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Winterizing Your Motorcycle Battery

As temperatures steadily drop and winter lies just around the corner, many motorcycle owners face a tough decision. You don’t want to ride during the winter, but you also don’t want to let your bike sit for several months. Besides finding an appropriate place to store your ride, how do you do things like winterizing a motorcycle battery?

Even if you plan to store it during the long winter months, motorcycle maintenance is essential. No one wants to hop on their bike only to find it won’t start because the battery died. Taking care of the battery while your motorcycle sits in storage will prepare it for that first warm day.

Why Winterize a Motorcycle Battery?

Preparing a motorcycle battery for winter storage isn’t a complicated process. Unlike caring for the frame or determining the best place to board your iron horse, maintaining the battery involves a few simple steps. Keep in mind that the purpose is to do the following:

  • Keep the battery from freezing
  • Ensure that the battery stays charged
  • Maintain your motorcycle year-round

Inspecting Your Battery

What’s an excellent way to ensure your battery works well before winter storage? Inspect it. Checking your motorcycle battery and its various components will help keep it in great shape when sitting idle.

Take a look at the battery cables, housings, fasteners, posts, etc. Double-check components to confirm that everything is secure and properly connected. You may need to spray a battery cleaner product and use a brush to clean surfaces and prevent corrosion.

Inspecting your battery isn’t as necessary as some of the other steps. However, it can help you spot minor problems before they escalate and later cause inconvenient costly damages. Always use caution when handling any vehicle battery to avoid electrical shock and safety hazards.

Checking Your Battery Charge

Before winterizing a motorcycle battery or storing it for an extended length of time, you should check its charge state. If the battery is running more than 12.73 volts, mission accomplished—you can move on with your winterization process. But if your battery charge state reads between 12.06 and 12.73 volts, consider giving it a little juice.

You can check your battery’s charge using a multimeter. If you don’t own a multimeter, we recommend buying one since it is relatively inexpensive. A multimeter will help you gauge your motorcycle battery’s charge levels and identify the right time to replace or recharge it.

Getting the Right Motorcycle Battery

When you checked the battery charge with the multimeter, did it show less than 12.06 volts? If so, find a replacement battery. An old, worn-out battery won’t do you any good once springtime rolls around and you want to hit the road.

Check the owner’s manual to ensure that you get the right battery for your motorcycle. Most motorcycles use a lead-acid battery. However, this is the perfect time to upgrade and get a more efficient, cost-effective battery like a lithium-ion battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are an excellent alternative to traditional fuel cells. They can make winterizing your bike and maintaining its battery so much easier. Specifically, lithium-ion batteries offer two significant benefits:

  • Almost zero discharge: Your lead-acid battery charge doesn’t stay the same when unused. It will slowly discharge during the winter hibernation period. However, lithium-ion batteries have practically no self-discharge, meaning your bike is always ready to roll.
  • Lighter weight: Lead-acid batteries are heavy and can weigh down your motorcycle while on the road. On the other hand, you have lithium-ion batteries. Replacing a lead-acid battery with a lithium-ion one can reduce your bike’s total weight by over five pounds.

If you’re planning to replace your old motorcycle battery, why go back to bulky, self-discharging lead-acid batteries? A lithium-ion battery can make your ride lighter and make hooking your battery up to a charger unnecessary.

Connecting Your Battery to a Maintainer

The next step to preparing your battery for winter storage involves hooking it up to a battery maintainer. Maintainers are simple and easy-to-use devices that will vary depending on your type of battery. You’ll need to know what battery type your motorcycle uses before purchasing and connecting a charger.

Some self-proclaimed mechanics may tell you to disconnect your battery and set it aside for storage. However, your lead-acid battery will discharge over time and eventually die. When riding season arrives, you probably won’t have enough juice to start your motorcycle.

You may also hear that you should hook your battery to a trickle charger. However, this is also amateur advice. Expert mechanics know you should never leave a battery connected to a trickle charger for prolonged periods.

Trickle chargers continually send power to your motorcycle battery. If you let your battery trickle charge all winter long, it could overcharge and face irreparable damage. Meanwhile, battery maintainers can charge your battery and monitor its charge level, shutting it off at the appropriate time.

Choosing the Right Storage Location

Choosing the right storage location will not only protect your bike but also protect your bike’s battery. Freezing temperatures can crack your battery’s casing and lead to permanent damage. However, motorcycle batteries freeze at different rates depending on their charge:

  • Fully charged batteries can withstand temperatures as low as -75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dead batteries (fully discharged) will freeze at 27 degrees Fahrenheit

As you prepare your motorcycle battery for long-term dormancy, make sure you hook it up to a maintainer in a climate-controlled environment. The battery could easily get ruined if you don’t remove it from the bike or leave it outside. Your best bet is to store it in your garage, home, or storage facility unit, where temperatures don’t fluctuate as much.

Final Reminders From Our Team at The Law Tigers

Winterizing a motorcycle battery is a must for anyone who owns a motorcycle. Before putting your two-wheeled iron horse in the stable, you’ll want to:

  • Inspect the battery
  • Check the charge state
  • Buy the right replacement if necessary
  • Hook up a battery maintainer
  • Choose a climate-controlled storage location

Proper battery maintenance means you’ll be ready to ride again as soon as possible when spring rolls around! Still with us? Great! Just a final clean and cover and we’ll be ready to put her to bed.

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