A trickle charger, also sometimes referred to as a “Battery Tender” although that is actually just the most well known brand, is an item every motorcycle owner should have. Every time you park your bike in the garage, you should attach it to the trickle charger. If you don’t…not only are you throwing money out the window…but you’re asking for the aggravation of finding a dead battery on that perfect day when you roll your ride out of the garage for the first ride of the season, or a late season jaunt. These are the brand of charger I have always used and recommend.
Isn’t it annoying to hook this up to your battery every time you come back from a ride? My battery is hard to reach
When I first looked into these I thought the same thing…but alas, there is a much more convenient way to handle it. You just permanently attach a terminal to your battery a single time, and then plug and unplug it easily without having to reach the actual battery, see the image below. The tickle charger I recommend actually comes with one of these, although it is not pictured.
I learned the hard way
The first few years of owning motorcycles, I didn’t use trickle chargers. I would replace my battery ever two years, often finding the battery dead just in time to ruin a great riding day. Now that I religiously use a trickle charger, my batteries last roughly 5 years if not more. For lead acid type batteries, which most motorcycle batteries will be or be similar to, if the battery sits without a full charge, the contacts inside will eventually become sulfated and the battery will gradually lose it’s ability to hold charge. The lower the charge, the quicker this process happens. The longer it sits, the more it will happen.
Older and more budget friendly motorcycles often don’t do a great job recharging their batteries
While more and more newer feature correctly sized alternators on their bikes to support the accessory needs of the modern rider, many are still alternator deficient. Especially if you’re buying a used older bike, or a more budget friendly new bike. This means that even if you’ve been out cruising on the highway at high RPMS, when you roll back into the garage, the battery may not be fully charged. All the more reason you need a trickle charger to top it up every time you come back. Read my article on alternator considerations to learn more about this issue.
Don’t think of your motorcycle battery the same way you think about your car battery
The charge in your battery is going to naturally dissipate little by little as time goes on, and while you may have experienced this with the battery in your car…a car battery is a lot larger and thus the amount of charge dissipated relative to the size tends not to be as much. Also generally the alternator is a lot better sized to properly charge it when it is used. At the end of the day, most people probably use their car a lot more than there motorcycle, giving it more chances to recharge. All of this is to say, don’t think of your motorcycle battery the same way you think about your car battery.