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Your motorcycle is your pride and joy. You take it out whenever you can and wash, clean, and detail it to keep it in pristine condition. And you become especially detailed when you finally have to lock your motorcycle up as winter moves in. But your spring fun can all come crashing down if you don’t remove the battery and keep it charged.
You could leave the battery in, but you’ll have to roll it out every week or so and start it up for a few minutes each time and that’s, well, a pain. And leaving your battery in your bike for long periods of inactivity is the surest way of draining it and finding yourself staring at a bill for a new battery.
But while a motorcycle isn’t the biggest of machines, some people still don’t know where their battery actually is. Nor do they know how to store it, what sort of trickle charger they need, and what sort of battery it uses. Thankfully, we do and want to get you learned. Let’s grab a fistful of throttle and get into it.
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Where’s A Motorcycle’s Battery?
A motorcycle isn’t a big machine. There aren’t many places you can store a 6-pound battery. Well, there are two places you can really fit a battery and that’s under your motorcycle’s seat or beneath the gas tank.
The most common spot, which included my old Suzuki SV650, is beneath your motorcycle's seat. Accessing it is pretty simple, as all you need is your motorcycle’s key. Along the side of your bike, you’ll find a key lock that controls the mechanism locking your seat to your bike’s frame. Insert, twist, and you’ll then have access to the motorcycle’s inner compartment. Your battery is located within.
From there, all you’ll need to do to remove it is remove the leads—red first, black second—and remove the bracket holding it in place and you’re done. To reinstall your motorcycle’s seat, slot your seat back into the tab, twist the key, and then push the seat into place.
If your battery is beneath the gas tank, it can be accessed a few different ways. On Honda Africa's Twin, which was used as my photography subject, you'll need the provided Allen wrench that's attached to the seat bottom. You then move to the left side of the motorcycle and remove the battery cover with the Allen wrench. You can then remove it as you normally do any other battery. For those that are beneath the gas tank, like Ducati's Monster, you'll need to remove the gas tank's fairing, remove the bolts holding the gas tank in place, and then move it enough to access the battery within the bowels of the motorcycle. You can then remove the battery as you normally would.
Done, dusted, and ready to charge for the winter.
Which Trickle Charger Works for Motorcycles?
Most car trickle chargers can work for motorcycles, too. However, older motorcycles sometimes use 6V batteries and you’ll need to change the settings on your trickle charger to reflect that motorcycle’s battery output.
Motorcycle Trickle Chargers
Do Motorcycles Need Special Batteries?
They do indeed. While a motorcycle still uses a 12V battery, they’re a lot smaller than your average car battery. Most new motorcycles come with lithium-ion batteries, as their footprint is smaller, and weight is lower. They also don’t have the same cranking amps as a car battery, because you just don’t need it to power a motorcycle’s smaller displacement engine and electronics.
There are a host of great battery options available, too, ranging in price and function. You’ll want to consult your motorcycle’s dusty manual to see which one is right for your specific application, i.e. a Honda Africa Twin will have different needs compared to a 50cc Yamaha.
How Long Do Motorcycle Batteries Last?
If you keep your battery charged, and ensure you don’t have any shorts draining your battery, a good motorcycle battery will last anywhere between three and five years. But you have to take care of it, including during its storage in winter.