Motorcycle Battery Maintenance Tips
The term 12 volt battery
does not actually represent the complete power of the battery. It is just a convenient term used to set one battery apart from another. A fully charged battery of 12 volts will measure about 12.8 or more volts between terminals however they all will have different Amp Hour and Cold Cranking Amp Ratings. A properly functioning battery is critical to the performance of your motorcycle, therefore battery charging should be a part of the normal maintenance cycle. Maintaining the proper charge for your motorcycle battery may extend the life of the battery as well as save you money on a possible pre-mature replacement.
These are some things you should look for when you are doing maintenance on the motorcycle battery. Because the Ninja 250 has a maintenance free battery some of these things may not be necessary to do. Here are some basic motorcycle battery maintenance tips:
- wear gloves and some protective eyewear when handling batteries
- work only in a well ventilated space. battery fumes are toxic.
- verify the level of the electrolyte in the battery. some batteries you may be able to see through the sides
- the top of the battery should be grime or corrosion free
- the cables, the clamps, terminals and the other elements must be checked for damage and tightness
- replace the battery if any terminals are cracked or broken. starting and charging problems may occur if ignored.
- clean the connectors and the terminals if you find corrosion so that the battery will work properly. a light coating of Vaseline or Di-electric grease will protect them from the elements.
- use a multi-meter to check the voltage of the battery as well as the bike's charging system
- never remove or replace a battery while the engine is running.
- if you plan to put the battery or bike in storage for a while, disconnect or remove the battery. make sure its surface is not conductive, so place it on a wood or rubber surface. do not store the battery on a metal surface or concrete if you remove it from the bike, because after a while it will discharge.
- do not let the battery run low on power. always keep it charged especially if you run any thing off of the battery (extra lights, GPS, alarm etc..)
- be careful on how you connect the cables. Ensure the + positive and - negative cables are clearly marked and connected correctly. always disconnect the negative terminal first and reconnect the negative terminal last.
- do not open the seals on a maintenance free battery and put tap water in it
- if you notice the lights are dim, recharge the battery.
- when revving the engine, and the lights dim you may need to replace the battery or the rectifier/regulator
- if activating the horn, brakes or turn signals increases the rpm speed, charge or replace the battery.
- if your lights on the Ninja 250 begin to flicker or your gauges or engine speed start to act erratically, check your battery connections
- charge to battery if the motor fails to start or the starter relay makes a clicking noise
Because bike batteries are small, a lot of times they do not give advance warnings when they start to go bad. They can be fine one moment and dead the next. troubleshooting a battery can be difficult. Most people figure that just because a battery shows 12 volts on a multi-meter that it is fine. However, the resting voltage should not be below 12.2 volts.
- if the battery fails to hold a charge, and voltage drops below 12.2 volts, get a new battery.
- if after charging the battery it fails to turn the starter over but still reads 12.0 volts or more of output, the amperage of the battery may be to low. battery replacement is recommended.
- for all practical purposes if the battery is below 12.2 volts, itís dead.
- the ideal voltage should be more like 12.6-12.8 volts after the bike has been sitting a few days and also at idle.
- note the voltage readings at various engine speeds with the headlight turned on and then turned off. (To turn off the headlight, disconnect the headlight connector in the upper fairing.) The readings should show nearly battery voltage when the engine speed is low, and, as the engine speed rises, the readings should also rise. But they must be kept under 15 volts.
-if the charging voltage is kept between the 14-15 volts, the charging system is considered to be working normally.
-if the charging voltage is much higher than 15 volts, the regulator/rectifier is defective or the regulator/rectifier leads are loose or open.
-if the charging voltage does not rise as the engine speed increases, then the regulator/rectifier is defective or the alternator output is insufficient for the loads. Check the alternator and regulator/rectifier to determine which part is defective.
- unless the bike has suffered some kind of major damage that may affect the electrical charging system, your battery will more than likely be the culprit for not meeting minimum specifications
- if the battery is properly maintained, it can last 36 months or longer.
Motorcycle Battery Chargers
A motorcycle battery charger should be used to charge and put energy back into our batteries . The technology that is used in the motorcycle battery will determine the charge current.
Typically on the market you will find 4 types of motorcycle battery chargers:
Basic Motorcycle Battery Chargers
A simple charger works by connecting the constant DC power source to the battery that is being charged. This type of charger doesnít change the output of the power based on the charging time. This is why the simple charger is quite cheap but poor in quality. The fact is that it will take much more time to charge the battery with the simple charger than with another one. This is because the longer time avoids the extreme over-charging. But you should not let the battery stay too long on the charger because it may burn out due to the over charging.
Timer-based Motorcycle Battery Chargers
This kind of charger has the ability to stop after a while. These timer based chargers have been the most used kinds for the high-capacity Ni-Cd cells. Most of the times you are able to buy this timer-based charger along with a set of special batteries. If you put some other low capacity batteries in the charger it is most likely that they will be burned out. If high capacity batteries will be charged with this charger the charger would stop after a while and the batteries will remain uncharged. In the years that have gone by, the capacities of the batteries have increased constantly and these timer-based chargers have been rarely used.
Intelligent (or Automatic) Motorcycle Battery Chargers
This type of charger distinguishes itself by the fact that the output current depends on the state of the battery. The charger automatically controls the voltage of the battery and also the temperature. When the battery gets fully charged, the charger will stop feeding it power. In the case of the Ni-Cd and NiMH batteries, the voltage rises in the charging process until the battery gets fully charged. After that it slowly decreases and stops feeding power to the battery once fully charged.
Fast Motorcycle Battery Chargers
These chargers quickly charge the battery without destroying the cells elements. Most of them have a cooling fan and are more expensive.
Kawasaki recommends using a 1.5 Amp Automatic Charger. Schumacher makes a perfect charger designed for small batteries such as used on motorcycles. It can be purchased at Walmart for about $21.00 http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schumacher-XM1-5-Maintainer-1.5-Amp/15140193
The Schumacher Model XM1-5 maintains both 6 and 12-volt batteries, keeping them at full charge using float-mode monitoring. The XM1-5 is perfect for charging small and large batteries found on motorcycles, classic cars, RVs, boats and more.
Schumacher XM1-5 Maintainer, 1.5-Amp:
* 1.5 amp charger and maintainer
* Fully automatic
* Microprocessor controlled
* Automatic voltage detection
* Automatic temperature compensation
* Thermal runaway protection
* Safety start feature
* LEDs indicate charging, charged and power
* Quick disconnect harness
* Reverse hookup protection
I had an older model charger from Schumacher, but I gave it to my dad to use on his riding mower. So I bought the newer model. It comes with set of quick disconnect battery clamps, a quick disconnect cable with terminals to mount directly to the battery and the charger. Installation is quick and easy.