Did you know that roughly 90% of vehicle drivers don’t know how to jump-start a battery? Learning how to jump-start a motorcycle might not seem that important when you have a working vehicle.
But when you find yourself stuck with a dead battery, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by knowing the proper way.
If you don’t know how to jump-start a battery, then you’re in luck. In this article, we’ll teach you all the ways to get your bike back up and running again.
Why Does a Motorcycle Battery Die?
If you take care of your motorcycle battery with regular maintenance, then it should last you between three and five years. However, if you find it repeatedly dying before this period, then there may be another issue going on.
Motorcycle batteries can’t provide as much power as cars, so too many accessories can drain the battery quickly. The problem may also lie in the ground connection or voltage regulator.
Both of these systems should be checked and maintained often. Excessive amounts of heat and vibration are also detrimental to the health of a battery.
Another way you can kill a bike battery is by taking it out and putting it infrequently.
The process puts a strain on the fragile electrical components of the bike. It’s an expensive mistake and falls under the list of common mistakes new riders make.
Things to Check Before You Jump the Battery
Many motorcycle owners think their bike battery is the problem, only to discover that it’s something else entirely.
Before we go over the different ways to jump-start your motorcycle battery, it’s important to make a checklist.
If you don’t follow this checklist, then you could hurt yourself or your bike. This checklist can also help you find potential issues unrelated to the batteries.
- Check an see if your tank has gas in it
- Ensure that your kill switch is off
- If you own an older bike, then make sure the petcock is turned on
- Make sure you spark plugs are operational and free from buildup
- If you’ve determined that it’s the battery, then put your bike into neutral position
- Engage the clutch
- Setup the kickstand
If you followed all the advice on this checklist, then it’s safe to try and jump your motorcycle.
The Different Ways to Jump-Start a Motorcycle
There are four popular ways you can jump-start a motorcycle’s battery. We’ll go into each way in more detail.
1) Use a Different Motorcycle to Jump Your Bike
The process of jump-starting a motorcycle is essentially the same as jump-starting a car. This process is the safest method because the two motorcycles likely have similar amp settings.
When you use a car instead of another bike, then you can potentially damage the bike. As such, it helps to have friends you can call upon that also own motorcycles.
Remember, that one way you can meet fellow bike enthusiasts is by starting a motorcycle club. The only difference between jump-starting a car and a motorcycle is the placement of the battery.
Instead of being found under the hood, you can locate most motorcycle batteries under the seat. You can access the battery terminals by removing or working around the seat.
If you can’t find the terminals around the seat, then check the frame of the motorcycle. There should be a section where the cable connects to the battery that you can use.
Applying the jumping cables is fairly straightforward — match the corresponding colors together, and never mismatch. Attach the positive clip cable to the positive terminal (this should be a red color) on the dead motorcycle.
Then, do the same for the operating bike. Repeat the process for the negative clip cable (this should be a black color). Once the cables are firmly attached, then you can start the working motorcycle and wait for the battery to engage.
This process may take a few minutes. After the time passes you can try turning on your bike while the cables are still attached. Give it a few tries. If it doesn’t work, then check the terminal connections and try again.
Ideally, your bike should come to life. Assuming you jumped the battery, you should leave both bikes running for a few minutes so you make sure the bike forms a charge.
Once you finish charging you can remove the jumper cables in the opposite order that you put them on.
If you plan on replacing a defective battery, then don’t turn off your bike after you jump it. Leave it on until it’s at the mechanic or a place where you can work on it.
2) Use a Car to Jump You Bike
Why can you potentially damage your motorcycle when you jump the battery with a car? While a car jump can help you get to a mechanic in a pinch it isn’t ideal.
The battery on a car much usually features a much higher amp setting than a bike’s battery. As such, it can damage your motorcycle’s electrical system easily. And don’t think you can get around it through a manufacturer’s warranty.
Motorcycle companies know that a car battery can overload a bike’s system, so they advise against it. If you destroy your battery by doing so, then it won’t fall under warranty coverage.
So, we recommend only using this way if you have no other options available. To begin, make sure that both the motorcycle and car are turned off.
Then connect the jumper cables to the battery terminals in the same way you did in the last method — red to red, black to black. Once the cables are attached, then crank your motorcycle with the car’s battery turned off.
You must keep the car turned off — a live battery will almost surely overload your bike’s system. You can try cranking it several times, however, make sure you do it for no longer than 2 seconds.
If the bike doesn’t start, then the issue is likely the battery itself, which will need replacing.
3) Push Start Your Motorcycle
If you don’t have access to jumper cables, then you will need to push start your motorcycles to bypass the dead starter system. A push start supplies your bike with the necessary compression for the engine to start.
All you need is another person or a good hill. First, find a clear area to push start your car — preferably somewhere without any pedestrians or moving vehicles. Once you find a location place you bike into neutral.
Then, pull the clutch in and get your bike going at least 5 miles per hour. You can do this by having someone push you or by rolling down a hill. The clutch should be in a neutral position — when you start rolling place it into second.
Once you gain some momentum, then pop the clutch on your bike and give it some gas. The engine should turn over. Remember that push starts work better on a smaller bike than larger bikes.
Larger bikes require more compression, so they may take a couple of tries before you can get it to work.
4) Use a Portable Jump-Starter
If you own a portable jump-starter, then you don’t need another motorcycle or a car. Proceed in the same way as before, connecting the cables to the corresponding battery terminals. Then, turn on the portable jump-starter.
Give your engine some gas in short cranks. If you hold it for too long, then you can destroy the portable battery pack. If the battery pack doesn’t work, then let it rest for a few minutes before trying again.
Once you jump your bike to remove the cables in the reverse order that you put them on. Also, remember to charge your portable charger for the next time you use it.
What Should I Do With Dead Motorcycle Batteries?
If you need to replace your dead motorcycle batteries, then it’s important to dispose of the old ones properly.
Unfortunately, that can be a little difficult because you cannot throw away or recycle these batteries along with your other trash.
They contain hazardous material that can severely affect the groundwater supply and other environmental factors. As such, you should look up places you can recycle your dead motorcycle batteries using resources like Earth911.
Avoid Dead Batteries By Staying On Top of Your Bike’s Maintenance
Everyone’s owner needs to jump-start a motorcycle at some point. However, you can greatly reduce the number of times you need to do it if you keep your bike maintained properly.
Remember that bike batteries should last between three and five years. So, if you find the battery dying early, then it’s likely to do something your doing (or not doing).
Luckily, we organized a complete maintenance guide for all bike owners. As long as you follow this advice, then you don’t need to worry about your bike breaking down early.