Making a motorcycle look clean and minimal is a popular approach many are pursuing today. Sometimes the bulkiness of a motorcycle can be a bit unwelcomed if you’re not into that look, so it’s no wonder many are trying to clean up their bikes a little bit.
One component on a motorcycle that may be difficult to clean up is the battery. It’s a vital component to a motorcycle, but they’re so big and awkward and can often be an eye sore if it’s put in the wrong place.
So, how can you hide a motorcycle battery? If you are wanting to hide your motorcycle battery, your options include laying the battery flat on it’s side on the rear swing arm, mounting it in a battery box under the rear swing arm, placing it under the seat in a battery box, or replacing the air box with pod filters and placing the battery where the air box was.
Through the motorcycle restorations I have done, I’ve been able to find the best places to hide motorcycle batteries to give it a sleek look. Not only does this help with the look, but these various places you can put a battery have proven to be safe for you and your motorcycle.
How To Hide A Motorcycle Battery
If you are going for the minimalist look and are trying to clean out the inside of the frame (which is a feature a lot of bobbers, trackers, and cafe racers have), then hiding the battery is one of the hurdles you’re going to have to jump over. They’re big and bulky and not necessarily something you want to look at.
When I was flipping motorcycles while I was going to college, I turned most of them into cafe racers. Cafe racers have a very minimal look which often meant I was often stuck trying to clean up inside of the frame and finding creative places to put the battery to keep it out of the way.
Luckily there are several places you can place your battery without compromising the functionality of it or your motorcycle. The first option you have is laying it flat/on it’s side on top of the rear swing arm.
The rear swing arm is by the rear wheel and is where the center of the hub (the axle of the rear wheel) is connected to a rectangular piece that goes up and connects it to the frame (see picture below). I normally used metal plumber’s tape to fasten it to the rear swing arm.
Please note that you should only lay the battery on it’s side on the swing arm if you have a sealed battery. You cannot do this with an unsealed battery because it will leak (which we will go into more detail about this later in this article).
The second option you have is mounting the battery underneath the rear swing arm. It may sound a bit weird, but I’ve actually done this many times myself on a lot of my motorcycle restorations. I made a custom battery box made out of bent sheet metal that was painted the same color as the frame and placed it under the rear swing arm.
I then placed the battery in the custom made battery box that was fastened to the frame with metal plumber’s tape. Then I ran the battery cables underneath the motorcycle. There was still plenty of room between the road and the battery once the battery was placed. Make sure you still have a good amount of clearance underneath your motorcycle if you choose this option.
Another option you have to hide your battery is placing it underneath the seat. To do this, you’ll probably need to get a smaller battery to get it to fit underneath there. You’ll need to build a custom battery box to do this (again, you can use sheet metal like I’ve done which can be easily done within an hour or two).
You can also purchase a lithium ion battery and put it underneath the rear seat hump. Lithium ion batteries come in very small sizes so doing this should be relatively easy. You can run the cables and wiring underneath the seat and tuck them in there nicely so you won’t be able to see any wires at all.
As another option for older motorcycles, it’s possible to take out the air box and place the battery where the air box was. The battery will sit flush with the engine in that spot. If you do this, you’ll need to replace your air box with high quality pod filters.
We have created an entire video series about how to restore a motorcycle from start to finish. Within this series includes how to hide and mount motorcycle batteries with in-depth instructions that will give you the clean look you desire. We also give in-depth instructions on how to rebuild carbs, perform bodywork, and tackle electrical. Click here if you’re interested in building your dream motorcycle!
The Best Options For Unsealed Batteries
As I had mentioned before, sometimes hiding a motorcycle battery can be difficult if you have an unsealed battery because you cannot lay it on it’s side due to leaking possibilities. If you have an unsealed battery, you can still hide it.
If you have to keep your motorcycle battery upright, the best option you have is placing it on top of the rear swing arm. You’ll generally have several pieces of frame (at least two pieces) that connect right there. There is metal in the way of the side profile view so it will still hide your battery nicely, even if it’s standing upright.
It’s important you understand what kind of battery you have so you can place it in the best spot possible. Putting the wrong battery on it’s side could potentially ruin your battery as well as parts of your motorcycle. To learn more about placing your motorcycle battery on it’s side, see my article here.
How To Accommodate Wiring When Hiding Your Battery
If you are planning on placing your battery in a place other than where it was designated to be on your motorcycle, you’ll likely need to make some other accommodations to your motorcycle to make it work. Most of the time, however, these accommodations are pretty simple.
When you move your battery, you’re probably going to have to lengthen several wires. This usually isn’t a problem. All you really need to do is get some donor wire, cut the amount of extra slack you need, and splice it on to the existing wire.
To splice the wire, you’ll need to take the insulation off both wires, solder the two pieces together, and put heat shrink over the solder so water can’t get to it. Then cover the connection with electrical tape.
You’ll likely need to get longer battery cables. I recommend you simply get new, longer cables rather than try to splice them and make them longer. Battery cables are generally inexpensive and can be found at any auto store.
Adding extra slack in the wires means you’ll have a lot of extra wires hanging around. If you’re looking for the minimalist look, having wires everywhere probably isn’t the look you’re going for. Luckily there are ways to hide the wiring as well so your accommodations to moving your battery don’t have to look messy.
The best way I have found to hide the wiring is wrapping them in electrical tape and running them along the frame. There are a lot of ways you can connect the wiring to the frame, but I usually used occasional zip ties in places you can’t easily see (use zip ties the same color as your frame). Then I ultimately hide a good chunk of the wiring underneath the seat. For more information about how to hide your motorcycle wiring, see my article here.
Do I Have To Have A Battery At All?
A common question I’ve heard among motorcycle enthusiasts is if they even need a battery at all. This would ultimately solve the problem of trying to hide the battery in the first place.
The answer, surprisingly, is that you can get away with not having a battery on your motorcycle. If you have a small enough engine (anything at 250 CC’s or smaller), there are ways to rewire your motorcycle straight from the stator to other components.
Along with having a small engine, this will only work if you have a kick starter. You can run your lights and everything else off of your stator and use the kick starter to start the engine rather than the battery. I had a friend in college who did this exact thing. He removed the battery and he was able to get around just fine.
There are some challenges that come with doing this. If the motorcycle isn’t on, your lights, horn, and blinkers will not work. It could be potentially dangerous if you get stuck out in the middle of nowhere at night with a broken down motorcycle with no lights. Also, the slower you go on your motorcycle the dimmer your lights will be. In contrast, the faster you go the brighter and hotter your lights will get.
How long can a motorcycle sit before the battery dies? The average motorcycle battery will die after 2 – 4 months without running. Newer batteries can last longer with an average of 3 – 5 months until dying whereas older batteries will not last as long giving it an average of 1 – 3 months. Click here to see my article for more information.