Hi, Paula I have been turning wrenches on motorcycles, mostly Harleys, for the past 50 years and in those years I have run across all kinds of battery issues. In the beginning, I too believed in the myth that keeping a battery on a trickle charger 24/7 was the best way to keep it fully charged and prolong battery life. In 1982 I was working for Harley Davidson of Washington D.C. when a customer came in for a tire change after basic chit-chat I discovered that he had been building lead-acid batteries for the Excide Battery Company for the past 17 years and the battery he had in his Bagger was 11 years old, I was shocked, to put it mildly. For the next 45 minutes while I was changing his rear tire I got re-educated on the proper maintenance and care for lead-acid batteries. The following is what I gleaned from our conversation:
1. Choose a quality battery that has the most "CCA" Cold Cranking Amps for your application.
2. Always charge the battery to 100% capacity before installing in your motorcycle. The battery may be new but may have been sitting on the shelf for months or longer and has lost 20% or 30% of its maximum capacity charge if installed under these conditions, the first time you hit the starter button the amperage draw from the starter motor will "SET" the lead-acid plates to whatever percentage of charge the battery had at that exact moment and will never charge any higher. This situation will have a negative impact battery life.
3. Service and inspect your battery as per the owners or service manual schedule and only add "Distilled" water if necessary.
4. Always check your charging system after battery service and make sure the charging voltage back to the battery is 13.8 - 14.8 volts DC. any numbers higher replace the voltage regulator any numbers lower check the alternator/generator for proper output
5. During winter storage or months of non-use, the optimum operating/storage temperature for the lead-acid battery is 25*C (77*F). Elevated temperature reduces longevity. As a guideline, every 8°C (15°F) rise in temperature cuts the battery life in half. A maintenance-free sealed battery, which would last for 10 years at 25°C (77°F), would only be good for 5 years if operated at 33°C (92°F).
6. A long period of a low amp trickle charger for 24 hours is highly preferred over a short period high amp charger.
7. For battery life longevity during a non-use period use a trickle charger of .5 to 1 amp for 24 hours once monthly then remove the charger. Batteries like to be slowly charged and slowly discharged on their own. 24/7 charging causes the battery to heat up and it's acid to evaporate.
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