How To Install A Motorcycle Battery

Written by
Matt Finch
Published on
September 16, 2020 at 3:43:00 PM PDT September 16, 2020 at 3:43:00 PM PDTth, September 16, 2020 at 3:43:00 PM PDT

Most powersport batteries where possible are installed in the upright position by design. Obviously, anything that is filled with liquid has a top and a bottom and you don’t want it to spill!

On later model machines as technology has advanced the space for the battery has become compromised. In order to find somewhere for the battery to be located there has become a need for batteries to lie in the prone position or at an angle.

Such batteries MUST BE FACTORY SEALED and NON-SPILLABLE. If you are about to fit a battery which you have had to fill with acid DON’T. Any battery that has been a BS or conventional design should only be fitted in the upright position.

Such batteries whilst under charge from the charging system may spill acid out which will damage you, your machine and the environment. Don’t cheap out and always use the correct parts!

  1. Inspect the battery and make sure the battery you are fitting is the correct part number or equivalent for the model you are installing in.
  2. Ensure the battery case is clean and free from dirt, grime or grease
  3. Check the terminals are not deformed, and have the correct hardware and a clean and free from corrosion. It’s a good idea to spray some dielectric grease on the terminals to keep them corrosion free.
  4. Inspect the outer case of the battery, if there are any leaks, cracks or bulging to the case return the battery to your place of purchase for replacement.
  5. Check the battery leads are free from grease and grime or corrosion and are firmly attached and earthed to the frame where required.
  6. Ensure the battery box on the vehicle is clean and free from mud or debris before fitting the battery back, and that it has the appropriate foam or rubber spacers to keep the battery snug and protected from moving around. Check the condition of the battery hold down strap if it shows sign of wear replace it.
  7. Replace the positive lead to the positive (RED) terminal, then replace the negative (BLACK) lead to the negative terminal. If you are fitting up to a standard type block terminal it can be tricky to get the bolt to make a start in the nut when attaching the terminal leads. A neat trick is to insert the nut into the terminal block and stuff a piece of cardboard beneath the nut to hold it up flush with the inside top of the terminal block. This will make it much easier to get the thread to take. Make sure the hardware is tightened and snug.
  8. Now turn on the ignition and make sure you have accessories and the battery activates the starter if required
  9. Replace the battery strap, ensure the battery is firmly held down and you are good to ride.

For Conventional Powersport Batteries

Many older conventional type batteries can now be replaced with larger capacity sealed batteries that offer enhanced performance and less maintenance.

However if you do have one of these batteries you should follow all the same steps above but before step 4, you need to check the electrolyte level inside the battery and make sure the correct levels are met. Never add acid to these batteries since its only the water that evaporates from the battery vent tube, if you add acid you will be changing the specific gravity of the battery reducing its performance, and accelerating failure.

Only use distilled water to top up the battery, tap water contains other chemicals like fluoride, other metals and foreign particles that change the chemistry inside the battery.

Now charge the battery slowly before testing the battery again, if the levels have been low, and parts of the plate have been showing above the fluid line there will be sulfation on the plates that needs to recombine to the electrolyte. Note this may be permanent damage depending on severity and your charger.

Make sure the caps or firm and seated after maintenance dry any residual acid with a paper towel.

Ensure that the battery vent tube is in good condition and attached. Check that the tube is routed in the correct way so if there is a spillage the acid is not going to damage you or your machine. Check the area around where the vent hose exits to ensure there is no damage from previous leaking on any of the critical parts of the machine.

Due to the old design and leaky nature of these battery types we strongly advise to update to newer design such as Motobatt Quadflex as soon as possible.