Motorcycle Battery Guide: Changing, Replacing, & More

Feb 4, 2024

Tags:guideowner

A bad or drained battery is one of the most common issues among owners who list their motorcycles for rent on Riders Share. Listing your bike is a great way to earn extra income if it's otherwise collecting dust, but it’s important to check your battery is still working- specifically during winter months. 

Motorcycle batteries don’t last nearly as long as car batteries, but how long do they last, actually? One straightforward answer to extending your battery life is to maintain it by keeping it clean, especially for dirt bikes. 

In this blog, we’ll review the most commonly asked questions on motorcycle batteries, including how long motorcycle and dirt bike batteries last and how to change the battery on your motorcycle. 

How long does a motorcycle battery last?

Your conventional lead-acid battery only lasts around 2-5 years. A lithium motorcycle battery can last up to 8 years under optimal conditions, while AGM batteries typically last about 3 to 5 years.  However, this can be shorter if the battery isn't properly maintained. 

Regular charging, proper storage, and avoiding deep discharges can significantly affect a battery's lifespan. Using a battery tender during long periods of inactivity, like over the winter, can also help extend its life. Regular checks and maintenance are key to getting the most out of your motorcycle battery!

How long do dirt bike batteries last?

The lifespan of a dirt bike battery is similar to that of standard motorcycle batteries, generally lasting between three to five years. This can vary depending on the type of battery (e.g., lead-acid, AGM, lithium), how it's used, and how well it's maintained. 

What’s the best type of motorcycle battery? Lead-acid vs. AGM vs. Lithium

AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) Batteries:

Pros: Maintenance-free, vibration-resistant, long shelf life.

Cons: More expensive, heavier.

Best for: Riders seeking a balance between performance and cost.

Lead Acid Batteries:

Pros: Cost-effective, widely available.

Cons: Requires regular maintenance, sensitivity to vibration, and shorter lifespans, contains lead (which is an environmental hazard)

Best for: Budget-conscious riders okay with maintenance.

Lithium Batteries:

Pros: Lightweight, long lifespan, low self-discharge.  

Cons: The most expensive battery, sensitive to cold temperatures.

Best for: Performance-focused riders, those who prefer advanced technology.

Choose AGM for a good all-rounder, Lead Acid for budget, and Lithium for performance.

picture showing replacement of motorcycle battery and holding an acid pack or sealed battery electrolyte pack to prepare for fill up of battery DIY motorcycle battery maintenance

Why Regular Battery Maintenance is Necessary

Maintaining your motorcycle battery is not just about prolonging its life; it's about making sure your motorcycle is ready when you are. Regular maintenance helps prevent common issues like battery drainage and ensures optimal performance. Here are three things you can do regularly:

  1. Regularly check for signs of corrosion or leaks and ensure the terminals are clean and tight.
  2. Keep your battery appropriately charged. Overcharging or undercharging your battery can reduce its lifespan. Consider using a smart charger for motorcycle batteries to maintain the right charge level.
  3. If you're storing your motorcycle for the winter, remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. Trickle charging during storage can help maintain battery health.

Extending Your Battery's Lifespan

Your riding habits can also impact battery life. Short trips, for instance, don’t allow the battery to charge, leading to a shortened lifespan fully. Here are 3 ways you can extend your motorcycle battery’s lifespan:

  1. Ride regularly to help maintain the battery’s charge level.
  2. Try to avoid frequent short rides. If unavoidable, consider investing in a battery tender to keep the battery fully charged.
  3. When not in use, store your motorcycle in a temperature-controlled environment to prevent extreme temperatures from affecting the battery.

Common Signs of Battery Issues

Awareness of the signs of a failing battery can prevent you from being stranded. Look out for:

  • Difficulty Starting: If your motorcycle struggles to start, it’s a clear sign your battery is losing charge.
  • Dim Lights: Noticeably dimmer headlights or dashboard lights are often early indicators of battery issues.
  • Irregular Performance: Any unusual electrical issues could point to a battery problem.

How to Diagnose Battery Problems

You have to diagnose and resolve battery problems in motorcycles for reliable performance. The most common issues include batteries failing to hold a charge or starting the motorcycle. 

  1. To troubleshoot, start by inspecting the battery for physical damage or leaks. 
  2. Check the terminals for corrosion or loose connections, which can impede power flow. Use a multimeter to test the battery's voltage; a reading below 12.6 volts typically indicates a charging issue. 
  3. If the battery frequently dies, consider the charging system's health – a faulty alternator or regulator can prevent proper battery charging. 
  4. A trickle charger can maintain battery health for motorcycles that are infrequently used. In cases where these steps don't resolve the issue, the battery may need replacement. 

Refer to the motorcycle's manual for specific guidance and consult a professional for complex electrical issues.

How to Change a Battery on a Motorcycle

Changing a motorcycle battery is a straightforward process that you can typically do yourself. Here's a step-by-step guide:

man changing battery in motorcycle how to change your motorcycle battery

Tools You'll Need:

  • Screwdriver (usually Phillips or flat-head)
  • Wrenches (size varies based on your bike)
  • New motorcycle battery (make sure it's the correct type and size for your bike)
  • Safety gloves and goggles (recommended)
  • Steps to Change a Motorcycle Battery:

1. Focus on Safety First

  • Turn off the motorcycle engine.
  • Remove the key from the ignition.
  • Wear safety gloves and goggles.

2. Access the Battery

Depending on your motorcycle, you may need to remove the seat or a side panel to access the battery.

3. Disconnect the Old Battery

Start by disconnecting the negative (-) terminal, usually marked in black or with a minus sign. Use a wrench to loosen the terminal screw.

Then disconnect the positive (+) terminal, typically marked in red or with a plus sign.

4. Remove the Old Battery

Carefully lift the battery out of the motorcycle. Batteries can be heavy, so ensure you have a good grip.

5. Prepare the New Battery

If it's a maintenance-free battery, it might be ready to install. If not, you may need to fill it with acid and charge it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

6. Install the New Battery

Place the new battery in the same position as the old one.

Connect the positive (+) terminal first, then the negative (-) terminal. Ensure the connections are tight.

7. Secure the Battery

Ensure the battery is firmly in place and won't move around during rides. Some bikes have a strap or bracket to secure the battery.

Test the Battery:

Turn on your motorcycle to ensure the new battery is functioning. Check the lights, horn, and start the engine.

8. Dispose of the Old Battery

Take the old battery to a recycling center or a place that accepts hazardous materials. Do not throw it in the trash.

Tips:

  • Check the Manual: Your motorcycle's manual may have specific instructions for battery replacement.
  • Keep the Terminals Clean: Ensure the battery terminals are clean and corrosion-free.
  • Proper Charging: If the new battery requires charging before installation, follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Safety Note: Be cautious when handling motorcycle batteries as they contain acidic electrolytes and can produce explosive gases. Always work in a well-ventilated area.

You can successfully change your motorcycle's battery by following these steps and taking the necessary precautions.

Don’t Let Your Battery Drain - Let Us Make Your Bike Payment Instead

Don't let your motorcycle sit idle and risk battery drain; instead, put it to work for you with Rider's Share. Our platform offers a hassle-free way to rent your bike to trusted individuals, turning your occasional ride into a consistent income stream. Not only does this keep your battery charged, but it also helps offset costs like payments and maintenance. Sign up today and let your motorcycle earn its keep!