfunctions when calibrating the injection parameters and the various sensors.

Pay attention to the repetition of short journeys , less than 20 minutes . Successive starts and insufficient kilometers traveled do not allow the alternator to recharge the battery correctly.

Ineluctably, it will discharge until it is completely empty. To overcome this problem, it will be necessary to use a charger on a regular basis to bring it up to level.

If your motorcycle is not used for a long period of time, such as the winter season , the self-discharge of a battery, especially if it is not 100% charged, can lead to a complete discharge which could be fatal. To avoid getting to this point, drive from time to time on journeys of several tens of kilometers, or use a charger during the extended stop. It will automatically keep it at its optimal charge level.

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How to best maintain a motorcycle battery?

It's not because you can't see it or hear it that the battery isn't a wearing part, quite the contrary. Just like the various parts fitted to the motorcycle, it is subject to aging. Over the cycles , the original capacity will decrease until it is completely discharged.

However, it is possible, by adopting simple actions , to significantly increase the lifespan of your battery.

The different battery charging modes of the Noco Genius 5.

Two or three times a year, do not hesitate to check its charge (at rest) using a smart charger or a voltmeter . This will allow you to recharge it to keep it at its maximum level. Take the opportunity to examine the terminals and clean them (if there is any oxidation).

Diagnostics offered by the Genius 5 battery charger.

For information, a 12 V battery in good condition should display a voltage of approximately 12.7 V. Below 12.4 V, or less than 70% charged, do not delay in recharging it. At 12.00 V the charge drops to 20%, and lower, a conventional battery will probably be good to change.

Battery (12V)










Please note : an intelligent charger can detect the appearance of sulphation or acid stratification. It has automated procedures to ensure maintenance of any type of battery. An investment that ultimately turns out to be very profitable since the charger will be used for your different vehicles.

Certain models of chargers, such as the Noco Genius 5 or Noco Genius 10, allow discharged batteries to be recharged up to 1V, or even down to 0 V.

Calculation of the available charge of a battery.

At Motobatt, we have selected 3 high quality chargers:

the Baby Boy , perfect for small 6 V and 12 V batteries , up to 20 Ah (lead-acid, AMG and gel).

The Water Boy , an intelligent battery charger, 100% waterproof , usable outdoors (lead-acid, AMG and gel).

The PDC2X2A Double Station charger that will allow you to maintain and charge two batteries of different sizes simultaneously.

    If you use a conventional battery , remember to regularly check the electrolyte level. Use demineralized water to top up and avoid falling below the minimum.

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    Glossary of battery terms

    AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat): fiberglass membrane filtering sulfuric acid from lead batteries.

    Charge acceptance: quantity of energy absorbable by the battery at a charge level, temperature and voltage in a specific time.

    Ampere-hour (Ah): measures the storage capacity of a battery. To calculate it, simply multiply the number of amperes by the discharge time (A xh). A battery providing 6 amps for 10 hours will have an electrical storage capacity of 60 amp-hours.

    Ampere (A): Ampere is the unit of measurement of current (flow of electrons) through an electrical circuit.

    Battery Capacity: Informs about the ability of a charged battery to deliver a specific amount of electricity at a given level, amps, for a specified duration.

    Cycle: equals a discharge followed by a charge.

    Discharge: each time the battery produces current.

    Deep discharge: result of a slow and complete discharge of a battery cell under a low current. Causes a voltage drop lower than the final discharge voltage.

    Electrolyte: mixture of sulfuric acid and water in a lead-acid battery.

    Element: a 12 V lead-acid motorcycle battery consists of 6 elements. A set of positive and negative plates, electrolyte, separators and a housing make up the electrochemical electricity production unit.

    Charge level: amount of energy stored at a given time. It is a % of the electrical energy contained in a fully charged battery.

    Ohm: unit of measurement of the electrical resistance or impedance of a circuit.

    Stratification: when recharging a lead-acid battery, high density acid is formed at the level of the plates (metal frame containing the active material, spongy lead for the negatives, lead dioxide for the positive ones). This heavier acid is deposited at the bottom of the elements while the less dense acid rises. This stratification phenomenon can cause a loss of capacity or even a battery malfunction.

    Volt (V): unit of measurement of electrical voltage.

    Watt (W): unit of measurement of electrical power (W = A x V).

    For further

    Still on the subject of electricity, be sure to read our article on the subject of the wiring harness. A recurring theme in the world of motorcycle preparation, especially following the purchase of an old motorcycle.

    Practical information on simplifying the wiring harness.

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