Batteries can last for several years before going bad. If your battery is getting old and starting to have issues, you’ll probably wonder if it has any affect on your motorcycle’s performance.
So, does the battery affect motorcycle performance? A motorcycle battery will not directly affect the performance of your motorcycle. It can, however, cause other components and systems to operate inefficiently which ultimately can reduce the performance of a motorcycle.
The battery on a motorcycle has a lot to do with getting the motorcycle started, so that’s why it’s important to maintain it properly to ensure you’re not left with a non-starting motorcycle.
Ways The Battery Can Affect Performance
Ultimately, your battery is designed to start the motor. When you try to start the motorcycle, your battery is what provides the current through your starter, fuel system, and ignition system to allow it to start.
Once the motorcycle has been started, your alternator becomes what provides the power to these components. Your battery will still function as a supplemental current source for these components. When your alternator is not capable of supplying enough power, your battery steps in to help keep things running as they should.
Lastly, your battery serves as a way to regulate the voltage supplied by the alternator. Without this buffer, dangerous voltage spikes from the alternator could destroy different electrical components.
These are the basic functions of a battery. If properly taken care of, your battery can continue to do these things for several years before needing to be replaced. If the battery gets old, or if it is not properly maintained and taken care of, it could start failing much sooner. The results of a bad battery can sometimes be extremely obvious and sometimes, not so much.
So, if your battery is going bad, how can this affect your bikes performance indirectly? There are several different components that rely on the additional current provided by the battery to run efficiently. Without this extra help, the motorcycle will still run but not as efficiently as before.
One example of such a system is your fuel system. Your fuel injectors will not operate as efficiently as normal if your battery cannot provide the supplemental current that it usually does. You will notice that your bike is consuming more fuel than normal. Your gas mileage dropping is a great indication that exactly what I have explained is happening.
You also can affect the efficiency of your oxygen sensors. As these do not run properly, your motorcycle will not be able to accurately measure the exhaust production rate. As such, you will also decrease your fuel mileage. Reduced fuel mileage will be a great indicator that your bike’s battery is starting to go out.
Another way that a bad battery can affect performance is by overworking your stator. Your battery is what allows the bike to initially start. From there, the stator will recharge the battery back to full.
If you have a bad battery, the stator will continue to keep trying to charge it, but it will never quite get back to full or stay fully charged. Your stator then has to run all of the different components on your bike as well as continuously charge your battery. This will make your stator eventually overheat and fail.
How To Tell If It Is Your Battery Affecting Performance
There may be very obvious signs that your battery is bad and affecting your bike’s performance. The ultimate sign of a bad battery is when it can no longer start your motorcycle. If you recharge your battery and find that it will not hold a charge, it will need to be replaced. There are several other less obvious signs that your battery is not running as it should.
The first sign is to watch your fuel economy. As explained previously, if your battery is going bad, this can have an indirect effect on your fuel system which will result in much more fuel being used than normal. That is why it is always best practice to monitor your fuel economy.
Another great indicator that your battery is going bad is if your accessories do not perform as well as before. Depending on how bad the battery is, there could be different levels to this.
You may notice that your lights are not as bright as normal. If you have a clock, stereo, or GPS on your bike, these also could be much dimmer, not work as well, or not work at all. All of these are signs that your battery is not able to power all of the accessories like it used to.
Maintenance Tips To Keep The Battery Healthy
It is important that you take good care of your battery throughout its life. This will ultimately determine how long your battery lasts. The first tip to motorcycle battery maintenance is very simple and takes only seconds. This is to visually inspect your battery.
Make sure that the battery looks normal. Make sure that the connections are not coming off on the battery. Make sure that the terminals and the cables do not have any corrosion on them. If they do, be sure to clean them off.
Be careful working around the battery. To clean the battery terminals, I usually prefer to use a wire brush and baking soda since they usually clean up fairly easily. Not cleaning up this corrosion when it occurs can cause the battery to quit on you prematurely because it acts as a barrier between the connections.
If you have a lead-acid battery, there is also another very important step that you should not ignore. Your battery will need to be topped off with distilled water every now and then. It uses distilled water as the electrolyte.
Over time, the water level will decrease. Simply topping off the battery with distilled water will solve this issue. Your battery will have indicators that show the minimum amount of fluid that the battery should have. Make sure that you fill it above that point to take proper care of the battery and to ensure that it lasts as long as possible.
If you are not going to drive your motorcycle for a while, it is a good idea to invest in a battery tender. These will continuously charge the battery so that it does not go bad. These are especially a good idea if you live somewhere very cold as the cold is extra hard on the battery itself.
If you do not plan on riding for a few weeks, this is a great and inexpensive way to extend your battery’s life. This will also prevent you from having to jump start your bike after a long period of not riding. While jump starts may get your motorcycle up and running, each time this is required decreases the life of your battery. This should be avoided if at all possible.
Can A Motorcycle Still Run With A Bad Battery?
If you have a bad battery, can you still ride your motorcycle? The answer is yes, usually. As long as your battery is still capable of starting your motorcycle, you can still ride it around.
Be aware that doing so will have some negative affects as previously explained. Ultimately, you will want to get the battery replaced as soon as possible. Any driving will put excess stress on various components on your bike. The longer you ride in this state, the more wear you will cause and ultimately the more money you will have to put into your bike down the road.
If you need to get your motorcycle from one place to another and know that you have a bad battery, I would not worry too much about it. You should be just fine. You will want to avoid very long periods of riding with a bad battery though. Doing this will make sure that needing to replace a battery does not result in needing to replace an alternator and stator as well.