One of the great things about motorcycles is that they’re simple to work on and can easily be customized. With a basic skill set, you can create the motorcycle of your dreams that you’ll be able to show off any time you ride down the road.
There are a few components, however, that you should pay attention to if you’re doing any customizing or rearranging on your motorcycle. If you know anything about motorcycle batteries, you know they have a certain chemistry that shouldn’t be trifled with. But batteries are so awkward and can be an eye sore to your motorcycle, so you may be asking yourself if you can position it in a better way without harming it or your motorcycle.
So, can a motorcycle battery be mounted on it’s side? AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat), gel cell, and lithium ion motorcycle batteries can be mounted on their side because they are sealed and won’t leak. Traditional motorcycle lead acid batteries that are vented cannot be mounted on their side because they are not sealed and will leak acid.
Before rearranging components on your motorcycle and laying a motorcycle battery on it’s side, make sure you know what kind of battery you have. There can be a lot of damage done if this is not done correctly.
Batteries That Are Safe To Mount On Their Side
I have owned and restored over a dozen motorcycles. During the restoration process, I like to keep the middle of the frame as clean as possible so you can see right through it from the side. This gives it a sleek, minimal look that seems to be quite popular nowadays.
One thing I did quite frequently with my motorcycle restorations was lay the battery on it’s side. If done correctly, you can ultimately make your motorcycle look like it doesn’t have a battery at all.
If you’re caught in the situation where it would be most convenient for you and your motorcycle to lay the battery on it’s side, there are a few choices you can choose from that won’t cause any damage or trouble for you down the road.
The first safe option you have is an AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) motorcycle battery. Though this is a lead acid battery, it is sealed and doesn’t need distilled water to be added to it like other wet lead acid batteries. Because it is sealed, the acid inside is completely concentrated around the plates, so no matter what position the battery is in the plates will remain soaked in the acid solution.
Motorcycle AGM batteries are the most commonly used batteries because they are usually the cheapest. They’re also pretty resistant to heat, so you can rest a little easier if it’s a hot day outside.
The second type of motorcycle battery you can use and mount on it’s side is the gel cell battery. A lot of people prefer this battery because it’s much smaller and can easily fit under a motorcycle seat. The downside to them, however, is that they are more expensive.
A gel cell battery is also considered a lead acid battery that is also sealed. The reason they are referred to as gel cell batteries is because instead of using wet lead acid, it contains an electrolyte-sulfuric acid mixed with silica that ultimately makes it gelified and immovable. In other words, imagine the cells to be filled with Jell-O; no matter which position you place it in, the acid mix will retain it’s shape and keep the cells immersed in it’s mixture.
The third option you have if you want a battery that can be mounted on it’s side is a lithium ion battery. These types of motorcycle batteries are the most expensive choice but are also the most powerful and longest lasting. Motorcyclists usually don’t use these because they feel the price is not worth it compared to gel cell or AGM batteries.
The convenient component to motorcycle lithium ion batteries is that they don’t hold any internal liquids or acids that can spill. Because there are no liquids inside or gases to emit, you can position them on your motorcycle in any way that is convenient.
What Happens If You Lay The Wrong Battery On It’s Side
There are many people out there that are unaware about the different kinds of motorcycle batteries and their different components and functions. That unfortunately may lead to some damaged parts to their motorcycle as well as a damaged battery.
You do not want to lay a wet lead acid motorcycle battery on it’s side. Wet lead acid batteries, also commonly known as flooded lead acid batteries (FLA), have a mixture of sulfuric acid and water that have plates immersed in them. These are the type that need regular distilled water refills.
When these type of batteries are mounted on their sides, the acid inside will work with gravity and continue to flood to the bottom. The plates that are now at the top of the battery are exposed and are no longer immersed in the acid mixture which will lead to plate damage and ultimately battery malfunction.
When a lead acid motorcycle battery is laid on it’s side, the acid mixture inside will also leak from the battery. Battery acid is incredibly corrosive to metal, so any metal the acid touches can potentially cause at least some damage to your motorcycle.
The gas that comes from battery acid is also flammable and harmful to your health if it is inhaled. Though motorcycles are not vehicles that keep you contained inside, it still holds a risk being near it.
How To Maintain A Motorcycle Battery Mounted On It’s Side
After you’ve deemed your motorcycle battery is safe to mount on it’s side, it’s a good idea to still check on your battery every once in a while and do regular maintenance on it.
While we have discussed the best options of the type of motorcycle batteries that are appropriate to mount on it’s side, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re still completely immune to gravity.
Every few months, inspect your battery to ensure everything looks intact and nothing has broken off. While it’s safe to lay them on their sides, they were manufactured with the intent to mount them upright. You just want to make sure corners or parts sticking out didn’t get knocked off by some other part of your motorcycle.
It’s also a good idea to reposition your battery about once a year. Again, even though they’re safe to keep mounted on it’s side, particles may still settle a certain way that can possibly affect the battery’s functionality. Repositioning it can combat that.
Places To Mount A Motorcycle Battery On It’s Side
If you’re rearranging a few things on your motorcycle and would like to mount your battery somewhere less obvious, I have a few suggested places you can put it that will mostly be out of the way.
The first place you can try placing your motorcycle battery is on top of the swingarm (as pictured above). There is usually a “V” shape on the frame from either side that comes down and meets with the swingarm that hides the battery nicely.
The second place you can try mounting your motorcycle battery is below the swingarm. This may be a little tricky because you’ll need an unbreakable way to mount it there since there’s no part of the motorcycle supporting it underneath. This is a great place, though, because it will almost be completely hidden by the exhaust.
You can also try mounting the motorcycle battery underneath the seat. A lot of motorcycles come stock this way, but if you rearrange a little and mount the battery on it’s side there, you’ll have a better chance at concealing it which gives your motorcycle a cleaner look.
This may be a long shot for some, but if your motorcycle has the right anatomy for it, you may possibly be able to mount your motorcycle battery underneath the gas tank. Again, you’ll need to make sure you have the right reinforcements to keep it from moving around. This will also work best with gel cell batteries because of their small size.
What are some helpful tools to use while customizing a motorcycle? When customizing a motorcycle, I like to use a good ratchet and wrench set. I also frequently use an angle grinder as well as a motorcycle lift which greatly helps my back so I don’t have to bend over so much. Click here to see my full list of recommended tools for customizing a motorcycle.
Can a motorcycle battery jump start a car? A motorcycle battery can jump start a car if the motorcycle is running. Connect the positive and negative leads of the jumper cables to both batteries. Have one person rev the motorcycle to around 4000 rpm’s and have the second person try to start the car. See my article here for more information.