Some of you may remember my May 2018 edition of Tinker Talk where I went over testing a motorcycle battery. While at Run-a-mucca Motorcycle & Music Festival last year I was approached by a gentleman who read that one and suggested that I also do one on battery replacement. Ask and you shall receive, my friend. Obviously, every bike is different, and I can’t cover all their specifics in a single article. What I can do is, go over how to properly prepare the different types of motorcycle batteries for replacement.
Conventional Lead Acid: Start by removing the top caps and the vent plug (Photo 1A). Fill each cell with electrolyte until the level reaches and stabilizes between the upper and lower marks on the face of the battery (Photos 1B and 1C). Leave the battery open to vent for one hour. Then, install the top caps, attach the breather tube (Photo 1D) and charge the battery. Note: This style of battery will require you to monitor and maintain the electrolyte levels. You can refill the battery cells with distilled water as needed.
Sealed AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat): Remove the foil strip on top of the battery as well as the plastic cap on top of the electrolyte pack (Photos 2A and 2B). You will need the plastic cap removed from the electrolyte pack to seal the battery so do not discard it. Insert the electrolyte pack upside down into the top of the battery and align the filling spouts on the pack with the fill ports of the battery (Photo 2C). Give the pack a firm press downward to break the small foil seals. You may need to give the pack a squeeze and/or a wiggle to get the electrolyte to begin flowing into the battery. Allow the electrolyte to completely drain into the battery, then remove the pack. Leave the battery open to vent for one hour. Install the sealing cap (Photo 2D) and charge the battery.
Factory Activated: As the name implies, factory activated batteries are fully prepared by the manufacturer. This includes gel cell, lithium ion and some AGM batteries. Simply give this type of battery a proper charge. Nothing more is required.
Properly Charging a Battery: Overcharging a battery can send it to an early grave. One way to prevent this is to charge a battery at a rate of no more than 1/10 its amp hour rating. For example, a battery rated at 10-amp hours should charge at a rate of no more than 1 amp. Utilizing a charger with an automatic shut off feature is good insurance too.
Battery replacement is a simple but critical process. Do it incorrectly and you might be setting yourself up for another battery replacement sooner than you would like. Take the time to do it right and don’t cut corners. You’ll be thanking yourself later.
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