Motorcycling - Knowledge

Jumpstarting a Motorcycle: Must Know Trick for Every Rider

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Sometimes one of the reasons your bike fails to start could be a dead battery. It's easy to know when your bike's battery has worn down, you'd start seeing the signs early on. Now, let's say you end up with a dead battery and can't start your bike. Now don’t worry, Jumpstarting it can easily bring it back to life. Jumpstarting, it may sound hard or complicated but really, jumpstarting a motorcycle is a piece of cake. Today we share with you the all-in-all guide to jumpstarting your bike.

Table of Content:

  • The ‘Before Jumpstarting’ Checklist
  • Can You Jumpstart a Motorcycle with a Car
  • Jumpstarting a Motorcycle - Just follow these simple steps!
  • How Long Does a Motorcycle Battery Last
  • Do Motorcycles Have Alternators
  • Three Other Options to Start your Motorcycle with a Dead Battery
  • Battery Starters and Jumper Leads
  • Jumpstart Warnings
  • Summing Up

Jumpstarting a motorcycle can be a task if you’re doing it the first time, but hey, no pain, no gain, right? Just make sure to take proper precautions before attempting this to avoid unnecessary injury to yourself and damage to your bike.

The ‘Before Jumpstarting’ Checklist

Jumpstarting a Motorcycle
Don’t ‘jump’ to conclusions!

If your bike won’t start, even after a couple of tries, don’t assume it’s because of a dead battery. First, make sure to check all of these things:

  • Check the kill switch
  • Make sure your side stand is up
  • Ensure you are not out of fuel
  • Ensure that your bike isn’t in gear
  • Check the spark plugs
  • See if the horn and lights on your bike are working
  • If you don’t have lights on your bike, check if the battery leads are loose or dirty also check the fuse
  • Once you are sure that the wiring is fine and still the electricals (lights and horn) are not working, it's safe to assume that battery is dead.

If your motorcycle won’t work despite all these checks, you can try and jumpstart it.

Can You Jumpstart a Motorcycle with a Car

Yes, it is possible to jumpstart a dead motorcycle with a car battery, mainly because cars usually have 12v batteries, that won’t cause any damage to your bike. However, when you start the car, it delivers much more than just 12 volts, so it is very important that you do not start the car engine when you are jumpstarting a motorcycle.

Jumpstarting a Motorcycle - Just Follow These Simple 5 Steps!

Jumpstarting a Motorcycle
Jumper Cables: A (Dead) Battery’s Lifeline
  1. A pair of jumper cables is required to connect your motorcycle’s battery to that of a car or that of another vehicle.
  2. Use the red cable ends to connect the positive terminal on the dead battery to the live battery (of the other vehicle).
  3. Follow this up by connecting the black cable end to the negative terminal of the live battery. Attach the other end of the black cable to an unpainted metal (unpainted in order to prevent the paint from being scratched). This will reduce the damage the battery sustains if any.
  4. Start your motorcycle and as it comes to life, detach the cables, starting with the negative cable on the live battery.
  5. Ensure that the two cable ends (i.e., a positive and a negative lead) do not touch each other.

How Long Does a Motorcycle Battery Last

Jumpstarting a Motorcycle
How Long Before You Go?

If you maintain a bike battery properly, it should last between two to five years. Let us look at some of the factors that tell us about battery life.

The Type of Battery

There are various types of motorcycle batteries (some dry and some with fluids) and each one will require a different type of maintenance and have a different lifespan. It is imperative to understand the type of battery your bike has and the maintenance it requires for a longer life. All you need to do for battery maintenance is to check the indicators regularly to ensure that the battery is never completely drained out of fluids (in case it requires fluids).

How Often is the Motorcycle Ridden?

If you don’t ride in winter or use your motorcycle less, chances of your battery dying will be higher. This is because the battery charge will come down slowly and if left unattended, the damage caused to the battery may be irreversible. It’s important to ride regularly so that the alternator or generator/magneto consistently provides charge to the battery. Alternately, there are options, such as, external charging devices discussed further below.

