You may find yourself sometimes wondering how your motorcycle battery works and what keeps it’s life up, especially if you use your motorcycle fairly often.
Some may be familiar with how a car power charging system works and wonder if the same system applies to motorcycles. So, does a motorcycle battery charge while riding? The mechanism of a motorcycle does charge it’s own battery while the motorcycle is running. There is a device inside a motorcycle engine, usually referred to as a stator, that charges the motorcycle battery while the motorcycle is on.
I’ve owned many motorcycles throughout my life and have become quite familiar with their charging systems. Too many times I’ve run into issues with my motorcycle batteries which forced me to learn a lot about where their charge comes from. There is maintenance required and a little bit of knowledge that can be applied to save you a world of headache down the road.
How A Battery Gets Charged While The Motorcycle Is On
Without a stator, your motorcycle’s power would quickly drain and ultimately be unable to run. The stator in a motorcycle looks a lot like the electromagnet that Iron Man uses in his chest and it works similarly to an alternator in a car.
Because a motorcycle has limited space, the stator is located inside as part of the engine itself rather than have a whole entity dedicated to it like it does in a car. It is usually located on the side of the engine where you will be able to see it once the engine side cover is removed (each motorcycle is a little different with it’s location).
The functionality of a stator is fairly simple, but it’s important you know how it works; a good motorcycle rider should know the basics of how their machine functions.
Within a stator, AC power is generated as the flywheel rotates around it. There are several spokes systematized around the stator with a copper magnet wire coiled around each spoke.
There are also magnets on the flywheel, so when the flywheel spins around the stator and it’s spokes, the two sets of magnets (the stationery ones on the stator and the moving ones on the flywheel) generate the necessary power to the battery that is required for the battery to fully function.
In other words, it’s an electric motor that provokes an electrical supply to the motorcycle and keeps the battery charged.
Both the stator and the battery are vital parts of a motorcycle. You cannot have one without the other because the two parts help each other out with their functionality. Stators are especially important to modern motorcycles because they have more electrical components that older motorcycles and therefore rely more heavily on the stator generating the needed electricity.
The earliest motorcycles used a similar yet much more basic system. They used a magneto which is a small system run by itself in the engine. The magneto helped make the necessary spark needed for the spark plug to make the combustion required to start the motorcycle.
Battery charging on motorcycles has come a long way; stators in motorcycles are the best they’ve ever been due to their efficient performance.
Difference Between An Alternator And A Stator
An alternator in a car and a stator in a motorcycle are very similar in their functionality. The alternator in a car consists of many parts, one of them being a stator. The stator inside the alternator of a car essentially does the same thing as a stator in a motorcycle.
Besides the stator, an alternator has several more components compared to a simple stator in a motorcycle. A car obviously has a lot more complexity to it compared to a motorcycle. Seemingly an alternator would require more components to keep up with the more complex systems of a car.
The alternator in a car was also made to be somewhat accessible and easily replaceable because it’s very common for a car to need an alternator replacement several times throughout the car’s life. People drive cars much more than they do motorcycles, therefore more miles are put on cars and their alternators.
A lot less miles are put on a motorcycle, so it is more efficient to put the basic system of an alternator, the stator, inside the motorcycle as part of the engine. It is less likely someone will need to replace it near as much as an alternator is needed to be replaced.
Signs That Your Stator Is Malfunctioning
It’s a good rule of thumb to be aware of the symptoms of a bad or malfunctioning stator. The quicker you’re able to identify the problem, the quicker you can fix it and save yourself time and perhaps hundreds of dollars.
So, what are some signs that your stator is giving out? The biggest sign you’ll notice is that your battery isn’t getting a charge at all.
This is a very obvious sign to observe because your motorcycle will start acting sluggish and lights will start to lose power while it’s running. Your bike may end up slowly and even completely dying because it’s solely relying on the power from the battery; battery power alone isn’t powerful enough to keep a motorcycle running for very long.
If your stator is going out, you may also hear a whining sound coming from your engine, similar to an electric motor being turned manually. You may especially notice this if you aren’t turning the throttle at all and letting your motorcycle coast while on a ride.
Another symptom to be aware of is if your motorcycle struggles entering high RPM’s. Some motorcycles may do okay at lower RPM’s with a bad stator, but once it’s revved higher, the bike will stall simply because the motorcycle doesn’t have the power supply needed by the engine in that sort of state.
If you have any suspicion that your stator is going out, you can do a few things to confirm your suspicions.
First, try taking off the side engine cover to expose the stator (be sure to check your owner’s manual to identify the stator’s exact location). Check the overall stator condition. Do you notice any major “burn” marks? Are any of the copper wires frayed or broken? Do any of the pieces look out of place or missing? Do any of the components seem like they’ve melted together?
You can also test the voltage of the stator using a multimeter. Locate the stator connector and unplug it. Turn your motorcycle on. Change your multimeter reading to AC and check for the voltage on the stator connector terminal tabs. The voltage read on each terminal should be similar to each other. If one is reading different from the others, that means you have a faulty stator.
If The Stator Charges The Battery, What Does The Battery Do?
Many wonder that if the stator is really the one running the whole electric show on the motorcycle, what does the battery even do and why is it necessary to have one?
In most cases, you will not be able to start your motorcycle if you have a dead battery or no battery at all. The stator plays no part in the process of starting your motorcycle.
The motorcycle battery is what gives your motorcycle the power it needs to get your motorcycle to start. It sends an electric current to the spark plugs which then creates the combustion that occurs inside the engine. Once the motorcycle is started, the stator then kicks in, generates the necessary power, and replenishes the battery with electricity, or “refills” the battery since the battery used a lot of it’s juice to start up the motorcycle.
A motorcycle stator and a motorcycle battery go hand-in-hand. The battery starts up the stator and in return, the stator keeps up with the battery.
Electrical issues on a motorcycle can be incredibly frustrating. Once you understand a little bit about how the electrical components work, you can save yourself a lot of frustration and may find yourself becoming much more of a motorcycle pro.
Can you clean a stator? It is possible to clean a stator. If you have looked at your motorcycle stator and noticed it needs to be cleaned, you can clean it with a light lubricant such as WD-40. It is not recommended to use harsh chemicals or use abrasive cleaning items as it can damage the stator.
Will a motorcycle battery freeze? It is possible for a motorcycle battery to freeze. If the motorcycle is discharged, it can freeze starting at 32 degrees fahrenheit depending on how much charge is left. A fully charged battery is much more resilient to cold weather and will not freeze until it gets to about – 75 or -76 degrees fahrenheit. Click here for more information I wrote about this.