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All About Motorcycle Battery & Its Maintenance

Saleh Md. Hassan
November 5, 2013

Riders, greetings to you all. Here I am very much influenced to write about Motorcycle Battery. Simply there are some questions among the bike user of our country. Now a day’s different type of motorbikes are ruling our road. And they are supported with different types of battery. Here I will discuss on the batteries which are commonly used in motorbikes (Automobile).

motorcycle battery pulsar

Motorcycle Battery Basics:

Batteries are the most popular movable source of DC voltage. And these are commonly constructed under the basis of some chemical reaction. Here I will not discuss the core engineering of the battery but try to give a simple overview of that. Battery has two electrical terminal named negative & positive electrodes (Anode & Cathode), which works in a small compartment generally called as cell.

how motorcycle battery works

In that mechanism, positive electrode discharges the charged ion and negative ion absorbs the ion, either passing trough the load or directly. But in the time of charging it works with the reverse process (applicable for both rechargeable & non-rechargeable batteries). Normally it’s enough to know that the battery have two terminals, one is positive (+) and other is negative (-).

Common Types of Battery:

Generally there are two types of batteries, disposable (non rechargeable) & rechargeable. Commonly disposable batteries are dry cell and rechargeable are wet (semi-wet) cell batteries. Both types of batteries are frequently used in our daily mechanical activities.  Disposable batteries are used for the lower consumption machineries like watch, clock, remote control etc. For these types of machines disposable batteries are very much suitable.

all size motorcycle battery

Rechargeable batteries are like hassle to use in such machines. But the machines which uses huge flow of DC current, those need the heavy duty batteries. And disposable batteries are not capable to support them and it might too much expensive to use disposable batteries in such machines. So rechargeable batteries are the best solution for that. Rechargeable batteries are heavy duty battery and can support the machines which require heavy DC voltages like motor vehicle, marines or power stations. So here our core concentration is on rechargeable batteries as these types of batteries are widely used in our motorbikes.

motorcycle battery details

Lead-Acid battery:

All the rechargeable batteries are basically lead-acid battery (acids may have different chemical construction). But there are also some categories of rechargeable batteries. Generally there are two basic type of rechargeable (Lead-acid battery) batteries, open cell or flooded lead-acid battery & sealed or maintenance free battery. Our motorbikes also use both of them

Open or Flooded Lead-Acid Battery:

These types of batteries are very much common and widely used as heavy source of DC power. This type of battery cells are opened type and flooded with acid or electrolyte, where user had to fill or refill the cells with electrolyte or acid.  This type of battery produces gas (hydrogen & H2O vapor) during the period of charging and deep discharging. So it frequently needs to refill the cells with electrolyte or certain gravity of acid (H2SO4). Thus it needs maintenance periodically. And this type of battery cannot be inverted as electrolyte can spill out from the cell.

maintenence free motorcycle battery

Sealed or Maintenance Free Battery:

These types of batteries are getting much popularity these days as it requires no periodic maintenance. This type of battery is also lead-acid battery. But the cells are fully sealed when it assembled. The cells are not flooded with fully liquid acid or electrolyte, but full of acid gel. Most of the time sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is mixed with silica gel. So the electrolyte never spills out, even it inverted with heavy shock.  Here the electrolyte does not get much hot when charges or discharges, and does not produce huge gas like the opened type lead acid battery.

But this type of battery also produces small amount of gas & H2O which firmly absorbed by the silica gel. So liquidity & quantity of the electrolyte does not reduce in its lifetime. But when it exits its lifetime the cell gets overheat when charging and discharging and produced the gas & H2O more than normal. In this position the silica gel can not absorb all the gas & H2O, and access gas & H2O gets out by the safety valve. Thus it loses its liquidity, gravity & quantity and dries off and ends its lifetime. Due to the safety valve control mechanism it also called VRLA (Valve regulated lead acid) battery.

VRLA batteries also have two category, Gel type and AGM (Absorbed glass mat) type. Gel battery is described earlier. And AGM type is also gel type, but here enough quantity gel is seized with the glass mat permanently. Any shock or vibration cannot separate the gel from the glass mat. And glass mat works also as cell separator and reduces battery space and increase mobility. And interesting thing is this type of battery can be made in any type of shape.

motorcycle battery

Motorcycle Battery:

Guyz, this is the core concentration of this article. After several briefing on battery & its categories now here I am on my point. I think my earlier briefing was quite informative and question solving for the interested rider. Whatever, for the motorbike we most commonly use lead-acid battery both flooded (opened cell) or sealed gel type battery. But we do not use AGM type sealed battery for the common motorbikes as those are lesser durable, expensive and not capable to give heavy duty service within our budget. So here we will discus on opened cell or flooded type & sealed gel type battery and about their specification which are regularly used in our motorbikes.

Flooded or opened cell:

Our motorbikes most commonly use flooded or opened type battery. These batteries are designed for heavy duty support & large backup. These types of batteries are also economically cost effective. But there are also some disadvantages of opened type battery. It produces heat during charging & discharging and produces gas & H2O. Need regular refill of electrolyte or acid in other ward it needs regular maintenance.

This type of battery is perfect for the economical bikes and also which requires heavy power support for long time like cruiser or larger displacement elite bikes. Opened cell battery can support for higher ampere DC voltages for long time.

vfm 5 amp maintenence free battery

Sealed Gel Type Battery:

This type of batteries called as maintenance free battery where the electrolyte remains sealed inside the battery cell. It does not produce much heat and does not produce gas or H2O as residue. So it does not need to refill the electrolyte periodically even anytime within its lifetime.

