Get Back on the Blacktop: How to Remove and Replace a Motorcycle Battery

Replace a Motorcycle Battery

There’s nothing like the feeling of the open road. Riding a motorcycle gives you a sense of freedom you don’t get anywhere else.

But even a thrilling hobby like riding requires regular maintenance to keep it up. Taking good care of your bike and its battery is important for reliability on those longer rides throughout the summer.

Read on for our ultimate guide to replacing your own motorcycle battery.

Time to Get Back on the Road

If your bike has been out of commission over the winter, you’re probably itching to get out on the road now that the weather is getting nicer. After storage, a motorcycle’s battery may have lost charge or need replacing.

This is a job that’s easy to do at home on your own. You can do this type of maintenance yourself with the right tools and a little time in the garage.

Replacing a Motorcycle Battery

First, you need to make sure the battery is the problem. If it won’t crank up at all, the first culprit may be the battery. But sometimes other things are wrong instead, so you want to make sure you know what the problem is.

You should replace a motorcycle battery every four years or so anyway as preventative maintenance. You can be more certain the problem is the battery if it’s getting older (at least 3 years).

Have it checked at an auto parts store if you don’t have a battery charger at home, or you can buy a charger without breaking the budget. It’s a good tool to have on hand anyway.

Make sure the charger is set to 12V, the hook up the leads to the battery. Watch it for about 30 seconds to see that it holds steady around 10V. Anywhere from 9.5 to 10.5 is fine.

If the battery isn’t pulling the right voltage, you can leave it to charge for a while. After a few hours, check it again and see how many volts you’ve got. It’s possible the battery only needed a charge.

If it’s still not holding a charge, you’ll need to replace it. Having the user manual is helpful when you’re performing any type of maintenance like this.

You can find many repair manuals online.

Remove the Old Battery

Anytime you’re working with electricity, it’s important to follow instructions so that you don’t get an accidental shock. Staying safe is more important than saving time, so if you’re tempted to take a short cut because you’re rushing through the project, reschedule your work time for another day when there is less pressure to finish.

The first step is to disconnect the negative cable. If you don’t do this first and something touches the positive terminal, you can blow a fuse or burn yourself (or even start a fire). The negative cable is most often black.

Set the cable out of the way, or use electrical tape to cover the end so that it doesn’t make an accidental connection and cause a problem.

The next step is to disconnect the positive cable. It’s most often the red one. No matter what the color, it should have a plus sign to mark it as the positive cable.

The last step in removing the old battery is taking off any extra straps that hold it in place. Motorcycles bump and vibrate a lot, so often the battery’s held in place with a rubber strap or metal clamp. Take off the screws and pull the battery out.

Buying the New Battery

When you buy the new battery, the sales personnel can help you choose the right one. Either take the old battery to the auto parts store, or take the model or VIN of your motorcycle so they can look up the right battery for a motorcycle like yours.

While it might be tempting to choose a cheaper battery, often these are smaller than the original (though they still do the job to crank it up) and won’t fit in the housing. They also have a less appealing warranty or none at all.

Spend the extra money to buy the right size battery with a good warranty. If you aren’t sure what the physical size of the battery is, measure before you go if you aren’t taking the old one in with you.

If they don’t have the right size, chances are it’s because the new battery model is a lithium-ion battery. These will have foam or spacers with it to help you get the smaller size battery to fit without jumping around on the road.

Installing the New Battery

Place the battery in the housing. Make sure you take special note of which sides are positive and negative, because sometimes they’re switched on the new battery.

Reinstall the rubber strap or metal clamp to hold the battery in place. Adjust the extra foam bits if the battery is smaller and needs them to stay in place.

Now you can reconnect the cables in reverse order. Connect the positive side first, making sure to keep the negative cable away from it. Then reconnect the negative cable.

Ready to Ride

All you have left is to test it and make sure it works. Crank up the bike and let it idle for a few minutes. Then you should be ready to ride.

Make sure you wear your helmet. If you dropped your insurance for the winter, make sure you reinstate the insurance on your bike before you hit the road.

Feel That Freedom

Changing out the motorcycle battery on your bike is an easy project you can do at home. Take your time and follow our safety tips to make sure it’s done right and your bike will be ready in no time.

Removing the old battery, buying a new one, and installing it are simple tasks made easier if you have the manual. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll get to start your summer of fun.

For more on motorcycles and bike maintenance, read more on the blog.