Whether you left your key on or you’ve just got an old battery that’s struggling to hold a charge, if there isn’t enough juice to turn the starter, you’re not going anywhere. Bump-starting your bike might work, but modern motorcycles with fuel injection and electronic ignition systems need a fair bit of juice to do their thing, so you’re probably gonna need some supplemental electricity.
If you’re not in a hurry and your battery is just tired enough that it won’t crank the starter, you could just hook your bike up to a battery charger and come back later. But if you need to get going right now, you’re going to need a jump-start.
Plenty of car drivers roll around with jumper cables , which will allow you to use the battery in their vehicle to get your bike cranking. Just find yourself a good Samaritan, have ’em pop the hood, and hook up the cables. First, connect to the positive (red) terminals on both vehicles. Then clamp onto the negative terminal of the good battery, but attach the other black clamp to an unpainted chassis part away from your bike’s battery. The idea here is that, since the last clamp you connect is going to spark, you want it to happen away from the battery, which could possibly, potentially, maybe be emitting hydrogen gas due to its unhealthy condition. And, as the folks in the Hindenburg found out, hydrogen is flammable. You’re not likely to have any issues, especially with modern sealed AGM batteries, but it’s easy to minimize the risk to nearly zero by clamping somewhere safe.
If you’re jump-starting off a car, there’s really no need to have it running since the car’s battery has so much more capacity than your bike’s battery. And while some people are concerned the car battery might overload your bike’s battery or fry some electrical components, that’s not likely to happen, especially in the short time it takes to jump-start your bike. So with the cables connected, flip your bike’s key, hit the starter, and hopefully it fires up. With the bike running disconnect the cables—negatives first at both ends—but keep your bike going so the battery can charge up.
Jumper cables are a tried-and-true method, but there’s another option. Jumper packs, like the Portable Power Pack from Deltran, are small and light enough to stash in your backpack and work great to keep your phone charged or as a worklight while you’re plugging a flat tire on the side of the road at night, but where these devices really shine is as a portable jump-starter. It uses a lithium-ion battery that’s strong enough to crank a V-8 truck, and while it’s pretty expensive at $90, it’s undeniably convenient, especially for motorcyclists.
Once your bike is up and running again, don’t assume everything is all good. At your earliest convenience you should hook up to a charger to ensure your battery is properly topped off. Ideally, use a modern multi-stage smart charger that’ll charge and recondition your battery. And if you’re not sure why your battery died or if you’re having issues with your charging system, you’ll want to stay tuned to MC Garage, because we’ll be covering those topics and lots more in future videos.