Charge A Motorcycle Battery By Removing The Battery First

In the U.S., motorcycles are often viewed as recreational vehicles that are ridden on fair weather days. For the rest of the year, many of these two-wheeled steeds find themselves parked in a garage for weeks, or sometimes, months. During this period of inactivity, the motorcycle’s battery begins to slowly lose its charge, making the bike hard, in not impossible, to start on that sunny day. For many of us without access to a dedicated workspace, rolling the bike up to your battery charger may be difficult. Luckily, removing the battery for a quick charge is quite simple.


1. Turn the motorcycle’s ignition to the “Off” position and locate the battery. Battery locations will vary between different motorcycles. Most sport and cruiser-type bikes have the battery located beneath the rider’s seat. Harley-Davidson Sportster and Dyna models, as well as some older motorcycles may provide access to the battery by removing a cover on the side of the frame.

2. Disconnect the battery by unscrewing the negative (-) terminal bolt first, being careful to keep the lead wire from contacting the frame or metal parts. Then, unscrew the positive (+) terminal bolt and pull the battery out of its tray.

3. Inspect the battery for obvious signs of damage and corrosion buildup, especially on the battery terminal posts. Clean the posts with a mild solution of three tablespoons of baking soda in a pint of water, then wipe dry with a clean rag or towel.

4. Check the electrolyte (battery acid) level. The acceptable electrolyte level range is printed on the battery. If the electrolyte is below the minimum level, remove the cell plug on the top of the battery and fill slowly with distilled water until it is within an acceptable range. This step is only necessary on conventional, non-sealed batteries.

5. Connect the battery to a battery charger, attaching the positive (+) lead first followed by the negative (-) lead. Allow the battery to charge completely. Most chargers will display a confirmation that the battery is fully charged.

6. Disconnect the battery from the charger, negative (-) terminal first followed by the positive (+) terminal. If available, test the battery voltage with a multimeter by setting it to the DCV scale with a 50-volt range. Attach the red test lead to the positive (+) terminal and the black test lead to the negative (-) terminal. A functional battery should display a voltage between 12.9 and 13.4 volts.

7. Replace the battery into its tray and reconnect it to the wiring harness, attaching the positive (+) terminal followed by the negative (-) terminal.

8. Replace the seat or side cover.