Jump Starting a Motorcycle Battery

black motorcycle
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-50
What You'll Need
Jumper cables
Safety glasses

Let’s hope you never have to jump start your motorcycle battery, but you should be prepared just in case. Riding motorcycles is a therapeutic experience for many riders. It’s a chance to get away and ride with the wind. Of course, bikes are also the sole method of transportation for others. Whatever your reason for riding, peace of mind is an important issue. You need to be prepared for any potholes in the road, literally and figuratively. One of those just might be a dead battery.

Step 1 - Pack for All Possibilities

No one expects misfortune on the road, but everyone should plan for the possibility. Even if you recently replaced your battery, you should be prepared. Defective products are not unusual; you could have bought one. Jumper cables are sold in compact cases or packages that can be tied easily and inconspicuously onto your bike. Add to the package a pair of safety glasses and mechanic gloves of nitrile or some other durable material.

Step 2 - Assess the Situation

If your motorcycle stops or will not start, take time to assess the problem. There may be nothing you can do on the side of the road if the alternator falters and fails to charge the battery. The battery might have discharged during storage if you have not ridden the bike in some time. Examine it for cracks and ensure it is not leaking electrolytes. Check the positive and negative battery cables for loose fittings or corrosion. Carefully open the battery if it is not maintenance free and check the electrolyte levels. Look for severed wires or equipment that might be left on to drain the power. Wear safety glasses and gloves to avoid shock or coming into contact with dangerous acids. Although it’s rare, batteries can explode.

Step 3 – Attach the Cables

Before working with the battery, take off jewelry such as watches that might contact and conduct the battery’s charge. Find an appropriate automobile or motorcycle to use in jump starting your motorcycle. Position the two vehicles close together but not touching. This avoids the possibility of shock if the cables slip. Remove any insulating clips from both batteries and locate the positive poles, likely marked with a plus sign. Connect one end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal on the motorcycle battery and the other to the positive terminal on the jump vehicle. Attach the black cable to the negative terminal on the jump vehicle and to a grounded part of the motorcycle, such as the frame. If using a motorcycle as a jump vehicle, start it and leave it running. If using a car, do not run the engine. Car batteries carry greater amperage than motorcycles, and excess power could damage the bike’s charging system. Start the motorcycle. Remove the red cables from the jump vehicle and the bike in that order, then the negative cables from the jump vehicle and bike. Ride to a parts store or shop to re-check your motorcycle battery.