More over it can be used every where, even the battery can tolerate heavy trembling & electrolyte never spills out from batteries if inverted. But this type of battery is much expensive and cannot support for heavy duty in long time. And its lifetime shorter than the opened cell type of battery. This type of battery is not repairable and has no salvage value.

This type of batteries are perfect for the off road bikes, ATVs & water bikes where the vehicle run with heavy tremble & vibration. It is also suitable for the bikes which uses limited range of current for its electrical devices like lamps or signals, and does not require extra electrical devices like decoratives.

all about motorcycle battery

Some Common Questions:

The bikers in our country have some common misunderstanding & questions considering the battery and its voltage & ampere rating. Here we will discus on those.

Voltage of The Battery:

You know, some bike requires for 6 volt and some 12 volts of DC current. And some uncommon bike which requires 9 volt for its electrical.  Most of the time, the old model two stroke bike requires for 6 volt & 2.5 ampere batteries. And electrical devices of those bikes are also rated with same ratings. But in some situation in some bikes the head lamps did not produced much light at the night, and horns may not working loud when head lamp is on.

So some of us think that, if we set a 9 or 12 volt battery instead of 6 volt it would have worked fine and we can get enough light and loud sound with the horns. No that’s not correct. If we set a 12 volt battery in a bike which required for 6 volt, it will burn the electrical accessories due to over voltage. And most suspicious thing is the ignition coil will burn off due to over rated voltage. Even we fit 12 volt rated accessories with 12 batteries than it will not work long time.

The battery charges from the current produces from the engine dynamo. And the dynamo also produces limited range of current with limited voltage rating. So if we set a higher rating battery with lower capacity dynamo it will not charge perfectly and more over the charging unit will also lose its life due to heavy charging load of higher rated battery.

So we should use only recommended rating of battery in certain bike. We can make our electrical devices more workable by replacing the battery & devices with new one. And also reduce the load by disconnecting decorative and extra electrical devices like extra horn or lights.

motorbike battery sign

Using Higher Ampere Battery:

There is also a miss concept of using higher ampere battery than the recommended rating. Some people think that higher ampere battery can support heavy duty electrical devices like HID, Projections, Sirens, hydraulic horns or decorative lights. But it is not quite true. The interesting thing is these devices can work better with high ampere but it can’t support for long. Guys you will be surprised to know that, ampere rating is the ability of voltage delivery capability of a power source; relatively it means the draining power of the battery!

motorbike battery

So you can guess the term if we use higher rating ampere battery in lower rated bike so it will supply higher force to the electricals and thus cause harm for them and other side battery will drain fast while our bike’s charger is not capable to charge the over rated battery simultaneously. So it is nice not to use higher ampere than recommended. But in some necessary situation you can use only 20%-30% over than recommended rating where it is applicable only for ampere rating, not voltage rating.

Battery Plate:

Generally we are very much interested to use higher voltage rated or ampere rated battery than recommended. But we dose not concentrate on the quantity of the plates in the batteries. Large number of plates in same rating battery increases the capability of the battery. It increases the service time and load capacity. So if available it is good to use the battery with maximum number of plates with recommended rating.

Maintenance of The Motorcycle Battery:

The opened cell type battery needs frequent maintenance where the sealed type gel & AGM battery does not need frequent maintenance. But it also needs some attention to increase its life time.

Open Cell Battery Maintenance:

From my practical experience most of the time first 6-9 month of opened cell battery does not need any maintenance, like refilling the electrolyte if your bike have normal load of electrical devices. After that time the battery grew old, battery plates get little decayed, produces heat during deep discharging & while charging.

motorcycle battery tips

At that time it produces gas (Hydrogen) & H2O which gets out from the overflow valve. Thus it loses its electrolyte level. So periodically it needs a refill of electrolyte to keep it in recommended level. And you have to ensure whether the plates never get dry off due to lower level of electrolyte. Otherwise its plates & cell can be permanently damaged. So check & maintain the electrolyte level every month.

motorcycle battery for yamaha

Sealed Battery Maintenance:

Sealed type battery does not need periodical electrolyte refilling maintenance like the open cell battery. But you have to cautious about keeping the load of electricals within a limit, as those are designed to support for limited range of load. When the sealed type battery getting over heated and charges do not last long then change the battery as soon as possible. This is the symptoms of being sudden dead for this type of batteries. And also follow the general maintenance’s as described bellow.

General Maintenance of Battery:

  • Inspect your motorcycle battery once in every month.
  • Inspect the battery after riding your bike long with maximum load with electricals.
  • Inspect while the battery is normally hot or seems overheated.
  • Check the body of battery for leakage or crack.
  • Check whether the sealed battery leaking or sweating with acidic sediment.
  • Check the terminals are getting over corroded with acidic fumes.
  • Clean the battery body and compartment with water once in a month & of-course after every refill of electrolyte.
  • Reduce battery load as much as possible.
  • Keep the battery disconnected & fully charged when you are not using your bike for long time.
  • Never discharge the battery to its last limit.
  • When battery get old it will nice to get the battery charged sometime from the direct charging machine at battery charging shop.
  • Never connect the battery terminals directly each others to check the charge; use any type of load to test it.
  • Always use a fuse with the positive terminal of the battery to avoid shot circuit.
  • Always use distilled water or rain water to refill the battery.
  • Never use the tube-well water to refill the battery as tube-well water has metallic ions, which damages the battery plates.
  • Inspect the electrical wiring once in every month by simply testing the electricals switching on & off one after another and also together.

Guys, that’s all about my article on Motorcycle Battery. Here I tried to touch every point related to our motorbike battery. If you think that’s not enough to meet your inquiries, than let us know with bellow commentary box. We will try to support your queries within our capabilities.

By-Saleh Md Hassan

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