By now, almost everybody knows that I live way down south in the United States where “cold” is very relative and I have the luxury of riding year ‘round. On the other hand, just about ALL of you guys live north of me and for most of you, that means that you have winterized your bike and resigned yourself to just look at it, order goodies from The Biker’s Den, and wait until Spring.
That being said, every year, I get the debate about how to store a motorcycle battery. Hooked up? On a charger? Unhooked? In the house? In the garage?
Every year, we also hear the same answers… so depending on where you are in the north, here are some tips for storing your battery and not dealing with too much drama when it comes to firing it up for the Spring.
For starters, pun definitely intended, we can all probably agree to unhook at the very minimum the negative cable from the battery. Doing this opens up the circuit and will essentially stop voltage loss in the short term.
Overachievers, though, usually unhook both posts and remove the battery from the bike. Some will store it in the house, others will insist that the risk of hydrogen gas is too high so they’ll leave it in the garage or shed. In either instance, this simple action should be all that you need for a while.
Now, here is where two parties really diverge in their techniques. There is a group that feels that the battery should be hooked to a trickle charger all winter. Having seen perfectly good batteries “boiled off” by a malfunctioning charger, I can’t say that is the best policy. Instead, I’d hook up a charger at about the halfway point of the winter, charge the battery, install the battery, then start and run the bike for a half an hour. For those worried about using up any fuel treatments, of course you want to top the tank back off, but this “mid-winter” start may be effective at cleaning out any condensation in the fuel line (since fuel floats on water) and providing some lubrication to the top end of the motor. If you can run the bike through the gears on a dry, salt-free road for 5 minutes, so much the better.
Then, unhook the battery, take it back out, check your fuel, and put everything back the way you had it. No fuss, no muss, and you got a quick ride in.
When springtime rolls around, you’ll do the same thing with the charger and you should be good to go. In fact, you may be a little ahead, since you were able to get some lubrication into the top of the crankcase early and may not need to spend as much time pre-lubing the motor before firing it over.
In some cases, of course, your battery just isn’t going to make it. No sweat, just replace it and get on down the road. Make this the year of the easy Spring and let’s look forward to a great riding season.