You have taken your beloved motorcycle out on the road at least twice a month since you bought it. Now that it is time to take a vacation and you are concerned that the battery will be dead when you get back. How long does a motorcycle battery last without charging? What can be done when the bike will not be used for a long time?
Many motorcycle owners, don’t ride their bikes as often as they would like. Winter is one time of the year when bikes are often left to sit at the corner of the garage for weeks on end. During such times, the battery is left unused so it is not charged by the alternator to keep the juices in it flowing? How long will it last before it dies?
It will be anywhere between 2 and 4 months before the battery goes flat. After that it will need to be recharged in order to get it to work again. If it is an old battery, you may not be able to revive it at all.
Motorcycle Battery Charging Process
A motorcycle battery works just like a car battery. It is the source of electric current but it is not responsible for maintaining current supply to the electrical components.
Vehicle batteries are designed to provide large amounts of current over a short period of time…an instant you could call it. That is exactly what the motorcycle battery does.
It provides electric current which is used to start the engine and get it running. Once that is done, another component of the charging system called the alternator takes over.
The alternator serves to charge the battery so that it has sufficient voltage the next time you need to start the engine. As soon as the minimum number of RPMS (revolutions per minute) are reached as you ride, the alternator kicks in and starts charging the battery. If you were out on a 15- minute ride, by the time you get to your destination, the battery is ready for the next time you press the start button.
In the event that you don’t ride your bike for 2 or more months, the battery is likely to die. The alternator has not had a chance to do its job.
How Long Does A Motorcycle Battery Last Without Charging?
How long can you keep your motorcycle tucked away at the corner of your garage before the battery dies? The answer depends on a few variables.
This time could be shorter or longer depending on the type of battery, age of the battery and climate.
Type of battery:
There are a few types of batteries available in the market. Most bikes have lead acid batteries. Other types are AGM (Absorbed Glass mat), Gel and Lithium-ion batteries
Some batteries discharge faster than others. Gel batteries are known for slower discharge than lead acid batteries.
Age of battery:
Lead acid batteries have an average life span of between 3 and 5 years. If your battery is nearing the end of its lifespan, it discharges faster than a newer battery would. Make a mental note every time you buy a new battery so you can keep track of its life and know when it is almost time to replace it. If you can’t remember buying a battery, chances are it is on its final days.
Atmospheric temperatures in an area play a role on the rate of battery discharge. The rate rises in higher temperatures and drops in cooler areas. If you have an old battery in a very warm area, don’t be surprised if it dies sooner than the 4 months mentioned.
This phenomenon could explain why your motor cycle battery continues to drain even when you haven’t ridden in 2 months. It is a low-level drain of current which continuously sucks out power and could eventually suck it dry.
Such leaks come from electrical components like alarms, clocks or GPS systems. A sure way to kill your battery is when you forget the lights on and leave the bike tucked away for an indefinite period of time. The light continues to draw current from the battery yet it is not being recharged.
How to check for parasitic drain:
To find out if there is a leak somewhere, remove the negative battery cable and ensure that your volt-ohm meter is in amps mode. Also make sure the engine is off.
Place the meters leads between the negative terminal of the battery and negative cable. The current draw should read zero. A small amount of drain (a few milliamps) is acceptable. Anything higher than that is cause for concern and should be investigated.
What’s The Solution?
Temperatures are dropping with each passing day, winter is drawing closer. Pretty soon you will put a 3-month break on your weekly bike rides like you do every winter. You are worried the motorcycle battery will die on you… again. What can be done?
One way is to disconnect the battery. Disconnect the negative cable. This breaks the flow of current ensuring that the electrical components of the bike cannot draw any current from the battery
Another solution is to invest in a smart charger. This is a superior charging device. Unlike regular trickle chargers, you don’t have to worry about overcharging the battery. It delivers as much current as the battery needs and when it is fully charged, it cuts off the current.
You can connect a smart charger and take off on vacation without damaging the battery. This charger is not only able to cut off current when the battery is full, it starts charging again when it detects a significant amount of discharge.
If you prefer not to leave a smart charger connected but still won’t be using your bike for several weeks, you can leave it connected overnight every week until you are ready to ride again.
You will have to dig deeper into your pocket to get your hands on a smart charger, compared to a regular motorcycle battery charger. However, it is worth the investment considering the convenience it gives you and the fact that the risk of overcharging is eliminated.
Batteries in Cold Weather
Like many people, batteries don’t like the winter.
It is quite common for motorcycle engines to fail to start on a freezing day. The myth to dispel here is that cold weather drains your battery. Cold weather doesn’t necessarily drain the battery.
Engine start challenges come about because the bike needs more voltage to start and the battery may be unable to give it. Cold impedes the chemical reaction necessary for current to be generated.
Here is how: Ordinarily, the connection between the positive and negative terminals generates an electric current. From this a chemical reaction created generates electrons which produce the current in the battery. Extremely cold weather hinders this chemical reaction. This can happen even with a fairly new battery.
Why do so many batteries die in the cold weather? Well, the age factor returns. If your battery is old, or nearing the end of its life, it will probably die during this season.
How long does a motorcycle battery last without charging? This is a question commonly asked in the months preceding winter when bikers often take a break.
Lead acid batteries which are the most common in motorcycles can last between 2 and 4 months without charging. The age of the battery is a significant variable.
Newer batteries can sit for up to 5 months without charging while older batteries rarely last more than 2 months. Extremely cold temperatures also have a role to play because crucial chemical reactions in the battery are impeded.