Tips and Chargers: How to get your motorcycle battery through the winter - and what to avoid

Nothing is more annoying than getting on the bike after a long winter and only hearing a tired click of the starter when you turn the key.

Tips and Chargers: How to get your motorcycle battery through the winter - and what to avoid

Nothing is more annoying than getting on the bike after a long winter and only hearing a tired click of the starter when you turn the key. Because that usually means: The battery is dead and the first trip of the year has just been done. So that this does not happen, the star gives important tips on the correct handling of a motorcycle battery in winter and shows two convincing chargers with which the energy storage devices can be brought through the winter without any problems.

First of all: You don't always have to remove a battery to supply it with energy during a longer period of inactivity. Most battery chargers come with an adapter cable that you simply screw between the poles of the built-in battery (red = positive pole, black = negative pole!). This gives you a plug directly on the motorcycle to which a charger can be connected. The problem: You need a socket near the vehicle for this, so this convenient solution is out of the question for most underground car parks.

If you need to remove the battery, remember the correct order. Always disconnect the negative pole first, then the positive pole. Installation is the reverse order. First connect the red cable (plus pole), then the black (minus pole). And when it comes to jump starting: First the red cable from plus pole to plus pole, then the black cable to the minus pole of the donor battery and the other end to a ground point (e.g. engine block) of the receiver.

If the battery is removed or equipped with a charging adapter, it is the charger's turn. There are solutions in specialist shops for around 20 euros to 230 euros. As is so often the case: the more expensive the device, the more comfort and functions it offers. The Ctek CT 5 Powersport for around 80 euros was used for this guide. The advantage of many medium-priced devices is the large number of suitable battery types that can be charged. The CT5 works with lead-acid batteries, as well as all maintenance-free gel and micro-fleece/AGM batteries and lithium-ion batteries. A single button is used to select the correct charging program.

The connection is very simple: First you plug the charger into the socket without the clamp connected. After selecting whether it is a conventional battery or a lithium-ion battery (by pressing the "Mode" button), or whether a battery that was thought dead is to be revived ("Recond" mode for "reconditioning", only for calcium and lead batteries), it goes to the battery. Connect the red clamp to the plus pole and then the black clamp to the minus pole. Now connect the plug of the pole clamps to the charger.

After a quick check of the battery and the correct connection, the charger starts the charging process. If something is wrong with the connection, an error message appears. If everything fits, it's time to wait. The Ctek CT 5 Powersport does not offer a charge status display, but jumps into the "care program" after charging, a kind of gentle charge retention. Charging itself takes between two and nine hours, depending on the charge level and size of the battery. Either leave the device connected to the battery or pull out the mains plug and place the charged battery in a dry room, ideally at a temperature between 10 and 20 degrees.

For around 200 euros, you can forget a large part of the description again, because with the CS One, Ctek now has a charger that relieves you of most of your worries. The CS One charges all battery types, whether car, boat or motorcycle, and does not have colored terminals or buttons. To charge the battery, connect the cables to your battery in any way and let the device work. The standard function does not require an app or additional work steps, you only need the free app if you want to save an old battery or access the special functions.

This question is difficult to answer in general terms, sometimes it is also a question of faith. It is also important whether your vehicle has consumers such as an alarm system (Harley-Davidson) or whether all consumers are switched off after a certain idle time. If your vehicle is one of the latter and you use a lithium-ion battery, it can also stand still for several months without any significant loss of performance, provided the vehicle does not have to endure sub-zero temperatures. With conventional batteries, it is advisable to connect a charger after about two months, even if no consumer needs energy. If you want to be on the safe side, fully charge the battery just before you set off on your first trip.

If you have a vehicle with a consumer, you should keep the idle time without a charger as short as possible. A Harley-Davidson with a conventional battery may not survive the winter without additional power. With such motorcycles, especially if they are in a garage with a socket, the connection of a permanent connection option is almost imperative.

It is not recommended to let the motorcycle run while stationary several times in winter so that the battery can be recharged by the engine. Even after ten minutes, a motorcycle idling has no significant effect on the battery charge level and the engine is affected, since the oil cannot liquefy sufficiently within the short time and this results in increased wear. Basically the same reason why you should avoid short trips of less than ten kilometers.

Experience shows that you don't need a luxury charger to get a motorcycle battery through the winter with ease. But it shouldn't be the cheapest model either. Specialist shops already offer good devices from 50 euros, the Ctek CT 5 Powersport used here meets all requirements and supports both standard batteries and lithium cells. With regard to a possible switch, it makes sense to buy a device that supports several battery types.

As a rule, devices with a particularly low price are not recommended, as a comparison by the GTÜ experts also showed. With such products, there may be sparks when connecting to the battery or discharge when the pole terminals are connected if the charger is not plugged into the socket.

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