You’ve made a mistake, but that’s okay, we’ve all done it. Whether your battery died due to lack of use or just lack of routine care, it will hopefully be salvageable. Depending on your battery, its lifespan, and your overall care of it, it may or may not be chargeable. However, if it is (and we sure hope it is), we want to make sure that you are charging it properly so you do not cause any further damage to your precious battery. If your battery happens to still be chargeable, it may not be as good as it was before because every time a battery fully dies, there will be irreparable damage.
One of the first and most important steps to finding out how to properly charge your motorcycle battery is to figure out what type of battery you have. You may have a flooded cell, gel, AGM, or dry cell battery, which means that they may use different chargers. If you are unsure about which type of battery you have, feel free to take a look at our other article The Average Motorcycle Battery Life Expectancy to get a better idea of what you may be dealing with.
Once you have an idea of what type of battery you have, you are able to finally figure out what type of charger that you will need to charge your battery. There are three types of battery chargers: trickle, float, or smart chargers. These work well with flooded cell, gel, and AGM batteries, however, they are not to be used with dry cell batteries, such as lithium.
Trickle chargers are the simplest to use. They are able to take AC power and convert it to DC, but you will need to turn these off because they do not stop moving energy into the charger, which in turn will constantly move energy into your battery until shut off. Float chargers have the capability to switch on and off automatically and are able to maintain the perfect charge rate for your battery. Smart chargers are able to keep track of the battery’s charge and have the ability to charge your battery at different rates to help ensure your battery has minimal damage throughout the process.
To charge your battery, a good first step is to remove your battery from your motorcycle. This is not always an easy process, but it is recommended to ensure that you do not cause additional problems to your motorcycle while you are charging the battery. If something goes wrong while you are trying to charge your battery, this will prevent the issue from affecting your motorcycle and will help you keep any hazardous mess contained. It may also be a good idea to move your battery to charge in a safe place or safe container that can withstand heat.
While you prepare to charge your battery, doing so in a well ventilated area or outside is also recommended due to the hazardous gasses such as hydrogen sulfide or hydrogen that the battery may emit while charging. Also steer clear of smoking or using any flammable materials while you do this, as hydrogen gas is flammable.
Once you are all ready to go, you need to attach the terminals correctly to your battery. This step is extremely important, and hooking up the terminals incorrectly can lead to many issues. If you are using a Trickle charger, be sure to monitor it as it does not have a shut off mechanism. It is recommended to test it proactively as you are going through the charging process. If you are using a different charger, you do not need to babysit it, however, it may be best to hang around close by just in case something does go wrong.
Once your battery has completed charging, it is time to put your battery back. This is important and should not be rushed or done incorrectly because this could lead to other issues with your motorcycle or battery. The cable sequence is important as well, be sure to attach the positive cable first.
If you do not happen to have a motorcycle battery charger, you can potentially also charge your battery with your car charger if your car battery is also a 12 volt. If it is larger than a 12 volt battery, we do not recommend you trying to charge your motorcycle with it because it may ruin your motorcycle battery. If you do, however, plan to use a car charger, check to see if the current settings are adjustable and do not use over 3 amps and watch your battery to make sure it is charging safely.