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How to deal with a dead battery

While one hopes it will never happen you need to be prepared for a breakdown even on your motorcycle. One of the more common issues is a dead battery. This can happen simply by adding accessories on to your ride that draw more power than your bike is able to put back into the battery or even due to failure of a regulator or other part.

Have no fear, you can get back on the road in short order in most cases. You have a few options for getting your bike going again from compression starting (aka pop-start, bump-start, etc) to jump starting like you would do with a car.

 
Jump Start The Battery From Another Motorcycle
  1. Position the two motorcycles so the batteries are close enough together to facilitate the length of the jumper cable. Ensure the motorcycle with the good battery is NOT running.
  2. Connect the red clamp of the jumper cable to the positive (+) terminal on the dead battery.
  3. Connect the black clamp of the jumper cable to the negative (-) terminal on the dead battery, or to a grounded item on the motorcycle, such as the frame.
  4. Connect the black clamp of the jumper cable to the negative (-) terminal on the good battery, or to a grounded item on the motorcycle, such as the frame.
  5. Connect the red clamp of the jumper cable to the positive (+) terminal on the good battery.
  6. Start the motorcycle with the good battery and wait a few minutes.
  7. Start the motorcycle with the dead battery.
  8. Remove the red cables first from the good battery, then from the bad battery.
  9. Remove the black cables from both batteries.
  10. Leave the motorcycle with the bad battery running until you reach your destination and/or find a suitable place to re-charge the battery with a battery charger.

There are many companies out there which sell jumper cables for motorcycles. These cables generally have smaller clamps to make it easier to get into the tight spaces on a motorcycle. These can be had for about $15 and easily fit into your saddlebag. See your favorite dealer or accessories catalog.

If you're a do-it-yourselfer a fellow VROC member, Gadget, has written some great instructions for making your own.

Make Your Own Jumper Cables
 
Jump Start The Battery From A Car

It is possible to jump start your motorcycle from a car.

The procedure to jump start a motorcycle from a car is the same as it is for jump starting it from another motorcycle except for item (6). A car battery has more amperage, and the charging system for a car is much more powerful than that of a motorcycle. When jump starting a motorcycle from a car, DO NOT START THE CAR'S MOTOR because the extra power from the charging system will possibly destroy the motorcycle's charging system and could cause a fire. The car battery should have enough power to start the motorcycle without the car's motor running.

 
Compression Start The Motorcycle

Some times it may be easier to compression start the motorcycle, also known as a bump start or push start. It's possible to compression start a motorcycle by yourself, but it's easier if you have a couple of friends to help you if you're on flat ground.

  1. Turn on the ignition, turn on the gas, and make sure the Kill Switch is turned to the RUN position.
  2. Pull in the clutch and put the bike in second or third gear. (First gear may be too hard to turn the motor and may jerk the drive train too hard a may cause motor-mount failure.)
  3. Coast the bike down a hill or have your friends push you.
  4. Once you reach about 5 to 10 MPH, quickly release the clutch.
  5. Apply a little throttle to maintain control and pull in the clutch.

The bike may not start on the first try, so repeat if needed. Also, a motorcycle with a completely dead battery may not start using the compression method.

 

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