Motorcycle battery maintenance is one of the least performed areas of maintenance by motorcycle owners. Due to the placement of the battery on the motorcycle, it can be hard to get to so it is often overlooked. An inspection of the battery should be performed at least once a month. Why should we check the battery so often? Batteries can quickly lose their charge if they aren’t used on an everyday basis. Most of the motorcyclists that I know ride only on the weekends so there are often several days between rides in which the battery is not in use. The majority of motorcycle breakdowns can be attributed to a poorly maintained battery.
What should we check when doing motorcycle battery maintenance? First, check the voltage to determine what kind of charge the battery has. A fully charged battery will draw about 12.6 volts. If you check the battery and it is reading at around 12 volts, then your battery is most likely depleted or on it’s last legs. If your battery is testing low then try charging the battery. If it is an old battery and has been dangerously low several times before, then it may not charge at all and you will have to replace the battery.
One aspect of motorcycle battery maintenance that is often overlooked is the electrolyte level. Low electrolyte levels can cause your battery to lose it’s charge or lose it’s charge faster than normal. Remove the cover and fill the cells with distilled water only. There should be a level indicator inside the battery that will tell you where to fill it to. Be certain to do this in a well ventilated area and to wear gloves. Remember, you are dealing with dangerous fumes and acid.
Check the terminals for any corrosion or buildup. Removing corrosion on the terminals and clamps will create a better contact. Poor performance can often be attributed to buildup and grime on the battery terminals. This buildup can impede the flow of electricity resulting in slow starts or sluggish behavior in the engine. Cleaning the terminals should always be included when performing motorcycle battery maintenance.
Make sure the exhaust tube is clear and free of any debris and watch for any kinking of the exhaust tube as well. If the exhaust tube is clogged or kinked, then gas may accumulate and build to such a high pressure that the battery will burst. It is a rare occasion that a battery bursts open but it can happen. While performing motorcycle battery maintenance, be sure to take the time to examine the exhaust tube.