How to Charge a Harley Battery

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The battery on your Harley powers more than just the lights these days. In fact, a bike's ability to turn on is determined by the battery. Loose connections, corrosion, and heat from the engine can all cause the battery to wear out and go bad. Charging an old batter or replacing a new is easy and will save you time and money.

Things You'll Need

  • Specific service manual for your bike
  • Screw driver
  • Ratchet or box wrench
  • New battery
  • Battery charger
  • Distilled water
  • Wire brush
  • Turn off the engine.

  • Locate your battery (usually under the seat). This may just lift up or it may require the removal of a few bolts.

  • Loosen and remove the battery contacts using the ratchet or wrench. Always remove the negative contact first.

  • If there is corrosion on the on the contact ends, use the wire brush to clean it off.

  • Remove the battery by lifting up from the bike frame.

  • On an old battery, check the electrolyte level in each cell; fill with distilled water if the level is low.

  • On a new battery, remove the filling plugs and sealing tube. Fill the new battery with electrolyte and let sit for about 30 minutes.

  • Plug the battery into the charger and charge the battery as directed on the instructions that come with the battery (often written on the battery itself, so for old ones look at the battery to see how long and how fast to charge it) as each Harley battery will require different amounts of charging time and levels.

  • Set the battery back down in the frame the same way the old one came out. Connect the positive contact to the terminal first.

  • Turn on bike to test.

  • If bike starts without issue, shut it off and replace seat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the service manual for your specific bike to make sure you have the correct battery for your bike. If in doubt, remove the battery and take it with you to purchase the new one.
  • If replacing the battery, take the old battery to the proper battery disposal place.
  • Checking your battery often, before it goes bad, is the best way to maintain it and your bike.
  • Using a battery tender is a good option to keep the battery charged if the bike is not in use often.
  • Battery acid will burn the skin. A paste of baking soda and water applied to the area, should contact occur, will neutralize the burning.
  • Follow the charging direction that come with the battery very carefully, as improper charging will damage the battery and cause it to perform improperly.

References

  • "The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance"; Mark Zimmerman; 2003
  • "Haynes Manuals: Motorcycle Basics Techbook"; John Haynes; 2002
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