How Does a Motorcycle Battery Work?


The Composition

  • Motorcycle batteries are composed of six cells containing positive and negative plates. Each cell is a little over two volts each, providing the 12 volts necessary to power your motorcycle. The lead cells are submersed in sulfuric acids to generate electricity through chemical reaction. Sparked by the starter, the battery allows the engine to start and powers your peripherals--like CBs and satellite radios.

Current Generation

  • The current is generated when electrons from the battery acid interact with the lead cells. Hydrogen particles from the acid provide the cells with protons while the sulfate ions provide negative electrons. The residual sulfate begins to cover the battery cells and forms a barrier between the cells and the remaining acid--reducing the ability of acid to charge the cells. The charged cells pour out of the negative terminal of the battery and travel the motorcycle's circuit, powering the motor and peripherals, and then they return through the positive terminal of the battery.


  • Charging your battery converts electrical energy back into a chemical state. The raw elements of the cell and battery acid are still present in the battery, but they are broken down to electronic particles.The electric current produced by the charger takes the used particles, and through a chemical reaction, fuses them back together. A battery charger creates deposits of electrons on the negative battery cells. The mass of negative ions attracts positive ions to the cells. The chemical reaction between the hydrogen, lead cell and negative ions produces sulfuric acid, and lead for the corroding cells.


  • The battery discharges itself at about one percent per day, so the battery may need charging after long periods of inactivity. High temperatures speed the process while lower temperatures slows the internal activity.

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