Utilization of the Battery

It is important that you switch off the power supply of your motorcycle completely when you stop riding. Riders are usually in the habit of keeping the switch in the ignition mode when they stop during short breaks, which can lead to battery draining.

External Charging

Don’t let the battery run low. If there are long gaps between your motorcycle rides, you can externally charge it with a battery tender, also known as a battery saver. You can keep the device connected to your motorcycle and switch it on when required.  It automatically checks the battery power and if the charge is low the device begins a slow charge to charge it fully. This ensures that the battery life is prolonged.

Do Motorcycles Have Alternators

The function of a generator/magneto or an alternator in a motorcycle is to charge the battery while the engine is running. This ensures that the battery is fully charged for the next run.

A multimeter helps you check if your motorcycle is gaining charge from the alternator, or generator as it tests the voltage of the battery when the engine is not running. In case you don’t have a multimeter, you can test the same by twisting the throttle a bit to see if the headlight becomes brighter. This proves that the battery is getting an extra charge from alternator, or generator.

Difference Between an Alternator and Generator/Magneto

Older motorcycles will have the generator/magneto, whereas most modern motorcycles will have an alternator which uses advanced technology. The main difference between the two is that an alternator produces AC current, whereas a generator/magneto produces DC current.

It doesn’t matter which one your motorcycle has as long as the function of keeping the battery charged is carried out efficiently.

Three Other Options to Start your Motorcycle with a Dead Battery

  • Push Start

You need not know how to jump start your motorcycle for this one. Push start your motorcycle, and get it up and running again. Here’s how to pushstart a bike:

Jumpstarting a Motorcycle
With a Little Help From My Friends

Take the motorcycle to the top of a slope along with some friends to help you push it. Ensure the ignition is on. Put the motorcycle in 2nd gear and keep holding the clutch lever. Increase the speed and immediately release the clutch lever. The moment you get signs of the engine trying to come to life, hit the ignition button. Rev up the throttle and that should start your engine.

  • A Battery Saver

As discussed earlier, prevent the battery from going dead by plugging your motorcycle to a battery saver, if you are planning not to ride for a prolonged period. The battery saver will automatically begin charging when it detects low battery.

  • A Standard Battery Charger/Trickle Charger

You can charge your motorcycle battery with a compatible car battery charger. Unplug the battery and take it out of your motorcycle, check battery fluid levels and top up with distilled water as necessary. After charging the battery for a few hours, put it back and your motorcycle ready for you to ride.

Battery Starters and Jumper Leads

A ride in a remote area requires you to carry a power pack that can help restart your bike, or a battery tester to detect any problem in the battery. Riding along with a companion can help in using jumper leads to restart the battery. While using jumper leads to start the battery, attach the red cables first. Ensure the live bike’s engine is running before you try to start your motorcycle. When taking the cables off, start in the reverse order, with the black cable on the live bike first.

Jumpstart Warnings

Rider safety is the most important factor to be considered before you decide to pushstart your bike. There’s always a risk of injury and traffic hazard, with the rider toppling over in the process of push starting. The motorcycle may have other problems with the battery and may require replacement. It is recommended that the battery is checked so that it’s not used past its expiry date.

Livingit Tip
Before you think of trying all the methods to bring a dead battery to life, check if your motorcycle is actually out of gas or there’s some other fault due to which your motorcycle may not be starting! It might sound funny, but makes sense to eliminate all possibilities.  

Summing Up

With all the above information, you can easily bring your motorcycle back to life by dealing with its dead battery. Other jumpstarting your motorcycle, try other methods like push starting, or using battery chargers and battery savers to ensure your motorcycle is always ready for you to ride on. As we discuss motorcycles; arm yourself with more information about motorcycle exhaust wrap and how to brake properly.

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