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Charging 101: How to Maintain Your Motorcycle Battery During the Winter

Batteries Plus Blog - Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 9/24/2020

Closeup of a motorcycle rear tired with Duracell trickle charger

Colder temperatures mean the end of another riding season. As you begin putting your motorcycle into storage for the winter, let's take a moment to talk about your battery. Just like with a boat or lawn mower, motorcycle batteries need to be maintained when they sit idle for long periods of time. Letting your battery run down too low can damage it to the point where it can't be charged back up again. Fortunately, it's easy to keep your battery going strong by investing in a battery charger or maintainer.

Battery Chargers

Your basic motorcycle battery charger will deliver amperage to the battery at the set voltage that the charger is rated for (6-volt, 12-volt or 24-volt). Most motorcycles use 12-volt batteries, however, you should check to make sure that the charger you use matches the voltage of your battery.

If you are using a standard charger, it is recommended that you charge your battery at least every 30 days. Motorcycle batteries have a high rate of discharge and can lose 0.5% to 1% of their charge in a single day. One important thing to remember if you're using a basic charger is that it will need to be monitored and shut off manually to make sure that you don't overcharge your battery. Overcharging can cook the battery's interior components, causing permanent damage and drastically reducing its lifespan.

Trickle Chargers

Trickle chargers work slightly differently than traditional chargers by delivering a constant, but very low charge that "trickles" into your battery over a greater length of time. Since they are designed to work slowly, trickle chargers are a great option for maintaining your battery during the winter by offsetting the natural drain of your battery.

Many trickle chargers come with a "maintenance" or "float" mode that automatically switches them off when your battery reaches a full charge, so that it won’t overcharge your battery. If your trickle charger has a float option, it is not necessary to monitor them. However, trickle chargers without a float or maintenance mode should still need to be checked on manually at least once a month.

Another thing to keep in mind is that trickle chargers work best when the battery is close to fully charged. If you're looking to recharge a battery that is deeply discharged, you're better off using a traditional charger or battery maintainer.

Battery Maintainers

A battery maintainer works like a standard battery charger, but with a "smart" function that prevents your battery from overcharging. This gives them the ability to recognize when your battery is at full charge, causing the maintainer to shut off to avoid charging it further.

If you're looking for a set-it-and-forget-it battery charging option, a battery maintainer is your best bet. Simply connect your motorcycle battery to the maintainer at the end of the season and leave it attached until it's time to ride again. Over the winter months, it will cycle on in order charge your battery when necessary, then turn off again once it’s fully powered.

The Battery Tender Jr. 12V 0.75 Amp Charger is the perfect, no-stress way to maintain your motorcycle battery. It works with 12-volt lead acid batteries and comes with a 5-year warranty.

The X2Power 0.8 Amp Charger is another great option for your motorcycle battery. It can charge both 6-volt and 12-volt batteries and is made to handle flooded, gel or AGM battery options.

Another solid choice is the NOCO GENIUS1 1 Amp Automatic Charger and Maintainer. This battery maintainer is designed for both 6-volt and 12-volt batteries and is rated at 1 amp. Even better, it is compatible with all types of vehicles, allowing you to also use it for ATVs, boats, lawn mowers and more. Plus, it can recover dead batteries with a charge as low as 1-volt.

As you can see, it's important to have a quality battery tester or maintainer on hand before you store your motorcycle for the winter. Check out our full selection of battery chargers online. Or, if you're concerned about your current battery’s performance, bring it in to any of our locations and have it tested for free. If you end up needing a replacement, we have top-quality motorcycle batteries from trusted brands like Duracell. Plus, we can help you dispose of your old battery responsibly by recycling it.

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