Don’t get left out in the cold
OptiMate, the battery-saving experts, offer four essential tips to keep your motorcycle battery healthy until spring.
Motorcycle batteries lose a lot of their cranking power in colder weather, making failure much more common during the winter months.
As the temperature drops, the chemical reaction inside the battery slows down, significantly reducing its capacity and ability to turn over the engine; at 0°C even a fully charged battery can lose around a third of its starting power.
Colder weather also increases the energy needed to crank the engine, leading to a double whammy of reduced power and higher energy demand.
Factor in the increased use of lights and accessories, like heated grips and clothing, and your bike’s battery faces serious pressure.
Battery failure – an unwelcome and expensive event at any time of year – can be prevented with a few simple steps and the right approach to maintenance. OptiMate, the battery saving experts, share four essential tips to help keep your battery in good health until spring.
Older batteries are more susceptible to failure during the winter months, since they already have reduced capacity due to the ageing process. If your bike’s battery is four years old or more, you should consider replacing it with a new unit, even if the existing one appears healthy. And if you plan on running accessories like heated grips and clothing, it’s worth upgrading to a higher power unit, to compensate for the increased pressure it will be under.
You can check the state of your battery using a voltmeter or, if you prefer something simpler, the OptiMate TEST gives an instant readout and can also be used to test the charging system.
Batteries perform better and last longer if they’re kept at a stable temperature. For bikes stored in unheated garages or sheds, an indoor cover will help prevent condensation and provide some insulation. Motorcycles kept outside need a waterproof and breathable cover to minimise the difference between day and night time temperatures around the battery. For bikes parked outdoors for long periods between use, taking the battery out of the bike and keeping it indoors on a maintainer will prolong its lifespan, but only do this if the bike isn’t fitted with an alarm or tracker.
Short journeys may not be enough to keep your battery in a healthy state of charge – in fact they may actually do more damage than good. This is because the length of time the alternator has to recharge the battery may not be enough to offset the energy cost of starting the engine and powering on-board electrical equipment during the trip. To keep your battery in a healthy state of charge, make sure you go on longer trips regularly; ideally at least 10-15 miles at or around motorway speeds.
If you don’t use your bike very often through the winter months – or plan to hibernate it until spring – charge can be lost to alarms and immobilisers, clocks and on-board computers, as well as through self-discharge. The battery uses a little of its own energy every day to keep itself alive. Connecting your motorcycle to a battery charger/maintainer, like the OptiMate 1 Duo, will ensure the battery remains fully charged through the winter season, ready to start up in the spring, as well as extending its lifespan.