Unless you live in the desert or by the beach, chances are you've already felt that all-too-familiar chill in the air that accompanies the arrival of winter each year. For motorcyclists, this typically means that it's time to park the bike until Spring comes back around. There's only one problem though- Batteries really do not like inactivity.
Batteries that sit unused for long periods of time (3-4 weeks+) can end up with sulphation built up on the battery plates. Once this happens, they'll begin to experience a downturn in performance and run time. They can also become difficult and even impossible to charge. However, this can all be prevented from happening. Here's how-
Use a Battery Tender- A Battery Tender is a device that plugs into a standard AC outlet and transfers power in the form of amps to your motorcycle's battery. Battery Tenders will fully charge and maintain a wide range of lead acid batteries in ways that avoid the potential damaging effects that can be caused by most trickle chargers. You won't even need to remove it from the bike unless it gets well below freezing where the bike is being stored.
Use a Trickle Charger- While not overall as effective as a Battery Tender, a trickle charger can still get the job done and is a cost effective alternative. Unlike Battery Tenders, a trickle charger will continue to charge whether the battery is fully charged or not. For this reason it needs to be connected and disconnected periodically. There are ways to get around this however, such as plugging it into an outlet that's connected to an on/off switch or using light timers that turn it on for 30 minutes a day.
Know Your Battery- There are different types of batteries, and therefore different ways to maintain each one. For instance if you have a conventional battery, you'll need to make sure the proper amount of fluid is added and maintained. If you use maintenance-free batteries, simply clean the terminals and any serious grime off the battery, and then spray a little silicone spray or other protectant on the terminals and connecting hardware.
Do Not Let your Battery Freeze- This will be a quick way to destroy a perfectly good battery. Make sure that wherever you decide to store your motorcycle battery, it's in a place that will keep it from getting too cold. If not, you could very well end up with a cracked battery.
While warm weather may seem a long way off, Spring will be here before you know it. If you properly maintain your motorcycle battery over the next few months, it will be ready to go for you once the time does come to get back on the open road.
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